Identify Marketing Tactics and Budget

Sept. 11, 2023
Knowing your customer base is only half the battle; customizing how to reach them will help you win it
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The way we communicate is ever in flux; from telephones to pagers to email and now texts, there are multiple ways to convey information (and for would-be clients to learn about your shop). Reaching them doesn’t have to be a technological breakthrough—just an informed one.

To do so, you may have to change how you communicate as well.

IDENTIFY YOUR MARKETING GOALS

The marketing objective should coincide with your overall strategies and help define the tactics to reach your core audience in the right medium at the right time with the right message.

First, what is your goal? Are you trying to capture new customers and grow market share, diversify business offerings and offer the best deals and services, or simply appear as a trustworthy business among many competitors in an effort to maximize profit? Your goal will inform how you market, and to whom.

There are three basic ways to categorize your marketing objectives as they relate to customers—bringing new ones in; retaining firsttime and existing clients; and finally developing an image and brand that informs all else.

As you zero in on your goal, build it out with a clearly stated objective, the exact increase or improvement you hope to see, the timeframe in which you hope to achieve it, how you will measure its success, the strategies that coincide with it, and the audience you are targeting. A sample objective could be: Increase repeat business by 50% as seen by the number of booked appointments from previous customers between the months of March and June of 2021.

Throughout the objective curation process, be sure you have a clear understanding of what overall strategic business goal your marketing objectives are fulfilling, what potential customer you are trying to reach, what your strongest offerings are that appeal to them, and how you can best achieve your goal.

SET YOUR MARKETING BUDGET

Now that you have a goal and are prepared to spend some money on marketing, what is the proper amount? Again, this comes down to your ultimate goal; start small, and start scalable. If you want to increase your car count by 3 percent per year, why not devote 3 percent of your revenue to marketing? You’ll be able to quickly see if you’re ahead or behind of your curve, allowing you to tweak the plan as needed to get the most bang for your buck.

ESTABLISH TACTICS TAILORED TO YOUR CORE AUDIENCE

Carefully picking which tactics to invest in can be overwhelming at first. By taking a closer look at your overall strategic goals and core audience, you will have the clarity needed to pick the right marketing tactics.

If your strategic goal is to reach new customers and grow market share, focus on using tactics targeting potential customers. First-time customers are likely to search the internet for service first so ensuring you’re highly visible on the web is pivotal. Verify your listing on Google is updated with all your information, including the contact information, address, hours, and business services.

The first facet of your business new customers will see is your website (aka your most basic marketing tool) whether they’re looking for a new shop or simply trying to find your contact info. Employ a professional service to design your website and keep it updated; many services offer attractive packages to automate all the digital detritus that goes into a contemporary website. Your shop signage, windows and greeting area might be the cleanest around, but if your website is shoddy or doesn’t work, customers will have no way of knowing that. And then they’ll go elsewhere.

For these first-time clients, direct mail is a great way to generate trial business or resurrect old business with special offers and incentives. Give them a look into how stellar your service really is and, for customers you have lost, remind them how much you value their consideration. If you’ve done your research, you can reach these people in any number of ways via postcard, flyer or even billboard or street sign.

Existing customers don’t need to see your fancy website or special business incentives, though—they’ve already employed your services. If your strategic goal is to maximize profit with current customers, work to retain everyone you’ve captured before and find new ways to engage them. Thank-you cards, annual shop updates, or even the occasional handwritten letter as you’ve grown to know their habits (and possibly families or careers) will go a long way toward keeping them coming back for more, month after month, year after year. Time your direct mail to take advantage of tax-deferred maintenance and seasonal opportunities; instead of a holiday card in December, send it out in October, welcoming them back to ensure a smooth and safe holiday season. Offer coupons and incentives for those who have shown loyalty in the past; many customers, having put aside some money for repairs, will be prepared to spend more if incentivized.

Finally, issue regular service reminders and/ or follow-up calls or messages. Is the car running properly? What did your technicians recommend for future service? Now is the time to remind them that safe car repair isn’t about just fixing the current problem—it’s about preventing future ones, which is often less expensive anyway.

TAKE ACTION

Use the following checklist to help you assess your website for maximum visibility, ease of access and customer capture opportunity.

__ Take a good hard look at your website on both desktop and mobile devices.

__ What’s good about it? What’s bad? What needs to change?

__ Is anything outdated or desperately needs updated information?

__ Is your contact info and location easily visible?

__ If this exercise is stressful, it may be time to call a professional web designer or service to get you where you need to be.

POSITION YOUR BRAND MESSAGING

As for marketing and branding, this is a less concrete, though no less important, tightrope to walk. What makes your shop unique, different, enticing? Capitalize on that and showcase it in your storefront, website, signage, ads, and marketing to demonstrate your business has more to offer than just auto service. To enhance your overall brand image even more, consider new ways you can stand out. For example, how can you contribute to the community your clients know and love? Can you sponsor a sports team or a nonprofit event for charity? What issues affect your business as well as your clients’ lives, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)?

STAY CONSISTENT IN TIMING AND PLACEMENT

You don’t get to the deep end of the pool with a single stroke; most swimmers have a preferred, consistent technique, and only after many strokes do they get to where they want to be. Marketing is the same way.

Be consistent and regular in your timing, frequency and volume of ads. If you anticipate your best customers are typically online in the morning in some capacity, pursue online ads in the morning coffee hours. A younger audience may be more active on social media at night, so maybe some twilight posts will reach them in the place and at the time they’re most likely to be online.

Finally, the best time to market is when business is hopping—sure, it can be a headache and may seem an unwelcome distraction to the vehicles lining up outside, but how did your customers get there in the first place?

They responded to your marketing efforts, and there’s no guarantee that line will be there tomorrow. No matter what, remember everything you do must suit your needs. Keep your goals in mind and pursue the marketing tactics that will help you and pass on any ideas or initiatives that don’t support the end goal. As in all media, content is king, and once you know your customer types, you’ll learn the best ways to reach them to increase your bottom line.

About the Author

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The views and opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of 10 Missions Media and its associated brands.

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