by Mike Gilliland
Marketing has never been considered a core strength of collision repairers and that might make some sense. Why put money and effort into marketing when insurers send work to your door? Yes, I know that’s not true. But if repairers could elevate their marketing skills, would that give them greater control and flexibility within their businesses? It should, but how do you get there?
If you read every book you can find on marketing, you’ll end up overwhelmed and totally confused. I’ve read many and sat through numerous courses and workshops. Only a superior being could remember — let alone execute — all the advice and concepts in a real world situation. However, I have been exposed to some excellent content and my preference is always for things that are simple; below are some of the concepts that have resonated with me.
If you view marketing as a tool box, much like collision repair, you have to have the proper equipment to do the job. Then the question becomes, which tools do I need? The tools you need will be unique to your business environment, but here is a breakdown that may help in identifying the right ones:
Advertising is communicating your introduction. Who are you and what do you do? Keep it simple! The primary goal here is name recognition within your target market area.
Marketing is communicating to someone that has expressed interest in, or has a need for what you do. What makes you different from other repairers, what is your unique value proposition, and why are you the best choice? Be authentic!
Public Relations is communicating to influence the influencers. If you can succeed here, influencers will reinforce your value proposition and send opportunities your way.
This is a simplistic view of marketing, but if we strive to at least touch all three categories, it may provide some insight into our organizational strengths and weaknesses. Review where your marketing budget or marketing activities are currently allocated. Do you see any obvious opportunities or gaps? Even if all looks good, revisiting your unique value proposition, or Brand Promise, is definitely worthwhile. In a previous post I referred readers to Verne Harnish’s One Page Plan, and building your Brand Promise is a component of that management theory. Click here for an article that explains things further.
Once you have properly equipped your marketing tool box with targeted communications, the sales process becomes less intimidating because you’ve perfected how to speak to your various market segments. Test your communications on people within the industry, and friends and family from outside; they will help you hone the messaging. Experiment with various delivery channels and measure the results.
Finally, the only remaining variable is activity. The more active you are in promoting your brand, the more likely it is that you’ll achieve results. Be consistent, do a little bit each day or each week. I know there is a lot on your plate, but this is important … if it’s not important to you, it’s probably not important to anyone working for you.
You can view additional blog articles from Mike at http://www.autohousetechnologies.com/Our-Blog
Mike Gilliland is President of AutoHouse Technologies, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It’s been 30 years since Mike first started out in the collision repair industry as an auto body technician and, since then, he’s excelled in a variety of repair, insurance, and supply roles. Mike’s experience in all aspects of the collision industry gives him a well-rounded perspective on current issues and he’s passionate about helping collision centers strive for higher performance. Mike can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.