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YOUR GO-TO AUTOMOTIVE MARKETING GUIDE

Build strong relationships and brand awareness in your communities

Column by VENESSA DI VITO

In my opinion, the answers to the two questions above are simple: collision repair facilities have never marketed or focused on their relationships with customers because there has never been a need for this. Insurance companies, dealerships and fleet companies have always provided endless amounts of work, and franchises and networks provide the customer with a recognizable brand.

So, why market? Right?

Well, times are changing, demands are higher, and people want to do things the right way rather than doing what’s expected of them. Businesses want to thrive, not just survive.

With this need to thrive comes the understanding that, for a business to be successful within their local markets, things must be done differently than they used to be.

This out-of-the-box mindset, looking at the business from a bird’s eye view, is where automotive marketing comes into consideration for many. This is because businesses are now seeing potential for an insane number of opportunities that will arise by investing time, resources, and effort into marketing their businesses within their own local communities.

So, what is marketing? Marketing, in collision repair terms, is the process of delivering value to meet the need of a target market or local community with regards to the services (and products) you offer. Collision repair facilities can provide such value and build strong relationships within their local markets. So, perhaps marketing is an affordable solution to help you become the ‘best body shop in town’.

What do you think?

In today’s article, I’d like to provide you with an easy guide on how to kick start your marketing campaign with a focus on capturing stronger brand awareness and building relationships within your local communities.

Let’s say your target audience, or your community’s local population, is 100,000 people.

That means that 85,000 to 95,000 people in your local community are actively using the internet and social media on a regular basis. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of potential, wouldn’t you agree?

With so much of your local community possessing an online presence, and with digital marketing becoming increasingly affordable, we suggest that to market your business you should begin by focusing your attention on the digital world as it provides an easy, affordable, and powerful way to reach your customers.

So, how can a collision repair facility start to market their business within their local communities? First, let’s answer three main questions.

Where do you want your message to show up?

Your customers are everywhere. Some prefer to watch YouTube videos while others like to socialize on Facebook.

Some like reading blogs on Google and others enjoy following and staying up to date with a brand by viewing what’s new on your website. So, you’ll do well with whatever method you pick, but the most successful businesses typically favor a mix of such strategies to capture a larger audience. Here are a few suggestions…

✓ Social Media Marketing

✓ Email Marketing

✓ Texting/Communications

✓ YouTube Channel

✓ Blogs

✓ Websites

What is your budget?

Marketing can cost as little or as much as you’re willing to put into it. It’s not so much the cost I’d suggest you look at, but rather, what you want to achieve and how much time and resources are you willing to allocate to achieve that goal.

What I suggest is coming up with a dollar amount that your business can afford, and if you can’t do it in house, hire a company and tell them your maximum budget and see what they can do with that budget. Most businesses put three to five percent of its total sales towards online marketing, but we know that with the cost of other operating expenses, this can be a lot to commit. Therefore, pay what is comfortable for you, as no matter what, you will still see results.

How much time are you willing to commit?

To be frank, marketing takes a lot of work to perfect. It takes commitment, an allocated amount of time, creatively, execution, and a lot of planning to get your message and brand awareness out and into your local communities. Are you willing to commit the time to do so?

A reasonable recommendation on what one should commit to the amount of time used to market one’s business would be 10-20 hours, minimum, per week.

If you don’t have the time or resources to help fulfill this, hiring a marketing agency is another great way to help, but be cautious; you will need someone who comprehensively understands the industry.

General marketing agencies are known to provide more ‘basic’ yet high-level marketing strategies which will not provide a collision repair facility with the value, awareness, and relationships they would have hoped. Once you’ve figured out the answers to these three questions, you are then able to make some more important decisions on exactly how you are going to execute your marketing strategy.

Your Four-Step Marketing Plan

1. Determine your audience

Who is your customer? Someone who has had damage on their vehicle. Someone who is looking to enhance their vehicle. Someone who has recently been in a car accident.

What are the specific demographics of your local market? This is where programs like GMAPS and even your local library can help to provide information for you.

Who are your partnerships, and how can you work closer with them to create a stronger brand?

Who are your strategic partners? Insurance companies, franchises/networks, dealerships, fleet companies Which sublet companies do you work with in town? Which companies could you partner up with in town? Who are your suppliers that can help you?

2. Determine your message to your audience

We often find that collision repair facilities invest hundreds of thousands of dollars on their business, but no one truly knows (outside of insurance companies, franchises, and dealerships) exactly how amazing your business really is. What are the standout qualities or “great things” about you and your business? What message do you want to tell your local community?

This is your marketing message, and it is the kind of information that needs to be shared with your local communities.

3. Execute your message

The next step is to execute and create the content you wish to launch and disseminate to your local communities. How are you going to get your message out to your local communities? Examples:Video, photos, etc.

Whether it’s through social media marketing, e-mail marketing, etc., there are a ton of reputable software programs and resources out there to help support your message.

4. Measure the results of your campaign and adjust as necessary

Lastly, and probably one of the most important parts of marketing, is measuring your work. How do you know if all the work you did, worked? How do you know if what you’re doing is creating the brand awareness and relationships, you’re working so hard to achieve?

Measuring your results is important when it comes to marketing. They help you find out what worked, what did quite well, and what didn’t work well, so that you can continue to keep adjusting until you finally own the market.

Programs like Insights on your social media networks, Google Analytics, Google Console, and other software programs are so important to the success of your marketing plan. We highly suggest that you make this a priority to measure each month.

Even though automotive marketing, and specifically digital marketing, is relatively new to collision repair facilities, the concept of marketing itself has been around for centuries and has proven its success time and time again to numerous businesses.

Corporations all over the world invest large amounts of money towards marketing strategies and campaigns every year. The reasons for this? Because they see value and know that marketing works to help build a brand as well as build strong relationships with customers. I hope this article inspired you to do the same with your brand and help to support you to #ownthemarket within your local community.

For more information, visit our website at www.autoplusperformance.com. If you would like more details on this article, contact us at info@autoplusperformance.com.

VENESSA DI VITO is the owner and founder of Auto+ Performance, a full-service automotive marketing and solutions company specializing in generating growth in sales, traffic and customer retention for a collision repair or dealership facility within their local communities. For almost 20 years Venessa has been helping automotive businesses across North America with business best practices and will continue to find ways to support and grow this ever evolving, yet incredibly exciting, industry.

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