For most workshops, marketing is a reactive response for when business slows down. However, savvy business owners know it’s wise to pay attention to your marketing efforts even when there is plenty of work coming through the door.
In a broad sense there are two types of marketing – brand awareness and call-to-action. Brand awareness campaigns are about getting your brand and image in front of potential customers while a call to action is about getting a deal or special in front of a customer.
Brand awareness marketing generally focuses on the brand while call-to-action marketing focuses more on price. Understanding the difference is important when determining what type of customers you are trying to attract.
Most small businesses seem to engage in call-to-action campaigns. The reason is that most owners want to see immediate results. They want the phones to ring instantly, and new customers to walk in the door. The unfortunate reality of this industry is that call-to-action marketing often doesn’t get the expected response.
A simple reason for this is that the majority of the public are not switched on to specials that a mechanical workshop might offer. The exception to this would be the customer whose car is due for a service and a special offer arrives just in time while it is top of mind. This explains why, in the automotive aftermarket, a far better return on investment can often be expected with long-term brand awareness campaigns rather than short-term call-to-action offers.
Most workshops make the mistake of starting a brand awareness campaign but abandon it when they don’t get immediate results. An example would be a workshop putting up signs at the local footy club, only to pull them down in a couple of months because the phone didn’t ring off the hook with new customers.
The key with brand awareness is to get your brand in front of potential customers multiple times through different campaigns. For example, a localised mail drop may be a waste of time on its own but complement it with new signage out the front of the workshop, new signage on the vehicles, a localised Facebook campaign and new signs at the local footy oval and you may be surprised at the number of people who start to take notice. Very often it will take four or five exposures before potential customers begin to notice you. An old newspaper measure was that an advertisement needed to appear at least nine times before anyone acted on its offer.
Before you do anything, map out exactly who you are trying to reach. Campaigns with a specific target like ‘40-year-old females who drive European cars’ are much more targeted than ‘people with cars’. Figure out where you find those customers. Is it on Facebook, or at the local hairdresser, or at the soccer ground on Saturday morning?
Is there a place for call-to-action campaigns in the auto repair industry? Absolutely! But don’t make the mistake that so many workshop owners make of relying solely on sporadic call-to-action campaigns.