Detail Management - July 2010

Stand Out Effective Advertising
By Jordache Perozzo

As a detail business owner, you should have goals. You have established a good reputation. You offer competitive prices. You have even done your share of advertising. Does this sound familiar? If so, then you have done the same thing most of your competitors are doing, and you are just like them in the consumer’s eyes. But if you are different and you want more, then you need to do more than “blend in” with the rest.

Advertising in the detail industry, in general, tends to follow “the norm.” That is, styling your advertising to match what others in the industry are doing. Without thinking about it, many business owners allow the competition to set the advertising standard for detailing and then follow along.

FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER

Think about it. If your direct mailings or phonebook ads mirror what every other detail business is doing, what is really making you stand out to the market? Why would a potential customer pay more attention to your advertising than the competition’s?

So how do you get them to choose you over the competition? The answer: customer-focused advertising. Some understand this concept, but looking at the amount of non-customer-focused advertising floating around confirms that most do not know how to make it work. The main point in customer-focused advertising is simple: “Remember that it is not about you.”

Customers today are not as loyal as they once were for a number of reasons. Consumers are very aware of their buying power and are not bashful about establishing their expectations when it comes to the services they purchase. They will keep their options open to the possibility of finding something better. They have a “what’s in it for me and how does it solve my needs” attitude, and this affects their response to advertising. This is why customer-focused advertising is so important.

For example:

  • Sure, it is nice that you have been in the business 10 years, but how does that apply to your customers?
  • It is great that you have three bays open and have trained and knowledgeable detailers, but does that guarantee the service your customers will receive is top quality?
  • You use “x” brand chemicals. Wonderful! What does that have to do with your customers’ expectations of driving away in a shiny, clean vehicle? Your customers are not cosmetic car care experts, so do not confuse them with technical jargon that may sound impressive but does not really mean anything to them.

The same goes for your on-hold advertising. When your callers are on hold, do you have a message that is meaningful to them, or do they doze off listening to things that are important to you? Applying customer focus in a practical way when you are putting together the “nuts and bolts” of your advertising requires an extra step, a step into the inner workings of your customer’s mind.

SELF-EXAMINE

Why not review your current advertising and ask yourself if it really answers the questions your customers might have. As you read through the feature benefits of your detail business, try putting in an explanation of why and how each one of these directly benefits the customer. If you mention a feature that does not have a convincing direct customer benefit, delete it. And, on behalf of weary consumers everywhere, please remove the following phrases from your advertising vocabulary:

  • We’re dedicated to meeting your needs.
  • We have a convenient location to serve you.
  • You have our personal guarantee.
  • We really care.

Everyone knows that even dishonest schmucks use those lines.

Do this conscientiously, and you will have customer-focused copy. You can put in your tagline and a few other phrases that mention how good you are, but immediately justify those phrases with “what’s in it” for your customers, because your customers do not care about anything else. Here are some ideas:

  • Been in business for 10 years? That means the way you treat your customers reflects on you; it is important to you that this business be here for the next 10 years, so customers know you are going to treat them well.
  • Three bays and well-trained detailers? That means that when customers call with a problem, you can get them in immediately. The car will not collect dust in the parking lot until you get to it. You will get it in now. And because your detailers know what they’re doing, they’ll be able to do the best job.
  • You use “x” brand chemicals? That means you use brand name chemicals, which are the highest quality.

Those are the things your customers want to know. Remember, they are more interested in their bottom line than yours. So when people begin responding to your customer-focused advertising, make sure you have customer-focused service to back you up.

WITHIN BUDGET

If you are like most detail business owners, you do not have a large advertising budget — but that is okay. There are many affordable options from which to choose. For example, on-hold advertising is one of the least expensive advertising methods available, compared with radio, television, and print ads. In addition to being cost-effective, on-hold advertising is targeted specifically to your audience. It establishes a relationship between your detail business and your customers by communicating your information in an entertaining way. And, the on-hold advertising experts will help you make sure your program is truly customer-focused.

So, ask yourself: What customer-focused services can I offer that will differentiate me from my competition? What changes do I need to make in my advertising so that it focuses on what my customers want instead of what I think they want?

Jordache Perozzo’s automotive experience was initially acquired in his father’s detail business and later expanded through a position in Internet marketing and sales for auto dealerships in the Northwest.

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