Marketing — The Low-Cost Approach
By Jordache Perozzo
- Focus on the benefits your detail service offers the customer.
- Pictures are good, but it is the words that sell.
- Use impact words like “new, free, save” to attract new customers.
- Use testimonials; they work.
- Make all media your friend.
- Use your database to build business.
- Get referrals from other customers.
Effective marketing ideas do not need to cost a fortune to implement. There are many creative promotional methods you can use without spending a lot of money. Here are a few quick ideas:
- Think about billboard advertising, including those on bus benches, buses, doors, and restroom doors.
- Offer your services at a discount to car shows or antique car auctions.
- Implement or continue your direct marketing efforts with thank-you notes and postcard mailings to customers.
- Create a website and update it regularly.
- Consider collaborating with other auto service businesses.
- Develop testimonial flyers/letters and use them to promote, especially on your website.
- Design your Yellow Page ad so it will be noticed and stand out from the rest of the detail businesses. Check to see if your detail service can go under another area in the book as “remnant space,” usually at a fraction of the cost.
As Nike says, “Just do it!” Although billboard advertising can cost a lot, it is a very effective way to get thousands of exposures a month. Who knows, with today’s economy you may be able to strike a good deal
with a billboard company. It never hurts to ask.
You can also use the display space on buses, bus benches, doors, bathrooms, and airport shuttles. Also, consider advertising on the back of claim and restaurant checks.
Maybe the building you rent or own already has a billboard frame on top that you can use. Alternatively, offer the site to the billboard company. The production costs for a 10’ x 40’ billboard will be about $500.00. Both new and existing customers will see it. And when drivers are stuck in traffic, they have no choice but to look at a billboard.
While network TV spots are expensive, you can look into local costs for cable television, which can be much less. For a nominal charge, the cable company can film your commercial. TV and radio as advertising media can be expensive, so try to work trades with the stations; smaller radio stations are big on trades.
Never forget your direct marketing efforts. Thank-you cards and postcard mailings are cheap and keep your name in the market.
Use novelties that people can use such as a calendar with your name and contact information on them that can be affixed on top of a computer monitor or across the keyboard. Cost is less than 50 cents each.
Your website is a key resource for marketing. Creating a website can cost as little as $500 depending on what you want done. Develop a site that allows for easy updates and the ability to capture information about visitors through registration for a “car care” newsletter or tips.
Use this information to follow up and better serve clients and prospects. Do seasonal promotions to get your name and a specific promotion directly into the inboxes of your clients and prospects.
Increase Your Name Awareness
Public relations and involvement in the community can boost your recognition. How about an “adopt a highway” program that will get your name exclusively on a sign?
Develop tip sheets on car care and send it to editors of various media in your area. Become the credible “in-the-know” source for car care that editors contact and refer to in articles, interviews, or stories.
Never stop networking. Your city’s chamber of commerce and other business-owner associations have networking events. Join them and attend meetings.
Referral rewards are great ways to get some incentives to clients to recommend other customers. Offer a free car wash to existing customers who refer someone to your business. If possible, create a promotion that encourages repeat business from your current clients as well.
Testimonials are key to letting non-customers know how great you are. Also, package testimonial flyers with referral rewards. This type of promotion shows customers enjoying your service; if current customers like your detail service, then new ones will too.
If one of your competitors goes out of business, call the phone company to see if you can get their old phone number and “call-forward” to your number.
What really gets you business is making phone calls and knocking on people’s doors. Get a sales team working on this. Develop relationships. It is always easier to retain customers than get new ones.
Jordache Perozzo is aftermarket sales manager for Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems Inc. His 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. You can contact Jordache at Jordache@detailplus.com.