Detailing - October 2001
There's Gold in Advertising
If You Do It RightAUTO
By John Lamade
Every business has a listing in the Yellow
Pages. Are you getting the most benefit from your listing? How
are you listed in the Yellow Pages? For example, if you are a
detailer, where does your listing appear? Do you have a display
ad? If so, how big is it? Did you use color? What is the benefit
of advertising in the Yellow Pages?
Most businesses don't understand how to
use the Yellow Pages. Most of your new business comes from referrals
from satisfied customers, but are there other ways to increase
the number of new customers, who will, in turn, provide referrals?
This month we will consider
the benefits of using the Yellow Pages. Because so many businesses
don't use the Yellow Pages to their advantage, it presents an
opportunity for you to create a competitive edge.
In the Summit and Medina County area in
Ohio there are 47 listings in the Yellow Pages for businesses
offering "Automobile Detailing." There are nine non-standard
listings and only one freestanding display advertisement, which
is in three colors. If you were looking for a detailer and didn't
know which one to visit, where would you look first? Yellow Page
experts agree that people first read the display ads, then the
expanded listings, and then the general listings. Now if you were
one of the 47, how would you feel if you were the 47th choice?
Do you think potential customers will try 46 businesses before
they get to you?
In the past articles we have discussed
the fact that many vehicle owners don't know what detailing
is. A good Yellow Page ad helps clarify the issue by providing
space to indicate the services you offer. For example, the detailer
that ran the multi-color display ad offers the following services:
o Buff & Wax
o Overspray Removal
o Teflon Paint Sealant
o Gold Plating
o Interior Steam Cleaning & Deodorizing
o Engine Steam Cleaned
o Scratch Removal
o 11 years experience
o Company Fleets & Dealers Welcome
o Same Day Service Available
o Complete Automotive Detail & Paint Touch Up
o Free Estimates
o Free Pickup & Delivery
o BBB membership with logo
o Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express
The shop managed to get all of that
information into an ad space measuring 1-7/8" x 2-3/8"!
That's information. Think about it. Would you be more inclined
to go to the shop above or to a place simply listed as Joe's
Don't confuse the progression of this
article as a plea for Yellow Page advertising. Advertising in
the Yellow Pages is a powerful tool. Over 200 million phone
books are distributed annually; every household with a phone
gets at least one phone directory with Yellow Pages. And if
you have a phone, you probably have a car. And if you have a
car, it probably needs to be detailed...
Okay, only a small fraction of vehicle
owners will have a vehicle detailed, but if someone wants a
detail job, does he or she know where to go? "Ahhh,"
you say, "I do wholesale work, and I don't need Yellow
Page ads." But, how does a dealer find you?
Let's back up a little bit to last month when we discussed the
PLANNING FOR SUCCESS
Last month I stated that you must know
your objectives and define your customers. Who do you wish to
serve? Communication to prospective customers is part of a marketing
plan. When you are developing your plan, you must consider what
you will do to advertise your business. As you know, there are
many choices. And whatever communications methods you choose,
they must fit your budget.
When you decide how to invest in advertising,
you must also evaluate the effectiveness of your past efforts.
If you ran a display ad, how many customers did the ad bring
into your shop? How successful was the ad?
Measuring the effectiveness of your marketing
efforts will help you get the greatest return on your investment.
You should track the number of inquiries and jobs. There are
several methods you can use to track effectiveness:
o Include a space on the job order form to indicate
how the customer heard about your
shop. For example, referral, advertisement, Yellow
Page listing, etc.
o Have a separate phone line for Yellow Page calls; then you
can track the number of
calls received on the line. Some businesses
also use extension numbers to identify the
most effective directories.
o Poll your customers periodically.
By understanding the sources of non-referral
customers, you can then determine the return on your advertising
investment. If you gained 200 new customers, would this justify
the investment in advertising?
YELLOW PAGE ADVERTISING
Let's consider how you might approach
developing a Yellow Page tactic. One of the things that I learned
while developing this month's article was that Yellow Page advertising
is a closely guarded secret. Phone companies and directory companies
produce billions of Yellow Pages every year. I thought that
the Internet would be filled with wise-sounding articles regarding
the benefits and how-tos of Yellow Page advertising, but I was
wrong. I was amazed by the scarcity of material, and I never
did find a rate book. Then I realized that the mysteries of
the Yellow Pages were a closely guarded secret.
I remembered a conversation I had with
a mechanic who told me how hard he had to work just to cover
the expense of his Yellow Page exposure. Yellow Pages are not
inexpensive and to cover all the free listings, the advertisers
must pay. Well, I told you that advertising in the Yellow Pages
was an investment. If you plan to out-perform your competition,
then you must get customers into your shop.
Because there is so much secrecy in
Yellow Page advertising, the best way to break into Yellow Page
advertising is to work with the Yellow Page sales representative.
A good representative will work with you to determine your needs.
Prepare yourself for the meeting by studying your current directory
to see what others are doing both in your market area and other
areas around the country. You do not need to start a trend by
buying a whole page, but you can determine the appropriate size
of ad and how different shops communicate their services. By
studying other ads you can get ideas for your ad. Do you want
to include line art of boats, planes, vans, and other exciting
vehicles in your ad?
Put yourself in your customer's shoes.
Pretend that you are looking for a
detailer. Which ads create interest? What claims are made and
what services are offered? For example, if everybody mentions
"Teflon" paint sealants in their ads, perhaps this
is important (even though you know that Teflon doesn't do anything),
and you should be aware of customer knowledge and experience
in this area. Will mentioning "Paint Sealant" rather
than "Teflon Paint Sealant" gain or lose business?
Remember that you can explain the Teflon fallacy when the customer
comes to your shop. It's your choice, just remember that you
are also trying to build a referral source as well as getting
a new customer.
Once you have discussed your options
with the Yellow Pages sales representative, you need to look
at your marketing plan. Can you afford the ad or investment?
If you can't, perhaps you can
negotiate a more favorable rate or make a compromise on the
size/content of your ad. Consider what you may gain - or lose
- by reducing your Yellow Page exposure.
An alternative approach to using the
Yellow Page representative is to use an advertising agency that
specializes in Yellow Page advertising. Many agencies charge
the equivalent of one-month's Yellow Page advertising cost to
create a Yellow Page ad. You still need to know what you want
before you work with an agency specialist, but you can gain
invaluable assistance in the design of the ad. In short, you
may find that the agency can provide you with the most effective
ad for your investment.
You know that referrals are the most
effective way to promote your business. Advertising in the Yellow
Pages and other media can be useful tools. While you cannot
visit every household in the same manner that you can with all
the car dealerships in your area, there must be a way to let
people know what you do.
Certainly you can see that Yellow Page
advertising can be a useful tool, but there are some other things
that you should remember:
o Yellow Page listings show all your competitors. When you
direct potential customers to
the Yellow Pages, you are also directing
them to competitors. Many businesses
NEVER mention their Yellow Page ads in
their other advertising; they refer customers
to their white page business listing.
o Yellow Pages rarely educate. A customer looks up a service
provider when they feel a
need. Very, very, very few people read
the Yellow Pages. When the potential
customer is ready to commit, you must also
be ready to commit to the customer.
o Advertisement size can indicate the size or level of success
of your business. If you
place a little ad and large ads precede yours,
people will assume that you are less
successful than the companies with larger ads.
This may not be the impression you wish
to convey. By adjusting your "look"
and content you can overcome the
o You must live with a Yellow Pages ad for a year. Once you
place an ad, it is out there
for a whole year. Be sure that the ad will perform
throughout the year.
Yes, there are alternatives. I have already mentioned
that. The advertising tools you use
should be based on the types of customers you
seek. Remember that you should also
let your customers shape the services you offer.
By making communication easier with
both potential and actual customers, you can
gain a better understanding of their needs
and expectations. When you can meet or exceed
expectations you will have a much
easier time gaining positive referrals from satisfied
Make it easier for customers to find you, and
you can succeed by walking through the
John Lamade has extensive experience in the marketing of
detailing products and is a contributing editor to Auto Laundry
News. Contact John via e-mail at email@example.com.