Is It Even a Question?
Should you advertise? Where should you advertise and what should
the message be? How often should you advertise? There are many choices
for promoting your business, and basically letting a marketplace
full of customers know that you want them to come to you for their
automotive services. Sure, there are many ways to promote a business
and we will touch on a few of them here, but advertising is a basic
component of any marketing program. We should start our discussion
with a couple of basic premises.
First, people do not get all that excited about coming to get their
car serviced. It's sort of like going to the dentist - you only
go if you have a toothache, need some repair work, or simply need
a cleaning to maintain your teeth. Like the trip to the dentist,
it can get easier if each visit is pleasant. However, if the visits
are not particularly pleasant, customers will either avoid the service
or find another provider. So, the more pleasant you can make each
visit, the more receptive a customer will be to the notion of returning.
It still won't be an elective visit like going to a movie theatre
or a nice restaurant, but a visit to your business has to be more
attractive and appealing than going to any of your competitors.
Second, customers know very little about their cars, yet most care
about the quality of service. If you understand these dynamics,
then you will understand more about why some customers avoid having
their car serviced. Most of us do not like the idea of purposely
placing ourselves in a position of being at a disadvantage. Often,
however, we have little choice. That is precisely why making customers
feel comfortable also includes providing them with information that
will translate over to customer
confidence. Certainly, having your car washed is more satisfying
than having your oil changed, but both are maintenance issues and
not really optional.
Third, there are many businesses chasing your customer's money.
Not just your competitors, but virtually every service your customer
purchases has an industry behind it, and competitors within that
industry, trying to acquire that customer's business. Every appliance
seller, clothing store, car
dealership, real estate company, fast food chain, and widget seller
is asking for your customer to spend money with them. Oh yeah, and
so are your competitors.
So with all this advertising noise going on in your customer's
life, should you join in the fray? Well, the choice is really quite
simple...yes! In the simplest analysis, the alternative is not to
advertise nor promote - just be quiet, do a good job, and hope the
drive-by traffic will give you all the customers you need.
Well, that alternative sounds like the overall theme of the movie
Field of Dreams. Remember, "Build it and they will come"?
In the movie, they did come, eventually. In business, we sometimes
see the same idea applied - someone builds a facility and then either
never puts a complete marketing program in place or stops promoting
after the facility becomes busy.
Your customers need to be reminded that their vehicles require
services and they also need to be reminded that you are ready, willing,
and able to provide those services. Simply reminding customers of
services that need to be done and that you can do them seems very
elementary, but we often find that business operators fail to take
the most basic actions in the furtherance of their ventures.
Make Your Advertising and Promotions Interesting
Many customers need a fun or at least an interesting reason
to come to you. Yes, you are expected to do a technically correct
service and it needs to be convenient and fast, but that is a base
expectation. Let's talk interesting promotions: Instead of just
a $3 discount, how about enhancing your coupon with the possibility
of a greater discount when the customer redeems it. Perhaps you
could do some type of coupon drawing with the potential of winning
another discount for the customer. Try to make every customer a
winner of something, even if it is just some free advice on a randomly
drawn card. Other winners may win a discount on an air filter or
other service when they need it.
Have a Plan
Most marketing professionals agree that you should have a comprehensive
marketing plan in place that includes not just what you are going
to do, but also when you are going to do it. Be clear about your
intentions and who your audience is.
So to advertise or not? The question really is: Are you committed
to marketing and promoting your business? Implementing even a modest
marketing and advertising plan is better than
no plan at all. When it comes to promotion, here is one last bit
of advice: Don't do too much for too many or too often. But that's
an idea for a future article.
Joseph Rosales is the founder and president of Performance Resources
Inc., a full-service consulting and training company specializing
in the care car industry. To learn more about marketing planning
and implementation and improving the success of your overall business,
call (800) 268-9899, or visit www.performancepros.com.