Marketing is more than just a token social media page, writes Andy Vickery
Let’s cut to the chase, marketing to most garage owners and businesses is a can of worms. What works, what doesn’t? Are print, direct mail and advertising dead? Should we do more emails – should we do a video?
To most, marketing appears to be a smoke and mirrors art that is more about luck and being in the right place at the right time. After all, you’ve tried it and nothing appears to have worked before.
The problem is there are so many elements within marketing to attend to, but most only ever see the end results of what others are doing – an email, mailer or advert, and not what is going on behind it all. The best that most can come up with then is to copy what others are doing. But what if the garage down the road was just guessing at their marketing and you were to copy them?
Then there’s being drawn to the latest ‘shiny’ object. A media rep calls from an online technology company that promises your business will be in front of a gazillion customers visiting their website every day.
The media rep tells you that this is what you should be doing because everybody’s doing it and you’re going to miss out. The rep then goes on to say ‘you’re not still using old-fashioned methods of marketing are you?’ It’s enough to make your head explode.
When you first set up in business, nobody ever told you that you had to be a marketer as well. But marketing isn’t difficult, that is when you know how. If you can fix cars, you can certainly embrace a few concepts that will improve your marketing.
CHANGE YOUR THINKING
The problem is that many just don’t take marketing seriously enough to turn it into a business process. The first thing to do is to see marketing as part of the process of running your business, like you would with doing the accounts or any other admin’ system or procedures you might have in place.
Realise that marketing is something that requires investment, but that it’s also a process that will provide a return on investment. A problem that many have is they try to do marketing that is free or cheap,
which sadly ends up being ineffective for that very reason.
Marketing and sales are as important as the work you do. The main difference to any other business procedures is that your marketing process is what will bring customers to your door, pay the wages and overheads and hopefully make you a profit.
CLEAR ON YOUR MARKET
Who are your best customers? What is your best type of work? Determining your ‘target market’ can be a very technical subject, but these two basic questions are a great place to start. Taking a step back to consider these could provide the impetus for change in your business. Once you know the type of customers you want more of, you will be able to devise promotions that ‘talk their language’, promote the things that will resonate with them, and turn up in the right places to get you noticed.
YOUR MARKETING MESSAGE
Again, this is a subject that could fill a book or two and indeed has. But what you say to your customers is important. Too many rely on advertising that just contains a logo and a list what they do – which is actually
probably no different to the business down the road. Put yourself in the position of the customer; who should they choose when both garages appear to offer the same services? The cheapest?
Your ideal customers are likely to be those that have values above what you actually do. They see a value in your training, your honesty, the fact you are involved in community projects. How can you make yourself different from your competitors? These things do help customers make a discerning decision. So, going back to your ideal customer, what is it that appeals to them?
MEDIA – DELIVERING YOUR MESSAGE TO YOUR MARKET
Do you start a Facebook Page? is Social Media what you should concentrate on? Let’s get one thing straight from the outset – when it comes to marketing, no one method should be utilised at the expense of others. And as far as Social Media is concerned, it won’t necessarily be the one thing that is going to bear the sort of fruit you require very quickly; certainly not on its own. Use Social Media, but in a measured way.
By spending a bit of time considering your market, your message and your media, you will be able to put together much more effective marketing; there will be more of a method and strategy behind it – it may not be perfect straight away, but it can be refined as you move forward.
ARE YOU COMMITTED?
The last part of the equation is commitment. Marketing is not something that should be seen as free or cheap, or indeed something that is done only once. It is a continual process. Your final thing to do is to set up a marketing calendar then stick to it, measure it, refine it and repeat it.