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Mobile marketing

October 11, 2010
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If you think about it for a moment, the one product that your customer always has on hand when in their car today is their mobile phone. Just like the automobile, the cell phone and all mobile devices today have become a lifestyle-defining appliance.

Combining cars and cells
What do cars and cell phones have in common? First, they are both popular, and in most cases necessary, mobile tools. Second, both are very personal in nature and actually help define your lifestyle. According to the Associated Press, 26 percent of women have a nickname for their car. Sixty percent say they gain insight to a driver’s personality based on the car they drive. Americans seem to have a similar affinity when it comes to their cell phones.

Is your business capturing and exploiting this synergy? Mobile is here to stay and, unfortunately, car care providers are struggling to understand how to adapt their marketing strategy to benefit from this “mobile revolution.”

The science of mobile marketing focuses on “touchpoints” — pivotal moments when a company employee interacts with customers. The cell phone, if leveraged to its full potential, is the most effective tool, using mobile “touchpoints” to build brand awareness and retain customer loyalty.

The following four tips can be easily implemented to get your business into the mobile revolution.

1. Perfectly timed mobile coupons
The immediacy of mobile marketing allows you to take maximum advantage of every dry, sunny day. Unlike traditional advertising campaigns that always seem to fall during the worst weather possible, mobile coupons can be quickly created and dispatched to (opt-in) customers and prospects in minutes.

Imagine receiving a coupon on your cell phone for a carwash the first clear day after a nasty snowstorm or heavy pollen day. Consider a special promotion for a detailing package on the week before Fathers Day. Or perhaps a notice, that next Wednesday will be Volvo Owners Appreciation Day with a 25 percent discounted oil change and other targeted services.

2. Mobile reward programs
Consider the ease, convenience and simplicity of your own mobile loyalty program. Coke has created one of the most successful loyalty programs — My Coke Rewards — by allowing participants to input and check on their loyalty points directly from their cell phone.

Eliminate punching frequent user cards. They are burdensome for the consumer and expensive for the enterprise. People lose the cards or have multiple cards they want to combine. This hassle discourages participation and dilutes the attraction of the program itself. Instead use a cell phone number and any desktop computer to easily track and stimulate new business and enhanced loyalty.

3. Personalized auto wallpaper
Picture this scene: You take a digital picture of your customers sparkling clean, bright and shiny vehicle. Your send this picture to your customer’s cell phone as a pickup notice and downloadable wallpaper.

Of course your establishment’s name is prominently captured in the photo background. Each time your customer opens their cell phone they will have a positive image reminder connected to your facility.

4. Car care tips and reminders
There may be many things that you want to communicate to your customers. But who has time to call each one individually?

Share your knowledge and expertise while educating your customers with text messaging. Some sample ideas:
  • Remove road salt promptly after a storm to limit corrosion;
  • A carwash is not the same as detailing;
  • Some road salt may remain in door panels or moldings. Let it dry then wipe with a damp cloth or towel;
  • Soap and water does not remove road tar or tree sap;
  • Tire dressing improves the entire appearance of a vehicle;
  • The best time (shortest lines) are found Monday and Tuesday; and
  • Join the “Tuesday Morning Club” for a discount.
By building your opt-in list of customers, you can send them these and other motivating information, when it is most effective. Your customers will appreciate your display of thoughtfulness as well as the discount coupons. Use this technique with short expiration coupons or specials to build traffic during non-peak periods.

Easy to implement
Try an affordable three-to six-month pilot program. Select a mobile application provider who will customize their solution for your business.

Some providers allow you to send text, email, or even a recorded voice message, all within the same database. You shouldn’t need to install anything since providers allow you access to their mobile messaging system from their hosted facility. This allows you to do a three-month pilot program without committing a lot of money or resources.

It works like this: From a computer screen you can pre-load messages to be scheduled to be sent at a pre-determined date/time or based on weather or some other event you can send on demand. Messages can be sent to either the entire database or a select portion desired.

Customers can easily be motivated to “opt-in” to your program in multiple ways:
  1. At your car care center, you can display information on how to join the program with instructions on how to send a text message to opt-in;
  2. On your website you can have a page that describes your programs and people can click-to-join; and
  3. You can train your cashier or service personnel to ask customers if they’d like to receive special offers and how to sign up.
One of the keys to enhanced revenue and increased profitability is to reduce your cost of customer acquisition and increase loyalty of existing customers.

Mobile technologies are now being used to cost-effectively build loyal communities and making customers feel special by delivering useful and endearing mobile programs.

Bob Gold is the CEO of Gold Mobile, a technology solutions company focused on helping businesses increase business with today’ s mobile consumer. Gold can be reached at 732-587-2101 x255, e-mail at, or text the word “Bob” to 51684.

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