Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Blog: Content marketing

April 30, 2013

Many owners and managers in this business face daily calls and door knocks from people selling advertising and marketing services.

Back of grocery store register receipts, direct mail, pay per click, billboards and youth sports just to name a few ― it’s enough to drive a wash owner/manager crazy.

My experience is that many simply say “no” as a way to just get on with their daily operations ― and also get the sales person off the phone or out the door. I don’t blame them one bit.

I believe marketing your wash is more important now than ever before. Competition has spiked, but so has demand. People are washing their cars, but are they coming to you? Are you giving them a reason to stop into your facility? What sets you apart from all of the other washes in town?

That’s where Content Marketing comes into primary importance. Your business depends on it.

My biggest marketing problem with wash owners isn’t getting them to trying something new; it’s getting them to stop doing what isn’t working.

It used to be about reach ― flooding mailboxes with coupons, billboards, advertising in the local paper, on radio or TV. All of the salespeople will boast about how many you are reaching. My view from the top: Who cares?

While reach is important for some businesses, for the local carwash (and every wash is local, even if it’s a national brand) reach is dead. It’s now all about engagement. Who cares how many households you reach that are not opening your junk mail, or how many people at the grocery store have your coupon on their receipt? If they are not being engaged, it’s a waste of time and money.

 In addition, many customers use those coupons against you. They are good for an introduction to your business ― but after that it’s usually downhill (unless you have an exceptional and motivated service writer upselling). You are giving away money, both in cost for placing the coupon and in actual redemption.

I believe the best way to market your facility in 2013 and beyond is Content Marketing.

What is Content Marketing you ask? In its most basic form, Content Marketing is communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. This is done digitally.

The usual pitching of your services and business stops here. Instead you provide information that makes your customers smarter. The end game is this: if you give consistent, relevant and important information to your customers, they will reward you with loyalty and business for many years.

Content Marketing is now being used by the smart big and small dogs of business these days – Microsoft, General Mills, Pillsbury, Target and Amex Open to name a few.

Remember where social media was seven years ago? That is where content marketing is today. It will soon become an industry standard ― but for now it is leading edge stuff.

Look at people anywhere who have idle time on their hands ― riding a bus for example. Everyone is glued to their hand held devices. Yes, they are doing some email, texting, and social media ― but most are looking for and reading good content. It’s the present and future.

Customers look before they buy ― even a carwash. Just two years ago, the average customer read about 3 pieces of content before deciding on making a purchase, now it’s nearing ten.

In addition, I see many carwashes spending money on Google Adwords, and other forms of digital advertising to get good placement and page rank on search engines. But when a customer clicks onto your website, what content are you providing to keep them interested, and ultimately visit your wash?

My guess is not much.

Are you making them smarter? Are you providing fresh, relevant and compelling content?

My guess is no. But you most likely are saying how you got started―and how great you are... Nobody cares.

Ok ― so now you ask, “what do I say and where do I put my content?” Also, you are probably asking, “I can run a wash, but I can’t write.” Finally you may be thinking, “I am not going to give away my business secrets.” I understand your concerns.

It is important to totally understand your target audience ― which of course you do as a wash owner or manager. As a wash manager or owner, you know best the issues and concerns of your community and customers.

Is water consumption and conservation a big issue? Is driveway washing and resulting runoff into lakes and streams important?

How about the effects of road salt, pollen, bugs and bird poop on the finish of today’s vehicles?

How does consistent washing and detailing preserve the resale value of a vehicle?

The subject matters are endless. From wheels to sunroofs, the content is there.

If you cannot write well, hire somebody to do it. I write content for many carwashes and other businesses. Post the content on your website and list the links to your content on your social media. Even print them off and make copies to hand out to customers as they come through your wash.

What do your blogs have to say? Remember, many people will not search for you by name. They will search by subject matter, and you better come up on page one (and have some good stuff to say) because your competition will.

I worked with a guy who owns a heating and cooling company in Minnesota. He was afraid that by posting content on HVAC installations, repairs and troubleshooting - he was going to lose customers because they would now do it on their own or use cheaper competition.

The result: he is busier than ever. His current customers and prospects recognize him as a total expert and authority on heating and cooling. He is recognized as a smart, innovative and top notch service provider. He became the go to guy and business spiked. His customers are engaged. The competition is trying to catch up, but has a long way to go.

Content marketing takes ongoing work, it never ends. Delivering consistent, relevant and important information takes commitment, but it is worth the effort. Just ask my HVAC guy.

Remember, when advertising dollars run out – the advertising stops. But your content marketing keeps working long after it is written.

What do people trust more, a paid ad saying how great you are – or your content actually proving it?

Content Marketing talks ― everything else walks. Engage!