Car care professionals are continually tasked with figuring out which marketing messages and channels will make the biggest impact for their businesses. Learning to navigate the marketing landscape — while abundant with opportunity — feels like a full-time job in and of itself. Sure, it’s tempting to hop on the bandwagon of the newest flashy trend, but putting all of your proverbial eggs in one basket can hurt your bottom line over the long haul. With so much competition, that’s not a risk you can afford.
The antidote? Build a comprehensive marketing plan to generate predictable, compounding results. Combining print and digital initiatives guarantees you both short- and long-term profits by attracting new customers to you today and building relationships with those same customers to keep them visiting you in the future.
Direct mail marketing
Consider direct mail to be the backbone of your marketing plan. It’s simple to reach an audience of your ideal prospective customers and to track the return on your investment. For best results craft your direct mail campaign to focus on unique trigger events, such as relocations and birthdays.
Around 15 million households move each year — and while you can’t prevent them from moving on, you can welcome the new families as they arrive. New residents in your town are looking to replace their old favorites, having left their loyalties behind. Similarly, 859,000 Americans celebrate their birthdays each day and are on the lookout for celebratory offers in their mailboxes.
Collect the gift certificates your new customers redeem (or review your POS data, if they’re entering digital codes, instead) to keep a pulse on the effectiveness of your campaign. Ask yourself, “Am I successfully converting these new customers into loyal fans?” Reviewing this feedback will allow you to tweak your mailing demographics for an even better response.
Build on your direct mail foundation by incorporating email marketing for quick conversions. Sending branded, personalized email offers is the fastest way to get customers to your wash. Email broadcasts are perfect for specials, ranging from announcing a new weekly promotion, such as an early bird wash special, to running a flash sale on a slow day.
Don’t just push coupons, though. The affordability of email marketing makes it profitable to build your brand — and show you’re human. Are you hosting a wash for a local charity or community organization? Send a broadcast out to your subscribers to promote the event.
Also consider sending newsletters to position yourself as an industry expert. You’ll stand out from your competition by highlighting your knowledge and reinforcing the message that you genuinely care about providing value to your customers. While the tips you share may be small beans to a seasoned car care professional like yourself, they have a high perceived worth to your subscribers. Think of your newsletter as one more tool in your arsenal to help answer customers’ eternal question: “What’s in it for me?”
Social media marketing
Round out your marketing plan with social media. While it has the highest potential to reach large numbers of potential customers, it also requires the most patience in the form of a sophisticated, long-term strategy.
Gone are the days when just having a Facebook page would put you ahead of your competition. Quality is now the name of the game, and it’s a “do-or-die” struggle. Remember, you’re not just competing with the wash around the corner. Your messaging is up against posts from your customers’ family and friends, as well as businesses of all sizes in other industries.
Everything you publish should communicate value. This ranges from ensuring your business information is correct (so your customers can find you easily) to posting engaging content like contests and photos that show your personality. Reach out to your fans on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus several times per week to stay on their minds and deepen their trust in you.
Extend this personal touch to your online reputation sites. Customers see Google Plus, Yelp and other review sites as a direct customer service line to you. Take the time to post thoughtful, individualized responses to all reviews to strengthen customer loyalty and assure prospective customers they’ll be treated well at your wash.
Today’s consumers are moving targets. Constantly connected to their mobile devices and in conversation with one another, they need more than just one touch to break through the noise and convert. Combining print and digital campaigns gives them the extra push to not just give your wash a try but to keep them coming back again and again.
Michelle Bizon is the social media manager at Moving Targets. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.