What every shop owner needs to know about advertising

Most shop owners have learned a lot from their mentors, including the importance of listening to their customers, fixing cars right the first time, and never putting money ahead of people. Unfortunately, in far too many cases their mentors pass on some information that actually shouldn’t be followed. The most common example, which we see on a daily basis at Elite, is misinformation on how a shop owner should properly advertise. I am not suggesting that their mentors didn’t have good intentions when they passed their advertising guidance along, but it is safe to say that in most cases their advertising knowledge was obtained through their own trial and error, rather than marketing research.

At Elite we know there are a lot of people outside of our industry that we can learn from, so reach out to the top universities in America in order to discover what they have learned from world-class companies such as Starbucks and Apple when it comes to marketing. While the insights from those experts are usually reserved for our coaching clients, I wanted to pass along one discovery that I feel every shop owner needs to be aware of, as it may very well change the way you market your shop.

In the most general sense, in the world of marketing there are two forms of advertising: Brand awareness, and CTA (Call to Action). Examples of brand awareness advertising include key chains, glove box folders, outdoor signs and sponsoring community events, while CTA campaigns such as direct mailings, online coupons, etc., encourage immediate action (offering a special price or service package, for example). As I am sure you are aware, the overwhelming majority of shop owners invest almost all of their advertising budgets into CTA campaigns for one simple reason: they will predictably see immediate results in the form of phone calls and new customers. However, most shop owners are unaware that study after study done by leading universities has consistently drawn the same conclusion – You will get a better return on your investment with brand awareness than with CTA ads.

The mistake we see most shop owners make is they will start a brand awareness campaign (such as signs at sporting events in their community), but then they’ll pull those signs in a few months because they feel that few, if any, customers have come into the shop because of the signs. What they overlook is how many people saw those signs, and the impact it will have on those potential customers when they are in need of service. While you will not see the results as quickly with brand awareness advertising as you will with CTA campaigns, you will not only see a better ROI in the long run, but the added benefit of brand awareness campaigns is that they put the focus of your potential customer on your brand, rather than on a price.

At Elite we encourage all of our clients to embrace brand awareness campaigns, and to wean themselves off of their dependency on costly CTA campaigns. Is there a place for CTA campaigns in the auto repair business? You bet! It’s when for whatever reason, you need an immediate boost in car counts.

So do this: Identify your ideal customer, put together a well-designed brand awareness strategy that will reach your targeted customer, and stick with it. If you do, you will be thrilled with the results.

Since 1990, Bob has been the president of Elite Worldwide Inc. (www.EliteWorldwideStore.com), an ethics-based company that helps both struggling and successful shop owners take their businesses to new levels through one-on-one coaching from the industry’s top experts. The company also offers service advisor training, along with sales, marketing, and management seminars. You can contact Bob at contact@eliteworldwidestore.com, or at 800-204-3548.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.