Marketing 101 for small business owners: which campaigns work best in your shop?

Similar to the automotive industry, marketing is constantly evolving. From the tools that you use down to production and efficiency, it’s important to have the right strategies in place.

At Management Success, we offer our clients a marketing class that covers the basic fundamentals. One key point that we teach is how to identify a “button.” This is a term used to signify a trigger that will help attract a shop’s target customer. Once a “button” is identified, the next step is to connect it with an image.

The key here is to know what speaks directly to your target audience. If your shop is located in the suburbs, chances are, you most likely service a lot of families. If this is the case, may want to consider using images of children and pets in your marketing campaigns since those visuals will likely resonate with your ideal customer.

Now that you know what triggers the attention of your target customer, it’s time to determine the most effective ways of communication. From quirky social media posts to informative videos, here’s a guideline to see which techniques will work best for your business:


Direct Versus Digital

While direct mail is an effective way to promote a special or welcome a new customer, the cost of printing can be expensive. Try budgeting out an amount for quarterly mailings to prospective customers while keeping on top of your “thank you” notes for referrals.

Emails are a low-cost/no-cost solution to help you stay in touch with your customers. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and tap into your creativity. You can offer friendly preventative tips and share “how-to” videos.


Generation ‘Text’

Text is the new email. It’s a wonderful way to promote specials and send appointment and service reminders. Many shop management systems will also allow you to automate the messages, making communication quick and easy. You’ll be surprised at how many appointment request texts you will receive in return.


Social Media Mania

While intimidating to some, social media can be a powerful tool for shop owners. It’s an opportunity to give prospective and current customers an inside look at your shop. Post photos and videos of your team, waiting area, courtesy vehicles and anything else that conveys your positive image — but you can also have fun. Many of our shop owners share their community involvement, such as sponsorships of sporting events and youth leagues. Think about things you would want to see on social media.


Organically Found

Your online presence is everything when it comes to marketing. Most businesses have websites because a customer will first turn to their search engine when looking for a new auto repair shop. While a strong website is important for marketing and for search engine optimization, social media review pages such as Yelp and Google+ are equally critical. Make sure that your shop has a page on each of these sites and monitor for reviews regularly. You can also increase optimization by creating a blog and posting at least two times per month. The content here can be as simple as repurposing material you have already created for social media and email marketing campaigns.

A simple guideline to see which marketing methods work best in your shop is to evaluate what you are currently doing, the costs associated with these campaigns and what returns are being received. Then, develop a strategy based on the results. For example, if you are sending emails and your open rate is above 30 percent, this is actually an effective way to communicate with your customer base. It’s important to recognize what works as well as know the areas that are not producing results.

If you do not optimize your shop’s marketing potential, it may affect your shop’s business potential.

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Serving as a voice for the automotive industry in areas of marketing and business management, Roxanne Doche is a guest contributor for several trade publications. She is the marketing director for Management Success, a consulting and training company for shop owners. Additionally, Roxanne is an active member of various associations and networking groups, including the Car Care Council (Women in Auto Care) and The Women’s Industry Network. She can be contacted at

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.