Penny Wise but Not Dollar Foolish
All too often we look for BIG IDEA marketing and promotion answers to assist in generating increased revenue. And these BIG IDEAs usually come with BIG PRICE tags.
You know it doesn’t have to work that way. Inexpensive ways to sell your services can come from penny-pinching promotions and Marketing 101 concepts.
When you’re a small dealer with a larger and more aggressive competitor down the street, it’s essential to make every marketing and promotion penny count. Even if you have the shyest of marketing and promotions budgets, getting your name out to your customer base is essential.
Your marketing efforts demand more than simply running an advertisement in the Yellow Pages or posting your name on a local billboard. Taking a promotional approach in everything you do is part of today’s competitive demand to stay one step ahead of your competition.
Recently I was visiting a tire dealer who was up on the latest computer technology, up on the newest shop equipment, and up on the most effective training for his employees. But with all this proactive and positive effort, which certainly brought respect from both the community and the competition, this dealer was doing little marketing and promotion to maintain and grow his customer base. Leading edge only gets you so far.
Being the pack rat that I am, recently I came across a dusty old college file that contained some interesting class notes on inexpensive marketing techniques. These are some basics we all need to be reminded about from time to time.
First and foremost, always say “Thank You.” Customers love to be appreciated. Since it’s you that needs them remember they can always find another dealer interested in retaining their business ®“ doing more than grumbling ®Thanks® as they hit the door will make the right impression.
Dropping a hand-written thank you note in the mail especially if it comes from the technician who worked on a customer’s vehicle ®“ really goes a long way.
And don’t stop talking. One of the best ways to get the word about you and your company is word-of-mouth. Talk to another who will talk to you. Anyone standing next to you at the grocery store, the barbershop, in line at a restaurant could be a potential customer.
National and state industry association events, as well as community affairs, can offer numerous networking opportunities. Seek and you shall find. The people you meet at these functions are attending for the same reasons you are: To Learn and Be Seen. So meet and greet!
The word “guarantee” can be music to any customer’s ears. Don’t be afraid to over-promise and over-deliver. Just remember one word of caution, if you are going to make promises, be prepared to keep them.
Local business partnerships can make a difference. If you’re able to, establish relationships with business people who can complement your efforts. Consider adding an in-house advertising bulletin board, allowing fellow local business people to post business cards or small advertisements.
These folks see a lot of people in a day’s time, and your efforts to promote them will come back in spades.
Take a page out of the airlines’ playbook and offer a rewards program for repeat customers, as well as customers who bring new customers into your store. Perhaps it’s a free rotation or tire balance. It doesn’t have to be paper-intensive or expensive. Keep it simple.
Personalize it! Everything in your shop and everything that leaves your shop should have your logo slapped on it. What’s a coffee mug or ball cap cost?
And finally, keep an eye on your competition. Pay close attention every day. Send one of your employees on a competitive shopping trip to get an idea what they are doing different, better and worse.
My old college notes go on and on as there are many simple, inexpensive ways to promote your business.
But perhaps it’s easier to just remember: Everything that your dealership does positively or negatively from your attitude to the cleanliness of the location ®“ is ultimately your responsibility. And your greatest possible marketing asset.