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Auto Body Shop Marketing: Distribution

This is the fourth article in a five-part series that details exactly what you need to market your auto body shop and make it a success

If you want to realize your full auto body shop potential, you’ll have to do more than simply print a few postcards and launch a website. You have to get the right message in front of the right audience, at the right time.

Here are some tips for your marketing distribution:

Direct mail

Direct mail is the best way to speak directly to your audience. A well-run direct-mail campaign is an investment in profit and should be approached with dedication. Keep the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing in mind, which states that 40 percent of your direct-mail marketing success is dependent on the quality of your mailing list, 40 percent depends on your offer, and the remaining 20 percent is contingent on everything else – design, copywriting, etc.

Consult a list broker or take advantage of the mailing list tools available at PsPrint, which will help you identify and compile a mailing list based on key demographics such as income, gender, geographic location and more. You’ll probably have several lists, depending on your target audience. For example, you might have one list for your classic car owners and one list for collision work customers.

Repetition is key to direct-mail marketing success. Don’t plan to send a single postcard and expect an incredible response (though it can happen). Instead, make direct mail a staple of your marketing efforts, and send several marketing pieces during a six-month period. This contributes to your branding efforts and allows you to begin to develop relationships with your prospects. By the time you launch you incredible offer, you’ll have established trust and credibility and will yield a higher response rate.

Here’s a sample direct-mail campaign targeting classic car owners:

Week One: : Send a postcard to your mailing list offering a free quote on rust protecting their rides. Add value by making the back a quick reference to the dangers of rust damage.

Week Six: Send a flyer promoting your custom exhaust services.

Week 12: Send a booklet, “Your Guide to Classic Car Care,” which details how to keep a classic care looking and running great for years to come.

Week 18: Send a calendar, complete with colorful photos, helpful hints and reminders for auto body maintenance. Add VIP coupons for specific services or refer-a-friend discounts.

Week 24: Send greeting cards to everyone who responded to your campaign to thank them for their business. Include a gift voucher or valuable coupon to express your appreciation.

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You can deploy ads online or in the yellow pages, newspapers and magazines, as well as on radio, television, billboards and any other published mediums. You can also take your campaign “street side” by handing out flyers and posters to passers-by or in areas where your target audience congregates. Word of mouth is the most powerful advertiser, so make sure your family and friends spread the word for you.

Follow up

Test, track, and tweak – these three Ts will help you develop winning marketing campaigns with predictable response rates. Before you launch a massive direct-mail marketing campaign, you should always test the variables of your headline, design, copy and offer on small subsets of your mailing list see what yields the best response rate. Sometimes changing a single word can make a big difference in the outcome, so it’s best to narrow your choices as much as possible before deploying your test runs.

Track your response rates and record who responds so you can further define your target demographics. Tweak your subsequent marketing materials to cater to this audience. Keep a database of customers and responses, and evaluate recognizable trends so you can customize your offers. This is just another form of knowing your customers, but from an analytical perspective, which allows you to make intelligent business decisions based on honest, proven statistics.

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