To spark word-of-mouth interest, auto repair shops must develop buzzworthy features and reinforce key messages. Here’s how.
Conceptual Minds | December 16, 2022
Top 7 Most Common Auto Repair Marketing Myths
Business owners have used word-of-mouth marketing to make sales and earn good reputations for as long as markets have existed.
Both low in cost and high in persuasion, there’s no wonder why it’s been desirable for so long. However, it’s fallen out of fashion as digital promotion—in review sites and social media—has provided customers with far less effort.
Word-of-mouth is one of the most misunderstood marketing strategies. What about it actually moves customers to purchase, how do you do it right, and how can today’s auto shop owners get the ball rolling? The auto repair marketing experts at Conceptual Minds explain.
What is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
A good product or service sells itself. This is what many business owners and marketers think word-of-mouth is about; create a great experience and watch the foot traffic pile in. But, while word-of-mouth does rely on your audience to act, its power can be enhanced with any number of marketing practices.
In fact, reputations are usually built on marketing that encourages these vital conversations and arms them with convincing talking points. The end goal of these efforts is to start more in-person brand mentions than the number of mentions you drove.
Benefits of Word-of-Mouth for Auto Repair Marketing
In all fairness to those who think word of mouth is the only viable strategy, it is extremely good at its job.
First, it’s a great way to get (mostly) free endorsements. Fortune 500 companies spend millions on celebrity endorsements, but recommendations from close acquaintances carry more weight.
Not only will consumers spread word for free, they’ll do it much more naturally than anything coming from a copywriter. Prospects can ask questions, get clear directions and any other information that helps them make a decision. Since your message is not limited to paid promotions, it can be spread as far and wide as it is relevant.
Word-of-Mouth’s Power Comes from Two Secret Ingredients
Word-of-mouth marketing gets its tremendous power from two key ingredients:
- Wow moments that create organic conversations
- Marketing messaging, techniques, and strategy that support and encourage such conversations
Learning about a great new menu item at your favorite restaurant, a new show from your favorite creators; these little discoveries excite us. The thrill of learning these tidbits is powerful because it doesn’t happen often.
That sounds hard, though. How?
Through social currency.
Since we love passing information that makes us look in the know, telling people about a wow-worthy place gives them bragging rights. It’s like extra test credit, but only for social situations.
Social currency refers to that extra bit of social credit, and it’s the primary force driving word-of-mouth’s power.
Myth #3: Auto Repair Marketing is Only Pitching Services to Drivers
Stores that command a lot of word-of-mouth influence often make it look easy. Create a superb customer experience, and they’ll find you.
But it’s anything but a set-it-and-forget-it marketing activity. Instead, you can use other marketing techniques to maximize the impact of the message and give it opportunities to take off.
The following activities will help you enhance the value of your shop’s social currency, giving your campaign the best shot at success.
Step 1: Ensure Your Basic Services Are Noticibly High Quality
Without great service, you’re not likely to make a powerful first impression. The more powerful the experience, the further your message spreads.
Quality is subjective, though, so what do auto shop consumers actually want?
Based on consumer research, we’ve identified the following top consumer priorities for their auto repair service:
- Reliable parts
- Warranty backing
- A convenient, comfortable waiting environment
- Minimal wait times
As you can see, these are pretty simple desires. Since we’re aiming to wow, we have to blow past the average consumer’s expectations. While that might sound tough, the auto repair industry has always lagged behind consumer expectations. Because of this relatively low bar, consumers can be thrilled by thoughtful, low-cost touches and extras.
For instance, we’ve seen noticeable results with the following extras
- Snack table with fresh fruit instead of candy and junk food
- A cold brew coffee machine
- A chilled water bottle in the center console cup holder (Ideally on hot days)
Note that these extras have to be tailored to your local audience. So while the first two do well with the urban professional crowd, they might not be as attractive to suburbanites in your area.
Step 2. Start Conversations Where they Live: Sneaking into Social Feeds and Review Sites
Maintaining a significant online presence helps you start word-of-mouth conversations on your terms. Social platforms also give you a vital place to create and promote wow moments.
Sharing a post isn’t all that different from having a conversation. Since such networks connect people to their closest relationships, these informal endorsements can generate a lot of social currency.
Make your social content seasonally relevant. If there’s a big snowfall on the way, get your smartphone’s camera app ready and give some education about safe driving and car maintenance. Teach them how to get snow off their car’s roof without scratching it.
The more fun, personal, and out-of-the box they are, the more excitement and shares you’ll get. Promote your services and extras through email marketing and social media to help them catch on.
Step 3. Post Public Reviews to Spark Conversations
Word-of-mouth isn’t just about creating a standout customer experience. So much of the work is about finding ways to encourage and incentivize your customers to spread the word.
For that, you need to reinforce your name and unique value through the magic of marketing.
To start, set up feedback channels to collect testimonials. Think Google reviews, Yelp reviews, emails, feedback surveys, and website analytics. Browsers look to these as evidence that people like them trust and appreciate your services. Aim to top your competitor’s review score as well as review volume.
Incentives help encourage reviews even further. Extras like:
- Send an email that thanks them and encourages them to review—tell them in your own words how reviews help your business.
- Issue your regulars personalized mailers to thanking them for their support and prompt reviews
- Dole out discounts for customers who post reviews
(Podium is one of the fastest ways to collect public reviews. Conceptual Minds helps you get access to the software and set it up for you at a discount).
Once reviews start streaming in, collect and display them in prominent places—review sites, social media posts, online marketplaces, your store, and your site.
Step 4. Reward Auto Repair Referrals for Word-of-Mouth Growth
Social currency is about sharing valuable information, but any number of things can prevent your customers from spreading it. Maybe they forgot, or maybe they haven’t had good reason to talk to anyone likely to take them up on it. Or maybe they were on the fence, to begin with.
Referral incentives reward to push people past this paralyzing stage and share social currency enhanced by the real thing.
Referrals also give you access to your customer’s social networks, which helps you find like-minded consumers you’d otherwise miss. Maybe they’re just out of your usual coverage area but are willing to drive further for good service.
What’s a good incentive?
We’ve found that customers love gift cards from local restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, gyms, and golf courses.
Grow Your Auto Repair Shop's Marketing with Word-of-Mouth Strategies
There’s good reason why even consumers have heard of word-of-mouth marketing; it’s a simple concept that’s worked as long as humans have. By taking care to excite your audience, keep them engaged, you can create an organic feedback loop that takes on a life of its own.
Learn About Conceptual Minds
Conceptual Minds’ auto repair marketing experts have mastered the art and science of driving car counts through campaigns that address your prospect’s needs and exceed their expectations.