Auto repair marketing isn’t a puzzle, but it’s not exactly simple thanks to these popular misconceptions. We’re tackling the most common and harmful myths holding shop owners back in our latest guide.
Conceptual Minds | November 17, 2022
Find Your Auto Repair Shop’s Target Market in 5 Steps
It would be great if marketing advice was as dependable as advice from a good mechanic.
It’s easy to get confused, or misled—whether it’s a post anyone could have written, a self-proclaimed expert, or a potentially inexperienced marketing consultant. To make matters worse, the stakes are high.
Ideally, you’d make an investment of that size with more confidence.
Auto repair marketing isn’t a puzzle, but it can be complicated and sometimes counterintuitive. As auto repair markers ourselves, we’ve helped numerous shop owners draw customers and develop reputations. And through this we encountered more than a few widespread misconceptions—these seven are among the most harmful and common we see.
But first, Undeniable Truth
Before we take down some of the most pernicious marketing myths, there are three rules of marketing that never change.
- What once worked will likely change
- There’s always something brand new
- There’s a LOT of misinformation about both
The things that draw people to business change; consumers age out of driving, move away, purchase a car with dealer-dedicated repairs, and new generations start getting behind the wheel. Not to mention the much larger changes that shift cultures, economies, nations, and the world.
Marketing works best as a cycle of learning, executing, and re-learning. Understand what you know and don’t know about your customers, competitors, and industry, and set out to answer them one-by-one.
Myth #1: Auto Repair Marketing Means Competing on Price Alone
Demand for low-cost auto repair services is high as American drivers opt for maintenance over replacement.
As a business owner, it makes sense to accommodate this price sensitivity. Unfortunately, many auto repair facilities decide it’s the only choice, opting to offset lower margins with higher volume.
Inevitably, it’s a gamble. If you cannot attract the volume needed to offset rock-bottom rates, you put yourself in the unfortunate situation of raising prices after staking your reputation on them. Once that disappears, customers might, too.
The real mistake is not necessarily the pricing strategy but relying on a strategy as a substitute for an effective marketing strategy. If your marketing depends on pricing alone, you signal that price is your main differentiator.
You need to differentiate yourself from an ocean of competition with similar services at mostly similar price points. That’s why it pays to be known for something else. Something unlikely to change; high-quality personalized service, an elegant clean space that’s cozy to wait in, or helping customers meet their transportation needs while their car is in the shop.
Instead of competing on price, compete on value. Customers want low-cost services, but they’re willing to pay slightly more if they feel they’re getting more in return.
Myth #2: To Make a Good Marketing Campaigns Come From One Great Idea
The perfect tagline, the most tempting deal, the most tempting cross-promotion; the Don Drapers of the world convinced many that marketing is a sport for visionary geniuses.
Often the assumption that one must have such an idea prevents otherwise savvy auto repair owners from starting a marketing project.
High-minded national ad campaigns can move the needle for the corporations that launch them, but most effective local campaigns are designed around a tactical goal—increasing awareness of your brand among homeowners, retaining loyalty amongst long-time customers.
In this model, your creative decisions come from this goal. Targeting single-family households? Center on a kid-friendly environment. College kids? You’ll probably wind up advertising on campus.
The right creative choices after you define your tactical goals; not the other way around.
Myth #3: Auto Repair Marketing is Only Pitching Services to Drivers
When most think about marketing, they don’t picture professionals debating creative choices around a conference table. They think of the end product; a beautiful outdoor sign, entertaining TV and radio commercials, or a funny social media post.
There’s more to marketing than producing more marketing materials. At its best, marketing is a reliable process that turns knowledge of your customer into marketing materials that effectively communicate with them.
In marketing, knowledge is half the battle, which makes information collection as importantas creative execution. Marketing that’s not grounded in the customer’s reality—their expectations, desires, and sense of value—risks irrelevance.
Myth #4: There’s No Such Thing as an Auto Repair Shop Target Market
Auto repair marketing is made easier by one simple fact: most people drive cars. Your services can appeal to almost any driver in your area (Depending on the vehicles you service).
Thanks to the universal need for auto repair services, you don’t need the kind of hyper-sophisticated advertising targeting that many consumer industries spend billions on (link).
Still, drivers are not the same everywhere—different climates, road conditions, economic conditions, local culture, and much more. All these factors determine your customers’ service needs. Not only that, learning more about them helps you ground your marketing in their real lives—their expectations, desires, and concerns.
This is how you really reach people.
Myth #5: Auto Repair Shop Signs Direct Consumers, Nothing Else
Most outdoor business signs are unassuming enough to fade into the background. It’s hard to believe that such a simple and crude device does much more than say your name and what your business does—but they do.
A sign isn’t just for telling passers-by that you run an auto shop—it is for giving an impression of the kind of auto shop you run. You get to determine what that is.
Your average local customer will drive past your shop fifty to sixty times per month. Given that volume—and their limited attention—aren’t you missing an opportunity by not saying more?
That said, even the more functional aspects of signage do more than most assume. Effective sign design makes lettering more readable, visible from a distance, and more memorable. And while it sounds boring, it’s exactly how you make a lasting impression.
Going the extra mile to make signs that are much more memorable, recognizable, and expressive gives them more power to pull drivers into your orbit and through your doors.
Myth #6: Word of Mouth is the Only Way to Draw Customers or the Best Way to Draw Customers
This is something we hear a lot. Good service pays for itself. Customers tell their friends about their positive experience, about their positive experiences. Those people tell other people; pretty soon you have a customer base.
Word of mouth’s effectiveness is not on trial, but it can’t replace a marketing strategy. Almost all services regularly benefit from their customer’s recommendations, the question is whether your current customer pool will recommend your shop far enough and wide enough to drive the car count you genuinely need.
Auto repair marketing gives you a repeatable template for growing your shop. Otherwise, you risk missing valuable opportunities to give customers more reason to recommend you.
Myth #7: Marketing Campaigns are Best Launched as Needed
It’s a common story. Concerned with day-to-day operations of their businesses, auto repair owners begin marketing efforts after a slowdown has already occurred.
That’s part of the beauty of marketing; you can do it at any time. This strategy can work out for well established businesses, but for those looking to grow car counts—or expand their existing footprint—a little long-term planning can get you pretty far.
Calculate your customer acquisition cost and lifetime customer value to get started. Then, write down the number of additional customers you’ll need to meet your sales goals and figure out how much you can afford to spend on each new customer.
Once there, shop around for the marketing channels that match or beat your acquisition cost goal. If you’re going for volume, your best shot is postcard marketing (Visit our postcard cost and reach calculator if you need help).
Never Stop Finding Your Auto Repair Shop’s Target Market
There are still more than a few topics where good intel is hard to find. Despite the almost unlimited information available at our fingertips, marketing is still a humbling process.
That doesn’t mean you have to feel around in the dark, though. By asking and answering big questions about what makes your industry, customers, and competitors tick, you get that much better at serving them beyond their expectations.
Learn About Conceptual Minds
The expert auto repair marketers at Conceptual Minds have mastered the craft and science of driving car counts through campaigns that address your prospects needs, expectations, and hopes.
Need help finding new audiences for your auto repair shop?