So, you've tried it all: conventional advertising, email marketing, digital advertising---maybe you even bought a billboard or hired a plane to write your name in the sky.
Now it's time for you to devise another plan to re-energize your efforts while embracing the ever-changing technology within the world of digital marketing.
I always tell body shops to work in threes because I've seen positive results from doing it that way. Marketing is a huge universe that can overwhelm you quickly, so doing things in handfuls rather than armfuls keeps your marketing focused and targeted.
A vlog is a blog that contains primarily video content and represents a small but rapidly growing segment of the blogosphere. Some shops that have been blogging for years have included video content from day one, but most of them are just joining the vlogosphere now. Vlogging is becoming more popular as equipment becomes more affordable and editing becomes easier with a wide range of user-friendly software programs that you and I can use without being a techie. Both Yahoo! and Google now feature large video sections and many MP3 players support video, so you can create and post vlogs within minutes.
Anyone with a video-capable camera and a computer with a high-speed connection can create vlogs to publish and distribute online. Many vloggers use their personal devices in the paint booth or out on the shop floor, for instance, and post content without any editing, in most cases.
Painters and body technicians have been using vlogs for quite some time now with great success. If you check out YouTube, you'll see that The Gunman, Refinish Network, Motivated Painters and Donnie Smith are extremely popular YouTube Channels that get a ton of traffic. The ones that seem to be viewed the most are 2--3 minutes in length, direct and focused on one particular subject rather than several topics. People have short attention spans because they’re bombarded by media all day long, so the best advice is to create vlogs that are simple and to the point.
Gabriel Merino, a painter and the creator of Motivated Painters, started out with one simple video that he produced on his cell phone back in mid-2016. Since then, painters from 128 different countries have flocked to his YouTube channel. He first began producing videos with his Android phone and then with a GoPro camera, he said.
"I started to make videos showing the struggles I was having with painting and techniques,” he said. “I was shocked that even one person would watch my first video at first. I didn't have a clue about how to do it, and the video is terrible, but it's still up on YouTube. After a while, I got better at it and the production values improved. Our viewers are shocked because they think that we used expensive video equipment and sophisticated editing programs to make them. The technology is easy to attain, and you don't need to be a videographer or a film editor to do vlogs that look great."
Online advertising has gained popularity among more and more shops throughout the past few years because it's an ideal outlet to reach their target audience quickly and cost-effectively.
Shops of all sizes want to reach out to their prospective customers by promoting and advertising their businesses using Google AdWords, Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and StumbleUpon, among others.
Because the number of people using the Internet increases every day, shops utilizing online advertising are tapping into an emerging medium, as opposed to TV, radio and direct mail, which are losing users daily. By taking advantage of online advertising, small businesses such as body shops have the opportunity to describe their services in a detailed manner that educates the customer and hopefully makes their decision easier. By using technology that is easy to acquire without having to be a computer guru, online advertising is financially sensible for many shops.
Online ads can be monitored easily from your computer, personal device or cell phone, which helps you analyze how your advertisement is performing quickly. Shops can interact with users easily on the Internet through websites, blogs and social media to build confidence and trust.
One of the best things about online advertising is the fact that you can pay as you go conveniently and easily while managing your budget with just the click of a mouse. You also can see rather quickly whether or not it is working for you.
Angel Iraola, owner of Net Business Consulting & Solutions in Santa Rosa, CA, has seen online advertising campaigns that have garnered excellent results for many of his clients.
"Online advertising helps drive potential customers to your website, which is always the goal," he said. "It is an ideal medium for body shops that want to reach their target audience quickly without spending an arm and a leg. We sit down with each client and target their specific area because we've learned over the years that people will only travel 3--4 miles to get any product or service, including collision repair."
Manage Your Reviews
It happens to the best shops---you get another one-star snarky review from a customer you couldn't please, even though you tried everything you could to placate them. It's not the end of the world, so don't fret quite yet.
First off, if the review violates guidelines, you can report it and have it removed like a wart. If it's a case of a disgruntled customer and you're aware of the situation, you should respond promptly. Many shops let a bad review sit there for weeks or months in some cases, and that's never a good idea.
You should always privately email each reviewer, whether good or bad. Unfortunately, as part of a built-in spam prevention tool, you are allowed to send only one email to each reviewer until that reviewer responds. Reviewers can also block a shop from emailing them, so be prepared for that if it transpires.
Sometimes it's better to hire an objective third-party to ask an angry customer to take down their bad review or add a few stars after rectifying the situation.
Beware---never sign on using a fake name to post a review or comment on your own Yelp page. You could risk your shop's reputation by posting 5-star reviews about you and your crew or by replying angrily to negative ones on your page.
One day, a shop owner I interviewed saw a bad review and was ready to blast the customer online before I told him to relax and take a deep breath. The next day, he contacted the disgruntled individual and was able to turn it into a positive experience by simply showing him that he cared. Even an unhappy customer is reasonable when approached in a compassionate and honest way, so always reach out to everyone who offers you a review, whether good or bad.