5 Smart Marketing Moves to Make in 2016

5 Smart Marketing Moves to Make in 2016

Last year around this same time, I wrote an article about 5 marketing-related things to do in 2015 and I stand by everything I listed there. In order, they were:

  1. Get Closer to Your DRPS
  2. Get Closer to Your Community
  3. Get More Social
  4. Update Your Web Site and
  5. Get a Blog!

So, this year I’m offering you five new suggestions that you’ll hopefully be able to integrate into your existing marketing strategy.

When it comes to marketing, you don’t get to rest and take a deep breath, because marketing does not start and stop. Whether you’re in a small town or a huge city, it’s likely that your competitors are constantly looking for another way for getting your cars into their shops. If they could land a few of your better DRPs and possibly get a better foot hold in your market, I’m sure they would not hesitate for a millisecond to do so.

So, here are my new five things to do to take you to the next level. For shops that are already “all in” when it comes to marketing, this is old news. But, for those others who want to change the way they’re doing business and haven’t really made marketing a priority until now, this might be a great time to pursue a few of these.

1. Enter the Video Age

Actually, the video age began in earnest more than a decade ago, but now it’s by far the most explosive media in the world and one of the most affordable and effective forms body shops can use. Just look at the statistics--YouTube has over a billion users–almost a third of all the people on the Internet. The number of hours that people spend watching videos on YouTube has increased by 60% within the last two years.

People don’t read as much as they used to, because acquiring books (even e-books) can be clumsy when compared to just sitting down and watching a short video.

The word “short” is important, because studies show that videos longer than two minutes lose considerable viewership, so the suggested length of any video is no longer than 90 seconds.

To enter the video age, devise a video schedule so that you have a new one to show to your customers, employees, vendors or business partners every quarter. And remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to produce a series of attention-getting videos, because the technology is more affordable than ever and you don’t have to be Alfred Hitchcock to make brief, informative and even humorous videos.

2. SEO is More Important than Ever

Last Year, shops all over the country learned that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t an “in house” or “do-it-yourself” project. To move up Google’s rankings, you need an expert who can manipulate your keywords and stay on it 24/7, 365 days a year.

Many shops say, “Hey-I’m #1 in my area on Google, so why am I still paying for SEO?” The answer is because your competitors are probably also now in the SEO game in a big way and likely taking shots at your top position on search engines right now.

So, if you don’t have a good SEO person, ask around and no matter what, stay on the course when it comes to online rankings, because stats show us that more and more people find body shops by performing simple searches online.

3. Don’t Stop Believing in Blogging

After Google’s re-working of their search algorithm, naming it Hummingbird and unveiling it two years ago, bloggers and web developers have been buzzing about it ever since, because it made blogs instantly relevant.

Hummingbird is all about “fresh content”, because it is now able to judge context - thereby determining the intent of a person carrying out a search, to establish what they are trying to find out.

What that means to you is that posting new things on your web site is a great way to help you on search engines and the best way to do that is by establishing a blog and vigilantly maintaining it. That’s the key, because too many shops started doing blogs, but then quickly abandoned them for whatever reason and now they’ve noticed that they are no longer #1 on Google.

If you have a blog but you aren’t posting articles, photos and/or videos on it regularly—my advice is pull it off-line, because there is nothing worse than a ghost blog and it makes you look well, behind the times.

4. Cable TV vs. Radio-Who Wins?

I used to say that radio was a viable way for shops to participate in the broadcast game, but now I am pulling that piece of knowledge off the table, because it no longer applies. Radio is not going away and it might be okay for a large MSO, but for smaller shops, radio does not have the targeting feature cable TV does.

Cable TV is trumping radio right now, because companies like Sirius and Pandora and taking some of terrestrial radio’s customer base. Also, if you purchase time on Comcast, for example, you can handpick what zip codes you want to reach. That way, you’re not wasting a lot of money advertising to people who are not in your region. For independent shops or small MSOs, cable TV is more precise and more affordable overall.

5. Yelp and Angie’s List are Losing Credibility

More and more shops and their customers are beginning to see that Yelp and Angie’s List are not what they claim to be, because people can’t gauge the authenticity of the reviews.

One shop wrote me an email last year saying that several members of a competing shop gave him 1-star reviews and of course, they never brought their cars there. He contacted Yelp at least a dozen times to get them removed without success. His business is negatively impacted, even though he does good, honest work and is known for being excessively fair.

Also, Angie’s List seems to work fine with home improvement companies and landscapers, but shops don’t seem to want to pay for a site that doesn’t bring cars into their shops.

There are a lot of review sites out there that will only post customer reviews that are verified, so gravitate toward those and don’t spend money with any site that can’t guarantee full transparency and complete accountability.

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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