Social Media Strategist Holds the Keys to Your Body Shop’s Online Success
Written by Ed Attanasio, Autobody News
Published February 8, 2021
In the old days, body shop marketing and advertising was relatively simple, with only a few things to consider---direct mail, phone book advertising, radio or TV advertising and, if you decided to think outside of the box, billboards or even sky writing.
And don’t forget about putting a big inflatable gorilla on your roof!
Today, marketing and advertising is so much more sophisticated due to technology that changes daily. How can a shop owner or manager know what to do with so many options out there?
Owners have to navigate Facebook marketing and advertising, social outreach on multiple platforms, reputation management, web design and development, Google Adwords and ratings, custom video, email marketing, online podcasts/webinars, blogging and vlogging, showcasing testimonials and speaking at events.
Phew---where do you begin?
Autobody News recently sat down with Joe Conte, CEO and lead strategist of Auto Moto Digital (AMD) in Sausalito, CA, and discussed how his company uses digital marketing and social advertising to build a body shop’s business affordably and exponentially, using their proprietary system.
Conte grew up working on Porsches with his father, and began focusing on the collision repair industry more than a decade ago.
AMD delivers AI algorithmic social data solutions for its client partners. SA data integrated process activates audiences and converts them into loyal brand supporters, via proven data mining analytics and algorithmic based solutions.
Digital advertising/marketing for body shops is completely different from any other type of business and you’ve worked with. What are some of the main differences?
It’s not as different as you would imagine. As body shops differ from DRP vs. non-DRP, co-branded vs. independent, etc., our approach for body shops has a lot of similarities in what we do across the board with clients we have worked with for years in other industries.
Our initial goal is to define the story of who the body shop is and help tell that story to define their customers, and how best to create compelling content that engages with them on a personal level.
We do this through a number of different strategies and solutions that enable us to learn more at each stage---it is through this AI integrated and algorithmic learning solutions via "social conversion strategies" that we can target specific types of individuals and their behaviors, that further help to create conversions of users into paying customers.
How can a small independent shop or mini-MSO compete with a large chain of shops with a huge marketing budget?
There are a lot of firms out there that promise the moon and groups that create generic content, basic SEO, websites, etc., and strategies that are not specific to the body shop itself.
Our goal is to work with the owners, no matter if they are a part of a larger MSO or mini-MSO, and help them create an online identity that galvanizes consumers into action.
It is through this identity-based social engagement strategy that we help them grow their online identity and their online presence.
A key factor for this is defining who the body shop is and who they work with, from a business-to-business standpoint. The types of paint, paint booth, machinery, etc., all adds to the layers of who they are and how they do what they do.
We are not solely focused on the body shop when we work with them---we also work with their partners to help understand the entire landscape and ecosystem that surrounds them. This philosophy helps to build a strategy that focuses not only on direct-to-consumer conversion solutions, but data marketing strategies for manufacturers, brands and distributors who work with the body shops.
It is this multi-faceted promotional strategy that enables us to create a diverse, long-term growth solution not only developing bottom-up outreach to consumers, but cross-brand pollination strategies that help grow social engagement through the entire landscape.
This approach not only helps the shop itself, but all up- and downstream strategic partners that help build the network.
What can you say to a shop owner who claims that social media is ineffective?
The main goal with social engagement is to create a network effect. This enables the locations to grow and build relationships on the [business to business] and [business to consumer] side---giving body shops loyal customers that help promote and support the growth of their business.
It is during this outreach process where we start to build customer loyalty. We also do it via online reputation management solutions that help to build a shop’s online credibility and shift the conversation that comes from the actual customer, and not just outreach from the body shop.
This is what social engagement is all about and why working with smaller shops at times tends to be a greater value proposition for the shop than with the larger MSOs.
There are so many ways to go with digital marketing, with new social media coming out all the time. What social media do you suggest for your clients and why?
Facebook foundational work is where we begin, because the information you can discover with the ad-based network and ad manager sophistication they have is what feeds all other types of outreach techniques we offer.
There are a number of techniques, from location-specific ads and strategies like "geo-fencing, geo-targeting" to behavioral analytics based micro-targeted ads that enable us to find who is clicking on what and why---all of these strategies are designed to create cost-effective ad spend solutions and the most affordable conversion solutions and content, to really find what makes the consumer who they are and help align them to the right body shop.
What we find that resonates the most with today’s consumers is the story of the owner, their work ethic and philosophy, and the culture of their shop. Every shop is unique, and by sharing original content and educating body shop owners that being the voice of their shop matters, it not only empowers them to see their potential, but it ultimately helps customers make their decision easier because they can relate to the business and they see the shop as a partner who cares.
That’s where the long-term loyalty comes in that helps a business grow.
The beauty of all of this is the exponential factor; once you lay down the proper online and social marketing foundation, the right strategy and the right content are gifts that keep on giving.
The data starts to come in, and the growth of the business and actual decisions about the future of the company come from this data. This is where it then starts to spiral, when one customer talks to another potential customer and the "network effect" that we discussed earlier starts to take shape. In the end, it is not about the shop next door, it’s about the story. The best thing about a body shop is its story, and even if shops are next to each other, everyone has their own story. Our goal is to help them get to the right customer and help them build a strong in-bound customer base, while growing their car count exponentially.