In this digitally-driven world, you might think that online advertising is the best way to go. Before you jump to conclusions, let’s take a few minutes to talk through the pros and cons of both digital ads and printed ads and how to know what’s right for your auto shop. Advertising is not black and white. Not all online is good and not all print is bad. You’ll most likely need a good mix of both types of advertising for your auto repair shop. Different types of ad formats can appeal to different people at different times. You know you have to advertise to grow your repair business, but before investing any money, take a step back and think about a few things.
Understanding Your Auto Shop’s Goals for AdvertisingWhat is the benefit of advertising? Part of it is getting your name out into the community, especially if you’re a new shop. Part of it may be to build trust and credibility with your current customers. But at the end of the day, the benefit of advertising is that it generates profit for your business. To ensure your advertising plan is as successful as possible, be sure you have answers to questions such as these:
- What are my main objectives? Obviously, one of the main goals is to grow your profits, but try to get even more specific.
- Do you want to increase sales of a particular auto service?
- Are you trying to fill the shop during certain times of the day?
- Do you need to increase the average ticket value?
- Who is my audience? To get new customers, start by evaluating who your existing customers are. The 45+ age group who may have more expensive cars. Millennials may be more likely to have hybrid or electric cars. Perhaps you live in a community with a lot of school aged children, which is going to mean a lot of minivans and SUV owners. Knowing what types of auto owners you want to target with your ads will help you choose the advertising format that they may be most likely to see.
- Where is my audience located? Generally, the people who visit for maintenance are going to live within just a few miles. The best way to find out if this is true? Just ask and assess if you’re getting customers from outside of your zip code or a 3-5 mile radius of your shop.
- How much should I spend on ads? You might think the obvious answer is, “As little as possible.” But that response avoids the true nature of advertising; it’s an investment. If you knew for a fact that you could spend $20 and get a $100 bill in return, how many $100 bills would you buy!? It’s similar when considering what to invest in advertising. As long as the ads are meeting the goals you’ve set, they’re worth the investment. That’s why tracking results is critical.
- What is my timeline? How quickly are you expecting to get a return on your investment? While, no advertising method produces immediate results, some tactics provide a longer-term solution than others. Many digital ads work best in short bursts of exposure. Prospects don’t like to feel like they’re being spammed online, so campaigns may peter out after a few months. Print ads can have a longer shelf life. Because this medium is less intrusive, they can produce new customers consistently over longer periods of time, and even for a short period after you stop running the ads.
Common Advertising Formats for Your Auto ShopBecause you just answered some big questions about who you’re targeting, where they live, and what you want to achieve with your ads, you can start to narrow down the advertising formats that can help you accomplish those goals. There are hundreds of advertising formats that you can use to generate profit, but some of the most common are:
Online Advertising for Auto Shops
- Google Pay Per Click Ads
- Bing/Yahoo Pay Per Click Ads
- Facebook Ads
- Display Ads (banner image ads that appear on 3rd party websites)
Print Advertising for Auto Shops
- Grocery Store Receipt Coupons
- Direct Mail/Coupon Mailer