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 Advertising
What 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?
Having a firm grasp on this will help you identify which advertising methods can help you achieve this goal.
- 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.
Having answers to questions such as these can help clarify which online or print advertising tactics will help you best meet those goals. Depending on your goals, you may find that you could benefit from not just one method, but rather a combination of both, which is often the case for many businesses.
Common Advertising Formats for Your Auto Shop
Because 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
Making the Comparison
To effectively measure which format has the best chance of getting you the highest ROI, you need to find a common ground to compare them against.
There are four elements that affect ROI: repetition, appeal, targeting, and exposure, or RATE.
Repetition - The more you see something the more you remember it. Right? And that’s exactly what you want when marketing your auto repair shop. Otherwise, you’ll be left in the dust by other shops who are advertising more frequently.
Appeal - If the goal of advertising is to make a profit, what about your ad will get potential customers to spend money at your shop? This could be offering a coupon or discount like a free warranty or oil change. Or promoting your 5 star Yelp rating, etc.
Targeting - Most people will use your services very close to their home. When deciding on an advertising channel, the more specific you can get with your targeting, the better.
Exposure - Will your ad be intrusive and obnoxious (like those pesky website pop-ups!) or will it be a natural part of your prospect’s day-to-day routine? Ads that are never seen, thrown away, or easily ignored are unlikely to bring new customers through your doors.
The advertising tactic with the most targeted, repetitive, appealing ad at the most affordable cost will be the most effective at generating a profit for your auto repair shop. To help you make that comparison, you can download our RATE worksheet.
Finding the Right Advertising Campaign for your Auto Shop
Once you’ve filled out your RATE chart, you can see that not all types of digital and print advertising are likely to be profitable. To get the most out of your advertising investment, you need to develop an auto repair marketing strategy that encompasses the best of both types of advertising.
A strong digital marketing plan reaches an audience who may not be reached easily in other ways, while print makes it easy for coupons to be handed directly to your potential customers.
Our Recommendation for Auto Repair Shops
Digital Marketing: Facebook ads will help to grow your auto repair shop brand and increase sales by repeatedly appearing in front of your potential, local customers – even when they’re not necessarily in need of car repairs. The next time they need your services, or you remind them of a maintenance service they need, they’re likely to choose you because you’re top-of-mind and offering a special.
Print Advertising: Register tape advertising in grocery stores has been shown to be an effective print-based means to gain visibility over and over again with those who live close to your shop. They may not need the service now, but it’s easy to tuck the coupon in their car to have it available when it’s time. This type of print advertising for auto shops is also less expensive than most other print options while giving you thousands of impressions every week. That’s not easy to do with any other print advertising options!