Reaching out to customers

Andy Vickery looks at why sometimes the old methods are the best when advertising

Published:  01 September, 2014

By Andy Vickery

The most obvious form of marketing is using the media to deliver your message to customers. What is the best way to ensure your reach hits those you want it to?

Rather than go into detail about each of the three areas available to you, I would like to impart a story of how I worked with my first Motor Repair Marketing customer, which I hope puts things into context.

My very first independent garage customer came to me with a problem; year on year diminishing sales. Admittedly it was the start of the last downturn but, as a family business, it was essential for him to get things back on track. Unfortunately he didn't know what to do. He was getting calls from online directories and internet companies who wanted lots of money to promote his website. Having been in business for over twenty years and tried the odd leaflet, even radio advertising, without much effect, he really didn't know what to do.

This is when we decided to zero-base everything, look at his business, get a strategy in place and then implement it. We looked at his market; his ideal customers and the sort of work he wanted more of. Then we decided on the messages we knew his customers wanted to hear and finally we looked at the methods of delivering those messages.

irst of all I reminded him that the vast majority of his customers were within 1-5 mile radius of his business and that many of his ideal customers had come to him through recommendation. We then also realised that he had never sent any of his existing customers any marketing material, not an offer, a thank you or referral request!

The reason we decided on these strategies was because internet strategies would be a slow-burner, newspaper advertising would be expensive and transient and radio was also too expensive. Common sense and economics dictated that the direct approach would be best. Also, I always advocate reaching out to customers rather than sitting back and waiting for them to discover you. The most cost-effective method of doing this is with direct mail, letters, mail-drops and through the post. Get to your customers before they need to seek you out.

Once you have a strategy in place that achieves these basics, then you can start looking at local search engine optimisation or social media to attract those that are looking online. At least you should have more customers coming through your doors whilst you are testing or developing other areas. You can even start looking at other tactics and initiatives to build and strengthen your marketing such as referral strategies or working with joint venture partners.


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