15 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Back to Basics Marketing: grow your business without spending a fortune

Before embarking on your shoestring marketing journey, it’s important to recognise the marketing mistakes you’re guilty of. And to cut them loose quickly! Here are the headline mistakes.
A business reckons their work sells itself; no marketing needed:  In a competitive market, even the best businesses must shine a spotlight on their work, so they remain top of mind when a customer or prospect is looking to buy.
They put all their eggs into one basket – usually advertising and social media:
Not every customer or prospect is waiting to see your latest social post or glancing your ads. Effective shoestring marketing is about pulling several activities together.
They believe that marketing is only for marketers: My experience working with mechanics has shown me that any workshop willing to invest some time in marketing can succeed. Being organised and committed to marketing your business week in, week is what counts.
They say they have no time for marketing: This is a big one and I get it. However, if you don’t want to hand your power to a more marketing savvy competitor then time must be found. If you can spare three hours every week to focus on marketing your business, that’s a great start. But focus is key – away from your phone and the day-to-day work. The most successful businesses I’ve worked with do this and many at some stage will bring in a part time resource for a few hours a week to pick up the phone, send letters to prospects, emails to clients etc. Start making the commitment to three hours and then decide if you need an additional resource to support you.
I understand that if you’re to commit to shoestring marketing, you have to be persuaded of the benefits of doing so. What can marketing do for your business? There’s an entire article in this but the headline benefits of being a marketing-centred business are as follows:
•    You build your customer base. More good customers are always top of the wish list, aren’t they?
•    You weather the storm when times are tough, and grow in the golden times.
•    You build awareness of your brand and all the remarkable things it stands for. This makes it easier for influencers to recommend you and for existing customers to stay with you and put a good word in with their ‘tribes’.

The decision-making process shortens: The time it takes for a potential customer to say yes reduces because a person knows, likes and to an extent trusts you before they’ve even set foot inside your workshop. Your marketing has established the groundwork.

How to start on your shoestring marketing journey
Start with a simple yet powerful plan
Your target audience: This is knowing who you want to reach. If you want more fleet business, make a list of the exact companies you want to target. More of the same customers you have now? Make a list of the customers you’re going to approach to ask for referrals and another list of the postcodes where these people are likely to live. Make a third list of local businesses where potential new customers are likely to work. This is about making your target audiences real. Doing this will take a good few hours but it’s time well spent because you’re really focussing on the people you want to introduce your business to rather than crossing your fingers that a social media post or an advert will have the same effect.
For each group make a list of their needs: Why they would come to you. This is about looking at the landscape through the eyes of potential customers.
Now construct your business DNA: List the reasons why you offer such an amazing service to each target audience. Don’t just write down ‘customer service’ and leave it at that. It says nothing about you. Is it your extended opening hours, free added value touches, clear and detailed pricing, your explanations to a customer before you begin work, the comfort of your inclusive and cheery reception area? If a local journalist asked the question: “Why should our readers choose your garage?” what would you say? This is all about capturing the unique DNA of your business so it should include the nitty gritty of your experience, your expertise, your investment in training and your customer care philosophy. Don’t assume that your customers know all of this about you. Commit your outputs from this exercise into a working document that every person in your team has contributed to and understands. Make it a focus of a team meeting. Very few businesses do this, yet it is important stock to use when approaching new customers and reconnecting with those customers you have not seen in some time. It also reminds your regulars of how good you are. You are using the power of words to paint a great picture of your garage so that you become irresistible.
I want to conclude with the WOW model which is integral to my shoestring marketing philosophy. The Plus 1 WOW model: Delight your customer. Delight = expectation plus 1:
+ 1 more contact
+ 1 moment of thoughtfulness
+ 1 extra minute of your time
+ 1 check to see all is ok

The +1 effect leads to the WOW factor:
Wow – That’s great
Wow – That’s what I call service
Wow – That was thoughtful
Wow – I didn’t expect that!

The best +1 factors meet the following criteria: They are instantly noticed and valued by customers, they are quick and easy, they cost little or nothing and they are implemented on a consistent basis not just when you are in a good mood.
Make sure that when capturing your business DNA, you reference all the small touches that are part of your WOW philosophy. Next time, I’ll look at how you translate these tips into action.

For more information visit: www.jlmlubricants.co.uk