Volume 12, Issue 6 - November/December 2010

Feature

10 Ways That Work to Market Your Business
by Debra Levy

 

No matter whether the market is up or down, business owners are always looking for new ways to attract business, get customers to notice you and to keep past customers as repeaters. Following are new ideas designed for auto glass businesses to market themselves simply and economically, that I’ve seen work.

1. Attend both traditional and non-traditional events. It’s often helpful to attend both auto and insurance events where you might be able to reach out. But also consider attending less traditional events such as bridal shows, safety events, antique car shows and environmental events (especially for windshield repair businesses) to tell people about your services. Customize your offerings for the event in question. For example, at an environmental show, promote your efforts to be green. At bridal shows, perhaps you could offer car safety packets and hold a drawing and award one lucky bride-to-be a coupon for future service.

2. Wrap your vehicle. Show what you do and how you can help by having your company vehicles wrapped in a way that shows potential customers clearly what you do. If cost is an issue, you might be able to barter with a wrap provider, such as a window film company, to provide work or even referrals in return for the service.

3. Network everywhere. Look into joining your local Chamber of Commerce to meet other business owners and potential customers. Offering demonstrations is a major part of this—especially for windshield repair technicians, who can easily and economically demonstrate the service they provide to potential customers who might not have even known that it exists.

4. E-mails are as good as gold.
E-mail is going to be the future of the auto glass industry, and collecting e-mails from your customers and potential customers can create marketing lists for the future. Once you’ve compiled the e-mail addresses, every time you have a special or something exciting that happens, you can inform past and potential customers of this.

You also can market seasonally using the e-mail list you develop. For example, in the fall you might send out press releases, warning potential customers about back-to-school dangers and suggesting they pay attention to the cleanliness of their windshields at this time for safety purposes.

5. Market to keep customers from cradle-to-grave. Aim to get that customer for life. Record the date of a customer’s wedding and send him/her a card on that date saying “Happy Anniversary.” You also can track children’s ages, so when a customer’s child is nearing driving age, you can send a new driver alert.

Others have found success conducting demonstrations for drivers’ education students and sponsoring small scholarships for graduating high school seniors.

6. Become a certified child safety seat inspector. Many auto glass shop owners have found success with becoming certified child safety seat inspectors and using this ability either at local safety fairs, or even having customers bring the vehicles into their shops. This helps potential customers not only come to recognize your brand, but also helps show your company is an authority on matters related to safety.

7. Become registered with the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS) Council. By becoming AGRSS-registered, you not only can utilize the registered logo in your marketing, but also can become listed on www.safewindshields.org, where many consumers locate auto glass businesses, and can utilize your status as an AGRSS-registered shop to show customers exactly how committed you are to safety and your customers’ well-being.

8. Be a big fish in a small pond. This piece of advice comes from Cindy Rowe Auto Glass in Harrisburg, Pa. Early on, company founder Cindy Rowe-Taylor made a decision to dominate the small, local, market of Harrisburg, Pa., and that she did for more than 20 years until she and her husband, David Taylor, sold their company in 2008.

Others can use the same strategy. Try to make everyone in the town in which you live start thinking about your business when they need auto glass repair or replacement work. Using this mindset, you can be the big fish in the pond, if you choose the size of the pond carefully.

9. Utilize social media. It’s all over the media these days—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the other social media sites out there. But you might be asking yourself, “Why bother?” Well, the main reason to “bother” with these sites is that’s where all your customers (and potential customers) are.

If you have a television commercial, you might consider placing this on YouTube. If not, you might simply make a page about your company on Facebook and encourage your customers to “like” it. Everytime someone “likes” your company, your name will be popping up on the Facebook newsfeeds of your customers’ Facebook friends. It’s free, so there’s no economical investment—just a little time in setting it up and updating every so often to keep your name popping up on those same customers’ newsfeeds.

10. Publicize your company. Always remember that a lot of what you do is promote-able. Send out press releases about what you’re doing, or come up with an innovative press release that will get media attention.

For example, several months ago United Kingdom-based Auto Windscreens issued a press release about how people might respond to being cheated on by a spouse or significant other and highlighted that many of those surveyed advised they would be prone to damage the spouse/significant other’s vehicle’s glass. The story was picked up in newspapers across the world, each of which referenced the company’s name.

If you attend Chamber of Commerce meetings, participate in local activities, or attend industry conferences, promote that, too. Newspapers often are looking for local companies to highlight and this is a simple way to get some extra exposure.

Debra Levy is the publisher of AGRR magazine and the president of AGRR’s parent company, Key Communications Inc.

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