Getting customers to come into your shop is one of the most difficult and expensive things you will ever have to do as a shop owner. Typically you will spend four cents out of every revenue (sales) dollar on marketing and hours upon hours in creating campaigns, doing follow-up, managing and measuring the results, and at the end of it all you are very likely to tell me you need more cars. Though many of us still hold on to an earlier time of direct interaction with our customers, and marketing that was straightforward and honest (and mostly ended up in the trash), the ways that we engage our customers in today's service world demand that we step out from behind our counter and try new ways of attracting and retaining customers. Not for the sake of new, but for the much more practical reason that this is where our customers are. It is where we have to go to find new customers and what we have to do to retain the ones we already have. Welcome to the world of social media marketing.
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People are not opening that big yellow book when they need tires or their car serviced; the internet, mobile technology and social media have changed all of that. You need to hop on that bus and ride that change to the new and exciting places it will take you. The links below will set you on the shore of the vast ocean that social media represents. All you need to do is steel yourself for the journey ahead, and jump on in. A world of new and different customer interactions is waiting.
Some important names that could assist you in launching your social media marketing efforts and your broader automotive vision for the future:
Getting started with Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/business/
Getting started with Twitter: https://biz.twitter.com/en-gb/marketing-twitter
Getting started with Instagram: https://business.instagram.com/gettingstarted/
Getting Started with Pinterest: https://business.pinterest.com/en
Getting started with Google and Google +: http://www.google.com/+/brands/index.html
Getting started with LinkedIn: https://smallbusiness.linkedin.com/small-business-marketing
Another far-reaching impact of mobile technology is search engine optimization, or SEO. Many of us are only just now getting used to the idea and theory of SEO and its driving viability on the search engines consumers often use in locating service providers. With Siri, Cortana (Windows), and Google Now (Android), we have to look at restructuring our SEO efforts to include the impact of mobile technology on our local search engine optimization. A.J. Kumar of Entrepreneur magazine says, "Siri can call you a cab after a night on the town by automatically processing information about local cab companies in response to the query, 'Call me a cab.' Automating the search process means you never look up 'cab companies in your area' in the search engines, avoiding the traditional search engine results pages and pay-per-click advertisements entirely, therefore limiting their importance and influence." In other words, the website you have worked so hard to set up could be invisible to mobile applications, which is huge. The very strong trend is toward people (your customers and potential customers) signing on to the internet through a mobile device. If you are not being seen, it is very difficult to attract new customers and just as difficult to retain the ones you currently have.
The rules of marketing are in the midst of huge change. Our visibility on the internet and on our smartphones seems the only viable path to automotive salvation. Marketing remains critical and as difficult a decision as it has always been. The technology that goes into running a successful shop today changes nearly as fast and with the same regularity as the technology you see in the cars we are working on. Just like with those cars, the job demands that you update those tools every once in a while. Technology lights the way; we need to embrace it and invest in it, both with resources (money) and with our time.