Over the past 100-plus years, marketing strategies and the brands that were built were developed by two entities: the client and the ad agency. The client would tell the agency how they envisioned their brand, and the agency would develop the advertising campaigns that would create that very same image in the minds of the targeted consumers. The tobacco companies wanted to create brands that would cause a consumer to feel good when they used their products, and the ad agencies did a great job of achieving this objective. Volvo wanted to create a brand that reflected safety, and as we all know, just about every Volvo ad sends that very same message. After one hundred plus years, that systematic method of brand creation is now dead. Not just for companies like the above, but for auto repair shops just like yours. Let me explain what has happened.
The ability to create a brand is no longer under the control of a product or service provider, nor the ad agencies. In today’s world brands are now created by one entity more than any other, and that entity is social media. The way your shop is going to be perceived in your community is based on what is being said about you, your company and your employees on social media and review websites. You may believe that you provide a great service, and that your technicians are second to none. You may also invest a lot of your hard-earned money into advertising programs to try to get that message (brand) into the minds of your targeted customers. But in reality, if the chatter in social media says that you overcharge, or that you don’t live up to promised completion times, then whether you like it or not, that will become your brand.
So here are my recommendations. First of all, accept the fact that social media is here to stay, and it is where your brand is going to be built. Secondly, you should create a plan that will have a positive impact on what is being said about you and your shop on social media sites. Obviously there are a number of things you can do, but nothing will ever trump extraordinary service. The reason companies like Nordstrom, Zappos shoes and Starbucks have such extraordinary reputations (brands) is because they deliver extraordinary service. I would strongly encourage you to review every customer touch point from fielding that first call through your customer follow-up calls, looking for ways to improve the entire customer experience.