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The truth about advertising, marketing and clean bathrooms

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 - 06:00
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Picture your shop’s bathroom.  

This may seem to be a strange way to start an article about marketing and advertising (or any article, really), but trust me for a moment. 

In today’s world, small businesses have never had more of an opportunity to reach customers. The growth of social media, the power of Google AdWords and the power of big data all give shop owners effective tools to reach customers that we wish we’d had 20 years ago. 

But, it doesn’t matter how effectively we can reach customers with our advertising if we’re not doing good marketing. In other words, you can spend a small fortune online attracting customers, but if they come in for service and your shop’s bathroom doesn’t make them feel welcome and cared for, the advertising money you spent was wasted. 

All advertising is marketing. Not all marketing is advertising. Knowing the difference is critical, because it’s the key to getting the most from your marketing budget and holding your marketing vendor accountable.  

So, what is marketing? How is it different from advertising? And how do you maximize both in your shop? 

The difference between marketing and advertising 
Think through every point of contact you have with a new customer. Your advertisement may get them to call or come in, but it’s far from the only impression they get from you: the way your service advisor answered the phone to schedule the appointment. The way your parking lot looked when they arrived. The look of the waiting room and the cleanliness of the bathroom. The community involvement plaques on the walls.  

All these things shape the way you’re perceived by the people who visit your shop and the people you want to be visiting your shop. It’s a long-term game that requires discipline, persistence and vision.  

Of course, that’s no small caveat.  

For your marketing to be successful, it needs to be well-coordinated and rolled out in a strategic manner. Too often, shop owners think about marketing only as the advertising they’re doing this week, and it leads to sending out parts and pieces of unintegrated, underdeveloped advertising. If you’re not measuring the results of your marketing, and continually improving your campaigns and messages, you’re not really marketing. 

That’s because marketing isn’t complete without measurement. 

Consider this scenario: the advertisement you’re doing this week has led to more cars. Your shop feels busier. Is it working? Should you continue to do it? 

If you’re not measuring – if you’re not doing marketing – it’s impossible to say. Perhaps the new customers have a large average repair order and it seems like you’ve hit the jackpot. If you’re not measuring, it’s impossible to repeat the success. And what’s more, if you’re not marketing, you have no idea what the long-term effect on your business is. Do those customers come back? Do they refer others? Will they make loyal, long-term customers? These are some of the most critical questions you should be asking when planning your marketing budget. Typically, none of these questions come up when you are only jumping from advertisement to the next advertisement. 

This is the danger of using an advertising agency who doesn’t understand marketing. If they don’t understand the big picture and how to create long-term marketing success, the only thing they care about is making you happy with nice-sounding numbers: clicks, visitors, even return on investment. These are short-term numbers for short-term thinking. 

Long-term solutions 
Of course, understanding your marketing’s impact on the health, quality, value and trust of your customer base isn’t the only way owners should be thinking long-term. 

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