If you’re an active shop owner in the automotive repair industry then you’ve surely heard that April is National Car Care Month. But what do you do with that?
As a former shop owner, I couldn’t wait for April (National Car Care Month) and October (Fall Car Care Month) because it gave me really good ideas and content to use in my marketing for those months.
What is National Car Care Month?
The first time I had ever heard of April being National Car Care Month was when I came across an article from AutoInc Magazine. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) had written a nice article increasing awareness for shop owners. The Car Care Aware Program was launched originally by the Car Care Council, a division of ASA. Since we were members of ASA it made sense that we enjoyed content from the organization that was created to help us.
National Car Care Month was created to bring attention to the importance of car care and preventative maintenance for consumers. 35% of car owners “skipped or delayed service or repairs that were recommended by a mechanic or specified by the factory maintenance schedule,” says the American Automobile Association (AAA). As a result, the number of roadside breakdowns could have easily been prevented by owners simply following routine maintenance advice.
When I downloaded their Car Care Guide, I thought I’d hit the jackpot. I pulled information from that guide to use in our shop’s marketing. Today, I want to help you by sharing some helpful tips to guide you in marketing your shop for National Car Care Month.
Why It’s Important for Shops
People like to do business with people they know, like and trust. When you promote your shop in a way that is helping, giving tips, preventing break downs, and generally offering helpful advice then you’re positioning yourself in a way that allows potential customers to do that. Your marketing can do more than simply provide help and advice but it should also share the culture of your shop, introduce your staff and include transparency. Promote your shop by being human and inviting your audience to get to know you and your business on a personal level.
They’re getting to know you as an expert in your industry.
They’re learning to like you as a human.
They’re beginning to trust you because you’re keeping their best interest in mind.
How to Market Your Shop During National Car Care Month
- Setting Your Marketing Goals
- Outlining Your Key Messages & Strategies
- Implementing Your Plan
- Measuring Your Outcomes
Setting Your Marketing Goals
- Educate customers about the most common maintenance items via social media
- Warn customers about potential issues that can cause breakdowns
- Promote special Car Care Month offers
- Increase maintenance repair orders by 10% from last year
Outlining Your Key Messages & Strategies
Once you know what your main goals are it’s time to think about the main messages you want to share. Developing messaging is not as complicated as it may sound. If your goal is to educate customers about the most common maintenance items for Spring then take some time to write down those items. Flesh out how you want to say it. Decide which images you want to associate with each message, whether it’s a video you want to record or a photo you want to take. Next considering your audience, will they respond to hashtags you use or emojis?
Wrapping your mind around the way you want to publish those messages will help when it comes time to sit down and schedule them.
When it comes to something as specific as National Car Care Month you may consider employing strategies such as:
- Social Media | Facebook & Instagram are great platforms for promoting your Car Care Month messages. Break your key points into various separate posts. Possibly 2-3 posts per week during the entire month. These are not “salesy” posts but more engaging, fun, educational type posts intended to help your audience think about car care in a fresh new way. Create posts that vary in the type such as video posts, images/photos, links. Also create posts that have various types of content such as funny, helpful tips, and thought-provoking. Varying your content type and post type will keep your audience engaged. Be sure to throw in an emoji here and there and hashtags such as #CarCareMonth #NationalCarCare #CarCareTips
- Video | Yep, we’re going to talk video AGAIN! Why do we keep bringing up video – because. it. works. Take out your phone. Press record and TALK to your audience as though they’re standing right there with you. Tell them what they don’t know about maintaining their vehicle, why it’s important, how regular car care saves money in the end and keeps them on the road. BUT, break this up into a few different “segments”. Maybe you call it “Talk To Me Tuesday” and you post each Tuesday – OR you go “live” each Tuesday. Another idea is “April Advice with ….tech’s name”. You likely have a tech with an outgoing personality who may really connect with your audience. Get him or her on video whether it’s recorded or live. Post that video natively to your Facebook/Instagram accounts. Publish it on YouTube. Add it to your blog. Include it in your email marketing!
- Email Marketing & Texting | We just advised you to add video to your blog and send it in your email marketing. Why? Because email marketing is real, still alive and it’s completely relevant! In addition to adding video to your email marketing, take a moment like I am doing right now to write a blog about Car Care Month tips for your customers and link to in your email campaign. Speak from the heart and your head. Don’t go overboard in the email with too much content. Give them a brief explanation of a few Car Care Month tips then link them to your blog. Include a “Book an Appointment” call-to-action in your email as well as on the blog page. Maybe your shop software offers SMS Text Marketing. If so, consider sending a text to your customer list promoting your Car Care Month offer. A quick text with a tip and an offer can help add appointments to your calendar.
- Digital Ads | Short term offers and campaigns are great for digital ads such as Facebook and Instagram. Whether you boost a post or run a targeted ad to a lookalike audience or retarget website visitors you may find that digital advertising can yield a nice return in booked appointments. These ads can be created specifically to spread the word about your Car Care Month special offers, videos with tips or even customer testimonials.
- Direct Mail | While we certainly focus much of our marketing efforts on more online strategies let’s not forget about some tried and true more traditional forms of marketing. Direct Mail can prove to be a perfect avenue to reach your local community with a compelling message created to educate the recipient and encourage them to schedule an appointment during the month of April – National Car Care Month. When creating your direct mail piece make it about your customer – not you. Use imagery that allows them to connect your direct mail piece with their own life story. Allow them to see themself in the message. Be sure that your call-to-action is something you can track. Do they need to mention the promo, do they need to call a specific number that is trackable, are they scanning a trackable QR code that takes them to your online scheduler?
- Special Events | April may be the perfect month to host a Chamber of Commerce event at your shop, invite the nearest neighborhood for a ‘meet the tech’ night, host a teen or car care clinic (for anyone! women, men, even children!) where you can teach the basics and importance of maintenance during National Car Care Month. Promote this event on social, your website, in email, ads, radio, and local print options such as newspaper or magazines.
Surely there are additional marketing tactics you can utilize. These are just a few to get you started. Pick one or pick them all but whatever you do pick something you can do without getting overwhelmed and end up doing it halfway. Go all in. If you’re going to do something, do it well!
Implementing Your Plan
Now you’ve solidified your goals and messaging, decided the direction you want to go in sharing the message let’s talk about how to get that plan going.
- Decide if you need help implementing the plan. This could be your business partner, employees, or even a professional.
- Schedule time to truly ensure the plan happens. Without writing it down and putting it on your calendar it will quickly become an afterthought. Don’t let your hard work, thoughts and ideas go to waste.
- Schedule everything you can. Social media posts, email campaigns, and even ads can be scheduled.
- If you’re running an ad in a print piece or a radio commercial, you’ll want to reach out to those folks asap as their deadlines are typically further in advance than something you might do digitally.
- Add items to your actual calendar that cannot be scheduled ahead of time. These are good reminders to help you stay on track.
Measuring Your Outcomes
One of my favorite things to talk about! You can’t manage what you don’t measure. How will you know if something is working if you can’t measure it? How will you make adjustments if there’s no tracking? Here’s a few tips to help you measure your National Car Care Month marketing.
- Use tracking urls. A great way to do this is with a url builder such as this Google Analytics Campaign Builder. Here you enter your url (the url might be a link to your appointment scheduler or a link to your blog) and you’re given the chance to add tracking code to the url by entering the source (who/what gets credit for the click), medium (facebook, instagram, email, etc), etc. While entering this information your url will be expanded to include the tracking code. That’s the url you use in your social post, your email, your ads, etc. It’s now connected to your Google Analytics and you can then track how many web visits happened as a result of that link. If you want to get real techy, you can even track conversions through appointment forms and phone calls.
- Use tracking phone numbers. If your ad has folks clicking to call then don’t use the main phone number to your shop. That’s not trackable! BUT when you instead use a trackable number that forwards to your shop phone then you will know how many calls came in as a result of that ad. Use that tracking number only in the ad for your April Car Care Month campaign so you know exactly what brought those calls in.
- Pay attention to the stats built into your marketing platforms including social media sites, your email marketing program, and even your shop software. Take time to explore Google Analytics as well. You may find multiple layers of results there. Not only did someone click a link to visit your website but they also stayed on your site for a long time, went from the blog page to the about page, the services page and then finally the scheduling page. Google Analytics can tell you a lot of very important information.
- Finally, if you’re using a print strategy such as a magazine, direct mail or newspaper don’t feel like these are not trackable. They are! Hey, even the digital billboard is trackable. Remember what we said above about tracking phone numbers. Add to that the option of a short, easy web address that redirects to your website. Be thoughtful as if you’re using something in print you’ll want this to be an easy to remember url because people will need to type that in. Keep the url short and simple. Go do a quick search for some urls that are available for purchase. Talk to your website developer as they can suggest a subdomain that you can use. Example: maybe your website address is myshop.com a good idea would be go use april.myshop.com or carcare.myshop.com. That subdomain is being used only for this National Car Care Month campaign and this makes it easily trackable!
Pulling it All Together
Are you excited now? What a great resource to help you dream big about the month of April and how you can promote National Car Care month for your shop. When you tap into national campaigns like this, make them real and relevant for your local audience you will find that your community will begin to look to you – the expert in your field. They will like what you’re doing, know you care, and trust you to care for their precious possessions – their family that rides in the vehicle you’re caring for.
Check out a few additional resources that you may find helpful to you as you continue to plan, prepare and implement your National Car Care Month campaign.
- Car Care News Service – April is National Car Care Month
- Submit Your April (2021) Car Care Month Events
- Car Care Month Editable Templates
If this didn’t excite you but instead overwhelmed you, we are just a quick chat away.
About The Author
In addition to being co-owner of Shop Marketing Pros, Kim is a Master Certified Solution Provider with Constant Contact and a StoryBrand Certified Guide. Kim is a past shop owner and has served as President of ASA North Carolina.