Walker’s Hierarchy of Marketing Needs

It’s been about a year ago now that Matt Fanslow reached out to me and planted this idea of creating a content piece comparing an auto repair shop’s marketing needs to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Maslow’s work, I’ll give a brief introduction when I get into the article.

When Matt planted this idea I was excited about it but also a little nervous. You see, Matt is smart. Not just smart, but FREAKING SMART. He is one of those people who can be a little intimidating to be around because he thinks on a different level. All you have to do is listen to one of his podcast episodes to understand he isn’t your average human being.

I, on the other hand… I’m a simpleton. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a very smart person. I was the lead diagnostic tech at the dealership I worked at and I was very successful at it. That takes intelligence. But I’m smart when it comes to mechanical things and process of elimination type stuff. I’m not smart in a philosophical way – and that’s exactly what this article is.

That’s why it’s taken me a year to write it. I’ve been procrastinating on this one for a while. But here I am resting up after just having total knee replacement surgery, and now seems as good a time as any.

I’ve already outlined this article, and the parallels are pretty cool. I’m excited about where this is going to go – so let’s get to it.

Oh… and thank you, Matt, for giving me the idea for this one!

What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

From Wikipedia: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology proposed by American Psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in the journal Psychological Review. You can read the details here.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs basically expresses what a human needs to survive, be motivated, and ultimately thrive – beginning with basic needs such as oxygen, water, food, and shelter to higher-level needs like friendship, respect, and meaning.

Why Compare Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Marketing an Auto Repair Shop?

As I was consuming information about MHON, I was watching this video. The author made the point that, “Maslow’s Pyramid remains a hugely useful object to turn to when we are trying to assess the direction of our lives.”

The pyramid is also a great visual because it shows that there is an order to things. You have to build a pyramid from the bottom up, and the foundation of the pyramid is the most important part. 

It is often shown that people live lives that are out of order with the pyramid. Those who focus on accumulating things but never get to the “self-actualization” part of life are living a life out of balance where they will never achieve true happiness.

Those who focus on self-actualization without making sure their basic needs are met are living a dangerous life – an upside-down pyramid – where they could be toppled over at any moment.

THIS is why Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a perfect comparison to marketing a small business like an auto repair shop.

There is an order to things. You want to build on a solid foundation. You shouldn’t just focus on the marketing tactics you are most interested in, but rather what is most important to the business’ survival first, then long-term growth, and then thriving as an empire.

Introducing Walker’s Hierarchy of (Marketing) Needs

First, let me say that I feel like a little bit of a tool creating “Walker’s Hierarchy of (Marketing) Needs.” Appending my name to a synonymous work in the name of content marketing just seems, as my son would say, “cringe.” But the fact is, I wrote this. I made the comparison. Matt Fanslow suggested the name when he gave me the idea. And I don’t know what else to call it.

Enough of that though. Let’s get to comparing.

Basic Physiological Needs - The Marketing Foundations

The first need, or base layer, in Maslow’s Triangle is a human’s physiological needs. These would be needs like air, water, food, shelter, and clothing.

Let’s be real about this. There are no marketing needs that are to a business what air, water, and food would be to a human. There are shops that survive without any marketing at all. But people who are reading this aren’t just trying to survive. They want to thrive. Dare I say they want to build their empire.

So let’s go along with the shelter and clothing aspect of this level of need.

The physiological needs equivalent would be a shop’s Google Business Profile, website, and social media pages.

Google Business Profile – The Google Business Profile is the most basic, yet one of the most important needs for any auto repair shop’s marketing. It’s free, it tells people who you are, what you do, where you are located, how to get in touch with you, and what other people’s experiences have been with you. Creating a GBP is the very first thing a new shop owner should do for their marketing. Learn a little more about setting up your Google Business Profile here.

Website – Your shop’s website is the next most important thing you’ll put in place for your marketing. I want you to understand this does not mean you need to go out and buy a website from a company like ours or the many others who build auto repair shop websites. There are many free or inexpensive DIY options available, my favorite of these being Squarespace.

Your website is the hub of your marketing. Nearly everything you do for marketing will point people to your website. Your website is something that you should invest in as soon as you can, but a basic website will fill the need in the beginning. Make sure you buy a good domain name from the beginning and put it to use even on a free website like the Google Business Profile website. Getting that domain in use as early as possible will make a big impact on your SEO later when you upgrade to a more comprehensive website.

Social Media Pages – Getting the social media pages set up and in use from day one is another of the foundational plays in marketing for your auto repair shop. When you first start using social media it will feel like you’re in a land of dust and tumbleweeds. This is true for any new business. You have to stay consistent with posting even when it feels like you’re talking to yourself. The followers will come. Remember to post with the intention of getting people to know, like, and trust you. It’s not about sales.

Safety and Security - Reputation

The second layer in Maslow’s Triangle is all about safety and security. For a human this would be your job and overall ability to provide for yourself and your family, as well as your health and the things you own that ensure your longevity.

When it comes to your business and marketing, safety and security come from your reputation and your brand. We talk a lot about know/like/trust and the importance of these factors in marketing. The things that build trust with your audience are what build safety and security in your marketing.

Reviews – Good reviews are the social proof that you do a great job and that people can trust you to take good care of them and their vehicles. On the first layer of the triangle, you created a Google Business Profile and probably a Facebook page for your auto repair shop. When you did that you created the two main places where people will leave you reviews. Now you need to get them to leave those reviews. You can do this manually or you can employ the use of a CRM such as Cinch, Kukui, Steer, ShopGenie, Autoflow, or others to request reviews after customer visits. Any way it goes, getting your clients to leave you reviews is paramount to building a great reputation.

Content Marketing – Any business in the modern world needs to be a media company first, then whatever they do in exchange for money second. That’s quite a statement, I know. But creating content is the most efficient way to get found and to get people to know, like, and trust you. Writing this article you’re reading is content marketing. After reading this, you’ll know Shop Marketing Pros and the way we think about marketing a little better. You’ll probably trust us a little more. The best part is my competitors aren’t doing this. Go try to find a high-quality piece of thought leadership from another marketing company in the independent aftermarket. Good luck! Fortunately for you, it’s almost guaranteed to be the same among auto repair shops in your geographic area. If you create blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, social media posts – and just share your expertise through content – you’ll stand out as a shop that can be trusted while the others are just meh.

Search Engine Optimization – SEO is the art of getting your shop found when people in your area search for terms like “mechanic near me.” It is something that, when prioritized, has a long-lasting effect that definitely adds to the safety and security of your business by being the gift that keeps on giving you new clients. The cool thing about it is that many of the things we’ve already talked about doing lead to pretty solid SEO. We’ve talked about your Google Business Profile, setting up a basic website and social media pages, getting reviews, and creating content. This is like 80% of SEO already. Mix in some solid on-page practices and you’re golden!

PPC / Google Ads – Paying the search engines to display your auto repair shop as a result when someone is searching for auto repair related terms is one of the quickest and easiest ways to keep your shop with a steady flow of new clients. A shop that lacks work is in a dangerous place, and pay-per-click advertising works to combat this. It’s important to know that while PPC ads can be turned on and off with the click of a button, they perform at their best when they run at all times. This marketing tactic should be used as a long-term strategy and not just to fill in the gaps.

Love and Belonging - Networking

The third layer of Maslow’s Triangle is love and belonging. This one is all about friendship, intimacy, family, and connection to other humans.

The marketing equivalent of this isn’t far off from the human need. Networking is an often overlooked type of marketing that we believe every auto repair shop owner should be doing.

I’m going to get off on a little tangent here because it fits into what I’m talking about and I can’t not say this.

In the small business world, owners want to do marketing that involves as little of their time as possible because they think they are the busiest people in the world. They like to wear their busyness on their lapel like a badge of honor or something. But they have the same 24 hours in their day that every other business owner has. Some are just more efficient with using their time than others.

If you are one of those owners who has no time for anything, I’d encourage you to read the book Buy Back Your Time by Dan Martell, because I’m about to tell you some things you need to be doing that you’re probably going to think you don’t have time for. But if you prioritize spending your time on the right things, your life and your shop are going to be much better for it.

Ok, end rant, LOL.

Chambers of Commerce – Your local chamber of commerce is an incredible resource to grow your auto repair shop. Shop owners are always looking for that “word of mouth advertising” that grows their shop with little to no investment, and there is no group of people who like referring people to other businesses like those who are involved in their local chambers. But like Kim always says, a chamber membership is like a gym membership: it only works if you show up. Chambers have networking events throughout the month that allow you to meet other business owners in your local area and form relationships with them. These relationships lead to referrals. They also lead to friendships, mentors, and valuable connections.

BNI Groups – I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again… BNI and auto repair go hand-in-hand. Business Network International is an organization with a proven formula that leads to LOTS of referrals for your auto repair shop. You will go to a weekly meeting where you will meet with a group of non-competing business professionals who are all there to help each other grow their businesses through referrals. Only one business from each category is allowed in the group so you won’t have any competitors in the room. During the week you’ll meet with fellow members and do “one to ones” where you get to know, like, and trust each other. Sound familiar? BNI was so successful for my shop that Kim and I were each in our own BNI group. It was the source of more new clients than anything except referrals from existing clients.

When you’re the most-known shop in town, as long as you do good work at a fair price you’re also going to be the busiest shop in town. But you have to become the most known. When all of the people in these groups I’m talking about know you and consider you a friend and trusted resource, you’ll quickly become the most-known shop in town.

Kim and I have had countless shop owners tell us about getting involved in the chamber and BNI after hearing us talk about it and they all thank us – because it really is that powerful!

Esteem, Differentiation, and Recognition - Brand Building

The fourth layer of Maslow’s Triangle is about the way you feel about yourself in relation to the way others see you. It’s about being unique and others recognizing your uniqueness. It’s about your status and having the respect of others. Ultimately it’s about the freedom you have through your strength.

This is another of those that’s a pretty direct parallel between your shop’s marketing and a human’s needs.

We talk all the time about how every auto repair shop is unique and there are certain people who are attracted to the things that make your shop unique. When you know what makes your shop unique and who is attracted to those things, your marketing just becomes easy and super effective when executed with some basic intelligence.

Brand Building – I know I already hit on brand in layer two of the triangle, but we’re coming at it from a different angle this time. That was about building a brand people can trust. This is about building a brand people are proud to be associated with. Your shop being their shop of choice actually elevates your client’s status. Your shop is the best, it’s known as the best, and it attracts a very specific type of clientele. Your shop is so highly respected because of the strength of your brand that people no longer question price. Does this sound far-fetched? If so, it’s only because you haven’t built that strong of a brand yet. We have multiple clients who are easily the highest-priced shops in their area. The people who are concerned about price know they aren’t their clients. The ones who want to be associated with these shops aren’t concerned about price. That only happens at this level of the triangle and above, and it should be every shop owner’s desire to get here.

Advanced Digital Marketing Strategies – It’s only at the point when you know exactly who your shop caters to, what your unique selling proposition is, and have the confidence in your brand that you only want to attract a very specific client that you should employ strategies that highly target your future clients. You have to have all of the pieces in place because targeting the right client with the wrong message won’t work. Targeting the right client with the right message when your brand doesn’t match the posture also doesn’t work. It’s hard to fake who you really are as a company these days. People have really good BS meters now because they’ve seen it all. Build your brand and be 100% secure in who you are, then you can use these advanced strategies to target the right client in the right place at the right time with the right message and let your brand be the thing that sells them in the end.

Community Involvement – You can get involved in your community at any level of the triangle, and you should, but this is the level where it has the biggest impact because of the brand you have built. This is the level where people look at your community involvement and know you’re doing it for the sole purpose of giving back to the community. It’s also the place where you can look at your community involvement and be proud of what you’re doing because you can do it at a level that makes a difference you’re happy to associate with your brand. This sounds hoity toity as I write it, but it is what it is. You’re now doing community involvement at a level that you can stand back, smile, and be proud of the impact you’re having on your community and the way people look at your business because of it. Geez… I can’t believe I just wrote that but it’s true.

Self Actualization - You’re Changing The World Around You

In layer five of Maslow’s Triangle a person is reaching the highest level a human can reach. They are influential and they use that influence to change the world around them. They make the world a better place. They make the people around them become better.

At this level of an auto repair shop’s marketing, the shop has become well-known both in the local community but also in the world of auto repair. They are making their local community better and making a positive impact on the auto repair industry.

Thought Leadership – Your shop has fully embraced thought leadership at this point. Not only are they sharing thought leadership that educates their clients on vehicle maintenance and repair, but they are also educating their clients on things that impact them from a larger standpoint, such as Right to Repair, fallout from legislative matters, local governance issues, and more. The shop is hosting technical training events that are open to technicians and shop leadership from surrounding shops – because the brand is so strong that competition is irrelevant – and they would do it even if it wasn’t because the shop leadership thinks bigger than that now. All of this matters from a marketing standpoint because it’s being promoted that these things are happening, and the clients of the shop love it.

Strategic Partnerships – The shop is so immersed in the community and the industry that others seek out strategic partnerships with the shop. Corporate giants like Gates and Bosch host events at the shop to build trust with people at the consumer level. Politicians hold press conferences at the shop to raise awareness for issues that will impact vehicle owners. Local news companies use the shop leadership as experts for related news stories. You host fundraisers to help local organizations, and people who are in need, and your shop is known for responding to the needs of your community. This is truly a state of self-actualization.

You can see that at the top of the triangle a seemingly simple local business has become an integral part of the community and it is respected as such. If you stop and think about it, you can probably think of a local business or two that has reached this level of success. Could yours be the next?

Why Does This Matter?

When I first set out to write about this I thought it was a neat parallel. What I realized as I wrote it was that this is a litmus test for where your business currently sits and what the marketing should look like in that particular situation.

I’m no Abraham Maslow and there’s certainly nothing official in Walker’s Hierarchy of (Marketing) Needs that researchers will be citing in the future. That being said, there are some fundamental truths to this.

You can do any of the marketing I’ve listed out here at any level of proficiency no matter what layer you sit at in the triangle. But you can’t be at just any layer of the triangle without doing the marketing prescribed within.

Sorry, I said what I said. You’ll never be at the brand-building level if you don’t have a plan for reputation management. You’ll never be the most well-known shop in your community without networking. It may not be through the Chamber of Commerce or BNI, but I guarantee you’re networking somewhere if you reach that level. It may be at the local barber shop, but I promise you’re doing it.

In Conclusion

The point of this article wasn’t for me to be some kind of modern-day philosopher. It was to give you a tool to determine if you are doing the right type of marketing for the situation in which your shop is currently in.

If you liked this, share it with a friend. If you didn’t, share it anyway.

If you need help with marketing your auto repair shop, that’s what we do here at Shop Marketing Pros. If you’d like to learn more, schedule a discovery call and see how we can help you get to the top of Walker’s Pyramid. 🤣

It’s been about a year ago now that Matt Fanslow reached out to me and planted this idea of creating a content piece comparing an auto repair shop’s marketing needs to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Maslow’s work, I’ll give a brief introduction when I get into the article.

When Matt planted this idea I was excited about it but also a little nervous. You see, Matt is smart. Not just smart, but FREAKING SMART. He is one of those people who can be a little intimidating to be around because he thinks on a different level. All you have to do is listen to one of his podcast episodes to understand he isn’t your average human being.

I, on the other hand… I’m a simpleton. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a very smart person. I was the lead diagnostic tech at the dealership I worked at and I was very successful at it. That takes intelligence. But I’m smart when it comes to mechanical things and process of elimination type stuff. I’m not smart in a philosophical way – and that’s exactly what this article is.

That’s why it’s taken me a year to write it. I’ve been procrastinating on this one for a while. But here I am resting up after just having total knee replacement surgery, and now seems as good a time as any.

I’ve already outlined this article, and the parallels are pretty cool. I’m excited about where this is going to go – so let’s get to it.

Oh… and thank you, Matt, for giving me the idea for this one!

What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

From Wikipedia: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology proposed by American Psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in the journal Psychological Review. You can read the details here.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs basically expresses what a human needs to survive, be motivated, and ultimately thrive – beginning with basic needs such as oxygen, water, food, and shelter to higher-level needs like friendship, respect, and meaning.

Why Compare Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Marketing an Auto Repair Shop?

As I was consuming information about MHON, I was watching this video. The author made the point that, “Maslow’s Pyramid remains a hugely useful object to turn to when we are trying to assess the direction of our lives.”

The pyramid is also a great visual because it shows that there is an order to things. You have to build a pyramid from the bottom up, and the foundation of the pyramid is the most important part. 

It is often shown that people live lives that are out of order with the pyramid. Those who focus on accumulating things but never get to the “self-actualization” part of life are living a life out of balance where they will never achieve true happiness.

Those who focus on self-actualization without making sure their basic needs are met are living a dangerous life – an upside-down pyramid – where they could be toppled over at any moment.

THIS is why Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a perfect comparison to marketing a small business like an auto repair shop.

There is an order to things. You want to build on a solid foundation. You shouldn’t just focus on the marketing tactics you are most interested in, but rather what is most important to the business’ survival first, then long-term growth, and then thriving as an empire.

Introducing Walker’s Hierarchy of (Marketing) Needs

First, let me say that I feel like a little bit of a tool creating “Walker’s Hierarchy of (Marketing) Needs.” Appending my name to a synonymous work in the name of content marketing just seems, as my son would say, “cringe.” But the fact is, I wrote this. I made the comparison. Matt Fanslow suggested the name when he gave me the idea. And I don’t know what else to call it.

Enough of that though. Let’s get to comparing.

Basic Physiological Needs – The Marketing Foundations

The first need, or base layer, in Maslow’s Triangle is a human’s physiological needs. These would be needs like air, water, food, shelter, and clothing.

Let’s be real about this. There are no marketing needs that are to a business what air, water, and food would be to a human. There are shops that survive without any marketing at all. But people who are reading this aren’t just trying to survive. They want to thrive. Dare I say they want to build their empire.

So let’s go along with the shelter and clothing aspect of this level of need.

The physiological needs equivalent would be a shop’s Google Business Profile, website, and social media pages.

Google Business Profile – The Google Business Profile is the most basic, yet one of the most important needs for any auto repair shop’s marketing. It’s free, it tells people who you are, what you do, where you are located, how to get in touch with you, and what other people’s experiences have been with you. Creating a GBP is the very first thing a new shop owner should do for their marketing. Learn a little more about setting up your Google Business Profile here.

Website – Your shop’s website is the next most important thing you’ll put in place for your marketing. I want you to understand this does not mean you need to go out and buy a website from a company like ours or the many others who build auto repair shop websites. There are many free or inexpensive DIY options available, my favorite of these being Squarespace.

Your website is the hub of your marketing. Nearly everything you do for marketing will point people to your website. Your website is something that you should invest in as soon as you can, but a basic website will fill the need in the beginning. Make sure you buy a good domain name from the beginning and put it to use even on a free website like the Google Business Profile website. Getting that domain in use as early as possible will make a big impact on your SEO later when you upgrade to a more comprehensive website.

Social Media Pages – Getting the social media pages set up and in use from day one is another of the foundational plays in marketing for your auto repair shop. When you first start using social media it will feel like you’re in a land of dust and tumbleweeds. This is true for any new business. You have to stay consistent with posting even when it feels like you’re talking to yourself. The followers will come. Remember to post with the intention of getting people to know, like, and trust you. It’s not about sales.

Safety and Security – Reputation

The second layer in Maslow’s Triangle is all about safety and security. For a human this would be your job and overall ability to provide for yourself and your family, as well as your health and the things you own that ensure your longevity.

When it comes to your business and marketing, safety and security come from your reputation and your brand. We talk a lot about know/like/trust and the importance of these factors in marketing. The things that build trust with your audience are what build safety and security in your marketing.

Reviews – Good reviews are the social proof that you do a great job and that people can trust you to take good care of them and their vehicles. On the first layer of the triangle, you created a Google Business Profile and probably a Facebook page for your auto repair shop. When you did that you created the two main places where people will leave you reviews. Now you need to get them to leave those reviews. You can do this manually or you can employ the use of a CRM such as Cinch, Kukui, Steer, ShopGenie, Autoflow, or others to request reviews after customer visits. Any way it goes, getting your clients to leave you reviews is paramount to building a great reputation.

Content Marketing – Any business in the modern world needs to be a media company first, then whatever they do in exchange for money second. That’s quite a statement, I know. But creating content is the most efficient way to get found and to get people to know, like, and trust you. Writing this article you’re reading is content marketing. After reading this, you’ll know Shop Marketing Pros and the way we think about marketing a little better. You’ll probably trust us a little more. The best part is my competitors aren’t doing this. Go try to find a high-quality piece of thought leadership from another marketing company in the independent aftermarket. Good luck! Fortunately for you, it’s almost guaranteed to be the same among auto repair shops in your geographic area. If you create blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, social media posts – and just share your expertise through content – you’ll stand out as a shop that can be trusted while the others are just meh.

Search Engine Optimization – SEO is the art of getting your shop found when people in your area search for terms like “mechanic near me.” It is something that, when prioritized, has a long-lasting effect that definitely adds to the safety and security of your business by being the gift that keeps on giving you new clients. The cool thing about it is that many of the things we’ve already talked about doing lead to pretty solid SEO. We’ve talked about your Google Business Profile, setting up a basic website and social media pages, getting reviews, and creating content. This is like 80% of SEO already. Mix in some solid on-page practices and you’re golden!

PPC / Google Ads – Paying the search engines to display your auto repair shop as a result when someone is searching for auto repair related terms is one of the quickest and easiest ways to keep your shop with a steady flow of new clients. A shop that lacks work is in a dangerous place, and pay-per-click advertising works to combat this. It’s important to know that while PPC ads can be turned on and off with the click of a button, they perform at their best when they run at all times. This marketing tactic should be used as a long-term strategy and not just to fill in the gaps.

Love and Belonging – Networking

The third layer of Maslow’s Triangle is love and belonging. This one is all about friendship, intimacy, family, and connection to other humans.

The marketing equivalent of this isn’t far off from the human need. Networking is an often overlooked type of marketing that we believe every auto repair shop owner should be doing.

I’m going to get off on a little tangent here because it fits into what I’m talking about and I can’t not say this.

In the small business world, owners want to do marketing that involves as little of their time as possible because they think they are the busiest people in the world. They like to wear their busyness on their lapel like a badge of honor or something. But they have the same 24 hours in their day that every other business owner has. Some are just more efficient with using their time than others.

If you are one of those owners who has no time for anything, I’d encourage you to read the book Buy Back Your Time by Dan Martell, because I’m about to tell you some things you need to be doing that you’re probably going to think you don’t have time for. But if you prioritize spending your time on the right things, your life and your shop are going to be much better for it.

Ok, end rant, LOL.

Chambers of Commerce – Your local chamber of commerce is an incredible resource to grow your auto repair shop. Shop owners are always looking for that “word of mouth advertising” that grows their shop with little to no investment, and there is no group of people who like referring people to other businesses like those who are involved in their local chambers. But like Kim always says, a chamber membership is like a gym membership: it only works if you show up. Chambers have networking events throughout the month that allow you to meet other business owners in your local area and form relationships with them. These relationships lead to referrals. They also lead to friendships, mentors, and valuable connections.

BNI Groups – I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again… BNI and auto repair go hand-in-hand. Business Network International is an organization with a proven formula that leads to LOTS of referrals for your auto repair shop. You will go to a weekly meeting where you will meet with a group of non-competing business professionals who are all there to help each other grow their businesses through referrals. Only one business from each category is allowed in the group so you won’t have any competitors in the room. During the week you’ll meet with fellow members and do “one to ones” where you get to know, like, and trust each other. Sound familiar? BNI was so successful for my shop that Kim and I were each in our own BNI group. It was the source of more new clients than anything except referrals from existing clients.

When you’re the most-known shop in town, as long as you do good work at a fair price you’re also going to be the busiest shop in town. But you have to become the most known. When all of the people in these groups I’m talking about know you and consider you a friend and trusted resource, you’ll quickly become the most-known shop in town.

Kim and I have had countless shop owners tell us about getting involved in the chamber and BNI after hearing us talk about it and they all thank us – because it really is that powerful!

Esteem, Differentiation, and Recognition – Brand Building

The fourth layer of Maslow’s Triangle is about the way you feel about yourself in relation to the way others see you. It’s about being unique and others recognizing your uniqueness. It’s about your status and having the respect of others. Ultimately it’s about the freedom you have through your strength.

This is another of those that’s a pretty direct parallel between your shop’s marketing and a human’s needs.

We talk all the time about how every auto repair shop is unique and there are certain people who are attracted to the things that make your shop unique. When you know what makes your shop unique and who is attracted to those things, your marketing just becomes easy and super effective when executed with some basic intelligence.

Brand Building – I know I already hit on brand in layer two of the triangle, but we’re coming at it from a different angle this time. That was about building a brand people can trust. This is about building a brand people are proud to be associated with. Your shop being their shop of choice actually elevates your client’s status. Your shop is the best, it’s known as the best, and it attracts a very specific type of clientele. Your shop is so highly respected because of the strength of your brand that people no longer question price. Does this sound far-fetched? If so, it’s only because you haven’t built that strong of a brand yet. We have multiple clients who are easily the highest-priced shops in their area. The people who are concerned about price know they aren’t their clients. The ones who want to be associated with these shops aren’t concerned about price. That only happens at this level of the triangle and above, and it should be every shop owner’s desire to get here.

Advanced Digital Marketing Strategies – It’s only at the point when you know exactly who your shop caters to, what your unique selling proposition is, and have the confidence in your brand that you only want to attract a very specific client that you should employ strategies that highly target your future clients. You have to have all of the pieces in place because targeting the right client with the wrong message won’t work. Targeting the right client with the right message when your brand doesn’t match the posture also doesn’t work. It’s hard to fake who you really are as a company these days. People have really good BS meters now because they’ve seen it all. Build your brand and be 100% secure in who you are, then you can use these advanced strategies to target the right client in the right place at the right time with the right message and let your brand be the thing that sells them in the end.

Community Involvement – You can get involved in your community at any level of the triangle, and you should, but this is the level where it has the biggest impact because of the brand you have built. This is the level where people look at your community involvement and know you’re doing it for the sole purpose of giving back to the community. It’s also the place where you can look at your community involvement and be proud of what you’re doing because you can do it at a level that makes a difference you’re happy to associate with your brand. This sounds hoity toity as I write it, but it is what it is. You’re now doing community involvement at a level that you can stand back, smile, and be proud of the impact you’re having on your community and the way people look at your business because of it. Geez… I can’t believe I just wrote that but it’s true.

Self Actualization – You’re Changing The World Around You

In layer five of Maslow’s Triangle a person is reaching the highest level a human can reach. They are influential and they use that influence to change the world around them. They make the world a better place. They make the people around them become better.

At this level of an auto repair shop’s marketing, the shop has become well-known both in the local community but also in the world of auto repair. They are making their local community better and making a positive impact on the auto repair industry.

Thought Leadership – Your shop has fully embraced thought leadership at this point. Not only are they sharing thought leadership that educates their clients on vehicle maintenance and repair, but they are also educating their clients on things that impact them from a larger standpoint, such as Right to Repair, fallout from legislative matters, local governance issues, and more. The shop is hosting technical training events that are open to technicians and shop leadership from surrounding shops – because the brand is so strong that competition is irrelevant – and they would do it even if it wasn’t because the shop leadership thinks bigger than that now. All of this matters from a marketing standpoint because it’s being promoted that these things are happening, and the clients of the shop love it.

Strategic Partnerships – The shop is so immersed in the community and the industry that others seek out strategic partnerships with the shop. Corporate giants like Gates and Bosch host events at the shop to build trust with people at the consumer level. Politicians hold press conferences at the shop to raise awareness for issues that will impact vehicle owners. Local news companies use the shop leadership as experts for related news stories. You host fundraisers to help local organizations, and people who are in need, and your shop is known for responding to the needs of your community. This is truly a state of self-actualization.

You can see that at the top of the triangle a seemingly simple local business has become an integral part of the community and it is respected as such. If you stop and think about it, you can probably think of a local business or two that has reached this level of success. Could yours be the next?

Why Does This Matter?

When I first set out to write about this I thought it was a neat parallel. What I realized as I wrote it was that this is a litmus test for where your business currently sits and what the marketing should look like in that particular situation.

I’m no Abraham Maslow and there’s certainly nothing official in Walker’s Hierarchy of (Marketing) Needs that researchers will be citing in the future. That being said, there are some fundamental truths to this.

You can do any of the marketing I’ve listed out here at any level of proficiency no matter what layer you sit at in the triangle. But you can’t be at just any layer of the triangle without doing the marketing prescribed within.

Sorry, I said what I said. You’ll never be at the brand-building level if you don’t have a plan for reputation management. You’ll never be the most well-known shop in your community without networking. It may not be through the Chamber of Commerce or BNI, but I guarantee you’re networking somewhere if you reach that level. It may be at the local barber shop, but I promise you’re doing it.

In Conclusion

The point of this article wasn’t for me to be some kind of modern-day philosopher. It was to give you a tool to determine if you are doing the right type of marketing for the situation in which your shop is currently in.

If you liked this, share it with a friend. If you didn’t, share it anyway.

If you need help with marketing your auto repair shop, that’s what we do here at Shop Marketing Pros. If you’d like to learn more, schedule a discovery call and see how we can help you get to the top of Walker’s Pyramid. 🤣

About The Author

Brian Walker

Brian Walker is the Owner and CEO of Shop Marketing Pros, a marketing agency specializing in marketing independently owned auto repair shops. Brian is a Mercedes Benz Master Technician and has owned multiple shops and served as the Mechanical Division Director for ASA-NC.

He's a mechanic at heart who loves fixing things that are broken, which is why he loves marketing so much.

"Digging in and figuring out why a business' marketing isn't working is a lot like it was when he was elbows deep into a car that no one else could fix. When you figure it out, there's nothing else like it."

To get to do this for auto repair shop owners combines his passions, and he couldn't be more excited about helping shop owners.
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