What would your customers miss if your dealership disappeared? Chances are a lot more than tires.
How dealers answer that question is the first step to rethinking their approach to marketing in ways that will bring more customers to their shops.
For most business owners, marketing means promoting the products they sell and the services they perform. Promoting how you help customers is far more effective at getting them into your tire shop, according to marketing expert Mike Brown.
“So many organizations don’t get this,” Brown told the 170 people who attended his “Shoestring Marketing” seminar at the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.
“One of the best things is to understand what your brand benefits are. What benefits do you provide to your customers? If you can get that, it helps you think about how you market, and it helps you think about new products and services.”
But a key is to know the difference between a feature and a benefit. “A feature is what we do, and a benefit is how what we do helps a customer,” says Brown, founder of The Brainzooming Group.
So while a typical tire dealership markets its tires and its services — the features — Brown said they miss out on selling the benefits, such as the safety offered by a new set of tires, or the peace of mind that comes from a thoroughly inspected vehicle, or the convenience of knowing repairs are done while the customer hops in a shuttle and returns to work.
Here’s another way Brown suggests thinking about it: What bad things would happen to your customers, or your prospects, if your business didn’t exist? What would they miss?
Brown posed those questions to Zulma Flores and Oscar Davila. Davila owns Montrose Tire & Wheel in Houston, Texas, and Flores, his girlfriend, volunteered to take the hot seat on stage in Brown’s classroom. The independent tire dealer was the focus of each of Brown’s examples.
Montrose Tire & Wheel sells and installs tires and wheels, and also repairs wheels. (The business doesn’t perform auto service.) It serves customers who live within a couple miles of the dealership.
So what would the customers of Montrose Tire & Wheel miss if the dealership disappeared? The answer is more than “tires.” Customers wouldn’t have mobility. They wouldn’t be able to express their personalities through their tire and wheel choices. They’d miss out on the high speeds, the thrills, and the excitement the business delivers through wheels and tires.
Flores wondered if the question is limited to products, or would it also extend to the service the business provides. “It absolutely extends to the service experience,” Brown said. “When I talk about brand, am I just talking about somebody’s logo or color? No. It’s also the experience that you give. It’s the product. It’s the service that you do. It’s your people and how they carry that out. It’s all those pieces together.”
Creating these lists of benefits also helps focus on the competition, Brown said. If your list reveals answers that don’t differentiate from the competition, there’s a problem. At the same time, it’s a way to zero in on emerging competitors.
“A lot of the time if you’re thinking about competitors, you’re always thinking about someone who looks like you. But the competitor who messes up your industry or disrupts your business never looks like you. They look like somebody else,” Brown said. “So you can look at, ‘who else can supply these same benefits?’”
The organizers of the SEMA Show and Global Tire Expo also arranged for a sales expert to share insights with tire dealers at this year’s event. For MTD’s coverage of the seminars, new products and other SEMA Show activities, see our story online and in the December digital or print edition, beginning on page 22.