Berg Drives Big Results Using Social Media - And Says You Can, Too
“I love business,” says Matt Berg, general manager of Berg Tire Inc., a single-location tire dealership in the small town of Glendive, Mont. “It’s not just a job. It’s also a hobby.”
In addition to “wearing all of the hats” at his family’s dealership, which his grandfather founded in 1985, Berg - within the last few years - has opened and profitably sold a lawn care company (“Lawn & Order”) and most recently opened a boutique clothing store, which is housed in a vintage building that he and his wife own.
Berg, 32, has successfully leveraged several social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to boost awareness of all of his businesses.
Along the way, he discovered that he is particularly adept at using social media to drive traffic to Berg Tire, which has resulted in additional sales.
However, he readily admits that getting to that point has been a trial-and-error process.
“Our marketing lacked a digital element when I started,” he says. “We advertised primarily on radio and TV. While those media have their place, I thought they were expensive. It was hard for us to spend that much money.
“We’re also in a rural area and I realized everyone has satellite radio. It was hard to reach customers on (terrestrial) radio. We have one of the smallest TV stations in the country. And newspapers rarely, if ever, provided positive return on investment.”
Seeing an opportunity to use a low-cost, potentially high-return medium, Berg began posting information about his dealership on Facebook in 2016.
“I quickly recognized the importance of posting photos, too. At the time, I wasn’t too good at it. I would usually use stock images from websites. I realized that I needed to improve.
“As I continued into 2017, I started putting a little bit of money behind those posts - anywhere from $25 to $50, which is very small in the grand scheme of things.”
He began using Facebook Ads Manager, a tool that lets users create custom ads and manage where and when they will run. “I watched several YouTube videos to figure out how to do it,” says Berg.
$90,000 in two weeks!
That same year, an opportunity for Berg to test his growing social media expertise materialized in the form of a consumer rebate program from Hankook Tire America Corp., one of Berg Tire’s suppliers.
Hankook had rolled out a “Buy three tires, get one free” offer on select products.
“It was at the end of the year, right before Christmas - not a busy time for us,” says Berg. “But I knew it was a great deal.”
He put the word out on Facebook and used one of the platform’s features to target customers within 150 miles of the dealership’s location, “in all directions.”
The results, he adds, “were just insane. At one point, we had 15 people in line to buy tires and in a town of 6,000 people, that just doesn’t happen. We added lift kits, wheels and alignments to those tickets, too.”
Over the course of two weeks, Berg Tire generated $90,000 in gross revenue - a banner event for the company.
The experience taught Berg that when promoting rebates and sales via social media, “it’s all in how you present it. If your posts are too sales-heavy, you might get negative feedback. But if you’re trying to add value or are simply informing customers - like ‘We have some awesome rebates from leading tire manufacturers’ - that’s a win.
“And if there is a part of your business that needs a boost - like alignments, for example - that’s something you also can focus on. I look at our schedule to understand where we need to be - not just to help Berg Tire be successful, but to also help ensure our technicians, who work on commission, are successful.”
‘An authentic connection’
As organized as he is, Berg doesn’t put together an annual social media marketing plan to guide his Facebook and Instagram campaigns - and for good reason.
By taking a self-described “free-flowing” approach, he gives himself the flexibility to capitalize on opportunities that arise.
But he does follow a few, self-imposed guidelines.
“I typically want to have six posts on Facebook or Instagram per week. I try to post every day, except Sunday. I try to stick with themes and will focus on one type of product or service for two to three days.
“I want to create an authentic connection with my customer base,” he says. “For example, when COVID-19 hit and things started shutting down, there were still a lot of people who needed tires. We used West Creek, which is a company that offers financing to people who have zero credit. And they allow you to apply for credit by text message.”
Each tire dealership that works with West Creek receives a code. “We put that code in our Facebook and Instagram posts and ran that for a few months. We really saw value in that.”
Berg encourages customer engagement in other ways.
“I recently posted a picture of a ‘69 Camaro in front of a nice house and asked, ‘What would you rather have: this house or this car?’ It generated a lot of comments, which was good.” (Most customers chose the car, he reveals.)
Berg also is planning to ramp up the amount of user-generated content in his company’s social media presence.
“If a customer takes a photo of their vehicle after they bought tires and wheels from us and tags Berg Tire, we’re able to post that on our own Facebook and Instagram feeds,” he says. “That has generated a lot of customer comments and ‘likes.’
For example, a customer who recently bought an expensive set of wheels for his new Corvette proactively shared some photos with Berg Tire.
“It’s been happening organically. I haven’t had to ask for content. In fact, I try to ask as little as possible. One thing that’s really important is that you try to not ask your audience to do too much.
“I will say, though, that when a customer is checking out your Facebook page, you can always say, ‘I would love to put a photo of your vehicle on our page. Can you send us some pictures?’ They usually respond positively. They think it’s fun to show off their cars and they’re flattered when you ask them. So that’s an easy way to generate content.
“It’s all in how you ask,” he continues. “If you’re too forward, you might get some negative pushback. But if you’re open and are having fun with the conversation, it will usually work.”
‘Focus on your ROI’
The biggest misconception about incorporating social media into marketing is that “it’s not important,” according to Berg.
“Some dealers just don’t think it’s very important. Hopefully, that’s just because they’re so busy doing other things! But I think that in a lot of ways, it’s one of the most important things you can do.
“As an independent, it gives you an opportunity to showcase yourself and demonstrate that you care about your customers. Just showing that you’re part of the community is important. People still like to buy local.”
Berg sympathizes with busy dealers who feel they don’t have enough time to develop a business-oriented social media presence.
“It does take time and practice,” he says. “If you don’t want to personally do it, have someone on your business team learn it or hire someone to do it for you. You can start at a small level and not get too complicated. The return on investment is vast.
“Focus on your ROI. Don’t limit yourself to a budget. That ROI can be awesome versus what other media costs. You can target customers by their demographics, interests and behaviors.
“Social media is a big part of how we’ve been able to be successful.”