Iowa City Tire Markets With Its Funny Bone

May 8, 2023

Many tire dealers are using social media to gain customers’ attention as radio, TV and newspaper ads are quickly becoming things of the past.  

Andy Miller, owner of Iowa City Tire & Service, which is headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, says his company is enjoying great success using social media platforms and other digital tools  including memes  to reach new customers and maintain a presence within his community.  

A new way to market 

The single-location dealership, which is part of the Goodyear Tire & Service Network, will celebrate 42 years in business this October. 

The company sells passenger and light truck tires and offers all automotive services, except transmission replacements. Sixty percent of its revenue comes from auto maintenance and repair. Tire sales make up the rest. 

The dealership started to dabble in digital marketing three years ago. 

“We started to go into the digital transition in 2020,” says Miller. “COVID-19 made me realize that we had to make a lot of changes.  

“We did some things internally here to make it easier for contactless payment and contactless drop-off/pick-up, but it really had us looking at all aspects of the business and where our marketing dollars were going.”  

Miller and his team had experimented with social media for some years before COVID-19 hit, just because of its popularity.  

Miller says he realized that TV commercials  once a mainstay for Iowa City Tire & Service  and newspaper ads were going away and that digital marketing was the “only way to spend our money that was going to have an impact on our business.  

“People simply aren’t watching live television anymore or picking up the newspapers like they used to.” (Iowa City Tire still pays homage to its TV spots that aired in the 1980s and 90s by displaying them on its website for customers to watch.)  

He says that Iowa City Tire’s location and environment were other factors that pushed the company into doing more digital marketing.  

The dealership is located in a college town.  

Miller and his team are trying to reach the college-aged customer. The goal is to be “the first one they think of” when it’s time for new tires or auto repair work. 

“It’s just a matter of figuring out what they are on,” he says about students and the social media platforms they use.  

“Are they on Instagram? Facebook? If we mention Facebook to college-aged kids, they look at us like we are ancient!” 

Right now, Iowa City Tire is active on Facebook and Instagram, with a less active Twitter account.  

Miller says that as he and his team expand their social media marketing knowledge, they hope to create a TikTok page. 

“We really just want to get into the college kids’ wheelhouse because it’s a huge segment of our population.”  

The power of memes 

Miller says that when thinking about what he wanted the company’s social media presence to be like, he thought about fast food chain Wendy’s Twitter page.  

“Wendy’s on Twitter just kind of roasts everyone and makes these sassy comments. Everyone loves it and finds it hilarious.” 

Iowa City Tire partners with Shop Marketing Pros, an automotive repair marketing service provider, and Miller told the company about his vision to emulate Wendy’s Twitter account.  

“Shop Marketing Pros shares our vision and that is communication,” says Miller. “It is 100% back and forth as well. They listen as much as they talk.”  

The company and Miller landed on a theme that “works for me as a consumer,” says Miller  advertising through funny memes, which are images, videos or pieces of text, typically humorous in nature, that are spread rapidly by Internet users. 

“I know what gets my attention as a consumer and that means timely, funny and unique memes,” he says.  

“If we can get someone to stop and engage with a post because they think it is funny or for whatever reason, that is the main goal in all of this.”  

Miller says that he will spend hours going through an online app, Meme Generator, to create his next social media advertisement.  

If he has a phrase that he thinks is funny, he will plug that into different photos and create a number of memes that he then sends to his marketing team for feedback. Sometimes he will find a photo he thinks is funny and will spend time crafting a phrase to go along with it.  

“I think Iowa City Tire advertises differently than most places. We don’t take a photo of a car and say, ‘If you have this car, you might need this service’ or ‘This dashboard light could mean this problem.’ We just take funny memes and funny pictures and put our slapstick humor on it.”   Miller stays away from posting generic car or tire photos because he believes those images will only appeal to people who need their vehicles serviced right now. He wants to advertise to the broader public.  

He doesn’t follow any type of schedule on when to post memes  just “when inspiration hits.” 

The approach has doubled Iowa City Tire’s social media following.

About the Author

Madison Gehring | Associate Editor

Madison Gehring is Modern Tire Dealer's associate editor. A graduate of Ohio State University, Gehring holds a bachelors degree in journalism. During her time at Ohio State, she wrote for the university's student-run newspaper, The Lantern, and interned at CityScene Media Group in Columbus, Ohio.