CJ’s Tire & Automotive, a retail and wholesale tire dealership headquartered in Birdsboro, Pa., has its digital marketing strategy down.
In its digital marketing, CJ’s Tire & Automotive focuses on its employees, rather than the products it sells, says Leanne Bolger, director of marketing for the 17-location company.
Bolger set the dealership’s digital marketing strategy after diving into traditional marketing first.Traditional to digital
Bolger has been with CJ’s Tire & Automotive for around 13 years in many roles and says she learned marketing techniques from Bill Bainbridge, one of the tire industry’s most accomplished marketers.
“I had the privilege of learning under Bill and I was really lucky to learn from him,” says Bolger. (Bainbridge recently retired from CJ’s Tire & Automotive.)
“When we got into digital media, he kind of told me I would have to take the reins.”
Bolger says once she started exploring the digital marketing world, she found that “digital media is really unique for the tire business.”
CJ’s Tire & Automotive started using social media around 2018. At the time, the dealership’s social media posts focused on whatever was on sale at the company. Its social media platforms “didn’t have many followers.”
Bolger says the platforms didn’t allow for customer engagement.
‘You need to engage’
Bolger says CJ’s Tire & Automotive is on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, and has a YouTube channel that the company will soon revamp.
She says that each platform requires a different strategy. But the overall theme across the platforms is engagement.
“What I’ve found is that we have to engage on social media. People don’t want to be sold on social media when it comes to our pages.”
Bolger says the dealership’s strategy is to stay away from ad campaigns and instead focus more on the people who work there. “We’ve been really successful with sharing what we do in our community with CJ’s Cares,” which is a charitable effort the dealership funds, “as well as highlighting what’s going on behind-the-scenes.”
The tire dealership's social media plan features a weekly segment called Warehouse Wednesdays, where Bolger will post Instagram reels of what is going on in the dealership’s warehouses.
To come up with inspiration for content, Bolger says she is constantly researching. “One thing I’ve always done is to see what other tire dealers are doing.” she says. Bolger also looks at what companies in other industries are doing.
“It shows that not only are we aware of what is happening outside our industry, but we care,” she says.
One non-employee-related thing CJ’s Tire & Automotive does promote on its social media platforms is finance options for cash-strapped customers. The company partners with different firms like Affirm and Koalafi to promote financing options for their consumers.
“Whenever we incorporate financing, they always end up as our biggest campaigns,” she says. “Having financial options available for customers is really important because times are going to get tough and being able to help consumers budget their money for services and tires” will be crucial.She also says she will sit in CJ's Tire & Automotive’s showrooms and pick up on customer trends. And she will check with personnel at the sales counter to see if there are any re-occurring questions that customers are asking. Both help her generate content ideas.
Why digital is important
Bolger says digital marketing is beneficial for a number of reasons. “It’s cost-effective by being more affordable than traditional marketing and it reaches a lot more people,” she says. “Plus, you can target your content.”
For example, CJ’s Tire & Automotive can tailor its content based on age groups. She splits consumer age groups up from 28 to 34, 35 to 44 and 45 to 60.
“Each one of these segments, we market to differently,” she says. “We know our best customers are in the 35- to 50-year range, so we market to them differently than the younger generation because we know the younger generation is not as brand-loyal.”
Another benefit of digital marketing is the ability to measure it. “Traditional marketing really has no way of measuring how well it is doing,” she says. “You can’t measure the success of direct mail or radio.”
Being able to measure digital marketing allows Bolger to track the results of the campaigns she puts out to see what is working and what’s not working.
‘It takes time’
When it comes to digital marketing, Bolger says you must first know your audience.
“You can’t mass-market when you do digital marketing. You have to have different messages for different audiences.”
And don’t expect radical changes overnight. “It takes time. When I first started doing digital, I thought to myself, ‘OK, this isn’t working for us.’ But it just takes time and consistency to see the results of digital marketing.”