We Can’t Do It Alone!

Rhonda HiltbrandOn Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence. ~William Jennings Bryan

As a business owner, I know I need others to help me each and every day of the year.  I am so thankful for the wonderful staff, the customers and suppliers who make my business successful.

The most humbling times for me are when I feel a bit frustrated from time to time and I quietly rant and rave a little bit…until I pause and think of each person individually and wonder where would the company be at this moment without that individual?

The great part of coming together Monday through Friday with staff, customers and vendors is the knowledge that we each do our part, large and small and in between to make something greater than our individual selves.

This Thanksgiving season, while you are enjoying family and friends, great food and for many, football, also think of the individuals who make you the success you are!

At this time, I want to thank you, the reader of my posts, for taking the time.  Most of you are my customers and I certainly appreciate each and every one of you!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at News Works Marketing!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


It Can Be Scary Out There!

Rhonda HiltbrandNever trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain. ~J.K. Rowling

Technology…even for us in marketing can be a challenge.  Why?  Because sometimes its benefits are so very hard to prove! I have had a salesperson bugging me for over a month wanting me to buy his program that basically would interrupt a shop owner doing a search with an ad.  I told this salesperson that:

Number 1 – I can’t stand to have my searches interrupted by an ad and will sometimes just exit the site it took me to because that really annoys me! Why would I want to do that to auto repair shop owners?

Number 2 – Ad blocking has been threatened…so where would that leave me? Seems like that would be $1500 a month of wasted funds.

Number 3 – How would they target my customers as it is hard for me to even purchase a mailing or email list of independent auto repair shops without getting mostly new and used car dealerships and towing companies. I’ve wasted money on that before.

Needless to say he was very, very pushy and I hope he won’t bother me again!

Technology is a moving target.  What worked yesterday…might not work today…or tomorrow.  It is constantly changing.  I have a wonderful customer in Arizona who keeps great tabs on what works and doesn’t work for him.  He has a finger on the pulse of his business and his marketing.  He was surprised that ad words isn’t working so great now and that Yelp is doing well at this time.  When he paid a higher monthly fee for Yelp it didn’t work…now that he has gone with a less expensive package he is seeing good results.  Does he take that for granted? No…he will keep on testing to see.

Seems we never stop taking tests, right?

Happy Halloween from all of us at News Works Marketing!  Remember, if marketing is more frightening to you than things that go bump in the night…give us a call.  We are here to help!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Autumn…No Matter Where You Live!

Rhonda HiltbrandThat old September feeling… of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air…. Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes and failures had been wiped clean by summer. ~Wallace Stegner

Many customers tell me that they don’t really have a major change of season like we do here in Cincinnati, Ohio and in my travels I have, of course, noticed that. Fall is my very favorite time of the year and as I sit here at my desk with the morning’s cool breeze coming in through the open windows I feel revitalized somehow.  The leaves haven’t changed color much yet, but they will soon. Pumpkins and mums are everywhere at the stores (and I admit I have pumpkins in my mulch beds already…after all…they are ripe now in the gardens).

Autumn, no matter where you live is a great time to remind customers to come in for service.  While they are in, check their lights for them as darkness will be with us longer now.  Make sure their wiper blades are in good working order and don’t forget that battery.  It is also a great time to make sure the coolant and other fluids are in great shape.

No one likes to have a breakdown, but a breakdown in darkness seems so much worse!  They will thank you for the attention to detail!

If you need help spreading the word, just contact us!  All of us at News Works Marketing are here to help you!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Hmmmmmm…

Rhonda HiltbrandMotivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. ~Jim Ryun

Like most people, my husband and I are always in a hurry.  We do, of course, make a point of being consistent about getting our vehicles serviced on a timely basis.  5,000 miles ago my husband was told his transmission fluid was getting dirty and needed to be flushed (exchanged) on the next visit.

He took his car in for its oil change and service last week.  Imagine his surprise when after the service was complete they told him the oil was changed, the air filter was still clean, all the fluids were in great shape and topped off and they specifically pointed out that the transmission fluid was very clean.

He looked at me and raised his eyebrows…saying with no words, “You have got to be kidding me!”

My recommendations from this experience to all technicians, service advisors and shop owners…

  • Never recommend a service that doesn’t need to be performed.
  • If you do recommend a service, at least write it down and remember to mention it on the customer’s next visit. This needs to be a habit!My husband’s trust was very bruised.   Hmmmmm…

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


My Recent Experience With A Quick Lube

Rhonda HiltbrandWhen solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves. ~Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book

Recently I had an overheating vehicle…on the weekend!  I needed it to be in perfect working order by Monday morning so…I debated taking it to the corner chain store or to a quick lube equally close by.  The quick lube won.

The young men there quickly took a look under the hood and then the equally fast diagnosis began.

            “You need a new radiator!” said one.

            “You need a new water pump!” declared another.

After much debate a manager returned from lunch and felt the hoses.  It was a hose.  It had a small slit-like crack underneath. The young men didn’t even feel the hoses and even I know that is the first thing to look at.

He ordered the hose…but it took three tries to get the correct hose delivered from an Advanced Auto Parts store.  It also took three hours to replace the hose and give my radiator a flush (or fluid exchange for those of you out west!).  I paid my bill and when I got home was amazed at how dirty the guys left my hood.  I took it to a car wash immediately.

A few days later I had a rather longer than normal drive to another state and thought I detected a kind of burning smell.  After my meeting I drove back to the quick lube.  Again…they gathered around and looked under the hood whispering and gesturing and finally said that the hose had not been clamped properly and the cap had not been put on correctly either.  It took about 45 minutes and I was given every assurance that all was well but they did ask me to drop by again in a few days so they could take another look…just to be sure. I did and all was declared well!

I had to take my car through the car wash again and wipe down my credit card that was extremely greasy.  Yuck.

The moral of this story is…even the most eager to please, enthusiastic quick lube employees (including the manager) will never be as good at diagnosing and repairing even the simplest of issues as a certified technician.

My suggestion to all of you…SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!  To be certified takes work, dedication and a strong desire to be the best!  You are the BEST!  Wear it proudly!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Direct Mail

Rhonda HiltbrandThe speed and efficiency of programmatic advertising is valuable, but it should always be used in conjunction with creativity to engage consumers, writes Denise Colella. “Overreliance on performance metrics at the expense of creativity is a dangerous practice, yet it’s easy to do,” she writes.

(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part 4 Continued)

The advantages of direct mail are many…here are just a few!

  • It is targeted – You decide who it goes to.
  • It is measureable – You know who it went to and you can tell who responded to it right down to the individual.
  • It is scalable – You can mail as few or as many as you like. If using bulk mail to get the best rate you do need a minimum of 200 pieces.
  • It is expected – Consumers expect mail six days a week. They don’t have to order it, subscribe to it or drive out to get it.
  • It is appreciated – USPS did a recent study that showed over 60% of consumers would prefer getting offers by mail than by any other method.
  • It is non-intrusive – It doesn’t pop up in an article, appear in their social media viewing and it doesn’t show up in their inbox to be deleted in seconds. It comes and gets viewed regularly.
  • Now more than ever it captures attention because many bills, etc., are received online rather than in the mailbox.
  • Consumers can put it aside to look at later…unlike an email, social media, etc. You only get a quick moment and setting it aside for later is not an option with those venues.

You want consumers to spend time with your mail piece so make it worth their while. A recipient spends 213 seconds with a mail piece.  You have three seconds to draw interest to your piece.  You have 30 seconds to engage and 180 seconds to get it looked at thoroughly and generate a response.

  • Make it fun!
  • Add color and graphics
  • Make it sizzle!
  • Entertain for brand awareness!
  • Remember…it isn’t always, sell, sell, and sell!! (but do include an offer)

A short reminder…always live up to your marketing campaign no matter what method you use.  A lot of times shops say they are the best, the friendliest, the most high tech, etc…then they get a consumer to try them once.  When that shop fails to live up to that marketing campaign…they seldom get a second chance.

I hope these “Marketing Essentials of Highly Successful Shop Owners” has been helpful.  They were a brief overview of each type of marketing that most shop owners (and other small businesses use).  If you need more in-depth information on one or all, just let me know!

Thanks!
Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


The Power Of Direct Mail

Rhonda HiltbrandIt’s important to select the right marketing channels and to recognize the enduring power of print media to produce an effective marketing campaign, experts advise. Also, remember that it takes commitment to build a following through paid advertising. The Guardian (London)

(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part Four)

Technology is great but too often tech companies leave out the human factor…to them it is data-to-data instead of a person to another person.  They still call it marketing…but is it really?  Mostly it is a quick, cheap “touch” and so it is given very little thought.  If one had to pay direct mail prices to send it…they probably would scrutinize it before pushing it out!  I get more complaints from my customers about the tech companies they use than about anything else.  They say their customers complain to them about receiving too much…34 or more touches a month.  Whatever we do…we don’t want to be annoying.  I appreciate the tech companies’ zeal and enthusiasm but too much of a good thing is still…too much! I always suggest that my customer ask the tech company to cut back on how much they push out.

Direct mail still delivers the strongest ROI for business to consumer.  If you are trying to find new customers, it can be done very inexpensively.  If you are keeping in touch with your current customers it works very well.

  • Direct mail delivers the strongest ROI for Business to Consumer acquisition of customers (31% for direct mail compared to 16% for email) as well as for retention of customers (37% for direct mail compared to 29% for email).
  • 98% of consumers bring in their mail the day it’s delivered and 77% sort through it immediately.
  • 65% of surveyed online Americans say they have made a purchase in response to messages received via direct mail.
  • For every $1 invested in direct (non-catalog) mail expenditures, the average return on investment is $15.40.

The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) uses $12 in revenue for every $1 spent to show you can have over 1200% ROI.  This is based on the lifetime value of your customer.  For example, if you spend $1000 on a direct mail campaign you may not see $12,000 worth of immediate business but over the lifetime of the customer you could reasonably expect to see a 12x return on investment.

No other type of advertising gives a small business that level of return.

Next month we will continue with more stats and reasons to use direct mail!  I promised to keep my Help Me Rhonda’s short and sweet so I will stop here for this month!

Never hesitate to contact me with comments or questions!

Thanks!
Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Email Marketing

Rhonda Hiltbrand“Email addresses are not data.  Each represents a real person.  Treat them accordingly!”

(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part Three)

This is part three in answer to a reader who is frustrated that many of his marketing strategies aren’t working like he thought it would! Today’s post is about email marketing!

I love email!  It is my favorite form of communication.  I like it because it is easy, I don’t have to play “phone tag” with my customers and writing happens to be my main vocation.

However…as a consumer nothing annoys me more than the “overzealous” emailer. I purchase my printer toner at Best Buy.  In December, they decided, for some reason, to start emailing every single day.  They never stopped.  They are on my list to “unsubscribe.”  Web MD seemed like a great business for me to subscribe to.  When they started sending me no less than 20 emails each and every Saturday…way too many through the week and on Sunday, I unsubscribed!  Certain LinkedIn persons decided I needed to hear what they had to say all weekend long and in the evenings and on holidays especially…I dropped them.

The main problem with email marketing is that it is sooooooo easy businesses forget that the email address represents a real human being and it isn’t just “data”.  Respect that person’s time.  Don’t be responsible for their “email fatigue.”

Always ask yourself this question before you send out email marketing…if I had to pay for this service like I do direct mail…would I send it?  Treat it like you would direct mail…always respect your readers!

Some suggested rules of email marketing:

  • – Address your readers’ concerns.
  • – Don’t make it be a big sales push.
  • – Remember it should be all about what you can do for your customer…not about how great you and your business is.
  • – Experiment with the best time to send it out. I do 7:00 am on Tuesday’s because that is when my readers seem to interact with it the most.  I get a great read rate using this time.
  • – Always include an “unsubscribe” option…don’t force yourself on your readers as this will turn them off faster than anything.
  • – I send out two “Help Me Rhonda’s” a month…one to service advisors and one to shop owners. That is all!  I want my columns to be welcomed…not an intrusion on my readers’ busy time.
  • – Keep it short and keep it simple. This email blast is far too long…but I wanted to answer the question I was asked.

If you have further questions about email marketing (this is just the basics) I have a lot more I can say about it so let me know and I’ll make sure you get the information.  You are always welcome to call or email me and I am here to help you!  Don’t hesitate!

Thanks for your time!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


You… The Indomitable Spirit

Rhonda Hiltbrand“Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Get stronger, faster and more powerful. Fill yourself with knowledge and empathy and an indomitable spirit, because no one else can do that for you. In the end, it’s your life, your choice and your world. Give 110%, always.” — Apolo Ohno

As I have stated so many times in my Help Me Rhonda columns…the service advisor has an enormous role in the business! You are the face of the business to your customers…you are the middleman/woman between the counter and the technicians. Everyone depends on you!

Sometimes I am sure that is a burden to you… especially when you take the brunt of the wrath of an unhappy customer who is positive that the technician messed up on their car repair/service. Through it all, stay positive. How?

• Always be polite to the customer.
• Remember… you know more about auto service/repair than the customer ever will… you are an authority on the subject!
• If the techs really did mess up, you know the best way to soothe the customer and give the tech a pep talk on doing it correctly this time!
• You have chosen this occupation … this career… because you love it! You are the very best at what you do!
• You take training classes or sign up for online service advisor blogs because you always strive to learn more in order to be more!

You are the best and you do give 110% each and every day! Be proud of who you are and what you do! It is a gift!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Frustrated with Social Media? Don’t Be!

Rhonda Hiltbrand(Marketing Essentials of the Highly Successful Shop Owner – Part Two)

Social media marketing can be effective, but it shouldn’t be your only tactic for promoting your business, writes Sticky Branding President Jeremy Miller. 

This is part two in answer to a reader who is frustrated that many of his marketing strategies aren’t working like he thought it would! Today’s post is about social media.

Many small business owners (and large business) are frustrated that “Social Media” isn’t paying off.  As small business owners you may have the advantage because:

  • Those who interact with your social media may actually know you and care more about your posts. They will even engage with them now and then.
  • Most of you are posting your own social media and aren’t paying someone (an outside service) to do it for you!

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and all the other social sites are a good way to be “social.”  They aren’t necessarily a way to add dollars to your bank account.  Don’t stop being social because of this…your posts can still be enjoyed by your customers.

What type of posts do my most successful shop owners share?

  • Trivia about famous cars
  • Actual pictures of disastrous car parts they are replacing that day
  • Pictures of a staff member’s birthday party, etc.
  • Pictures of unique vehicles they are working on that day

Social media posts themselves may not be making you money, however, they do keep your shop “top of mind awareness” and isn’t that a very important part of marketing?

Do you pay Facebook for your ads?  If so, here is something you will want to know!
Facebook is collaborating with the Media Ratings Council and the Interactive Advertising Bureau on viewability. The social network charges only for ads actually viewed, but it defines that as any ad that appears even slightly in front of a user instead of the MRC’s standard that an ad should be 50% viewable for at least one second. The Wall Street Journal

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing