Who Likes To Get Mail?

Rhonda HiltbrandWhat a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp.  ~Author Unknown

I was going through my marketing smart briefs this week and ran across an article for marketers.  It said that many presume that only elderly people like to get direct mail but went on to say that, contrary to popular opinion, that assumption is just not true!  It turns out that all generations like to get mail.  I, of course, knew this as it is my job as a marketer to have all that information at my fingertips each and every day, just like it is your job to have your finger on the pulse of the automotive repair industry.

These days, when so many of us pay our bills online, our mailbox is less cluttered.  We pay more attention to the mail we do receive.  Online ads are always popping up and we have become so desensitized to these ads that we shut them down without even giving them a chance to be viewed.  We are focused on what we wanted to see online…and not allowing that ad(s) to interrupt our singlemindedness.

People will often look at something online and unless they print it out, will forget where they saw it.  A well put together printed piece of mail, on the other hand, is something people can hold on to and save until later.  They enjoy holding it, touching it, and retaining it (especially if it includes a coupon offer).

It seems that all generations, from Traditionalists (born 1945 – and before), Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964), Generation X (born 1965 – 1976) and Millennials (born 1977 – 2000) trust direct mail more than any other marketing channel.

I thought that all my customers who currently do direct mail with my company would enjoy reading this, and those who aren’t might wish to explore this option! It is hard to beat direct mail for Business to Consumer!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Perfection is Highly Overrated!

Rhonda HiltbrandA man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault. ~John Henry Newman

I have had to have a severe talk with myself lately.  When I get interrupted in my writing I have a hard time picking it back up with the same enthusiasm as when I started.  I have elderly parents and I get as many as six calls a day from them stating that there is an emergency, and I need to come over right away!  I stop what I am doing, grab the car keys and head out the door only to get a call back that says, “Don’t come.  It is okay now!”.  This is almost a daily occurrence.  It puts me right off my game!  This column, for example, is on its third rewrite.  I told myself today that I’m not perfect, therefore this column won’t be perfect, so just let it go!

I know a young man in marketing that is so terrified of sending out something that isn’t perfect that his company is hurting big time!  Once upon a time he was “red penciled” and “blue-lined” by a so called friend that set themselves up as an “expert” in spelling and grammar and he can’t move past it!  I keep telling him that his writing is excellent and you don’t have to use great big words to make a point!  He is just scared and won’t put anything on social media, or write a blog or communicate with his customers in any way except by telephone.  He outsources all of the marketing he does for his customers and because of this he doesn’t have many.

I read this great quote the other day and it helped me.  If you are procrastinating because you are afraid to be less than perfect…perhaps it will help you too!

Perfectionism causes people to shy away from opportunities, waste time on irrelevant details and aggravate colleagues.  Constantly ranking being perfect ahead of being human is a surefire way to limit yourself both professionally and personally.  ~K. Boogaard

We have such great customers but every now and then a brand new one gets too scared to move forward.  We have to help them take “baby steps” and once they take the plunge, they are so happy that they did because they get a lot of great comments and business increases immediately because of the piece they sent out. Don’t be afraid to “move forward” for fear of criticism.  Just do like I had to do today and realize that perfection is highly overrated!

The Less Than Perfect

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Growing Your Company In Just A Few Steps

Rhonda HiltbrandMemory is always faulty. Emotions are always true. ~Author Unknown

We are a resource…
Did you know that we are the oldest marketing company specializing in helping you, the independent repair shop owners, grow their business? It has been over 28 years and we are still going strong and we have seen it all. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly… This goes for both traditional and internet (now called digital) marketing. Unfortunately, we have also witnessed quite a few shop owners who see a new marketing concept and for some reason feels compelled to try it. Unfortunately, more times than not, it doesn’t work and once again a lot of good money and time is wasted.  But it does not have to be like that. Most of our clients pick up the phone and call us or email us to get our perspective.

Marketing gimmicks come along all the time, usually with great fanfare, hooking unsuspecting business owners. We know you are a NEED industry and your marketing needs and wants differ from most other businesses.   We get the same calls making the same promises to us!

We have many customers who tell us that they wouldn’t be in business today if it wasn’t for News Works. We helped them capture the attention of their customers and build up their car count. We enabled them to keep their customers’ attention and loyalty so they aren’t tempted to stray to the chains/dealerships.  Here is how to do it!

  1. Consistent marketing! All of your marketing should inform, educate and entertain to attract attention and keep it.
  • Direct mail gives you room to really make an impression.  We recommend you do a direct mail piece at least quarterly.
  • Social media helps give you “top of mind awareness” to your followers. Keep it short and use an interesting picture and post at least weekly.
  • Websites should be easy to navigate and not filled with so many repeat words your reader gives up in disgust (If I am reading about brake repair I don’t need to see the words “brake repair” 50 times in one short article)!
  • On hold messaging can even be informative, educational and entertaining.
  1. Now that you have grabbed their attention you can build on the relationships by community marketing!  This can be accomplished in a variety of ways!  Here are few examples of what our customers are doing so successfully:
  • Contests! – They do everything from monthly drawings to guessing games.  The trick is the customer has to come into the shop to be eligible.  That doesn’t mean they need their car serviced every month but they drop by to participate in the program.  They then are contacted if they win and their picture is taken and put in the newsletter or on Facebook.
  • Art contests for elementary schools – Teachers and parents like a shop who cares and participates in this event!
  • Car Care Clinics are also well received and what a great way to inform, educate and entertain!

Remember, this method of growth is done through emotions which is the key element in building trust which is the key element in building loyalty.

I could do an entire seminar on this subject but I try to keep Help Me Rhonda short as I know you are all so very busy.  For more information on how to keep growing and filling those bays, contact me or George Zabrecky (you can reach George at 513-378-0003 or george@form-ingprofitablesolutions.com).

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Share Meaningful Insights To Empower Customers and Build Trust!

Rhonda HiltbrandEducation is learning what you didn’t know you didn’t know. ~George Boas

I was watching the weather report on television yesterday because we had out-of-town company coming and we want to go to The Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo.  As of this writing we had been enjoying sunny days and weather in the 50/60’s during the day.  As I was sitting there waiting for the forecast I was thinking how dry my hands and lips felt and I usually don’t feel that dry until January/February.  I was hoping this wasn’t the result of getting older! Ha ha!

The meteorologist captioned her forecast by saying it is Chapstick weather because even though the temperature is mild it is very dry right now.  She went on to say that this is when we experience static cling and dry lips and skin.  I was impressed by that forecast!  How informative.  Now I know it is the dry weather that causes chapped lips and dry hands, not just the gloomy, colder days of January and February. She gave me meaningful insights into the weather!

I then thought of all of us consumers who feel empowered by our automotive service experts when they tell us “good to know” information.  A customer shared with me the other day that a competitor just moved in and was selling flushes with every oil change.  He was rightly concerned that this person was “ripping off” the consumers.  This is when a shop owner or service advisor needs to educate their customers on flushing/fluid exchanges.  They simply might not be aware that this should not be done with every oil change! Many of my automotive repair shop customers call this practice “wallet flushing.”

When you share your knowledge with your customers they will truly be grateful because today’s consumers want to be informed so they feel a part of the decision making process when it comes to their car’s health.  This knowledge also builds trust!

You can share this information at the counter and social media in small doses or in larger doses on your website and direct mail.  They will appreciate it!

I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

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


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


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


Community Involvement (Yes…that is also marketing!)

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

One of my readers has been disappointed in Internet marketing and asked me to write about it.  Below are some feelings he has on the subject; (I am sharing this with his permission).

“The past eight plus years has been one big internet marketing experiment for me. One internet concept after another promised great things and I feel none of it actually delivered. I paid money for a new website and was told this would generate a lot of leads for me. There have been the rare occasion when the website has been beneficial but basically for a service industry like mine, the cost of the website has not generated enough customers to make it worth the price tag. I feel people use it mostly to look up my phone number and hours of operation. It is more or less the “yellow pages” now. Of course, The Yellow Pages was pricy too and didn’t really bring me new customers either.

I post something to Facebook at least once a week and get a few likes but that is from current customers or family and friends. I tried email marketing but the report shows that my regular customers may look at it but then again, they may not. I am starting to realize that certain times of the year I get deletes more than I get viewed. Help me, Rhonda! What can I do?”

I spent time with this reader and gave him some ideas and I thought my other readers might also feel the same frustration he is. I decided to take the next few “Help Me Rhonda” articles to answer this in depth. I discussed this with my staff as well and I will share some helpful tips. If you have been a reader of mine for a long time…you know I always recommend that you “mix it up” as different people want different contact points.

I thought about my most successful customers… those who never suffer from slow times and in fact are booking out weeks in advance. They certainly do have a vast marketing mix and have some other unique concepts they do on a CONSISTENT basis. Here is the first common thread these shops do to stay at the top of their game!

These shop owners participate actively and personally in what we at News Works call, “Community Marketing”. The one common factor with all very successful shops is they are the backbone of their community by sponsoring events. If they sponsor, for example, a sports team. They don’t stop there… they are active with that team. They celebrate their successes by personally attending a few games and treating the team to ice cream or pizza or have a BBQ for them.

  • They are active in their local schools. They hold art contests and give it a theme and pass out trophies.
  • They have car care clinics.
  • They donate a car to a needy family.
  • They are involved in Toys for Tots.

You get the idea. They are well known in their community by sharing themselves. They prove they really care… not by just saying it (though they do that too and put the information in their newsletter… not in a bragging way but thanking others for their participation) but by doing. This creates a family friendly environment with free flowing information that can’t be deleted or scrolled past. It builds a business that will bring in the income you’ve been wanting. People like to do business with a business that cares!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing