This post was originally published on April 30, 2018, and was updated on April 16, 2020.
Custom car shops are a fantastic business venture for automotive enthusiasts with an entrepreneurial flair, but like with any business, getting people in the door takes work. And promoting your business during a downturn can make getting customers more challenging.
Since we can’t all be marketing experts, this area of your business may seem daunting to those unfamiliar with the practices used at the best of times — especially since trends in the industry can change pretty rapidly.
Current circumstances, like COVID-19, mean that small business owners such as custom car shops who’ve had their physical stores open for many years might need to take a second look at their marketing and engage with existing and potential customers in a different way.
But how can you do this during a lockdown and when your business may be slowing up?
6 marketing ideas for custom car shops
Consider these six marketing ideas to keep your efforts fueled.
- Create email marketing campaigns.
- Update your custom car shop’s online business listings.
- Work on your social media campaigns.
- Offer coupons and deals.
- Partner with another local business.
- Keep up with trends.
Start your engines, because with these ideas, you could be speeding toward better business results.
1. Create email marketing campaigns
Email marketing campaigns are the No. 1 way that many small businesses communicate with their customers.
If you already maintain an email list, you need to start engaging with your customers more than ever. Here is some info you might want to share with them via email now:
- Any changes to existing services due to COVID-19
- New services you intend to offer
- Any partnerships you’ve developed
- Special offers
- Free custom car hints and tips
You can save time on developing email marketing campaigns by using templates that allow for simple drag-and-drop customization. You’ll want your emails to be easy to view on both desktop and mobile devices.
Be sure to include a link to your website with a note that people can visit your site to make an appointment or discuss your services. It’s also a good idea to include links to your custom car shop’s social media pages so your email recipients can share the valuable info you share with them.
And, after you send your emails, dive into email analytics to improve your campaigns.
Have GoDaddy Email Marketing? Here’s how to use a template to create an email campaign.
2. Update your custom car shop’s online business listings
As store visits have fallen dramatically during the pandemic, online marketing is more important than ever.
This is especially true when they’re looking for a service they’ve never used before, like customizing their car.
Even with a website and business pages on multiple social media channels, it’s not a guarantee that your custom car shop’s name will pop up on the first page of online search results. When a person sticks “near me” at the tail end of the keywords they’re using, local business listings tend to appear near the top.
This is why you should add a profile for your custom auto shop on sites like Yelp and Google My Business — including the shop’s address, phone number, website, services offered, and how to schedule a visit.
If your shop already has profiles on these sites, now is prime time to make sure the information is still accurate.
3. Work on your social media campaigns
How do you stay relevant when things are slow? One of the most effective methods is social media.
As you might expect, social media use is up across several major platforms amid the COVID-19 pandemic. So, if you’ve been thinking of using sites like Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to market your custom car shop, this is a good time to start working on your campaigns.
Similar to email marketing, social media is a great way to communicate with your customers and show off some of your most recent custom auto jobs or mock-ups. They can also be used as a tool to spread awareness and draw in a new client base.
This is where hashtags come in handy.
4. Offer coupons and deals
In many places, if you’re not classed as an essential service right now, your customers can’t come to your physical store — but you can still use your time to build consumer confidence to help with future sales.
You can start to do this by encouraging questions and sharing your recommendations. But there are plenty of other ways to build on existing loyalty.
For instance, perhaps you’ve got past customers who’ve been meaning to come back to you but haven’t got around to it. If your doors are temporarily closed for business, use this time to re-engage with them. Offer them new deals, discounted maintenance services, etc.
Use any downtime you might experience to figure out which offers your past buyers are most likely to respond to. If you’re looking for ideas, coupons are always popular.
With coupons, you can specify who gets the deal, whether it’s the general public or exclusive to new or returning customers. To truly stir up some business, combine this marketing idea with a social media and email marketing campaign. This will provide more reach, which will help give your custom car shop a boost of attention.
Pro tip: Create an online portfolio of your custom car work. Great images can help seal the deal for potential customers who are on the fence.
5. Partner with another local business
More than ever before, now is the time for local businesses to band together.
Begin by drawing up a list of other local businesses that you can see yourself working with. What you’re looking for is small companies that are in a similar sector and who deal regularly with your type of customer.
For example, you might partner up with nearby auto mechanics or car washes to refer customers back and forth. And don’t just go with obvious partners. Sometimes, thinking outside the box can be the fuel your custom car business needs. For instance, you could consider working with local glazing firms for window upgrades and to provide mutual referrals.
As your partnership develops, discuss promoting each other on social media and encouraging followers to do the same.
Design some flyers. Start by detailing your services. Later, you can brainstorm some special discounts or deals that are beneficial to everyone.
Another way of working with a partner is holding joint events. While it’s not an option just now, why not think about teaming up with other local businesses that complement yours? This allows you to offer consumers a wider range of services, and if the event is covered by local media, it gives you extra PR.
These events and partnerships can take some time to arrange so if your custom car shop isn’t in top gear or now, you’ve got an ideal opportunity to start doing the groundwork.
Finally, create incentives. Can you work alongside other partners to develop mutual incentives? For instance, a small discount on each other’s services or similar?
6. Keep up with trends
Marketing tools and techniques are constantly evolving, so it’s important that you’re evolving along with them.
People are more likely to follow custom car shops on social media and revisit your website or blog if they see that you’re not just knowledgeable in customizing cars but that you also know about what’s going on in the automotive industry at large.
Convince them you’re their one-stop-shop for everything they want to understand and learn about in this space and you’ll likely have a lifelong customer.
Hopefully, these tips will help you propel your custom car business success now and into the future, driving new business to your doorstep. Just make sure your online presence is as prepared as your physical location when things get back to normal!
This post includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by Rose Burke.