Marketing cost of ownership

Jan. 1, 2020
Remind customers that their vehicles are their second biggest asset.

When the Car Care Council launched the Be Car Care Aware campaign a few years ago, it's fair to say that most in the industry had high hopes for success but thought it would be modest at best. What was being overlooked was how tenacious the CCC would be in its quest to expand business in the aftermarket.

Over time the campaign kept building. It has placed numerous car care stories in both major print and broadcast media on the regional and national levels. With less than a half million dollar investment, it has secured media placements worth at least $13 million.

Undoubtedly, it's a campaign that is helping you sell more parts. But it can only help up to a point. It's best to think of it as priming the pump. The rest is up to you.

Some of you have embraced the campaign and added the BCCA logo to your promotional materials, ads invoices, signage and delivery trucks. No question that's a good thing. However, that's only the first step. Additionally, some have joined with their professional shop customers and other local businesses to run car check lanes during the Car Care Months of April and October.

And that's the point. Just as all politics are local, the most effective marketing is too.

Traditional marketing efforts just won't cut it anymore. Chances are you're among those who run newspaper ads that focus on "cheap" parts or "cheap" labor. The message to the consumer is to fix your car now with some parts or labor that are on sale. What's wrong with that? In one sense, nothing. No doubt specific prices on specific parts and service can –– and do –– motivate people to buy.

The real problem with that approach is that it's as far as most get. The broader message of the BCCA campaign of safety, dependability and pride of ownership doesn't get told. In other words, we keep trying to sell parts, rather than their benefits.

Of course, part of the pride of ownership is the cost of ownership. A reminder of that on store signage, on your website and on all promotional materials makes sense. A statement as simple as this could help: "Think about what you paid for your vehicle. Regular maintenance will assure that it retains its full market value." Laying a few Kelley Blue Books on your counters so that customers can check the value of their cars could start the maintenance conversation.

The next step could be for you to send your customers to some of your high quality shop customers for a complete vehicle inspection. You don't want this to be happenstance. Rather, it needs to be a prearranged partnership where you are feeding your best customers some customers who understand the need for regular maintenance.

Most vehicle owners don't understand the need for regular maintenance. More so than ever consumers think cars are maintenance free. The only real way to change that attitude is to act as their counselor. If not you, who?