Shop Level Brand Activation

By Brian Jungmann
Automotive Communications Specialist
SKF USA, Inc.
ACC Board Member

 

A difficult part of marketing in today’s competitive and price-driven landscape is engaging the end user while staying competitive in the marketplace. The question will arise “How do I, as a marketer in the Automotive Aftermarket, stay top-of-mind with technicians, counter personnel, and shop owners?”

Brand activation plays an integral part in gaining this advantage, but what are the best
practices? By definition it sounds fairly easy: A brand activation is any campaign, event, or experience that enables your brand to engage directly with consumers in order to build a loyal brand community around your product or service.

Here are several strategies to consider for your brand activation:

 

What is in it for the end user?

It is well known in the industry that shops first and foremost order products based on quality. The only problem with this is when the customer is price conscious, or just looking for a cheap fix for an old vehicle. Many repair shops will not install “value grade” parts in fear of a comeback. But there are plenty that will install a cheaper part just to make the sale and satisfy the customer’s wishes. This situation is at the crux of a brand activation program. One that speaks to the personnel at the repair shop as well as the customer who owns the vehicle.

Identifying a purchase motivator for the service writer, store owner, or technician is a good place to start. This motivator should include a level of product awareness that includes features and benefits or competitive analysis information. Educate them so they can educate their customers. Tying in an incentive can be as easy as offering gift cards for a certain purchase level, but don’t forget to educate! Rewarding for being loyal while educating creates a lasting partnership.

 

What interests the end users?

This is the “motivator” part. What can you offer that creates engagement? Gift cards are the ‘ol standby, but usually lack creativity us marketers enjoy. One method of tackling this is to simply go out and ask. It never hurts to get out from behind your desk in order to meet the people who sell or install your products. It is the prime opportunity to gain valuable feedback on not only what interests them, but they usually have great product insight as well. Some rewards that I have had success with are:

  • Sweepstakes for large prizes – boats, riding mowers, fishing trips, race weekends.
  • Multi-tiered gift card promos; buy more, earn more.
  • Counter stools; folks at the shops love counter stools and your brand is prominently
    displayed – a win, win.

Budget vs. effectiveness

You would be surprised at what engages installers. If your budget is limited never rule out items below $30. Buy a certain amount of product to earn a $25 reward. It could be a multi-tool or baseball cap. The important thing to remember here is frequency. Spending your yearly budget on one pricey promotion and then disappearing the remainder of the year is not effective for staying top-of-mind with shop personnel. The goal is to continually keep everyone engaged with your brand.

 

Customer Experience (CX)

This is the ultimate goal; creating a unique experience that engages your customers while getting them to buy more. Simple, right? Here are some philosophies I have been working on over the years that relate to CX:

Selling through Learning

Training is always desirable and the best way to engage your customer base is through installation training. Best practice is to create an online CX which offers training modules targeted at solving pain points and installation procedures. Use a Learning Module System to make the content interactive. The beauty of this is the end user is engaging with your product indirectly – selling through learning!

Engage – Learn – Earn

In short, one of the best methods for keeping your brand top-of-mind is to engage an audience through a digital, online experience. Offer online and onsite training, and then reward your customers for staying loyal to your brand. This will create an environment for a lasting partnership and build your marketing return on investment.