When you think about marketing, you probably think about lots of charts and graphs, people in boardrooms discussing… “the market.” Or maybe social media comes to mind- slick photos and promotions from big brands like Nike and Oreo to target a certain type of person. Marketing seems to be all about finding new types of customers, wherever they are, whoever they may be.
Instead of focusing on new customers, what if businesses focused on getting more business out of the customers they already have?
No customer is an island- they’ve all got friends, family members and co-workers that they see and interact with everyday. And it’s highly likely that all of those people have the same needs as your customer – they need a reliable auto repair shop to take their car to.
What if each of your customers referred 3 of their friends, who then became regular business for your repair shop? That would mean you just increased your business by 300%. And if each of those 3 new customers did the same? That’s called exponential growth.
Not every customer will be able to do this, but Word of Mouth marketing is still the most valuable type of marketing because once a customer refers someone, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll come to you when they need auto repair. Word of Mouth works because people trust the recommendation from a real person they know more than any other type of recommendation or endorsement.
Word of Mouth: The Golden Seal of Approval
Studies show that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising, and this number has increased from 74% in just the last 5 years. And of those 92%, almost all agree that reviews from friends and family influence their decision to use a business either strongly or very strongly.
This means that, for the majority of people, Word of Mouth really is the seal of approval.
Why else should automotive business owners be fanatic about Word of Mouth referrals? Because Word of Mouth marketing is FREE. For every type of marketing and advertising, you pay for each thing you do, that’s why marketers like to measure the success of their efforts with ROI, or return on investment. Basically, if we subtract the money we spent to get these new customers, how much money did we really make?
You’re not paying the customer to recommend you, they’re doing it because they love your business, and they want their friends and family to get the same great experience in auto repair that they had. As small business owner, you really can’t afford not to capitalize on Word of Mouth.
How does word of mouth work in the digital age?
Think of it this way, when someone gets a recommendation for a business from their friend or family, they don’t stop in the middle of the conversation to write down their name and number. Most people don’t even know the number for a local business off the top of their head. So what do they do? They Google it- they get online, search for the business on a search engine and check out the information on their website.
Capitalize on Word of Mouth Marketing through the Web
Have your auto shop’s website set up and ready to convert new visitors. This means displaying your phone number and contact information prominently. There are plenty of visitors will go to your website to browse and read about your services, and it may take more time for them to decide whether or not they want to come into your shop and when. For visitors like these, they’ve already done the research, so they’ll find your contact information when they’re ready.
But for Word of Mouth visitors, they’ve basically done the research when they got a seal of approval for your automotive shop from a friend. Once they’ve looked you up, they expect to find you and your phone number or address right away, so your shop’s name, number and address should be one of the first things they see when they visit your website.
Google+ for Auto Repair Businesses
We emphasize the role of Google+ a lot at CarCareCONNECT. Google dominates over 70% of the market, and web-savvy visitors are more likely to use Google than any other search engine. Google+ is Google’s personal local directory listing. When someone searches for a type business, Google now displays Google+ listings at the top of the page as suggestions for the searcher. Having a Google+ listing is important not only for SEO, but because it gives visitors a quick snapshot of everything they’re looking for when they’re trying to find a local business: hours of operation, services, address and phone number, and even reviews. Searchers can get the facts and an idea of the business’s customer service and track rating.
Google+ and Smartphone Users
Mobile web is HUGE today. Mobile searches account for about 25% of all web traffic- and that’s a 75% increase from the same time last year. Word of Mouth goes wherever the people go- and right now it’s going to mobile. Google+ is so important here because smartphone users can do a quick Google search, find the Google+ page of the auto repair shop they want and dial them immediately, without having to leave their web browser.
Auto repair shops need to set up and optimize their Google+ Pages, and they need to do it now.
Now that you know how important and game-changing Word of Mouth Marketing can be, how do you go about getting more referrals from your current customers?
Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Read our guide on How to Increase Word of Mouth Referrals here.