Brand coaching sessions are one of my favorite services to offer... these sessions are designed to find a way for your small business or personal brand to stand out from your local competition with fairly simple changes to your aesthetics, voice, target audience, or offerings. I whole-heartedly believe that if a good business who looks essentially the same as every other competitor in town will have a much harder time building a loyal following than a good business who decides to take a step away from the competition and differentiate themselves. There is a noodle house in Japan (like thousands of other noodle houses), but they serve all of their meals in a small faux ceramic toilet bowl. You sit on a toilet bowl, and all of the decor is toilet themed. It's almost impossible to get a table there and their restaurant is in travel books, tv shows and blogs. That is a powerful force. They could have remained a regular noodle house and spent thousands in social media marketing, and wouldn't have gotten anywhere near the client base that they have. Differentiation. They made the decision to STAND OUT.
I love innovation, and am fascinated by studying business models and examining ways in which they can be applied to new industries and niches. Gucci, Walmart, AirBnB, Uber, timeshares, school bake sales... each of these uses a completely different model and structure. I love to geek out on examining how to adapt and apply these in new ways to improve your small business marketing. Let's do this. (No toilet ideas included... I promise)
Auto Shop's Background:
Mid-priced. Little advertising. In business 7 years. Mediocre front desk customer service. Located in industrial part of town. Decor consists of product posters. No clear branding. Sales stagnant.
Auto Shop's Competitors:
1). Upscale shop. Nicer shop, higher prices.
2). A heavy advertiser. Similar shop, but has rigorous social media marketing program. Referrals, Groupons, Mailer coupons, t-ball team sponsor.
3). Niche Brand Service. Shop services only a certain luxury brand and heavily markets to users of that particular brand.
Brand Identity Session Ideas:
Brand as the Mom-friendly shop. Have a spotless lounge, upfront pricing, with a kid's play area, cartoons playing on the tv, and advertise to stay-at-home moms who may be intimidated to drag children into an automotive shop.
Brand as the transparent pricing option. People dread auto shops because they worry they'll get ripped off with hidden costs. Have your pricing permanently, simply and clearly painted on the wall above the front counter. Come up with tagline and marketing program that clearly highlight a policy of transparency and trust. Blue brand coloring instills the most trust. Rely heavily on testimonials. Offer (and advertise) a policy of rewarding mechanics who SAVE the client money. Use a referral program - happy clients will be a gold mine for more business.
Pivot towards a more upscale, niche market by transitioning away from being a service that everyone dreads doing, to a place where people kind of like to be. Make your lounge somewhere that people WANT to hang out (and will find any excuse to go). Dark colored leather lounge chairs, sports playing on multiple screens, a "bar" with stools and free sodas on tap, free BBQ hot dogs at lunch, and good music playing. Reinforce the "place to hangout" angle by offering services made for two friends to come at the same time... same-time appointments (instead of one at a time), a bring-a-buddy discount or referral system, etc.
Brand as the safety-conscious, caring shop. Offer one day per month free lessons on a simple automotive task (changing a tire, checking the fluids, identifying common mechanical problems, driving on ice, etc). Market this class heavily to parents of teens and younger adults who may not have this knowledge yet (or who don't have a long-running relationship with another shop yet). Offer it to high school auto shop classes, clubs, or even churches as an "after service-service workshop" to help keep their parishoners safe and to save them money. Once they see that you're doing something nice for the community, and positioning your business as an authority, they'll be more likely to remember your brand and develop strong brand loyalty to you.