By Mike French
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was no longer business as usual for a vast majority of businesses. Automotive Recyclers reacted in different ways, depending on their location and their state’s emergency restrictions. Some completely shut down and sent their employees home. Others kept running with a skeleton crew. There were many unknowns to navigate through. No one knew how long restrictions would last or what they needed to do to adequately prepare for an extension of restrictions. Everyone was thrown into survival mode. A part of survival was to immediately cut back on all unnecessary expenses. That included things like advertising. As an advertising agency, our phones almost stopped ringing. Many advertising projects which were in process were immediately placed on hold.
When a crisis hits, cutting advertising isn’t necessarily the best strategy. Here are our suggestions on the best way to keep your name in front of your customer base.
What to Do
Do not stop advertising completely. If you do, it could be a costly mistake. It will look like your business has dropped off the face of the planet. This would put you “out of sight, out of mind!” No one wants their customers going to a competitor, and never coming back.
Studies show that businesses who continue to advertise, and even step it up during crises periods and downturns, end up with the lion’s share of the business. Even during crises periods, people still need auto parts. Mechanical and collision repairers are still working, even if their business is also diminished. They will order from somewhere and it may as well be from you.
Remember, consumers are more sensitive during these times about saving money and it’s a great advantage you have to offer them. Tell them, “With recycled parts, you will save 40 percent to 60 percent off the cost of buying new!”
How to Do It
Use free, or almost free, marketing methods:
• Email: It is a fast and easy way to stay in contact with your customers. You can begin by saying something like: “Dear (name), the next few weeks or months will be challenging. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. Our team is here and willing to assist you in any way possible. Call us. Let us help you start paving a road to success!”
• Phone: Call your top customers and ask how they are doing. Ask if they need anything. Even though this sounds too simple, it is highly effective. It has great impact. Studies show that business owners who call their customers increase their company’s income 20 percent to 30 percent without having to get new customers.
• News release: This method is powerful and free. Newspapers are always looking for interesting stories to fill space in the business section. Use releases to announce changes and plans for serving your consumers better. Be sure to stress your commitment to the environment. Think outside the box. Come up with ways to help consumers obtain parts easily and announce those ways in a news release. A couple of examples may be: Have people phone in their orders, pay by credit card, and you will bring their orders to their car or truck, so they don’t have to come inside your business. Or, just step up your delivery methods to include delivery to homes.
• Social media: Write a blog using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can instantly post photos of incoming inventory and other things you want to show.
• Postcards: As things start roaring back, a postcard, a letter or a flyer, can put your business back on the road to success. Direct mail has the highest response rate – higher than email, paid search, online display and social media combined. This marketing method has survived the test of time. It is still effective in reaching your customers and prospects. Sending a post card is a great way to get a message or offer into a customer’s hands quickly. Announce your business hours, delivery schedule, and staff contact information. Let them know how you plan to serve them better.
It is All About Staying in Contact The main thing to remember is, stay in contact with your customers and let them know you are available to help them. Check in on their well-being. When the economy finally recovers, they will be remembering your concern and communications.
Mike French, president of Mike French & Company, Inc., can be reached toll free at 800-238-3934, or visit his company’s Web site at www.MikeFrench.com.