“Are you talking your customers’ language?”
Photo Credit To SergeyNivens/Fotolia.com

“Are you talking your customers’ language?”

Andy Savva explains why adjusting your marketing focus can help you to unearth the ‘diamonds’ that may already be in your database.

While studying for my degree at Loughborough University only a few years ago I came across a couple of quotes. The first is from Theodore Levitt, a well know professor of Business Management and a former Editor of the Harvard Business Review, who said:

Andy Savva is a former multiple independent garage owner who boasts over 30 years’ experience in the automotive repair sector. Over the next few months he’ll be sharing his advice with workshop owners who want to improve their business’ bottom line, but simply don’t know how to go about it.

“The difference between marketing and sales is simple: sales is a process of getting rid of stuff you don’t want. Marketing is the process of letting people know you have the stuff they both want and need.”

The second came from a Proctor & Gamble executive, stating:

“The purpose of marketing is to provide services and products that solve people’s problems, at a profit.”

These two quotes have stayed with me ever since and, when I thought about it carefully, I came to the conclusion that both concepts are similar. They involve someone other than yourself (in this case the customer) who responds to your innovative products and services, buys them and ultimately makes your business life possible.

I believe that for many years customers were taken for granted, ignored, or just considered part of the territory in our industry. They were, after all, curious, demanding and sometimes annoying. They
called incessantly, came by unexpectedly, and questioned us endlessly. In general, they were considered a pain – a cost of the business we’re in.

This was, of course, until they started making other choices, taking their business elsewhere to  individuals or businesses more responsive to their wishes, needs, wants and expectations.

In my opinion, if you want to survive in this ever-changing sector you have to embrace a new business philosophy which involves a move away from ‘mass’ or ‘transactional’ marketing to ‘one to one’ or
‘relationship’ marketing.

Transactional marketing as a concept is all about numbers – nothing else matters. We’ve all seen the larger corporates like Sky TV, Vodafone and various utility companies offering far better terms for new customers than any existing customer can get.

For me this shows a real lack of thought as to how an existing customer may feel if he/she saw a new punter getting a deal that was never offered to them, despite the fact they’ve been a loyal customer over a
number of years – a real kick in the teeth! When all you’re doing is pushing a product or service, you’re not really creating relationships at all.

Making the sale is the only objective when you’re working in a transactional business environment.
Relationship marketing is the polar opposite and is about as far away as you can get from transactional marketing. One of the biggest mistakes I see regularly within the IAM is the use of advertising, mainly in the local press, with “come and get me” offers in order to attract new business.

Most of these already established bu sinesses – whether large or small – will rarely measure the  effectiveness of such campaigns or analyse the type of customers they ’re attracting. Indeed, very few
of these businesses actually understand the ‘diamonds’ that already exist within their own database.

There is no point trying to attract vast numbers of new customers and then prov ide them with a sub-standard service, based on a cheap price which can cause severe damage to the reputation of the business. Another factor is that established customers tend to buy more and are less price sensitive. This
makes them less likely to defect due to price alone.

Simply reminding customers of their vehicle’s next MOT due date or service is the minimum that any independent workshop should be undertaking. Additionally, telling them about specific campaigns, such as winter checks or health checks, especially if they ’re planning long journeys, will reinforce that you care about them and are keen to keep them safe.

You should also consider expanding this two-way communication by sharing news of any success stories within the business, such as charitable fund raisers conducted by the bu siness or any employee, training and development wo rk you’ve undertaken and any new services/products introduced. This is a
great way of further reinforcing to your customers that you want to build long term relationships with them.

The customer’s wants, needs and expectations, positioned alongside your need for a long and profitable relationship with that customer, should be at the core of every action and decision you make. Everything else comes second!

If you’d like to find out more about how Andy Savva’s consultancy services could be of benefit to you or your business email: andys@savvaautomotive.com

Related posts