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Posted: January 14, 2013

How To Mazimize Your Sales With A Marketing Strategy

Proven Tactics To Take Your Business To The Next Level

By Ellen Mckoy

As every truck-accessory retailer and restyler knows, you need the right tools to get the job done right. But it takes more than tools of the trade, long hours and hard work to grow your business.  To rise above the crowd, you need to create a marketing strategy that brands and positions your company as a market leader.

This is especially critical nowadays.  As business rebounds, it’s an ideal time to focus on ways to enhance your company’s image and establish a distinctive identity.  As an example, many car dealers have gone to great lengths to attract a broad range of customers and create dealership distinction. They’ve dressed up showrooms and customer waiting areas, and added non-automotive amenities. Galpin Motors in Los Angeles, for instance , operates a full-service restaurant. Others have integrated workout rooms, WiFi and Internet access, coffee bars, and even children’s play areas.
Such elaborate undertakings take big bucks. But they can serve as guideposts for retailers and restylers looking to give their customers meaningful and value-added extras that can help take a business to the next level.

One practical way is to first implement a marketing game plan that puts your vision into focus. And there are several innovative ways to approach this that can set your company apart from the competition.

Capitalizing On Consumer Enthusiasm
As you consider how to create or enhance your marketing strategy, think about this. Sales of specialty auto products and accessories generate a notable $28 billion annually in direct retail sales -- a slight increase over the past couple of years.
And it’s all fueled by one thing; consumer passion for vehicle personalization. In fact, according to some recent market studies, accessories actually help to sell new vehicles.
As the studies show, consumers who see accessories displayed at new-car dealerships are more inclined to purchase a specific model simply because it’s been outfitted with products that are lifestyle-compatible.

Even more significant, accessories can influence more than one million new-vehicle sales each year. When coupled with the $1,500 to $3,500 that consumers often spend per vehicle annually on accessories, you’ve got some impressive numbers. So how do you capitalize on this enthusiasm? You have to spark customer interest.

Building A Sound Marketing Plan
Your first step is to write a brief marketing plan. Start by noting some basic elements, such as what you hope to accomplish in the short and long term.  These could be anything from immediate sales, a bigger customer base, or perhaps a reputation as the prime source for particular products or services.

Evaluate your company’s strengths and where improvements are needed. Define your targets. Are they new or existing customers or a specific demographic, such as outdoor enthusiasts, fleet owners or Gen Yers? Think about the marketing tools available to you and how you can best utilize them. Maybe it’s good word-of-mouth or a nice-looking website or a prime store-front location. Whatever they are, be sure to take into account how much money can be allocated to maintain a consistent marketing strategy.

Executing your plan, however, doesn’t require a huge cash outlay. You can make an impact on a shoe-string budget.  There are even steps you can take that require little more than some time and effort.  Add items like your store’s appearance to your plan, as it says a lot about how your business is perceived. Everything from the sign outside your store, to the condition of the building, to your sales approach, speaks volumes about the image you want to convey.

For instance, several successful retailers have made a lasting impression by adopting a customer-friendly approach.. Their showrooms gleam, the restrooms glisten and customer waiting rooms feature TVs, Internet access and magazines. Their sales teams greet and treat customers as family. Put some of these on your to-do list, and it can create an atmosphere that instills confidence, conveys professionalism and sets your store apart from less image-conscious competitors.

Maximizing Your Marketing Dollars
There are also other ways to get your message across and make the best use of the tools at your disposal. Try and rely on a mix of resources, such as community activities, direct mail, brochures, radio ads, networking, event sponsorships, open houses, giveaways, company website, yellow page ads, and so forth. Here are a few tips on how to maximize these opportunities.

Create, or improve on, a company website. An Internet presence will help you reach a diverse audience, build image and pump up sales. Your site doesn’t have to be fancy or costly to create. But it does have to tempt browsers to stay on your site and motivate them to come to you store.

Post photos of the latest hot sellers, offer a monthly special. List the things at which your store excels -- maybe it’s the length of time in business, product diversity, or one-day service. Whatever it is, the key is to get the message out and be visible.
Even in an Internet age, direct mail is still an effective marketing technique. Trigger customer interest with low-cost postcard mailers aimed at your target audience. Feature new, hot products, or perhaps a month-long special.  Consider putting these elements into brochures and a company newsletter, which can also effectively communicate your message.

Concerned you don’t have the time, talent, or cash to create promotional pieces or a website? Hire an intern through a local community college. Colleges are a prime source of students with marketing, graphics or computer skills. You can also go online to locate website developers that provide low-priced services and modest monthly fees.
Schools are also a place where you can show your community spirit and gain some inexpensive exposure. Consider sponsoring a hometown sports team. Buy ad space in your local high school’s yearbook. The cost is minimal but the rewards are significant, as many people support local businesses that also support their schools.

Explore other local opportunities, such as car clubs.  Many clubs host weekly or monthly gatherings, such as cruise nights, local car shows, and so forth. Drive your coolest ride to the event. Show it off. Hand out business cards or flyers by the bucket-full. Become a sponsor; run ads in car club newsletters. The return on your investment can be substantial.

Networking is the least expensive marketing technique, and is also one of the most effective. It costs virtually nothing, but you’ll reap big dividends. There are many ways to make connections through civic organizations, trade shows, and even social gatherings. One method is to build a network of alliances with other automotive-related businesses, such as body shops, auto glass or dent repair centers and more. Think of anyone who can send customers your way. In turn, refer your customers to them, and you’ve built lasting relationships and another revenue stream.

For all its benefits, marketing is not an exact science. It’s a balancing act, and you’ll have to try different approaches to see which ones work best. But no matter the size of your budget, there are creative solutions to increase your market share and earn a bigger slice of that $28 billion-dollar accessory market.

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