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Monday, 30 April 2012 22:11


Written by Tom Franklin

Last year, as summer approached, I wrote an article about holding an event in the summer to bring in new business. I was pleased recently to learn of an event put on by a shop in my area. "POWER BABES," a professional womens' networking group in the vicinity of the shop, meets regularly to explore and discuss issues of interest and importance to the members. The location of the meeting is different each time, and often held at a place of business of interest to the members. The marketing lady at the host shop learned of this group of about forty women and invited them to hold their next meeting at the shop.

The current group president expressed an interest in holding a meeting that focused on a women's car care clinic. It was agreed that the meeting would be held at the shop. Automobile repair people who describe a vehicle problem using the jargon of the industry can confuse not just women, but many uninformed people. Several automotive professionals would be invited to speak on car care issues in their area of expertise. To help the women in the group better understand what is going on when they need a vehicle repair, the professionals would be asked to make detailed presentations during the car care clinic. Several did agree to come.

A lot of information for the meeting came from "Vehicle MD." They were kind enough to provide everyone with a copy of their magazine ( A woman assistant manager at an auto parts company surprised the group by providing very detailed technical information they could all understand. And a manager from Americas Tire Company provided a wealth of little known information about tire care. Several other of the shop's vendors were invited to speak, but had to decline because of the short notice. A local Nissan dealership provided a technician along with a no-emissions "Leaf" vehicle from the dealership for the group to examine at great length. The ladies had this rare opportunity to learn many technical details about this state-of-the-art vehicle in a way they never could have without the help of an expert technician.

The cost of providing food and drink for a group this size might convince many shop owners that an event like this could not be cost-effective. But the fact is this was a highly profitable venture. The tour of the shop alone convinced many women in the group that this was an exceptionally clean, technically advanced place to bring their car when they needed autobody repair. The close personal contact with the owner and marketing people also convinced many that this was a highly ethical, caring place to bring a vehicle. From the viewpoint of the shop, follow-up is what made the biggest difference in cost effectiveness. Photos of the event and key members of the group were posted on Facebook and the shop's website. Comments by ladies attending the event were recorded by the host -- especially comments praising the attractive layout and the shop's neatness and cleanliness -- and also posted on Facebook and the shop's website. While this was obviously nice publicity for the shop, the women running the networking group were well aware that this would also be a big help in their recruiting efforts to get other women to join their network. If structured properly, events like this can be a win-win for both the shop and the attending group.

Profiles of leading players in the group were also captured so acknowledgements could be sent to the key people and, in some cases, their subordinates and family. This action fitted in nicely with the shop's effort to maintain broader profiles of repeat customers and prospective customers.  A while back I wrote about a shift away from broadcasting to what has been called "narrow-casting" in promotional parlance. Using today's powerful preference identification technology, advertisers know just about everything you like to eat, to wear, to read, and more.  If you can build a database with searchable fields for gender, marital status, family members, occupation, professional affiliation, vehicles owned (also by other family members), pets, social networks, birthdays, anniversaries and more, you have a tool for perfectly targeted promotional calls, mailings, e-mails and invitations.

Because of the professional nature of the women in this group, I would call this a truly brilliant marketing event for this shop. Most of these ladies drove recent model, high-end cars. Because most were also very active in business, they do a lot of driving and given the urban area in which they reside, a certain number of at least small accidents are bound to occur. Because of most of the ladies' immaculate attire, you could see they cared a great deal about appearance and so would choose to keep their vehicle in spotless condition.  All of these factors added together amount to a group of the very best prospective customers a shop could hope to attract.

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