CHARLOTTE, N.C.The digital age has changed the face of advertisingand that includes the tire retail advertising landscape.
Tire Prosthe tire retailing and auto service franchise division of American Tire Distributors Holdings Inc. (ATD)wants its franchisees to take as much advantage as possible of Facebook, Twitter and other social and digital media. So it is helping them to do just that.
For a lot of small, independent dealers, social media and digital marketing are a whole new world, said Dan Brown, president of Tire Pros and executive vice president of sales for ATD. We help our dealers develop a digital marketing program tailored to their needs.
Our dealers are owner-operators, and they don't have the time to stop and look at the bigger picture, Mr. Brown told Tire Business. That's where we can play an important role.
Tire Pros works closely with its individual franchisees to develop an annual marketing strategy and advertising plan that recognizes the realities of the digital age, according to Quick Chadwick, Tire Pros director of marketing.
We don't engage in a national media campaign, Mr. Chadwick said. We believe that social media are a very localized strategy that must be executed by individual dealers. They know their markets way better than we do.
According to Messrs. Brown and Chadwick, Tire Pros offers a comprehensive program that allows franchisees to link together under a common retail brand while maintaining their independence and local brand identity.
To help Tire Pros dealers improve sales and profitability, the organization offers not only buying advantages, but also access to retail, operations and marketing expertise, they said.
Tire Pros has 26 marketing professionals on staff, supporting dealers with the development of marketing and advertising strategies, media selection, media buying, co-op management and consultative support. In 2012, Tire Pros managed more than $8 million in advertising on behalf of its franchisees, they said.
Tire Pros consults with franchisees about marketing and creative content to enable them to do their own social marketing on Facebook, Twitter and other venues, according to Messrs. Brown and Chadwick.
While some dealers are tremendous at marketing, most are not, Mr. Chadwick said. Our team of professionals basically takes all things marketing off their plates so they can focus on what they do bestserving their customers.
This has proved to be an incredible value to Tire Pros dealers and one of the top reasons for our growth, if not the top reason, he said.
Recently, Tire Pros distributed to its franchisees the Tire Pros Social Media Toolkit. The Toolkit gives Tire Pros dealers all the resources they need to succeed in social media, according to Messrs. Brown and Chadwick. These include a detailed month-by-month content calendar giving recommendations and creative ideas, as well as examples of what to post on their Facebook pages.
Franchisees always have a great deal of leeway on the content of their ads and Facebook posts, they said. Sometimes, however, franchisees don't see the advantage of using social media at all.
It is challenging, and there are some dealers who do not do it, Mr. Chadwick said. We certainly don't make them do it, but it's something we encourage them to do and try to make them see the advantage of.
Of Tire Pros' 523 stores, about half use social media and utilize the Toolkit, Mr. Chadwick said.
Because independent dealers are so often outgunned by major chains in advertising, Tire Pros has undertaken group advertising initiatives in media markets where the organization has particularly heavy concentrations of stores, Messrs. Brown and Chadwick said. There have been more than 20 such initiatives so far, and the organization plans more.
A recent Tire Pros adfeaturing affiliated dealers in North Carolina's Triad areademonstrates the marketing power Tire Pros can give independent shops, they said.
Another recently announced initiative is Tire Pros' affiliation with the LA Galaxy, the Los Angeles-based professional soccer team and 2012 Major League Soccer champion.
As the official tire retailer for the LA Galaxy, Tire Pros promotes the affiliation through a multi-channel, integrated marketing mix, according to Messrs. Brown and Chadwick.
This mix includes radio broadcasts, in-stadium signage and game promotions, grassroots community events such as soccer clinics for underprivileged youth, digital ads and other promotions, they said. Also, Tire Pros customers will have the opportunity to meet LA Galaxy players during the season at five different Los Angeles-area Tire Pros stores.
The LA Galaxy initiative could potentially lead to promotions with other major-league sports teams, Mr. Chadwick said, though none is planned as yet.
Tire Pros adds about 100 dealers annually to its organization, according to Messrs. Brown and Chadwick. The brand is in 40 states, and they said they hope to have it soon in all continental U.S. states.
There are no plans to take Tire Pros beyond the Lower 48though I wouldn't mind moving to Hawaii, Mr. Chadwick said.
To reach this reporter: [email protected] crain.com; 202-662-7211.