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BLOG: Social media to the store

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AKRON — Two of the biggest questions we hear in social media are:"How can it translate to sales?" and "How does it get people in the store?"

These are valid questions. We understand that social media help build your brand and your relationships with customers. Using social media is another way to communicate and a way for consumers to reach out to you in their own way.

But you might still be asking, "How does that translate into customers in my store?"

We wrote earlier this summer about how thinking outside of the box on social media can translate into other marketing strategies for your shop. In this blog, I want to focus on taking an idea that may not be initially "tire focused" but one you can connect your business with. This particular example is going to be how to get mothers and younger demographics into your shop by using social media.

Last October, I spoke to Nan McCann, president of PME Enterprises L.L.C. and co-founder of Marketing 2 Women (M2W) conferences, about how those in the tire industry can get better at targeting their services to women. She said one opportunity she does not see tire retailers taking part in is the "Back to School" season, which is the second most important shopping event of the marketing year. Let's branch off this idea.

Younger children

When most people think of "Back to School," they think about clothes, school supplies, etc. Why not jump on board, tire industry?

Parents care about the safety of their children. In the hustle and bustle of getting everything ready for school, they may not immediately think about how they need to get their tires rotated and oil changed. But maybe if they see a "Back to School" special, they might just turn your way. If it needs to get done, why not give them a reason to choose you?

You may be thinking, "That's a great idea! Why didn't she write about this sooner? How am I supposed to orchestrate that now?" Well, my friends, you can still do this — on social media.

Much of your target audience for this type of promotion is going to be on social media. They are the moms taking their children clothes shopping and scrolling through their Facebook feeds while they wait for the youngsters to try on their outfits for the fifth time. And then what happens when little Billy and Janet come out in their outfits and look adorable? She is posting it on Instagram.

Help remind her as she's scrolling through her feed that it is important to get her oil changed and take care of other automotive services before she starts her turn in the carpool. Or become interactive with her.

Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com, said when it comes to Facebook and social media, "Cute babies, adorable pet photos, 'caption this' contests, all are fair game."

Why not post a coupon on your social media sites for services for "Back to School" safety? Or have a "Cutest Back-to-School Outfit" running in your store? People can send it in through Facebook, Instagram, etc. and you can display a Top 10 at your shop. These ideas may seem a little out of the ordinary, but they are building community relationships with your customers both on social media and in your store.

If you are uneasy hosting contests on social media, try something else "school related" for your community.

"We have dealers who are currently running campaigns to collect school supplies for underprivileged school districts, and they are using social media heavily," said Kaeli Gardner, client marketing manager, AskPatty.com. "These types of campaigns resonate very well with social media audiences."

Or what about finding your own way to support the schools or school teachers and staff?

College students

Just because a child goes off to college does not mean a parent stops worrying about her offspring. This is what my mom always told me; apparently we are never allowed to grow up!

Is your tire shop located by a college or university? What kind of deals do you have for students and/or faculty there? How do you market to them? The students in college now are in a demographic that was raised on the internet, and social media are second-nature to them.

Some shops offer free air pressure checks for people who get services with them. This might be something you want to let them know. Maybe they don't know how to do tire pressure checks or maybe they just don't want to, but either way, their parents are going to want to make sure they are getting it done, somehow.

The truth is, many college students do not know how to check their pressure or their oil. My brother forced me to learn the basics when I started driving, but I know plenty of my friends never did.

Try hosting a "Back to School" car clinic. This is something that would be great to market on your social media pages. Reach out to the university or university groups and post on their pages to inform students of the clinics. At the very least, you will have people in the store, learning from you — the experts. When they need services, whom are they going to come back to?

Even if your shop is not by a college or university, that does not mean you cannot do anything for the season. For students with a long drive back to school, why not create some kind of "Back to School Checklist" for them for products or services you offer? Do you have any kind of emergency car kits you sell? You can market one as a "Back to School Kit."

Incorporating campaigns

Back to school campaigns can be done on or off social media. It is something that is more "out of the box" than a traditional holiday sale, but is definitely something the tire industry can take a hold of.

However, if you are not driving this on social media, or at least incorporating it, you are going to miss out on the core audience that would appreciate it and come in for services. It is all about simple ways to maximize the services you already have and showcasing them in a new light for potential customers.

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Planning on trying any of these ideas out? We'd love to hear from you! Reach out to Tire Business on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or Pinterest.

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