I am always watching how auto repair shops advertise their businesses, and so many times—I have to admit—I find myself shaking my head in amazement. And sometimes I even have to chuckle, but it's really not funny.
Before I tell you why, let me ask you a couple of quick questions. Do you read a newspaper? Assuming you do, do you read every single page of that newspaper? Of course not. So my last question is, how do you decide what you're going to read?
If you're like most, you scan the headlines. By doing that, inside of a split second, you decide if you want to read more of that article or not, right?
Your repair shop advertising works the exact same way. Regardless if you're using direct mail, postcards, flyers or "Valpak" type advertising, and whether it's online or offline, it all works the same way. Depending on the headline of your ad, your audience makes that same split-second decision to read the rest of your ad—or not.
The late David Ogilvy, widely hailed as "The Father of Advertising," and the man Time Magazine once referred to as "the most sought-after wizard in the advertising industry" claimed that 'the headline is the ticket to the meat.' Use it to flag down readers. Every headline must appeal to the reader's self interest and promise a benefit."
When you advertise your repair shop, do your headlines do that? Advertising professionals claim that "your headline is your ad for your ad."
Either way, that headline is the most critical part of any advertising, regardless of the media you use. If you can't get people's attention to stop and read your ad, then the best "kick-butt" offer you've got isn't going to get you anywhere.
Now, back at the start of this article, I told you that I keep my eye open and watch for auto repair shop advertising. Doing that, I often find myself shaking my head in amazement or sometimes even chuckling. But like I said, it's really not funny.
Just before I tell you why, I want you to stop for a second and think about your last flyer or ad. Do you have a copy of it handy, or do you have it pictured in your mind? Good. By any chance, was your company's name and/or logo at the top of the page or ad?
First of all, that's pretty typical of what I see in auto shop marketing and it's that very thing that amazes me.
Now let me ask you this: If you read the newspaper by scanning headlines and only stop to read what interests you, how do you figure that your shop name or logo is going to stop people in their tracks and get them to read your advertising?
The truth is it won't. In fact, most advertising professionals claim that your name in the headline makes it a "deadline."
Following Mr. Ogilvy's rules, your headline must "appeal to the reader's self interest and promise a benefit." Sorry, but your logo or shop name just doesn't do that.
On the other hand, seeing it at the top of the ad probably makes you, the shop owner feel all "warm and fuzzy," but that's about all. And that's the reason most auto shop advertising I see makes me shake my head in amazement. The person paying for the ad feels good about it, but nobody else reads it—and that's sad.
Now, without spending any more money or without changing anything else except the actual headline of your ad, empirical data proves that you could double or triple the response of any advertising by just making it appeal to the reader's interest and promise a benefit. Like I said, doing that doesn't cost you another dime.
Next time, I'll share some tips and tricks about headlines that you can use to make your advertising message stand out and get read.
Matthew Lee, is an automotive service marketing specialist and author of the book, "The Official Guide to Auto Service Marketing," which offers "no-cost" and "low-cost" marketing strategies for auto service businesses. For a free copy of the book, visit www.JustTheBestMarketing.com.