The chances are you’ll be entering 2021 with a very different marketing strategy than when you entered 2020. The seismic shock the world experienced through the coronavirus pandemic spared no-one.
It taught businesses a number of lessons. Not only were routes to market strained and new ones forged but so too were routes of communication. These ‘new’ routes of communication were already in place, but the pandemic accelerated their uptake by automotive aftermarket businesses.
With an array of new platforms, in addition to traditional marketing tools, Mark Field, Director of award-winning PR agency Impression Communications, looks at how to effectively promote your aftermarket business in 2021 and why it will be different than in previous years.
Quite simply, we need to reach our target audiences. But where do they congregate? For the automotive aftermarket, the answer is in multiple locations and on multiple platforms. All of us like to receive our information in a way unique to us. From printed trade press magazines to digital channels, companies have to be active across these platforms to ensure they reach their audiences.
It’s no longer acceptable (if it ever was), to define your PR strategy by sending out a press release in the hope it will be covered by the media. The media wants more, your audience wants more, and you have to be prepared to meet this demand with a concerted approach.
The key to managing all of these platforms is the effective use of data. If a section of your audience is more active across social media, then you need to construct your tone and content to meet the needs of this audience. There has never been so much access to ‘big data’ that identifies the behaviours of our targeted audiences online. It’s important we measure this and its effect on other platforms.
In 2021, the use of apps and platforms in telling businesses all about their target audiences will increase. It will enable businesses to piece together profiles in new ways, ensuring a more personalised approach to PR.
Quick tip: Magazines have really invested in their outlets and are keen to show off their reach. If you ask, they’re only too willing to share analytics with you.
A ‘integrated’ approach
The coronavirus pandemic reinforced the need for companies to act agile and be flexible in their communication. Email marketing, often seen as a traditional tool of communication, was super effective in regularly reminding customers of business updates.
Social media played its part too, and in particular the emergence of groups as businesses sought refuge among likeminded businesses. These groups are here to stay and will form the meeting place for the exchange of industry opinions and values. Reflecting this in your marketing and PR strategy will be more than worthwhile.
Lockdown also provided businesses with the opportunity to get their house in order. Putting out press releases, email marketing and social media activity is great, but if the message isn’t even on your website or known among team members, you’re missing another opportunity to engage with customers.
The media too underwent its own transformation, adopting new strategies in how they reach their readerships. Long overdue you may argue, but in a traditional industry such as our automotive sector, the winners will be those that can show leadership while at the same time demonstrating their skill in effective storytelling.
Content is king – storytelling
Content, good quality content, is king. All businesses have it, some are better than others at unearthing it. But it will be those that are effective storytellers that gain the most traction in 2021. Nobody likes being sold to, instead people want to see what you’re really about, what you stand for and why you are different. Most importantly, they want to know how you can solve their problems.
Quick tip: Become a storyteller, become a leader. Focus on the issues that affect your industry and provoke widespread discussion. You can also work with influencers and bloggers to tell your story for you.
Advertising – with purpose
I’ve been enormously pleased to see media houses invest in both their digital and print offerings. The conversation needs to be much wider than the arrangement of a number of paid adverts. Websites need to evolve and quickly, as publications will need to demonstrate that not only do audiences congregate on their site, but they take action too.
Social media is another area where innovation is required because as these platforms and reach are available to all, magazines will need to demonstrate a fully engaged audience.
The resurgence of print – with purpose
The number of magazines coming through the door suggest print is enjoying its renaissance and rightly so. Printed magazines are not really designed to be consumed digitally. The return of printed trade publications was like seeing an old friend after lockdown. What’s more, the relationship with readers is refreshed and journalists want to hear from you. Print is back!
Businesses have to invest in a comprehensive social media strategy. Investment is key and as our top 10 social media tips for the aftermarket show, the analytics will demonstrate your levels of success and return on investment.
Not every platform will work for you. Start with one and do it well. Personally, my two favourite channels for the aftermarket are LinkedIn and Facebook, based purely on the engagement each platform brings.
The social media landscape is becoming more competitive and so an effective social media platform will be integral to growing a company’s online presence.
The future is integrated, targeted and personal
You have to be open-minded about reaching new and existing customers in different ways. You will have varying degrees of success and you will see the benefit of targeted campaigns in these areas.
What’s more, automotive businesses will need to talk in more personal tones and show empathy to changing conditions. Social media, for all its negativity, is encouraging businesses to talk more openly and more passionately about themselves.
Quick tip: Instead of telling the market you’ve launched a new product, you need to tell the market how this product solves customers’ problems, and how it fits in with their business.
The automotive aftermarket is an exciting sector, filled with thriving businesses that have stories to tell. Let’s go tell them!
To receive more helpful tips and advice on PR and marketing, please contact Mark Field on: