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Repair Shop Advice

Creating a Market Strategy for Your Auto Parts Store


May 1, 2020

A few weeks ago, we wrote a blog that highlighted six critical questions to ask to help you understand your customers and differentiate your parts store. Now, we are going to take the information we pulled together during that exercise and ask four more questions that will help you turn your differentiator into a market strategy.

David beating Goliath

How do I reach my primary audience?

If you’ve already determined who your target customers are during the first group of questions, then you’ve done most of the work in finding out how to reach them. But, you have to be sure that you’ve defined your target audience narrowly enough and that you’ve added as much detail as possible. You may have 2-3 different target audiences. If that’s the case then you’ll want to look at each group separately.

It can be very helpful to build out and document the persona of your target audience. What are their demographics? How do they make buying decisions? What websites do they visit? What television stations do they watch? What type of music do they listen to? What type of community events do they go to? Who do they listen to for advice? What things are most important to them when they are considering buying from an auto parts store?

You get the picture. The deeper you can get into who these people are and what makes them tick, the more likely you are to be able to reach them, with a message that matters to them. Some businesses like to pick an actual person they do business with and use everything they know about that person to draw out the persona of the target audience.

Once you’ve got the persona built out, you can make good decisions on how to reach them. If they are likely to attend community events, then you can sponsor the specific community events they are most likely to attend. If they search online for services, you’ll want to be sure your Google My Business profile is complete and that you’ve got a website that searches well. If they are part of a specific organization, you could also join that organization. If you know they spend a lot of time on Facebook, you may want to consider advertising on Facebook.

The main point is that you want to understand as much as you can about your target audience so that you can make sure that you are investing your time and money on the marketing initiatives that they are going to see. And if you’ve got multiple audiences, then you rinse and repeat the process for each one.

Also, if you sell parts mostly or completely to auto repair shops, don’t make the mistake of thinking that personality profiles don’t matter. They absolutely do matter. Businesses don’t make decisions, people do.

What message will resonate with them most?

In the initial set of six critical questions, you spent the time to determine what problem your customer was facing and what pain it causes them. You also determined your differentiator, or what makes your solution better than the competition.

With this information, you can start to develop strong messaging that will resonate with your target audience. What is the result they are looking for? What do they care about most? Think about this from their perspective.

In the earlier blog, we used the example of the auto repair shop that has the primary need of quick delivery. The lack of quick delivery caused the pain of not being able to accurately communicate expectations to their customers, and not being able to complete repair orders fast enough to hit their daily car count or revenue numbers.

Focusing on that pain in your messaging will help you stand out:

  • Hit your daily car count goals with our Rapid Delivery Program!
  • Grow your revenue by increasing your capacity with our Rapid Delivery Program!
  • Partner with “RSW Auto Parts” to exceed your customers’ expectations and earn great reviews with our Rapid Delivery Program!

Of course, you’d have to explain what the Rapid Delivery Program entailed. If you have more specific measurables that you know set you apart from your competitors, those can be even more effective:

  • Hit your daily car count goals with our 1-hour Delivery Program!

This is just one example. But the important point is that if you’ve done the work to know your customer, you’ll know what their deep-seeded needs and pain points are and how you can meet those needs better than any other parts store in the market. Highlight that, and frame it by their needs and their desired outcomes.

How do I communicate it as quickly and simply as possible?

You already know a lot about your target audience. You know how to reach them. You know the key messaging that should get their attention. What could go wrong?

Most often what goes wrong at this stage is that in our efforts to communicate a grand message that covers everything, we overcomplicate things. It’s important to keep it simple. If you’ve got a one-line message like the ones highlighted above, that’s great. If you’ve got 2-3 bullets, that’s also really good. If you want to add an intro sentence and a call to action after your bullets that’s still good. Anymore than that is most likely too much.

Here’s a genericized example:

RSW Auto Parts is the auto parts store that Raleigh repair shops depend on!

  • “hit this goal with this great thing we do”
  • “hit this goal with this great thing we do”
  • “hit this goal with this great thing we do”

Find out why Raleigh’s best repair shops choose RSW Auto Parts today! Call us at (Phone) or visit our website at (web address).

Build your broad message like this and then you can pick and choose pieces of it depending on how much space or time you have. You can have a 10-second version, a 30-second version and a 1-minute version.

What processes do I need in place to ensure I always deliver on the promise I make in my marketing?

This last question is the most difficult to deliver on. But it’s very important. Once you find your message, you have to be able to deliver on it. And you’ll likely need to spend a little extra to always deliver on it.

If you are promising 2-hour delivery, you have to always deliver parts in two hours. If you are promising the most knowledgeable auto parts specialists in the area, you have to have the most knowledgeable auto parts specialists working in your store. If you are promising specialization in a specific category or type of parts, then you need to make sure that you have great experience and can answer all of the questions related to that category or type of parts.

Identify the processes that are part of your ability to deliver on your marketing promises, and document them. Make sure those processes are understood by all, shared by all and followed by all. If it’s something that requires the ability to make judgment calls based on customer needs, then that is fine. Capture it in your documentation. It’s not meant to be overly restrictive, just to ensure you are delivering on your promises to customers.

When to use these questions

Using the full 10 question process will help you significantly if you haven’t done it before and then it can be re-done or revisited every three to five years. However, during shifts in your market caused by external factors that create new opportunities or new challenges, use these final four questions to help you adjust to the changing needs of a currently-targeted audience or attract and serve a new audience.