Retool your marketing with technology

Make sales and customer service easier


Some customers are really passionate about new tools. You might even say obsessed. But you already know that. That’s why you work hard keeping up on the newest automotive tools and equipment. You want to be the first to tell your tool junkies about all the latest and greatest products on the market.

Reading Professional Distributor (and sister publication Professional Tool & Equipment News) will help you keep up on all the gadgets and gizmos that make your customers’ jobs easier. If you aren’t up on that new “solar-powered enviro-friendly ratchet wrench,” some other dealer will be — and they’ll get the sale.

But what about the tools you use? Is your marketing toolbox full of dusty old literature and tattered catalogs, or are you using the latest marketing technology?

If you’re planning to retire within the year, you can stop reading here. This marketing technology won’t matter much to you. You’ll soon be busy with lazy days at the beach, fishing or tinkering on your favorite hobby … congrats! But if you’re like the rest of us and hope to still be in business in a year or two and you want to find new and innovative ways to pull ahead of your competition, read on.

GEEKS NOT REQUIRED

Today’s new marketing technologies can help you stay connected to customers with less time and effort. A few of these marketing tools are especially helpful in reaching younger and more tech-savvy customers. But there’s something here for everyone.

If you don’t think of yourself as a computer geek, don’t worry. Most of these ideas aren’t overly high tech and mobiles across the country are using them right now. A couple ideas are a little more advanced, but are working in other industries and could fit your business well. These services are designed to make marketing simple and inexpensive for the average Joe or Jane.

YOUR CELLPHONE

There’s nothing fancy about this. Customers can call you about an order, warranty, problem or question. Your cellphone can be your best customer service technology tool. But if a customer doesn’t have your number, he or she can’t call you.

I suggest a simple, low-tech technique to get you cell number out there: business cards. Actually, I like magnetic business cards (check out vistaprint.com for some good prices). Your customer can put your magnetic business card (MagCard) right on his or her toolbox so everyone in the shop will see it — and hopefully use it.

VOICEMAIL

With your cellphone number out there at dozens of stops, be sure you check voicemail often. What’s worse than calling a customer the day after your competitor answered his question? A easy way to keep up on call backs is to do them as you drive between stops (and always be within the confines of any local driving-and-talking laws).

Don’t have voicemail, or don’t like yours? RingCentral.com voicemail let’s you listen to your messages by email, phone and/or PC.

To make the most of voicemail, try using your greeting to announce new product lines or promotions: “This is Sam from Rite Tools. Sorry I can’t take your call. Leave a message and I’ll get right back to you. And ask me about our new impact wrench line when we talk.” Don’t force it though if that’s not your style. It’s worse to sound uncomfortable promoting something than to not promote it at all.

EMAIL

Put your email address on your MagCard, too. Encourage customers to use it to email you quick questions or after-hours orders. And, just like voicemail, check your email several times a day and respond as soon as you can.

Collect your customer’s email addresses and ask if you can email them your weekly or monthly promotions. Regular emailing helps you stay in touch with customers between stops. Also, if you print your own flyers, emailing can save you some money, too.

Quick tip: When sending a group email, put your address in the “to” field and your customers’ addresses in the BCC field. Do this so customers can’t see all your other customers’ addresses.

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