Just about every brand strategy now includes – and in many cases is led by – digital marketing. The rise of the digital consumer, smart phone penetration (81% in the UK in 2016), improving connection speeds and the ubiquitous influence of social media are just some of the reasons why it’s impossible for brands – trade or consumer – to thrive without a strong digital presence.
And yet, our experience tells us that there’s still a strange reluctance to fully embrace digital marketing amongst certain industry sectors, automotive and related consumables being one of them. Whilst some in the industry are deploying it to great effect, it’s fair to say many are behind the curve.
It’s a tough one to explain. In the automotive trade, perhaps there’s a nagging perception that tyre fitters or auto-technicians, for instance, are somehow digital luddites. This seems misjudged – we’re all digital consumers when we go home. Online shopping, watching a film on Netflix, selling stuff on eBay, hiring a taxi on Uber and ordering a pizza via Deliveroo – a digital consumer lifestyle has become the mainstream regardless of your day job.
Equally, end consumers are as likely to go online to buy car tyres, book their MOT or research roof boxes as they are to do their weekly grocery shop. The rise of digital service companies like Blackcircles is proof enough.
We understand that personal trade relationships are still the bedrock of a sales and marketing strategy in a multi-channel, distributor-led sector – people buy from people, right? However, digital marketing, whether in a B2B or B2C market, is an essential component that will help, not hinder traditional, off-line methods of doing business.
As a brand, it can seem a daunting prospect to understand and leverage digital marketing. However, the basic principles are, in fact, what guides your broader marketing strategy. We’ve been fortunate to help Kumho Tyre and many other clients to develop and implement a digital brand strategy along these lines:
Identify your audience
Where do they exist online? In what volume?
What do they look like? How do they behave?
Use research to delve deeper. Create digital customer personas.
Understand what their issues are, what their habits are.
What motivates and excites them? What need is not being served?
Position your brand online in a unique and differentiating way.
Identity, tone of voice, messaging and values all impact on customer.
perceptions and how they interact with your brand.
Messaging and content
What are the digital communications to help customers find and engage with your brand? What will ultimately drive sales? Consider aftersales advice, product support, online booking, live chat, shareable content or promotional campaigns – whatever content, and in whatever channels, your audience requires.
Measure and refine
A major advantage of digital marketing is the ability to continuously monitor activity and refine as you go. Set clear metrics and be prepared to flex your initiatives accordingly.
Getting your digital strategy right has never been more important. The automotive consumables sector will need to get ahead of the curve to reach and influence its customers. Now is the time!