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Branding & Conversion: Lessons From A Local Mechanic

by Jacob McMillen

At its core, marketing can be divided into two facets: direct-response and branding.

Direct-response is the most efficient of the two and results in the most quantifiable results, and that’s why I’ve spent most of my time discussing it in my previous posts. After witnessing an exceptional display of brand-focused marketing, however, I think it’s time we take a look at the branding side of conversions.

When You Need A Mechanic

I recently ran into some car trouble. After sifting through online reviews for local mechanics, I noticed that one company consistently rose to the top of the list. I checked out their website and then took my car in for service.

By the end of my experience, I had never been so thoroughly impressed with a local business. They did everything right and their customer service went far beyond the competition. At the end of the day, all I could think of was, “Business owners at The Daily Egg will want to know about this.”

So here we go: 4 branding lessons from a local mechanic.

1. Trust Is Everything

Like most consumers today, the first thing I did was search for online reviews. Virtually every location had a number of good reviews, but I noticed one in particular had lengthier positive reviews and, more importantly for me, zero negative reviews.

Unlike many local mechanics, this company actually had a website. And not just any website—this website was tailor made to build trust.

Perrys website

As you can see, you are immediately greeted with a friendly yet experienced-looking face, the same face that greets you when you arrive at the garage. The design is simple and pleasing to the eye, and 80+ 5-star reviews are displayed prominently in the upper left-hand corner of the page.

As you scroll down on the homepage, the copy talks about a family company that has been handed down through the generations since 1968. At this point, I was intrigued, so I gave them a call.

When I arrived at the garage, the mechanic gave me his initial prognosis and described exactly what he expected from a test drive in confirmation of that prognosis. Our test drive resulted in everything he had predicted, giving me a great deal of confidence in his ability to fix the problem.

He also took the time to talk me through the diagnosis along the way and answered every question without even a hint of condescension.

By the time we were back at the garage, I was supremely confident that I had brought my car to the right place. After the checkup was complete, I received both a phone call and email listing exactly what was wrong with the car and which repairs required immediate attention.

The email even included pictures of the damage.

engine issues

Each step of the process built trust with me and made me want to use this mechanic for future work.

Key Takeaways For Your Business

  1. Intentionally utilize your Web presence to establish trust. Preemptive trust will get customers in the door.
  2. Establishing expertise in your field will make customers less apprehensive about giving you their money.
  3. Continuously build trust throughout the transaction process. You want your customers to walk out the door with even more trust in your business than when they walked in.

2. Make The Entire Process Convenient

The most impressive part of my experience was the convenience. It’s as if my every need was planned for. I experienced ZERO friction.

For starters, the phone number AND store hours were listed prominently on the home page. I didn’t have to dig at all to contact them. Once I made the call, the representative offered to diagnose my issue free of charge. I could come by immediately, and they would be happy to take the car for a drive and let me know what was wrong.

Once I arrived, the mechanic had already been briefed on my car’s reported issues, so I did not have to repeat myself multiple times before getting help. I decided to get the issue fixed, and they immediately offered me a ride back to my apartment and pickup once the work was done.

A few hours later, I received a phone call informing me of the issue and an email with pictures and a detailed analysis of what was urgent, what could wait, and what preemptive measures were recommended.

At each step of the process, Perry’s Automotive made  it extremely convenient for me to get what I needed, even in ways I neither expected nor needed.

Key Takeaways

  1. Imagine yourself walking though a business transaction with your own company. Where can you make that process easier on your customers? What low-cost extras will add convenience and value to your product or service?
  2. Analyze your competition and offer something they aren’t offering. If you can surprise your customer, you’ve already won.
  3. Don’t be afraid of redundancy. I greatly appreciated hearing the same thing on the phone I was reading in the email. Neither the phone call nor the email cost Perry’s a penny extra, but having both improved my experience with their brand.

3. Superficial Extras Work

In many cases, consumers make their decisions based on price and quality. It can be easy to discount the superficial extras companies add in as gimmicks or cheap marketing ploys.

Sometimes, however, the superficial extras really work. I don’t really know how Perry’s stacks up to the competition on a price-to-price comparison, and honestly, I don’t care. Their prices seemed reasonable enough to me, and the trust they built with me was more than enough to make me choose their services, even in the presence of cheaper options. Read here for tips on creating this level of trust on your landing pages.

The finishing touch was the extras.

The first “extra” was the representative’s phone and office demeanor. He was genuine, engaging, and likable the entire time, and he made me feel that my value to Perry’s as a customer had nothing to do with how much money I spent on their services.

A few days after the work was finished, I received a card in the mail, thanking me for selecting Perry’s and inviting me to call with any future questions concerning car issues.

photo

Feeling positive about their service, I left a review online, and received this via email.

perrys email

I’m a grown adult. I fully understand that none of these gestures significantly improve the actual value I’m receiving from their service. These are superficial extras, but they work because no one else is doing them.

I’ve never received a card from a mechanic. I’ve never received a thank you email for a review. I rarely experience quality customer service from phone or office representatives. When you put all these things together, I am left with a highly favorable impression of this company’s brand.

Key Takeaways

  1. Identify points in the sales cycle where you can further engage customers through extra outreach.
  2. Don’t limit yourself to improvements in price and quality. Superficial extras, if executed well, can set you apart.
  3. Your phone representatives are the initial face of your brand. Your company’s status in a consumer’s eyes is directly correlated to his or her experience with your customer service reps. Invest in getting this part right.

4. Your Product/Service MUST Be Excellent

From trust to convenience to superficial extras, none of it matters if you can’t competently deliver the goods with your service or product.

I loved the Web presence. I was impressed by the convenience. I appreciated the extras. At the end of the day, however, I wouldn’t have a favorable impression of Perry’s Automotive if they hadn’t done fantastic work on my car.

If your business is easily compared and contrasted with competitors, investing in excellence should be your #1 priority. For business offerings that function more like a commodities, where everyone’s product/service is created somewhat equal, the branding points listed in this article will help you differentiate yourself from the pack.

The baseline of any brand is the actual product/service itself. Once you have that down, use trust, convenience, and meaningful extras to get customers coming back time and time again. It worked on me, and it will work for you.

Bottom Line

Conversion optimization is all about the details of your landing pages — fine-tuning the elements that convey trust, offer a better user experience and moving people to action. These are, bottom line, the same things that drive sales in brick-and-mortar businesses.

If your business is digital. Apply these lessons to your website. If you have a physical business, apply them to both your website and the actual in-store experience. You can optimize your business for conversions, as well as your landing pages.

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Jacob McMillen.

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Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen is a website copywriter and content strategist. He helps businesses stop playing around with content marketing and start seeing tangible ROI. Download his free guide: 2 Fail-Proof Marketing Strategies For Businesses On A Budget

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  1. Andrew McDermott says:
    September 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Zero Friction?!

    You’ve just blown my mind Jacob.
    I’m feeling kinda Jealous. These guys really stand out. Like you said, you’re an adult but those superficial extras matter. They showed that they *actually* cared about their relationship with you.

    I like that a lot.

    As far as conversions go, I’m wondering how much more you’d be willing to pay for that kind of service. 1/3 more? 50% more? Really interested in your opinion on that.

    Loved your story. Thanks again for sharing that.

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