October '17

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8 THE SHOP OCTOBER 2017 T aking your show on the road—namely, attending or exhibiting at local or national events as a way to increase visibility and attract new customers—is a good way to drum up business for your aftermarket shop. But only if you have a plan. When it comes to social awareness, few shops effectively tap into the fervor that an industry issue can create, such as autono- mous vehicles or igniting passion for cars among Generations X and Y. Can themes based on an industry issue apply to the events in which you participate, and more closely align your company with your followers? START WITH A CLEAR MISSION Be clear what you want to accomplish at an event. Remember that being true to who you are affects everything you do. Storytelling, authenticity and uniqueness add more than you would expect. They reflect Gen Y's core values and sustain your business identity. Does your event marketing utilize a theme with an implied call to action? Maybe it's time to draft a mission state- ment that captivates and motivates your audience. At Blue Collar Truck Outfitters in New Braunfels, Texas, co-owner Teresa Hill says, "Our mission is to be the go-to name in outfitting in central Texas. We are a team of three owners and two employees with over 25 years of combined experience serving this community, and our business has been built on a foundation of quality, service, hard work and integrity. There aren't any short- cuts or gimmicks—only providing brand- name truck, Jeep and other recreational vehicle products and aftermarket accessories our customers can depend on. Trust is built on superior installs and service." FOCUS ON YOUR BUSINESS If we look at members of Generations X and Y that aren't passionate about cars, it's a business problem. It isn't solely about affordability; it has as much to do with their priorities. This is a challenge to overcome if we want to be successful now and in the future, and to do this we need to be innovative. Creating an experience around your prod- ucts or service—online and offline—is something intangible that elevates your shop and brand experience. To stay relevant with millennials, think of how you can create exclusive or unique experiences that are worth sharing with friends. Going through the effort to give Gen X and Y a good impression of you through your participation in shows and events means you want them to spread the word about your products or shop, and to visit your website. Look at your site as you would your own home. It needs to be comfortable. Every- thing needs to be in order, as this is the place where your past, present and future are on display. Plus, you can collect valu- able comments or criticism. Online and offline go hand in hand, and Gen Yers have a ten- dency to ask for feedback from EVENT MARKETING WITH A CAUSE Don't hit the road without a plan. Story and Photos by Jason R. Sakurai Vehicles used to be fun and spark the imagination. Learn to make a splash when marketing at events, but be sure to back it up with real substance relating to today's car-owning experience.

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