Being the Chief Communications Officer

Nov 15, 2012

Of the many roles you play at your automotive aftermarket company, have you ever considered that one is to act as CCO?

For many independent performance shops, owners and managers serve as the Chief Communications Officer. That is to say, you are responsible for the verbal and written messages disseminated to suppliers and clients about your organization.

These messages can be a vital step toward increased recognition and growth. So, do you feel confident in your overall approach in pursuing your communications priorities?

As CCO, your goal is to make company communications consistent, concise and compelling-even though chances are you were never formally trained for the job. Depending on your personality and the other hats you happen to wear within your organization, the added role of CCO can at times be viewed as somewhere between slightly inconvenient and downright intimidating.

Yet, the importance of presenting an accurate, understandable, enticing message about your company and its benefits is critical to long-term success. So, here are some tips to help you on your way to becoming a better CCO.

Making an Impact

Good communications have the desired impact; poor communications don’t. It’s as simple as that.

The goals of your marketing communications should be twofold: to build awareness of your brand and offerings, and to stimulate interest in and purchases of your products and or services.

You can accomplish these closely related goals by increasing the quality and quantity of your marketing communications.

The best marketing communications are frequent, clear, consistent, attention-grabbing, persuasive and accurate. To gauge how well you’re incorporating these priorities in your marketing communications, you need to conduct a marketing communications audit.

Perform your own audit by first gathering examples of the ways in which you communicate with customers and the market in general. You can incorporate everything anyone sees or hears about your company, including traditional advertising, mailings, Web communications, packaging, signs and so forth.

After you have your samples of all the ways in which you communicate, create a spreadsheet or table. Starting on the left-hand side of your table and moving to the right, create columns for the following two items:

·         Each example or type of communication

·         Your estimate of what you invest per year on that type of communication

Then, rate the following as: very low, low, medium, high or very high:

·         The frequency or quantity of that communication

·         The clarity and consistency of each communication

·         The stopping power of the communication-how well it grabs attention

·         The persuasiveness of the communication

·         The accuracy of the communication

With this reference tool you can track your progress as you build on your marketing messages.

The Right Mix

Quantity and quality are equally important in marketing communications.

The goal of quantity and frequency, as it’s referred to in the marketing world, is to get your marketing message out repeatedly to the majority of potential customers. On the flip side, quality is the effectiveness of these communications, or how powerfully they bring your message home to the target audience.

You never want to trade quantity for quality by disseminating a message that doesn’t match your company’s professionalism and standing in the industry.

The following tips are recommended steps to increase the frequency of your exposure:

·         Look for ways to piggyback a marketing message on anything and everything that has exposure. For instance, at the bottom of all your emails, add a one-sentence marketing message complete with a live link to your website just below your brand name. Literally anything that people see, from your mailings to your message, is an avenue for your marketing message.

·         Seek out new media that offer prime exposure at a very low cost. New media-whether they’re new social networking sites or blogs, forums or more traditional outlets-are a bargain until they mature, so take advantage of the low cost of entry into such a market.

·         Promote your website constantly. Billions of websites exist, so don’t think the various Internet search engines will do the job driving customers to your virtual door. Instead, bid on key terms and invest a small amount monthly to drive searches your way.

·         Maximize your online exposure with multiple, narrowly focused websites, blogs, and ads. Many marketers think they need just one well-designed, well-done website. Sure, such a site is the hub of your Web marketing, but don’t stop there. Create informational blogs and Web pages. Join Web communities with high traffic and set up listings, stores and activity such as news and product reviews exclusively focused to the aftermarket. The Web is an inexpensive place to communicate and I recommend you check your options for maximum exposure and results. Also, it isn’t just the hits, but the direct target to increasing your frequency.

·         Revisit print advertising with an eye on a target audience. Know the difference between B2B and B2C and the specifics of the audience. Some print publications are exclusive to “do-it-yourselfers,” while others are targeted to professional markets. Search out the audience that’s right for you.

·         Consider postcards for customer mailings. Most postcards (except for the oversized full-color cards) receive a lower postage rate and are quick and easy for the recipient to digest. Instead of mailing infrequent, expensive letters or catalogs, send creative, eye-catching postcards to your list frequently.

Being Consistent

After you craft your marketing message as the key to pumping more into communications, you’ll find not only does your message translate with more vigor, but targets your audience with improved directness as well.

Being consistent is vital in repeat marketing by maintaining a clear profile and thus a better understanding. Another aspect of this clarity is the simple fact that you’ve kept it simple and direct for the reader to better-connect with your message and delivery.

Within such a diverse market as the automotive aftermarket, you’ll be confronted with reasons to maintain a consistent flow of copy and look. Always consider that specialized potential buyer of and your professional presentation

Also, experts say you have 30 seconds to communicate your message with flair and keep the buyer’s attention for follow-up. Whether it’s a written or verbal communication, your goal is to engage the customer and move toward getting the order.

I’m ready and willing to discuss specifics on how we can improve your company’s communications. Let’s approach 2013 better-prepared and ready to take on the challenges of growing and sustaining your business through applied communication tools.

Cheers ‘n gears!