Shop owners who attend a lot of car shows know the feeling of coming across a vehicle or project that catches their eye. Such a vehicle rouses questions, like who built the car and what suppliers and shops were involved in the process; however, that information is sometimes hard to come by. Sure, it may be possible to talk to the owner or read whatever information is posted at the exhibit, but that’s about where it ends.
In the past, information and endorsements like that have been solely confined to word-of-mouth networking at events, or the occasional press release or even rarer news article talking about the car and its attributes.
But that was then, this is now. A website called the CarBuff Network, founded in 2012 by auto visionary Trent Campbell, is a social networking platform that is focused on connecting car people-shops, manufacturers, dealers and enthusiasts-to each other in order to share all the information one might want about a project. It’s a highly comprehensive network that connects car people (buffs) to each other through endorsements and listings that continue to grow every single day.
Bonus Content: Meet CarBuff Network’s Leadership
CarBuff Network is like an online car show, where users can post information and photos about a project, product or service to others in the industry. As a subscription service, CarBuff Network users can opt-in for a free Enthusiast account, or a Pro account that allows full access to parts manufacturers, event companies, track owners, car show managers, service shops, etc. This platform helps promote their products and services while also sharing information on individual projects featured on the site.
“I see it as like a car show,” Campbell said. “If you go to a car show or race, you’re not interested in the companies involved until you see a car that you like. Then you start asking questions like who painted the car, who did the upholstery-whatever it is you like about it. That’s what CarBuff Network is about.”
With a membership to date of over 800 companies, or Pro accounts, hundreds more Enthusiast accounts, and annual growth of about 500 percent, CarBuff Network is a thriving hybrid social media platform and website, creating an automotive aftermarket synergy that’s beyond compare. Being able to reach a target audience of customers, partners and enthusiasts is a dream-come-true for marketing pros.
John Comeskey, of Forgeline Motorsports, regards CarBuff Network as a great way for companies to maintain relationships throughout the industry.
“In today’s marketing climate, serious companies should leverage all of their digital marketing opportunities,” Comeskey said, “and we need to find platforms that are trustworthy, reliable, and understand the automotive market. No one does this better than CarBuff Network.
They’ve built an outstanding platform that reflects real-world partnerships and relationships better than any other.”
For custom shops, the network is a treasure trove of information about projects and the products that they are utilizing, with links to the companies involved who then, in turn, link the project on their profile and website.
“CarBuff Network is a great way for builders, manufactures, and potential customers to connect,” said Mark Giambalvo of Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania-based Creative Rod & Kustom. “It gives manufactures an inside look of how their products are being used and incorporated into various builds around the world. In turn it allows the consumer to search top shops and check in on their builds and see what products they stand by and frequently use.”
Campbell pointed out that companies can endorse each other on the site, with an Endorsed By tab providing all the businesses that endorse the one being viewed. Only endorsements that are mutually accepted can appear in the Endorsed By tab. There are also tabs for Manufacturers We Endorse and Organizations We Endorse.
In addition, users can share videos, articles and press releases with each other and tag all those involved. Similar to the endorsements feature, tagged companies can accept or decline the post to appear on their page.
According to CarBuff Marketing Manager Gus Stewart, the network creates a synergy among industry folks that is exponential in growth.
“If shoppers are building a vehicle, they’ll use all these different products to build it, wheels, brakes, suspensions and so forth,” he said. “If everyone is on the network and promoting those products and companies involved, it creates exponential growth for all involved.”
The synergy is also drawing attention from other areas of the industry.
“It’s getting a very positive response from a lot of different areas and it’s not just dealers,” Campbell said. “In the last couple of weeks, we talked to two of the major event organizers and they are very interested in it because it puts them in front of enthusiasts, shops and manufacturers who are attending their events and are able to promote the event they are attending. So, it really includes everybody in the industry from event organizers to inform about who is attending the events.”
In the Pro Account level, rates for shops and service providers is $65 month while the manufacturers’ rate is $165 month. There’s also a free business level that is for networking and dealer listings, all of which can be linked to by projects.
“We’ve been told many times our rates are too low but in our opinion it’s not, at least not right now,” Campbell said. “We want it to be affordable for every company to become a true network.”
While they do have a few companies that advertise, Campbell makes it clear that there is no preferential treatment given in the search results on CarBuff Network.
“If you go to the directory search for a suspension company or a sheet-metal fabricator, we do it by zip code and bring up the closest company that meets your criteria,” Campbell said. “That’s one of our core beliefs, we want the companies that do the work that you’re looking for to show up in your search results. There’s no way to put your company higher up in the survey results. There’s no preferential treatment.”
Campbell admits that it takes a little time to really understand what CarBuff Network is because there’s nothing like it.
“We didn’t build off another idea,” he said. “CarBuff Network is built off a need that wasn’t being addressed. There is so much that you can do with our network that it might mean one thing to you and another to me.”
For more information, visit carbuffnetwork.com.