The tides are turning, and which way do they go? We all sit and wonder where we should be concentrating our marketing efforts almost daily. What’s really happening in the market? Am I really making the moves that are proper for our company’s future and progress?
These are things that, personally, I battle with everyday. The fact of the matter is that no one has a crystal ball, and no one can look into the future. Well, I don’t at least, I’m not sure about you.
There are so many factors to look at when thinking about the marketing plan for your company and the needs of the customers you service. What are their needs? And what are they driving? What do they plan to drive next year, or the year after that?
These are questions that may or may not affect your current state, but they will inevitably shape your future if you do not take notice. We all think to ourselves, “If my friends and neighbors are driving a cool car, I want to as well. But is it right for me, and what about the market I want to be involved with?”
I personally have had this epiphany, as the cars I was driving were not what my customers were driving. It was starting to become more and more apparent that I needed to get back to my roots and identify more closely with my customers, their needs and their wants.
I have gotten on a quest to liquidate all the vehicles that are not relevant to my customers, regardless of how much I personally liked the cars. When I started in this business, I owned and drove the very car that the majority of my customers drove. I could tell them firsthand, without a single doubt, my impression on certain performance issues, such as the modifications I was offering to them. I could genuinely express how I personally felt, as these very items were installed and tested on my car first.
This was the core of my existence: test, install and test again. I did that over and over until I felt that I had the “magic formula.” Then from this point, I was able to offer the same service and parts to my customers. I could do it with my whole heart and with all the proof I needed, as my car would also be available for customer test rides. That always went over very well.
This coming year, I am going to shift our company direction in a way we’ve never explored fully before. We’re making the jump to the European market.
It is my opinion, for our demographic and our positioning in the country, that this will be a good fit for us. Will this be a good fit for you? I can’t really tell, however, each market is different, and each area of the country has its own concentration of vehicles.
For our company, we’re well positioned on the West Coast, and that affords us quite a lot of flexibility. This is often a luxury most shops don’t have, so if a market is working for you, please don’t let me persuade you otherwise. All I am saying is to keep your eyes and ears open to ensure you’re really servicing the needs of your area.
Whether you’re a small-town shop or a big-time shop in the big city, it always pays to keep close watch on your area. Look around and go to the schools; go to the mall; drive around, and take notes on what people are actually driving. If you take your home town seriously, you need to know these things.
You will drive around, and as you do so, actually take notice of things in your local area. Take notice of the cars people are driving, the popular colors the performance cars are, the equipment levels and the driver types. Are they primarily male or female, young, old or middle aged? These are all factors you will need to pay close attention to in order to fully understand the local market.
Should you be making efforts in certain areas such as drag racing, autocross, drifting or car shows? This will depend on what your company focus is and what resources you have ready at your disposal.
Motorsports are a great way to get your name seen by many. However, if you’re moving in the motorsports direction, I would highly suggest to pick one venue to start with. If you spread yourself too thin, you are likely to find many, many pitfalls in the process. There are a few venues worth consideration just make sure you choose one that is right for your company profile and your customer base. It is a lot of fun, but it is also quite a bit of work.
Among the various things to consider will be whether or not you want to build a company race car. And if you do, what is your goal with it? Is it to dominate a certain class? Is it to dominate a certain platform? Or is the goal to simply go out, have fun, enjoy what you’re doing, invite some of your clients and show what your company potential is? Those are vital choices for sure.
Drifting is an upcoming motorsport that is taking on a life of its own, and it has spread throughout the world. It is rapidly gaining in popularity everywhere, even abroad in mainland China. In fact, there is a drifting series that is currently hosting a four-province tour, and it seems to be really shaking things up in that area of the world.
Another emerging market in America is the rally world. Here in the United States, rally racing has never been a big buzz word. However, there is quite a grassroots movement in this area, and it’s definitely worth a look if that seems to fit your profile and you’re willing to take on a challenge.
This new type of rally competition involves, track driving, sliding in the dirt and even jumps. Yes, jumps! There seems to be quite a few aspects of this interesting sport that are starting to attract quite a crowd. No matter what area you decide to focus on or retain your focus on, just be aware that every year things change, and you need to be aware. Otherwise, you will be left in the dust, and we don’t want that, do we?
Good luck in 2008, and goodbye for now!