General Auto Parts Website Marketing Strategy Part I

Selling auto parts online is pretty simple:

  1. You provide customers with the information they need to make a purchase decision
  2. You gain the customer’s trust
  3. You reassure the customer and get them to put their part in the cart

The problem? While the process is simple, executing the process is very difficult. You need a great website, a keen understanding of the customer, and a strategy that brings the right customers to your site. We’re going to focus on the last item – strategy – in this two part article series.

Web marketing strategy1

Determine Specific Marketing Goals (Because Vague/General Goals Are Impossible)

An example of a good, specific marketing goal: “Become the most popular, most trusted brand of LED interior lights in the muscle car/restoration market.”

An example of a bad, vague marketing goal: “Sell as many LED lights as we can.”

Vague goals

Vague goals are bad because they inevitably lead to confusion. When your goals are specific, your path is clear.

See the difference? A specific goal should identify:

  • WHO you’re trying to sell parts to
  • WHAT parts you’re trying to sell
  • WHY this group would buy this specific part from your company (eg, because you’re popular and trusted)

It’s OK to have lots of goals. It’s OK to have big goals. But all your goals must be specific. If you can’t explain why “who” is going to buy “what,” it’s not a good marketing goal.

NOTE: An entire volume could be written on determining who your customers are. You can review demographic data, invest in market research, etc. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll set that aside for another day.

Size Up The Competition

Goals in hand, it’s time to assess your competitors. Start by asking two questions:

  1. What are the highly similar products on the market?
  2. Which companies are trying to reach the same type of customers?

When you find these products and companies, study them closely. Questions to ask:

  • How are they positioning and pricing their products?
  • Where and how are they promoting their products to the customers you’re trying to reach? Are they advertising on specific types of websites or magazines?
  • What features and benefits are they promoting?
  • What demographics do they seem to be targeting?
  • What slogans or calls to action are they using?
  • What language are they using to describe their product, it’s features, etc?

The goal of this competitive assessment is to help you understand your competition and how your own product(s) fit into the market. If you’ve been involved in your business for years, it’s a good idea to go thru this process with someone who is new to your company. Do this process with an intern, for example, and you’ll gain a whole new understanding.

Tear Your Product(s) Down

This process isn’t fun, but it’s essential to building a great marketing strategy. After studying your competition, you need to find every flaw and weakness in your product and address it.

Flaws confronted

A good product tear-down should help you identify flaws, either in the product itself or in the way you’re presenting the product to the consumer. Image copyright Katerina Kamprani.

Sometimes, “addressing” the flaw is simply a matter of clarifying the way you describe your product(s). Sometimes, fixing a flaw might require you to change your goals. Sometimes, you might actually have to redesign or improve your product. But, when you’re done with the “tear down” process, you should be able to clearly explain the following:

  • Your product(s) greatest strength relative to the competition
  • Your product(s) greatest weakness relative to the competition
  • A clear understanding of who should or should not buy your product, and why, eg “This part is great for people who like to do light off-roading, but it’s a bad fit for someone who wants to jump sand dunes. Here’s why…”

The “tear down” process isn’t just about finding flaws with your product(s) and addressing them. It’s also about helping you honestly review your own product and recognizing its relative strengths and weaknesses. This will help you define your “unique selling propositions,” which are essential to marketing success.

Continued in Part II

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