Spork_Blog_PartsBusiness

Parts And Accessories Marketing Growth Strategy – Quick And Easy

At Spork, we use a fairly simple marketing strategy to grow our client’s business, and we’re going to share that strategy below. While there are many important details we’re leaving out (mostly for brevity’s sake), the outline should be helpful to anyone charged with growing an auto parts or accessories business.

We Need Answers To Five Questions:

A simple way to think about marketing strategy is to answer five questions:

  1. What do we want to accomplish?
  2. What mechanisms will we use to facilitate growth?
  3. How will we position ourselves compared to our competitors?
  4. What specific “stuff” do we need to do?
  5. How will we measure what’s happening and adjust our strategy as needed?

Because all of our clients are in the parts and accessories industry – and because many of them engage in ecommerce – the marketing strategy our clients use is a variation on a theme. Still, the strategy below needs to be customized in order to be impactful.

What Do We Want To Accomplish?

Usually, the answer is, “make a lot of money.” However, there’s some nuance here:

  • If you’re a reseller, you want to increase revenue because that gives you more leverage over your suppliers (which leads to better margins)
  • If you’re a manufacturer, you want to increase revenue because that gives you more economies of scale, lowering your production costs
  • If you’re backed by venture capital, you want to increase revenue fast because you want to sell your business for a multiple of revenue

While everyone wants the same thing (revenue!), the reasons for wanting it are important. Venture capital usually doesn’t care about profitability (for example), so they pursue really aggressive marketing tactics to grow fast. Manufacturers and retailers, on the other hand, usually can’t grow without managing cash flow and often deploy less aggressive tactics. Retailers may decide to push a specific line or brand so they can buy deeper, while manufacturers may push more profitable lines to build up cash (or less profitable lines to fix cash flow).

What Mechanisms Will We Use To Facilitate Growth?

Parts and accessories companies tend to favor either retail or wholesale growth mechanisms. While the difference between these mechanisms isn’t nearly as profound as you might think, it’s important to differentiate because it changes the specific tactics marketers will deploy.

To be clear, both retail and wholesale companies must grow by stimulating consumer interest. As we outlined in our Is Wholesale a Dead End? article, manufacturers shouldn’t expect to grow their brand in today’s retail environment without building a base of consumer interest. Retailers are living and dying on single-digit net margins – they won’t bother with brands that don’t have some consumer momentum.

However, while manufacturers need to build consumer interest by building value in their products and investing in discovery, retailers need to build consumer interest by focusing on more transactional values (e.g., low prices, great selection, fast shipping, etc.). Tactically, this has a more specific meaning:

  • Both retail and wholesale need to invest in advertising, but retailers should focus on shopping and text ads, where wholesalers should focus on video and social media advertising.
  • User experience is important to both retail and wholesale growth, but retailers often earn profits based on user experience and must invest heavily in UX/CRO.
  • Video is also important to both retail and wholesale growth, but video is much less important for retailers than it is for manufacturers. Consumers often choose brands based on video content they find on YouTube.
  • Email is a great tool for building consumer interest, but retailers must invest heavily in email if they want to improve margins.
  • Visibility on social media is beneficial for every company, but manufacturers need to make big investments in social to both facilitate discovery and build value.
  • Content and SEO are essential for every company, but manufacturers and retailers should create different types of content.

So, while every company uses the same marketing tools and tactics – content marketing and SEO, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, photography, video production, social media marketing – the investments (and approaches) will differ.

How Will We Position Ourselves Relative To The Competition?

If there’s one area where most companies are completely and totally deficient, it’s here. It is extremely difficult for company leaders who are locked into the day-to-day aspects of their business to see what makes their company unique. If you’re a hands-on executive who enjoys actually doing the job and “getting your hands dirty,” it’s arguably impossible for you to see your company the way your customers do.

As a result, many of the messages that companies are sharing to differentiate themselves are ineffective. It’s one of the most incredible aspects of marketing – nearly every company is shouting things that consumers just don’t care about.

To figure out how your company should position itself, step one is to ask your customers what they care about. Then, craft messaging around those concerns, and test the hell out of those messages. It’s not a quick process – and a couple of sacred cows might get slaughtered in the process – but it’s incredibly impactful.

What Specific “Stuff” Do We Need To Do?

Mostly, every company does the same things to market themselves:

  • Build maximum value in your product(s) and/or service(s) by creating essential content that shares the right messages with potential customers. Typically, this content will need to be created in video, photo, and copy formats.
  • Make sure your messaging is received when consumers visit your website (harder than it sounds).
  • Create problem solving content with the right messages that also helps potential customers, so your company is visible when potential customers are searching on Google or Bing or wherever.
  • Create ads that share the right messages with potential customers, and then place those ads where potential customers can see and act upon them.
  • Build relationships with current and potential consumers via social media and email marketing, so that your company is the first one they think of when it’s time to buy.
  • Do all of the above as affordably and efficiently as possible while also doing all of the above at a high level.

The stuff listed above is still vague, but your strategy should be as specific as you can make it. This is where most of the resources are allocated, and it’s easier to allocate sufficient resources when everyone understands what the benefits will be.

In terms of getting all the stuff done, there are lots of options. Our agency, for example, does all of the above for several parts and accessories companies. But we also have clients that hire us to tackle just one or two tasks, as they have existing agencies and/or in-house resources for the rest.

How Will We Measure Performance And Make Adjustments?

Last, but not least, it’s everyone’s favorite topic: KPIs!

If you’re a retailer, the main performance metrics are pretty simple – traffic growth, transaction volume, and revenue are all great metrics. If you’re a manufacturer trying to grow via wholesale, the main metrics are a little murkier – traffic, social media activity, and awareness are typically the right things to measure.

But there are several other metrics that can be used too; Customer satisfaction is an underrated metric. Cart activity and content engagement don’t get enough attention. Average order value, time to purchase, homepage exit rate, add-to-cart rate all have a story to tell. And advanced metrics like “lifetime value” and “consumer profitability score” are incredibly helpful if your company has the technical wherewithal to pull them off.

And anytime we talk about metrics, it’s important to remember how easy it is to get inundated with them. We recommend focusing on the basics in standard reporting, and then periodically visiting some of the more advanced or obscure metrics to evaluate specific aspects of your strategy. “Periodically” could be monthly, but for most companies is quarterly or even annually.

Summing Up

Your final part and accessories growth marketing strategy shouldn’t be too complicated. This is because complex, detailed strategies are hard to execute and end up half-baked. Not to mention, your strategy can and will change as you go – there’s not much point in developing a super detailed strategy document if you’re just going to change it every few months anyway.

Finally, if you’re reading this and wondering how to sculpt this outline for your company, contact us. We provide strategy consulting to all of our full-stack marketing services clients, and we also offer consulting-as-a-service. And because auto parts and accessories marketing is all we do, it’s hard to find a better strategy consultant.

More Content

The Most Common Security Risks In Ecommerce, And How To Protect Your Store From Them

online data protection

Based on our conversations with website owners over the years, the most common security risks store owners seem to fear are somewhat exotic: Hackers stealing…

Read More

Fighting Fraud In Auto Parts Ecommerce

Fraudulent orders are expensive. Not only do you lose a part, but you also lose the cost of shipping the part. Oftentimes, the loss on…

Read More

International Parts Ecommerce – What You Need To Get Started

Most US parts and accessories companies don’t focus on international sales, but as the economy slows, we suspect that will change. Selling parts and accessories…

Read More
Auto parts in the cardbox. Automotive basket shop. Auto parts store.