Lesson #1

You Must Know The Basics First

What Type Of Business Are You In?

Before we get into the main subject of this lesson, it’s VERY important to take a brief moment to ask yourself. “What type of business am I in?”. If you answered “The auto repair business”, you’d be dead wrong if you want to maintain your profit level from previous years, or to grow your business in the current economic conditions.

I’m sure you’re saying to yourself  how can that answer be wrong, isn’t that what I do? The truth is that if you think you’re only in the auto repair business,  you’re severely reducing the potential profits your business could be making.

Here’s the bottom line . . . . . .

"Whatever Business You Might Think You're In,
You're Also Really In the Marketing Business"

Why? Because if you can't sell enough of your services, you either won't be in business for the long term, or, you’ll sell only a fraction of what  you should be selling, and your business profits will suffer. Marketing is the life blood of a successful business, so if you’re not also in the Marketing Business, you’re leaving a LOT of money on the table.

Without marketing, the only business you’re getting is from people who find you by accident, or who have dealt with you before.. A business owner who sits around waiting for customers to find his/her business is not likely to be very successful. Yes, you might survive in the short term, and might even be  lucky enough to survive for the long term, but you are NOT likely to be VERY successful.

In order to be truly successful in the auto repair business, especially in the current economic conditions, you must either become knowledgeable about marketing yourself, or find someone who is and pay for their advice.

And by the way, let me just warn you that 99% of the people providing “marketing” advice to small business owners don’t have a clue about REAL marketing. Real marketing is more than designing an attractive looking newspaper ad, or deciding which are the best days to run a radio spot.

Real marketing involves making the most out of every dollar spent by compelling people to try your product or service because they perceive they will be getting a benefit, solution, or savings they fiercely desire, and that has to be the focus of the promotion, NOT simply listing the services you provide.

And real marketing ALWAYS  provides a way for you to track where any new customers come from so that you can determine whether or not that particular marketing project was cost effective or not.

The sad truth is that 90% of all auto repair shop owners do not understand what effective marketing really is, and their profits suffer as a result of that. The average shop owner looks at what others in the industry are doing, and copies it. That would work if the items copied were successful, but most of the time, and I truly mean most of the time, the marketing tools copied simply do not work very effectively.

So, whether you become knowledgeable yourself, or pay for the advice of someone with that expertise and skill, you MUST also be in the “Marketing Business” if you want to be truly successful and maximize your profits. Your service will NOT sell itself.

How Do Internet Search Engines Really Work?

OK, lets get into the main subject matter for this first lesson. How do the Internet search engines like Google actually work?

By the way, it’s very important to know that there are literally 100's of search engines available on the Internet, but Google is the big daddy, the monster. Google accounts for 63.1% of ALL Internet searches (and increasing), Yahoo accounts for 20.5% (and decreasing), MSN accounts for 8.5% (and decreasing), and all the other search engines split up the crumbs that are left. Even more impressive is the fact that Google has captured almost 90% of the growth in searches during the last 12 months.

So if we concentrate our efforts on getting a high listing in Google’s search results, we’ll usually end up being equally high on the other search engine results.

When someone types a word of phrase into the search box on say Google, a very complex and sophisticated software program reviews all of the content on the Internet and provides search results with the order of listing based on the software’s determination as to what content is more relevant to the word or phrase. There might be as many as a million web pages that are relevant in some way, and they are listed in the search results in the order of how relevant they have been judged to be, with the most relevant ones first.
 
What good would it do if you were looking for auto repair shops and TV repair shops were listed for your review? Or if you were looking for ways to fight the common cold, and sites with information about cold climates was displayed? A waste of your time right? The words or phrase that is typed into the search engine’s “search box:” is called a “keyword”. We’ll be discussing the importance of these “keywords” in a coming Lesson.

When it comes to search engine rankings, “content”, “relevance”, and third party “linking” are the KEY elements that get your website listed high.. The most important thing you should understand in regards to having your web site viewed by Internet searchers, is that you and other people with web sites are NOT the customers the search engines are catering to and are concerned about. The people who are doing the searches are their customers, because without those searchers, most of the search engines would not be in business.

So, because Internet searchers are the REAL customers of the search engines, the search engines try their utmost to make sure that each searcher receives the best possible results they are looking for. That is why your website content, the relevance of that content to the search, and the third party links to your website, which are looked at as sort of “recommendations”, is vital to getting your site listed high in the search engine results.

Your goal as a business, is to make the search engines conclude that your web site pages are very relevant to the search term used by someone looking for auto repair in your local area, and to display your web site on the top page of their listings. When I build web sites for my clients, I make sure that the on-site coding and the content get them listed on the top pages of the search engines, and I’ll tell you how to do it for yourself in a later lesson.

How Does Local Search Differ From Regular Search?

There is not really any difference between a regular search and a local search, other than the fact that the person will typically add the name of the city, town, or county after the item being researched. For example, someone looking for a business to take care of their auto repair, would not simply type auto repair into the search box, but would add their location, like “auto repair dallas”, if the were in the Dallas Texas area.

What Are “Paid” Search Results?

What we’ve discussed so far is what are called “organic search results”, that is, search results that are generated by how relevant the search engine feels the content of your web site is to the word of phrase being researched.

But there is also another type of search result, and that is usually called a PPC, or Pay Per Click listing. If you do a search on Google, you’ll notice that they also display small ads on the right side of the results pages, and a few also at the top of the page above the search results.

Well, these are “Paid ads” by businesses who hope to entice the person searching to click on their ad and visit their web site. Every time someone clicks on their ad, the business has to pay Google a certain amount of money, whether or not the person buys anything or not, or becomes a customer in the future. The charge per click can vary from as little as say .25¢, to as much as $6 or $7, or more. The cost is determined by Google depending on how many other businesses are “bidding” for the right to have their ad shown on the side of the search results pages for a particular word or phrase.

This can become a very expensive proposition, depending on what the charge per click is, and how many people click on your ad. And remember, you pay for each click whether or not that person ends up doing business with you or not.

Another factor is that the public regard “organic search results” as MUCH more likely to provide what they are looking for, because they understand that the search engine has determined that those results are relevant to their search, while the PPC ads are just that, ads paid for by a business in order to get listed on the side of the page.  

For this reason, and because of the costs involved, I highly recommend that you try to get your web site listed high in the search results, free and  “organically” by the search engines, instead of paying for PPC ads on the side of the search results pages.

Most people who use PPC listings are either too lazy to do what is necessary to have their web sites “organically” listed high, or they don’t have the knowledge required to accomplish it. By the time you’ve finished this E-course, you’ll know what it takes to get your web site listed for free on the top pages of Google and the other search engines.

Now that we've discussed the basics, in the next Lesson we'll start getting into how you can generate huge peofits for your Auto Shop, if you utilize the Internet properly.

If you have any questions about what we’ve covered so far, other Internet marketing questions, or just about marketing in general, I’m always available to you to answer a question or to help you understand something more completely, so don’t hesitate to ask for my help. And it’s free. My e-mail address is, gordon(at)auto-repair-marketing.com. (PLEASE NOTE: In order to protect the e-mail address from "harvesting" by spammers, it has purposely not been made into a "live" link.  Please therefore copy and paste the address into your "Send to" box in your e-mail, and replace "(at)" with "@". Thank you.)

Copyright 2009, Gordon Roberts. All legal rights reserved.

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