Strong marketing is indispensable when you own an auto shop (or any other type of small business, for that matter). An effective marketing strategy can attract new customers while making it easier for your shop to stand out from the crowd. And there’s no shortage of competition these days–by the end of 2020, there were almost 234,700 businesses dedicated to auto maintenance and repair in the United States alone.
So while it may feel like you already know everything there is to know about your target market, you can’t afford to rely on instinct alone when running an auto shop. Feasibility studies can help make your marketing efforts more effective and reduce your risk of wasting money on ineffective advertising campaigns. Read on for an explanation of feasibility studies and how your business can put them to use.
What is a Feasibility Study?
Put simply, a feasibility study is a way of analyzing the potential success or failure of a given project. These studies often focus on economic issues, such as a proposed project’s cost and its possible return on investment. By creating and analyzing these documents, companies can explore a project’s likelihood of success before committing substantial resources to its implementation.
While economic feasibility studies are certainly common, they also aren’t the only type out there. Assessments in this category can also focus on whether or not a project is realistic on a technical level, likely to cause legal problems, or capable of being completed on a reasonable timeline. Along with these applications, another type you’ll want to be familiar with is the marketing feasibility study.
Marketing Feasibility Study
Marketing feasibility studies are just that–feasibility studies that deal with the marketing side of business. The goal of these assessments is to offer a thorough overview of the market realities your auto shop (or any other company) is dealing with right now and could face in the future.
Along with market analysis, well-written marketing feasibility studies include information on a business’ competitors, as well as untapped markets that could benefit from its goods or services.
It’s crucial to understand that these studies are different from–but related to–marketing plans. Marketing feasibility studies focus on painting a picture of entire industries, including their present and what they could look like later on. In contrast, marketing plans use the overviews provided by feasibility studies as a jumping-off point, listing strategies that could help a business survive and thrive in various market situations.
Why It’s a Good Idea for Your Shop
If you haven’t already done a market feasibility study for your business, the best time to start is now. These studies come with no shortage of benefits, including:
- More effective marketing efforts. When you know as much as possible about the market before you start planning your campaign, your odds of success will be considerably higher.
- Clear reasons why–or why not–to proceed on specific marketing initiatives. The truth is that not all marketing campaigns are successful, but feasibility studies can help you identify red flags and avoid initiatives that likely won’t deliver the results you need.
- Simpler decision-making. You shouldn’t make significant business decisions on a gut feeling, and nuanced market information can help your company avoid pointless debates and time wasted on arguments about its direction.
- Enhanced discovery of fresh market opportunities. If you’re lucky enough to find an underserved market in your area, feasibility studies will help you connect with people in this category.
How to Write a Marketing Feasibility Study
Depending on the needs of the businesses creating them, marketing feasibility studies can take many forms. However, studies in this niche should include these four aspects:
In-Depth Interviews with Stakeholders
When you need high-quality information at a low price, few research methods are more effective than in-depth interviews (IDIs). These interviews shouldn’t cost much in terms of time or money, but your efforts will undoubtedly result in a motherlode of qualitative data.
To get started, aim to complete anywhere from eight to 12 IDIs with stakeholders in your shop. These should each be 20-30 minutes long–that may not sound like a lot, but you’ll get at least four hours’ worth of information by the end of the process. While completing IDIs, ask stakeholders about the viability of your business plan and how you could improve it. You’ll get valuable advice and increased buy-in.
If the average person knows anything about feasibility studies, it’s that demographic analysis is essential. After all, to successfully open a business or launch a product, you need to know your target audience. That’s why these studies include a thorough breakdown of market demographics, including population numbers, ages, gender ratios, and much more.
You won’t have to look too far to find geographic data for this portion of your feasibility study. The U.S. Census Bureau’s website offers detailed information on this topic–and best of all, it’s available for free. Start by looking for the local areas whose populations are the closest fit to your target market.
Information on the Competition
While you should keep your friends (or target audience) close when writing a marketing feasibility study, you’ll also need to keep your enemies (or competitors) closer. Since there’s almost certainly at least one other auto shop in your area, dedicate some space in your report to what makes them tick and how they could impact your business.
Research for this part of your feasibility study should focus on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. For the most part, this is as simple as doing an online search for other local auto shops and analyzing their pricing, marketing materials, and anything else that might be relevant. You can also make use of “mystery shopping”–that is, anonymously visiting competing businesses to get an inside look at what these shops are doing well and where their shortcomings lie.
When it’s time to get a broader look at your market situation, nothing beats info from an online survey. Once you’ve identified opportunities and concerns in the first three stages of this process, you can use surveys to ask ordinary people about their interest in your shop and their awareness of your competitors.
Phone surveys can provide slightly better data than online surveys; however, they are slower and more expensive to the point that they usually aren’t worth the trouble. It’s a good idea to include anywhere from five to 30 questions on your survey, but take care not to go overboard. A person’s engagement with a survey can start to flag after the seven-minute mark or so.
Use the Results
Once you’ve completed your analysis, you’ll have a “road map” that can make the process of reaching potential customers more manageable than ever before. Still, finishing a feasibility study doesn’t mean your shop can ease up on its marketing efforts. These studies should just be the starting point, serving as the foundation for a marketing plan designed to push your business to its full potential.
These days, any auto shop’s marketing strategy should also include a technological component. Modern shops utilize automated marketing software to assist with their text/email marketing, schedule appointments, manage online reviews, and track performance. Furthermore, these features can work together to heighten customer satisfaction while increasing efficiency.
As a leader in the digital marketing field, BayIQ’s marketing software boasts all these abilities and more. This software was built specifically for independent auto and tire shops. If you want to stay one step ahead of the competition, get started with BayIQ today.