Tuesday, March 15, 2022 | March 2022
How to reach the new generation of customers
BY NORA JOHNSON
IT’S OFFICIAL, WE’VE MOVED PAST MILLENNIALS being the youngest generation of potential customers. And it is now time to explore further uncharted territory: Generation Z.
With alternative names like the iGeneration, Digital Natives, and the Internet Generation, it’s no surprise that this new set of customers can be found almost entirely online. Jon Napoli, key account manager and web director at Optimize Social Media, and Jason Strand, director of digital marketing at Optimize Social Media, know how the online world, marketing, and the auto repair industry can all come together to bring in a new generation of customers.
WELCOME THE NEW GENERATION OF CUSTOMERS.
Despite the common misconception that those in Generation Z are kids, the oldest Gen Zers will turn 25 this year. Yes, some PostMillenials are teenagers, but most are older, and like any generation, own cars, explains Strand.
“They’re now at an age with disposable income,” Napoli says. “So you have to start marketing to them.”
If you fail to consider the Gen Z market, you’re missing out on a huge portion of possible lifetime customers—the new generation.
“If you’re solely focusing on the customers you’ve always had, you will sustain those people—but eventually, they’re going to age out,” Strand elaborates. “If you capture these new car owners while they’re at this age, they are going to keep coming in over and over. And the lifetime value of that customer is really more valuable than the customers that you’ve always had.”
INITIATE A DIGITAL HANDSHAKE.
The further we progress into becoming more digital every day, there are still some owners that rely solely on the art of in-person word-of-mouth marketing. As important as verbal recommendations are, most younger generations are pulling out their phone to search on Facebook or Google for a highly rated shop near them, rather than asking a friend or neighbor. This is why it is so important to meet younger generations where they are, their phone.
“The best way to think about social media is that it's word of mouth, but on steroids,” Strand explains. “It’s the same way that someone would recommend a shop to a friend with their voice or over the phone, but now it’s on social media to 100 or 1,000 friends.”
Napoli refers to online reviews and star ratings as “social proof”, and acts as a reassurance to potential customers that you have a strong business.
“Protecting your online reputation goes hand in hand with social media—it’s a two-way street,” he says. “The customer now has the ability to communicate back to you.”
ATTRACT YOUNG CUSTOMERS WITH MULTIMEDIA.
Beyond using social media as a way to respond to customer reviews, shops should also be posting original content on their profiles. And owners should keep in mind that older generations want to see different types of content than younger generations. Because of this, Strand emphasizes the importance of video content.
“Almost any sort of video content right now is going to capture more attention compared to an image or a graphic,” he says. “Graphics are all over the place and are not necessarily bad, but the right video content can be so much more personable.”
Short videos can be made on a simple phone, just take 15 seconds to introduce yourself and your team and then say or demonstrate your message. This creates original content that no other shop is going to have, and showcases a higher level of trustworthiness and transparency.
Along with originality, owners should also focus on consistency. Strand recommends that shops post three times a week on the platforms that allow it, YouTube can be more occasional, and profiles that allow reviews should be checked and responded to often. Don’t be afraid to turn to a family member, younger employee, or company to help with social media marketing if it feels overwhelming.
“The social media world is chaotic, which is why we handle it. But it’s exciting at the same time because it’s always rolling out new things, which means new opportunities.” Strand says.