Tire Discounters recently won one of the nation’s top advertising awards, an ADDY, for their innovative (and incredibly funny) social media marketing campaign.
The family-owned tire retailer is America’s eighth-largest independent tire retailer. Traction News spoke with vice-president of marketing and project management Abbey Dryden to find out about the campaign, their secrets to social media marketing success, and winning that most prestigious of advertising awards.
“We’re extremely honored and humbled to be recognized with this award,” she said. “Successful social media execution is integral to building strong relationships with our customers — which (is something) we pride ourselves on developing every day. I’m so proud of our team and their efforts.”
Tongue in cheek attitude engages customers
The Tire Discounters’ campaign uses humor — and most especially good puns — to engage their audiences. The company answers questions asked on social media with customizable funny gifs and images. Everything about Tire Discounters’ online and advertising presence is tongue-in-cheek, like the “No prob-llama” ad above.
Dryden said the reason Tire Discounters won their ADDY Award for brand advertising across social media is because of the “skillful engagement” they have on social. That’s no accident. The company’s social media accounts are staffed by a team that is “passionate about serving our customers and helping our stores.” Dryden said the social team “constantly innovate, push new ideas and aren’t afraid to be bold in our communications.”
Company uses humor to help communicate important things
“It’s not solely about humor,” Dryden said. “We just use humor to help communicate the important issues with customers, such as safety, proper alignment, availability of tires for same day install and car maintenance. A good example is our truck wraps. On our trucks, we show that Tire Discounters is the “home of the free alignment,” but we follow it with a 15-foot-tall gopher that says, “I could gopher that.” The gopher may catch everyone’s attention, but when they see the truck, they are also going to take away Tire Discounters, alignment and the gopher.”
So, how’d they get started on this strategy? Dryden said humor had been a part of the company philosophy from the day the first store opened in 1976.
“Tire Discounters has incorporated humor from the very start, and it’s something our owner, Chip Wood, has instilled throughout the company. I think it all started with the changeable copy sign in front of Chip’s first store.”
At first, Wood used a sign to highlight specials (like $50 off a set of tires, for example). All the other tire retailers did the same thing. One day Chip asked his brother, Chris Wood, to change the sign. Chris put, “BOSS TOLD ME TO CHANGE THE SIGN, SO I DID”
“Chip saw it and thought it was hilarious. Customers came in to laugh with us about the sign. From that point forward, Tire Discounters has always made a point to not take ourselves too seriously. We laugh. We train hard. We build relationships with our customers that last for life.”
Company’s marketing strategy focuses on connecting with customers
Marketing isn’t just about informing potential customers that you have a product they may want to buy. You have to engage them and you have to be where they’re looking with a message that makes them want to buy your products and services.
“There are so many ways to connect with customers,” Dryden said. “Our strategy is to continuously drive awareness and appear where customers are searching. This means using TV, radio, billboards, and social media to drive awareness, and employing many paid search tactics to make sure we are there when potential customers look up a store online.”
Social media is the advertising platform the company never turns off because they want to always keep that means of connection with their customers open. But who are they targeting? Who interacts with them there?
“We want our marketing to appeal to as many car owners as possible within our regions,” Dryden said. “While our messaging is aimed at adults, we have been known to make people of all ages smile – whatever demographic you’re in, it’s hard not to smile after seeing a giant llama on a billboard.”
Dryden also said that there wasn’t any one specific advertising channel that was most successful. She said connecting with customers was a journey across multiple mediums and “you must follow the customer throughout the journey.” The biggest bang for their buck, she said, was gained by combining all of the channels at different times.
Why Tire Discounters is so active on social media
Dryden said social media channels like Facebook and Twitter were just another space occupied by Tire Discounters’ customers — so it makes sense to have an extremely active presence.
“One of the great things about social is that we can make connections and have great conversations. If we weren’t there, we would be missing out on so many conversations.”
Dryden said that social is a key pillar of the company’s marketing efforts, so they’re always there making sure they respond to customers all day long.
“Yes, it’s important to create ‘shareable’ content, but I think it’s more important to make content that will stand out and catch people’s attention.”
Again, it’s not something done in hopes people will share it; it’s done because they hope people will use it to engage with them.
People access social media differently depending on what they’re looking for. Dryden said Tire Discounters had found computer users were looking for longer informational pieces, while mobile users are looking more for that “quick hit and go” — the quick snippet or sound bite. Dryden said that meant it was just as important to tailor the content to how the consumer is consuming the media.