A few weeks ago I was proudly standing next to Mayfield Collision Centers’ owner and founder Tom Griffin while he was receiving an award from the city of Bedford Heights for MCC’s contribution to the K-9 program. As the mayor was gushing about our business, and members of the community were offering him hugs - I began to realize that you couldn’t buy this kind of publicity if you tried.
The funny thing about this story is that when Tom hired me a few weeks earlier - he made it clear that historically, he hasn’t seen much value in traditional marketing. He did little or no paid advertising over his 23 years in business - preferring to focus on delighting his customers and creating an exceptional work environment. And who could argue with him? Mayfield Collision Centers is a market leader with a long track record of success. Creating my marketing role was his first venture into establishing a “traditional” marketing presence for our shops.
Although Tom may not have realized it, he had been carrying out a social marketing program for as long as he had been in business – he just never promoted his efforts. In the six short weeks since I’ve joined MCC, the shop has been involved in some very cool community projects; clear coating art-work for GuitarMania® - a Greater Cleveland Community public art project that benefits United Way, helping to raise money for the Chardon Memorial Benefit Fund, preparing a local police vehicle for the city’s new K-9 member, and contributing to the cost of the K-9. All of these projects were done in partnerships with other members of the community, and were able to get MCC some great press and exposure - but only because we took advantage of promoting them. Tom may not have believed in the value of traditional marketing, but he sure believed in being a responsible corporate citizen.
The National Social Marketing Center defines Social Marketing as “the systematic application of marketing, along with other concepts and techniques, to achieve behavioral goals for the social good.” Think of it as having two parents – a social parent and a marketing parent – who work together to take your shop’s public relations efforts to a new level. I’m not suggesting that you abandon traditional marketing efforts and donate to every cause that crosses your path, but creating a community involvement component to your overall marketing strategy can generate some clear benefits: