Table of Contents
- Why Advertise, and Why Facebook?
- Options for Creating Your Ad
- Targeting Your Facebook Ad to a Specific Audience
- Facebook Ad Formats
- What Content Should Go in Your Ads?
- Setting a Facebook Advertising Budget
- Reporting on Your Ad Results
- Final Thoughts
What’s one thing that separates large collision repair chains from smaller independent auto body shops?
While there are all sorts of advertising options available to you, let’s take a look at whether or not Facebook (now officially Meta) ads are worthwhile for your shop.
Why Advertise, and Why Facebook?
There are lots of reasons to advertise, even if your schedule is full.
- give your company a positive image
- attract new customers
- promote repeat business
- help your business compete
- keep your business top of mind
- help you target your ideal customers.
Facebook makes it easy to create targeted ad campaigns, so you’re not wasting money showing your ads to people 50 miles away.
You can stop and start your ads anytime you like, and show them on desktop computers and/or mobile devices.
Targeting is one of the biggest strengths of digital advertising.
If you were to run a newspaper ad, it goes to every subscriber, but digital ads can be shown only to the people you want to see the ads.
So, is Facebook Advertising a good investment for body shops?
Before I answer that, it’s important to think about the experience. Facebook Ads are “interruptive” advertising, meaning that while your prospect is browsing Facebook for entertainment or to kill time, your ad is going to interrupt their feed between posts by friends and groups.
On the other hand, Google or Bing Ads involve “intent”, meaning people are searching for something specific, and an ad is displayed that matches what they were searching for.
So we always want to remember that Facebook Ads are better for awareness, and staying top-of-mind…
The chances that someone was just in a collision and stumbled across your ad are slim to none.
Options for Creating Your Ad
This post isn’t intended to be a complete tutorial on exactly what to do to create your ad, but instead, to illustrate some of the high-level options you have, and consider if they might work for you.
You need a couple of things to get started:
You need a personal Facebook account – in order to create a Facebook Business Page – which you need before creating ads.
With that in place, there are 3 options for creating ads:
- Boost an existing post
- Create an Ad using the Ad Center
- Use Business Suite and Ads Manager
Boost an Existing Facebook Post
The simplest way to create an ad, and one that many business owners try is to “boost” a post. This means you start with one of your existing posts, and put some money behind it to help it get seen by prospects.
With any ad, Facebook makes you choose a goal. Boosted posts are simpler, and therefore more limited than ads created through Ad Center. The available goals are; Get more messages, Get more engagement, Get more website visitors, Get more leads, and Get more calls.
Your targeting options are also limited, but that’s not too much of an issue for body shops. You’ll primarily be trying to create brand awareness for your business, rather than trying to get someone to call you right now for an estimate.
Boosting a post is pretty straightforward, and Facebook guides you through the rest of the setup.
Create an Ad Using the Ad Center
Using Ad Center is a little more involved, but gives you far more control over goals, formats, targeting, and other options. To get to the Ad Center, press either of the blue “Promote” buttons - one is at the top of the screen (on Mac or PC) and another is at the bottom left.
From there you have the option of creating a new ad from scratch, and you have a larger selection of available goals, including; Get more messages on WhatsApp, Get more messages, Get more page likes, Get more calls, Promote your business locally, and Get more website visitors.
After you select a goal, you are able to continue with creating your ad.
Use Business Suite and Ads Manager
Now you probably just want to know what time it is, rather than how a watch is made, but I want to point out another tool you may hear about:
Ads Manager is part of Facebook (Meta) Business Suite. Business Suite is a tool that’s typically used by agencies or businesses with an in-house marketing department, though anyone can use it.
Business Suite contains an Ads Manager tool, which can contain one or more Ad Accounts. If you’re an MSO, you might have separate Ad Accounts for each location. Inside each Ad Account are Ad Campaigns, which contains Ad Sets, which contain Individual Ads.
If you’re familiar with Business Suite, then this article isn’t going to be all that useful to you. If you’re not familiar with Business Suite, that’s really beyond the scope of this post.
Targeting Your Facebook Ad to a Specific Audience
In marketing we always try to target ads to an “avatar”.
This is a fictional ideal customer who represents the person we’d most like to work with.
This is hard to do with collision repair, since almost everyone owns a vehicle, but we can narrow it down somewhat.
For instance, even though 16 year-olds can get a license and a car, they probably still live with their parents, who would be the ones scheduling needed repairs, so let’s leave them out. So when choosing an age-range for our possible customers, we could say 18 and older (or whatever makes sense for you).
Both males and females own and drive cars, so it doesn’t make any sense to advertise only to one, though you could create two versions of an ad, one with each gender, and see which one works better.
Location is an important factor when advertising your shop. Some people choose whichever shop is closest to their home, and unless yours is the only shop around, it isn’t realistic to expect people to bring their vehicle to you from 50+ miles away. So, if there’s nothing but flat land nearby, you can easily just choose a radius of 10-15 miles around your shop.
On the other hand, if you have any unique geographic factors, such as a coast, or a body of water, or a mountain that makes getting from point A to point B more difficult, then choosing your advertising territory may be more complex. You can also choose specific zip codes, or bedroom communities to include or exclude.
Facebook offers lots of other targeting options, such as income level, recently moved, relationship status, employment types, and more. I’d recommend that you skip all that initially, and if you want to fine tune it over time you can.
You can get creative with your targeting too:
For example, if you are a Ford Certified Collision Center, you could create an ad about that, and target people who have an interest in “Ford Motor Company”, “Ford F-Series”, and/or “Ford Mustang”. That way when your ad runs, it’s not being displayed to Chevy fans. As you play around with the options, you can see whether or not there are enough matches to make it worthwhile, or if you need to broaden your targeting options.
How you define your ideal customer is up to you, but it’s worth considering before you start advertising.
Facebook Tracking Pixel
You also have the option to install a “pixel” on your website.
This is a more advanced technique, and is used for “retargeting”. The so-called pixel is a chunk of code, that tracks when a person visits your site, and can monitor pageviews, scrolling, and actions you take on a website.
It’s how Facebook knows so much about you.
When someone visits your site (if the tracking pixel is installed), they can be shown your ad next time they log onto Facebook.
Facebook Custom Audience
If you have a database of your past customers, and you want to make sure they see your ad, you can upload your database as long as it includes either a phone number or email address.
If they have a Facebook account, then your ad will be shown to them once it begins running.
The tracking pixel mentioned above can also be used with custom audiences, in much the same way.
Facebook Ad Formats
When formatting your ads, you can use photos or videos, as follows;
An image ad contains a single image. This can be a photo or graphic that you create, or you can select stock photos in the Ad Center to use.
Upload videos between 5 seconds and 10 minutes long, or combine several photos together to create a slideshow. You can use this to introduce your team, or walk a prospect through your repair process.
A Carousel ad lets you use multiple images or videos within a single ad, each with its own link. These are like multiple ads all in one. These are great for before and after repair photos.
What Content Should Go in Your Ads?
The content of your ad will depend on the goal you choose before creating the ad.
It’s like a billboard - people zooming by may not even see the words until they’ve passed by a few times, but hopefully they notice your logo.
If brand awareness is what you’re aiming for, then it’s important to get your ads in front of people so they think of you when a collision does eventually happen. You’ll want to stand out in the news feed as people scroll, so a bold, simple image can work well. If you can show satisfied customers (real ones or stock photos) or smiling employees it can make your business seem friendly and approachable.
As I mentioned above, before and after photos are great too, especially if the difference is drastic.
Video footage can be very effective. It doesn't necessarily need to be highly produced and polished either - recording yourself speaking to the camera can be interesting. Most people never get to see what happens in a shop, and people love to see behind the scenes, so consider in-shop videos.
Think of scenarios where a customer needs your service, and create ads around those. As an example, you could create an ad related to hail damage, showing a dented roof, saying “We fix hail damage”. You can sit on the ad until the next big hail storm happens, at which point, you login to Facebook and start your ad.
Need another example? Create an ad for deer season, reminding people that your shop can fix damage from a deer strike.
Does your shop offer detailing? Anytime your schedule gets light, turn on an ad for a detailing special. Once you fill up the schedule, shut off your ad.
I recommend setting up an inventory of ad campaigns, where you can turn them on and off at a moment’s notice, especially around the weather, be it tree limbs, snow, or ice.
Lastly, you can also use Facebook ads to recruit body shop employees, by creating a Facebook Job Post, then boosting that post.
Setting a Facebook Advertising Budget
Boosted Posts are the most inexpensive to get started with. You simply set a budget and how long the ad should run.
You could set your budget to $5 per day for 7 days, or you could set it to $500 per day, it’s your choice.
There’s no “right” answer here - your budget depends on your goal, so start there and work backwards to figure out what you’ll need to spend to get there.
If you want to get a certain amount of new traffic to your website, adjust the budget until you start seeing those results. If you want a certain number of page likes, adjust accordingly. If you want 25 new weekly calls to your shop, set the budget so that happens.
Start small, and grow your budget along with your comfort level.
Reporting on Your Ad Results
After your ad has started running, you can review the results. While you are able to see various metrics, like how many people were shown the ad, how many clicked on it, and so on, the important thing to measure is if they took any sort of action.
Once again, this will depend on what goals you selected for your ads, but you’ll be able to track the actions your prospects took, such as:
- Watched your video
- Clicked a link
- Left a comment
- Liked your post
- Visited your website
- Completed a lead form
- Called your shop
- Left a message through Facebook Messenger
- And lots more
There are so many options for creating and managing Facebook Ads – far more than we can reasonably cover here.
I asked earlier whether or not Facebook Ads for collision repair shops are worthwhile.
Ultimately that depends on whether it’s worth it to you, but you can certainly get results from Facebook Ads.
Set your expectations properly, and realize that a large component of advertising is brand awareness, and you will get more people becoming aware of your shop, or being reminded about it.
And by having an inventory of ads ready to go, you can take advantage of inclement weather and show your ad to prospects at the exact moment they may need your services.
Need help using Facebook Ads for your body shop? Get in touch today.
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