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For our friends in the Automotive Industry, some news for you!

Service Station Boosts Loyalty with Promotional Coins

Purr-Fect Auto Services, a gas/service station, is based in an area of Massachusetts with lots of competition for both sides of the business. However, owner Richard Cardano has found that he can keep his customers coming back with great service by giving them a token of his appreciation.

For every $100 that a customer spends in the service bay, they receive a logoed coin worth a 50-cent-per-gallon discount on their next fill-up at the gas station.  Roughly seven customers each week receive two to four coins. "It's not unusual for me to pass out 10 or more coins to a single customer," says Cardano.

Customers like the idea – and the savings – as they continue to return for their regular fill-ups. "It gives them a reason to come here rather than a station down the street where gas might be five cents a gallon cheaper," says Cardano. Customers using the coins often fill their tanks – roughly a $40 gas purchase – rather than merely topping off.

Cardano worked with his distributor partner for the best promo item. "After a few exchanges of design ideas, we found the coin design that would work best – and has worked best – for our business," says Cardano, who purchased 1,000 coins. "When we started the program, we got a couple hundred coins out of the box and started giving them to customers," he says. "Since then, the customers – and the coins – keep coming back, so we have not had to get any more from the box in the office."

Those in the auto-service industry, gas stations, quick lubes, car washes, convenience stores and other related venues would benefit by extending a "token of appreciation" to customers – and a reason for them to return in the future. Contact your distributor partner for great ideas and the perfect products to promote your business.

Promotional Items Help Drive Multicultural Growth

NASCAR is expanding its outreach by building the star power of individual drivers, attracting a multicultural fan base, executing more social-media strategies and improving the racetrack experience for fans. Its new Diversity Program is going strong and is set to continue this mission with Hispanic-themed events and advertising campaigns this year.

Alejandra Diaz-Labrecque, manager of NASCAR Multicultural Development, is a driving force behind the initiative, and she believes that education and awareness are equally important in the quest to gain more Hispanic fans and drivers. “There are two main components of the Hispanic push,” Diaz-Labrecque says. “The first is raising awareness and the second is making the race experience welcoming to fans.”

The diversity program, Bienvenidos a NASCAR, formed partnerships with tracks and race series across the country to promote the movement. The program offered bilingual ambassadors, a bilingual broadcast, Spanish-language signage, concerts including Los Lobos in Phoenix and Chino and Nacho in Miami, branded merchandise, discounted tickets and more.

“In conjunction with each track, we set up branded tents and booths and handed out T-shirts, cups, keychains, lanyards, all with the Bienvenidos a NASCAR logo on them,” Diaz-Labrecque says. “We had sweepstakes going on in each of the markets, in which the track donated items with its logo, and we offered VIP tickets as well as ran TV and radio ads.”

Bienvenidos a NASCAR also developed a Spanish-language landing page for its site and a Spanish call center for ticket purchases. Hispanic fans were offered ticket packages that included bilingual brochures, track maps and advice for race day. “If you’ve never been to a race before, it can be very overwhelming,” says Diaz-Labrecque. “We wanted every attendee to feel comfortable and welcome, so the literature included tips such as where and when to see fireworks, flyovers and driver introductions.”

Handbooks featuring QR codes linked to NASCAR garage videos were distributed, so fans could learn what goes on under the hood of a racecar and familiarize themselves even more with the sport. Headsets were also included in the ticket package, which allowed onlookers to hear the drivers and crews, and listen to broadcasts in Spanish.

Helping to promote the ongoing cause are a handful of well-known Hispanic drivers, including Juan Pablo Montoya of Columbia, Aric Almirola from Cuba, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Miguel Paludo of Brazil, Victor Gonzalez of Puerto Rico and Jorge Arteaga of Mexico.

Bienvenidos a NASCAR has continued to grow and become involved with more events and races such as NASCAR Championship Drive in South Beach, Miami. “We know it’s going to be an investment before we see huge results,” says Diaz-Labrecque, “but it’s all about raising awareness and educating Hispanics on the sport.”

With momentum gaining from its efforts toward the Hispanic community, NASCAR is excited for 2013, when the NASCAR Toyota Series will compete for the first time ever in the U.S. in Phoenix on March 1. “We will be there in full force,” says Diaz-Labrecque. “It will be an over-the-top, blowout event.”

Retention Is Key in the Auto Market

For 20 years one promotional products distributor in the Midwest has handled a steady stream of orders from upwards of eight local car dealers in his area. “We’ve dealt with them through good and bad,” so to speak, says the distributor.

And, while market swings have affected orders, none of that has affected them so much as the recent shift in how dealers are targeting clients these days. In particular, the distributor says, where once dealers were more focused on promotions to bring new customers into their showrooms, these days their marketing strategies are more about keeping existing clients. In fact, Goldblatt says, mailers urging consumers to test drive vehicles are almost nonexistent in his area.

“The loyalty fight is on, for sure,” says Brian Bolain, national marketing communications manager for Lexus, based in Torrance, CA.  The company, he says, predicts as many as 1 million additional cars to be sold this year above last year’s sales.

Still, “it’s more cost efficient to retain customers than to lose them and try to get them back,” he insists, adding that even though Lexus enjoys a loyal customer base with a retention rate upwards of 50%, they use regular promotional products and marketing campaigns to keep the clients they have.

In fact, Goldblatt works regularly with a local Lexus showroom and says the owner is more eager to market to existing customers with regular mailers and thank you gifts (think high-end umbrellas and travel mugs) meant to entice buyers back in.

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