If you drive a car, Advance Auto Parts is almost certainly a brand you’re familiar with. The brand goes all the way back to 1932, and are known for their speedy service and mostly friendly mechanics. They also happen to be the largest retailer of replacement auto parts in America, so like I said, it’s likely we’ve all dealt with them at least once in our lives.
The problem is…when I’m not dealing with them, I don’t see them. I almost never see billboards, Facebook ads, or any form of advertising from them. It’s possible that I’m just not their target audience so that’s why I see less of them - but when I do need some help with my automobile they’re not fresh in my mind so I don’t necessarily think to go to them right away. So, I decided to do some digging. Did they actually have a bomb advertising strategy and I was just missing out on it? Turns out that while there are definitely some things they’re doing right, there are also plenty of areas for improvement.
While already a great brand, Advanced Auto could only stand to grow and gain a larger audience. Firstly, by showing love to other high profile brands on social media. For example: It’s pretty likely that Armorall Wipes, which is a high margin brand, sell well in their stores and impact their bottom line. They should totally be liking, sharing, and commenting on Armorall’s social media posts! They should also be doing the same things on posts from people who share about using or wanting to use Armorall. When users of their products begin to notice that there is some sort of connection between Advanced Auto and Armorall, they’ll likely begin to feel some brand loyalty towards Advanced Auto.
Here’s an example of Armorall sharing a post from a DIY blogger with a high following. Kudos to them for remembering to tag the original poster!
However, “liking” other people’s content alone obviously won’t garner enough attention. In the same way that Coca-Cola uses #ShareACoke and Charmin uses #TweetFromTheSeat, Advance Auto should take note and get creative with their own brand hashtag. What about using something kitschy like #TrailFails as a funny way to share other people’s daily content? Brands that are serious about not taking themselves seriously are our kind of people! This will keep them at the top of their audience’s mind in a way that matters and helps their voice come through. Here’s an example of where they did something similar, but they do this so rarely (and without a consistent #hashtag), that it really doesn’t get the reach it deserves. Plus, I personally think that with a hashtag like #TrailFails, the potential for ensuing hilarity is high.
The post below didn’t get the reach it deserves. If they shared more often and with a consistent hashtag, they’d get more interaction. They need to remember to tag the user who originally posted the image to create even more engagement (and give credit where it’s due)!
Engaging With The Audience
Speaking of tagging people - Advanced Auto recently did a campaign involving Richard Rawlings! That’s a huge deal! People in the auto world know him as the owner of the Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas and TV star on the show Fast N Loud. The fact that Advanced Auto recruited him to do a small series on their social networks shows huge initiative on their part. Unfortunately, the campaign still wasn’t hugely successful due to lack of hashtags, tagging, and not getting fans to share the video clips. Landing advice from a celebrity in the auto industry should have warranted way more hype. Take a look at this screenshot of one of the video clips below. It got less than 400 views, and only 1 comment. ONE?! That’s at least how many I get every time my mom comments on my posts. Surely you can do better than me, Advanced Auto.
I would suggest taking some of the marketing budget they spend in other places (like print), and using it to specifically create, post, and boost unique, brand-centric, story driven content. Do this, invite media influencers into the conversation, and then watch engagement blow up!
For Advanced Auto specifically, it’s all about Instagram and Facebook. This is where the bulk of their engagement happens, and they need to seize the momentum! Take a look at the comment below on one of their Instagram posts. This doesn’t seem to be from a troll – it looks like genuine feedback. This would have been the PERFECT opportunity for Advance Auto to jump in and create interactivity. Heck, they could’ve even just asked the commenter what kind of content he WAS looking for, if not advice from Richard. The company is missing opportunities to connect with their audience left and right. Even if they thought that their content was “on point,” they still should have weighed in. All I know is that everyone in my life sure seems to love giving his or her opinion! Why can’t my family be more like Advance Auto? But in all seriousness, brands that can take constructive criticism and use it to grow have unlimited potential. As print media loses momentum, Advance Auto should consider reorganizing their strategy to focus their time, attention, and resources on the online platforms that dominate their space.
Despite all of this feedback, it’s definitely obvious that Advance Auto is putting forth effort in trying to find their “voice.” They already post pretty consistently on Facebook and Instagram, and with just a few tweaks to their approach, their branding could really take off!
Do you agree? Have anything to add? We want to hear your thoughts below!