GCLA Expo Offers Advice for Down Times

Posted on April 18, 2008 by LCT Magazine

EXPO EXPERT: Arthur Messina brought his mastery of limousine marketing to the Greater California Livery Association Expo in Orange, Ca., this week, urging operators to not let up on the promotional gas despite the economic head winds.

Messina, of course, owns Create A Card Inc. of St. James, N.Y., a full-service marketing and branding company he founded in 1986. Messina has worked with numerous clients in the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry.

Overall, Messina has noticed that his clients’ revenues range from up 10 percent over last year to down 30 percent over last year. Messina said those companies at the lower end of that 40 percent revenue swing range all have maintained their marketing efforts.

“Many companies are in panic mode,” Messina said. “They need to go back to their business models and see what works.”

During his presentation, Messina offered operators some key pointers:

  • Companies need to look at what they’ll being doing tomorrow in order to stay in business, so they can keep business coming in and going throughout the year.
  • Identify your audience, your customers. Market to them.
  • Look outside the box. Circumstances are not the same as six months ago.
  • Presentation and service are “everything,” Messina said. Your sales message must be professional.
  • Keep promotional materials simple. Rely on visuals and not too many words.
  • Limousine and chauffeured transportation providers should offer and promote their own gift cards of $25 to $500. That assures future use and keeps cash flow going.
  • Another idea is promotional postcards because it’s something that you can put into customers’ hands. A good marketing plan uses both the online and print, Messina said. “People still want something tangible. They still want to hold it in their hands; they want to feel, touch, look at it.”
  • Put a newsletter about your company and services in the back seat pockets of all your vehicles so customers may learn about you.
  • Be consistent with your brand, logos, colors, and image he said. “Everyone sees a golden arch and knows right away it’s McDonald’s.”
  • Represent your company the way you represent yourself. “People always remember and recognize,” he said.
  • Maintain short- and long-term marketing goals with an eye toward building a lifelong clientele.
  • Have a plan of action that anticipates what’s ahead and defines your company. “Why are you different?”
  • “Being something to somebody — not everything to everybody.”

Messina concluded his presentation at the post-dinner gathering by advising operators how to deal with the economic uncertainty: “Hang in there. It will turn around. It’s not as bad as you think it is. We’ll all feel a little pinch. You have to stay positive and keep marketing to your customers.”

-- posted by Martin Romjue



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