The # 1 Marketing Mistake Made by Classic Car Restoration Shops


I’ve been helping classic car restoration shops with their marketing since 2007.

During that time, I’ve been asked lots of tough questions. For example:

  • How can I grow sales?
  • What should I put on my website?
  • Can social media help me get new customers?

You get the idea.

But the one question that comes up again and again is:

What’s the # 1 marketing mistake made by classic car restoration shops?

This question is definitely a humdinger!

It’s tough because every situation is different. There’s plenty of ways to mess things up!

There is however one mistake I see repeatedly. It’s a costly mistake. And it’s one that can be easily avoided.

This big mistake most restoration shops make in their marketing is not clearly communicating to their potential customers why the they should hire them instead of their competitor.

They don’t clearly answer, “Here’s why you should spend your money with me instead of the other guy.”

This can be a fatal financial mistake.

Let’s face facts…most of us have competitors. Customers can buy similar products and services from other companies, making it hard for a customer to differentiate why they should buy one service over another or choose one company versus another.

The way to solve this challenge is to clearly define, then consistently communicate, what marketers call your “unique selling proposition” or “unique value proposition (UVP).” I prefer the latter and will use that terminology with variations when elaborating on the concept.

To best understand how this concept applies to making sales, let’s first break down and define its various parts:

  • Unique describes what makes you different from your competitors. It is the characteristics of your services or products that set you apart from other companies in ways customers are willing to pay for.
  • Value defines for your customers what they get for their money. It is the basic worth your product or service brings to buyers.
  • Proposition is your offer or suggestion that something be done, considered, accepted or adopted.

Your objective is to combine these elements into powerful yet concise statements that:

  • Tell how you are unique in ways that are different from your competitors
  • Describe how your company brings value to the customer

Your goal is to tell someone why they should buy from you instead of the other guy in about 10 words or less.

Other common mistakes.

It’s best to avoid unique value propositions that:

  • Make claims that others can easily make – lowest prices, friendliest personnel
  • Make claims that are hard to substantiate prior to purchase – best service, knowledgeable personnel
  • Are subjective in nature – fastest service, quickest response
  • Talk about qualities of your company or features of your product – family owned and operated, in business for 10 years, etc.

Keep in mind that customers have expectations that are requirements for anyone they shop with and that featuring these requirements as part of your UVP is usually not in your best interests.

When we ask companies why a customer should spend with them, most invariably answer with some variation of “great service.” Great service is certainly a necessity but it’s not unique. It can help you stand out after someone has dealt with your company if problems arise. However, it’s much more important to communicate differences that help you stand out before things get to that point.

And besides, doesn’t everyone claim to have superior customer service?

Do these things.

A strong UVP makes sales for your company. Strong UVP:

  • Are clear, concise statements
  • Communicate differences between one product/service/company and others
  • Are objective or easily verifiable
  • Communicate real value to a customer
  • Are things your competitor can’t claim to provide or do
  • Are what you are – not what you say or want to be
  • Are simple to understand by all in your target market

Examples of strong UVPs:

Here are a few examples of companies using strong UVPs:

  • Lyft (Uber competitor) – “Rides in Minutes”
  • Dollar Shave Club – “A Great Shave for a Few Bucks a Month. No Commitment. No Fees. No BS.”
  • Fresh Books – “Small Business Accounting Software Designed for You, the Non-Accountant.”
  • Evernote – “Remember Everything.”
  • Digit – “Save Money Without Thinking About It.”
  • ZenPayroll – “The Easiest Way to Pay Your Employee.”
  • Fundly – “Raise Money for Anything.”

How to develop a strong UVP for your business:

The best way to develop your unique value propositions is to:

  • Ask yourself why someone should buy from you instead of the other guy
  • Listen to buyers and prospects to learn why they bought/didn’t buy
  • Determine what you can do to provide customer value that others can’t
  • Emulate best practices of others in non-competing industries

Do you specialize in frame off restorations? Then say it. How about specializing in restoring cars for today’s driving? Find what it is you do better than others that customers are willing to pay for, communicate it and watch your sales soar.

If you need help crafting a UVP for your classic car restoration shop, please contact me.

Brian Offenberger CeM, CSMA, is the founder of Right On – No Bull Marketing, a small business marketing agency. He has helped classic car restoration shops boost sales since 2007. Visit his website at

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