Auto Care Marketing: Price Sensitive vs. Fear Sensitive
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Auto Care Marketing: Price Sensitive vs. Fear Sensitive

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Auto repair money

Why can’t we use that argument as a doctor when a customer balks at the price of a recommended repair?

For 2014, I changed my health care insurance from a traditional plan to a health savings account (HSA). Basically, the first $2,500 (pre-tax) of medical expenses are on me. I was confused at first, but soon found that it did have some entertainment and educational value.

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I have found myself pricing out certain medical procedures like some customers price out car repairs. For example, I tried pricing out a vasectomy — not that I want or need one, but I was curious to see how much one would cost out-of-pocket (no pun intended).

I called my doctor to get a price. He quoted me off the top of his head a price range of $600 to $1,200. I asked him if he could be more specific and give me an itemized estimate. He said that he could not do that until he performed an examination and consulted with my insurance company.

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If I was going to spend this amount of money, I’d want to know what I’d be getting, so I tried to nail down his estimate. I wanted to know if the $600 vasectomy was the “get ’em in the door” price, like a $99 brake special. I was worried that once I was opened, they would try to sell me extras.

To reduce the price, I asked if I could have it performed without anesthesia. Or, maybe they could do only one side. I suggested that I could bring in my own clips and remove my own stitches, but even they have policies against installing customer-supplied parts.

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[sws_pullquote_left]”Forget brake dust, OEM quality and warranties, I want aftermarket manufacturers and trade associations to bring life-or-death fear into the hearts of consumers when they don’t use premium products.” [/sws_pullquote_left] I even went to the phone book and tried to find a vasectomy specialist who could do it for a discount price. But, since most men need a vasectomy only once, the return business is not too good.

My doctor said that I shouldn’t worry about the price because you can’t put a price on your health. His closing remark of, “it’s not like you can perform a vasectomy on yourself,” really got me thinking (no, I wasn’t going to do it myself). If some shops tried to use this sales pitch and pricing system, they would be on the evening news, but for some reason the medical community gets away with it because human life is at stake.

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The same goes for home contractors. Most contractors have no shame in asking for more money to finish a project. They typically use the line that cutting corners will hurt the value or quality of the home. Why can’t we use that argument when a customer balks at the price of a recommended repair?

Fear as marketing

Fear and life are powerful sales tools that doctors and contractors use in their marketing, sales and public awareness campaigns. What’s stopping the aftermarket from doing the same?

The aftermarket needs to bring fear back into its marketing. Forget brake dust, OEM quality and warranties, I want aftermarket manufacturers and trade associations to bring life-or-death fear into the hearts of consumers when they don’t use premium products.

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I realize that conventional wisdom says negative images might create negative associations that rub off on the product, and this is valid for some consumer products and political candidates. But, in my opinion, it’s not applicable to aftermarket parts and services.

Too many marketing professionals in the aftermarket concentrate on “brand messages” that have warm, fuzzy feelings that don’t do much for creating a compelling case as to why technicians and consumers should buy and install their parts.

If a marketing professional is concerned that using blood and guts to stir up fear in customers crosses an ethical line, just look at the pharmaceutical commercials on TV. Seems to work for them, too.

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Side note: The doctor I talked to for this story is a car guy, and he seemed overly excited when I explained to him the concept of a mechanic’s lien for customers who do not pay their bill.

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