By Adam Wright, President, CEO and co-founder of Associated Graphics (AGI).
I used to be a professional race car driver. A big part of the job was securing sponsorships for the car to communicate brand messaging while on the racing circuit. It was an effective strategy for reaching masses of consumers both in person and via television. I became interested in the marketing aspect of it all.
As my racing days came to an end, I decided to take a major leap of faith and, along with a partner, opened my own vehicle graphics company. I saw there was a marketing gap in this arena, and felt it was important for brands to engage with consumers while they are on the road. Whether people are at a rest stop, on a job site, in a hotel parking lot or in a traffic jam, they are still consuming a brand's message that appears on the side of a company car, van or bus.
Despite the popularity of out-of-home (OOH) advertising today, I didn't just jump into the business and have instant success. I had some contacts, but I had to go out and hustle. This meant calling on the east coast during the day and calling on the west coast during the evening hours. I attended every local networking event that I could, and I made it a point to call on anyone and everyone who I had ever come in contact with. From past classmates to former neighbors to family members, my question was the same: "Who do you know?" I was successful in building my connections and the business took off.
In the vehicle graphics business, when it comes to continued growth, I rely on the following strategies, which are relevant to any business and for anyone looking to get their start:
- Excellent Customer Service: I have said this from day one: the customer always comes first. That is the foundation on which I built the company and that remains our mantra today. Because of this, I was able to grow the business through client testimonials. After securing a few key clients, I asked them to speak on our behalf to potential new ones. It worked, and we now use this as a marketing tactic. Don't be afraid to ask your clients, both big and small, to speak on your behalf. Put it in writing on your website and if clients are willing, bring a camera crew to their office and capture the testimonial on film so you can post it on your website and social channels. Nothing is better than a recommendation from a repeat customer.
- Attention to Detail: In the vehicle graphics business, attention to detail reigns supreme. Clients need branding, messaging and coloring to be exact so it's essential to go to great extremes to make sure that every last detail is handled. We don't take any shortcuts with our work. Listen to the clients and remain flexible so that you can change when you need to change.
- Consistency of Product: Delivering a quality, high-standard product keeps customers coming back. It's also important to receive third-party certifications that demonstrate the quality of your product.
These principles along with hustle and networking will help grow business. It may take some time, so patience is also important on the road to success.
Adam Wright is President, CEO and co-founder of Associated Graphics (AGI), the nation's leader in fleet, vehicle and environmental graphics.