Greenwich Towing is a very simple yet effective example of how to do internet marketing. The owner created a simple web site himself, using GoDaddy.com for hosting at a price of $4 a month. This is the way the owner, Steve, explained it:
What do people do when they break down? They think "Where am I?" and "I need a tow!". They type the name of the town and 'towing' into their phone: "Greenwich Towing", for example. And my site pops right up. I reserved the domain names 'greenwichtowing.com", 'portchestertowing.com', 'stamfordtowing.com' for about $10 each, and now I'm the first person they see when they type into Google. I get most of my business this way; sometimes more than I can handle.
Source: personal interview, November 2011, when my car broke down
Customer Buying Process
We can analyze this using the customer buying process:
- Stimulus: "My car broke down!"
- Search: people use their smart phones to do a Google search
- Buy: they verbally agree to buy on the spot once they reach the towing company on the phone
- Change in state: they and their car arrive safely in some place that can fix the car
Here the stimulus comes from the customer's experience. The towing company doesn't stimulate the demand.
This marketing strategy works when customers use Google to search. Other customers will have AAA or call their insurance companies or the roadside assistance service provided by their car's manufacturer. Other towing companies enter into long-term contracts to provide those towing services — that would be another marketing strategy for this kind of business.
Customers are stressed and in a hurry and not inclined to shop around.
Change in State
The customer wants to get home safely and get the car safely to some place it can be fixed. An alternative offering would be roadside assistance, where a mechanic tries to fix the car at the roadside.
The company spends $4 a month on web hosting, and about $10 for each domain it registers. Let's call that $60 a year. If they get one customer a month this way, the customer acquisition cost is $5 per customer. If they get one customer a day, that's only 17 cents a customer! If an average tow's price is $60, and the profit per tow is (say) $30, then the company gets a $30 return for a 17 cent investment, or 17,600% return!