What makes a dealership successful? Hard work, dedication, and selling cars seems like the obvious answers. However, we should be examining why the consumer decides to buy a car, what prompted them to be in the market, and why they chose your dealership.
Successful marketing campaigns are what put these consumers in your dealership. Everything from SEO and SEM to digital advertising and direct mail is the lifeblood of automotive dealerships in 2021.
The main concern that a lot of dealers have regarding marketing campaigns stems from budgeting. Automotive marketing itself is not exorbitantly expensive. Mismanaging campaign budgets or relying too much on third-party services (Carvana, Autotrader, etc.) can cause monetary woes.
This article examines five of the best marketing techniques for automotive dealerships that are guaranteed to bring customers into your lot.
Why do I need to market my dealership?
You and I need to be honest with each other for a second; you are not the only dealership in your territory. With nearly 20,000 dealerships in the US, you may have five or ten dealerships within 20 miles of your lot. At a certain point, a giant sign or even a billboard will not be enough to catch the attention of a potential customer. You need to earn their attention and monopolize their time in your store.
This entire process starts before they set foot in your dealership. Sometimes, it begins before the consumer even knows that they are purchasing a car.
Digital marketing analyzes consumer data for patterns in their shopping behavior, serves ads related to the products they have been searching for, and directs them to where they can buy them. For example, Dan, who is not in the market to buy another car, watches a car-related YouTube video. He then falls down the rabbit hole of watching several other videos involving cars. Eventually, third-party providers will mine this data and generate ads that directly target his interests (sometimes down to the make and model of a specific vehicle). Within a matter of minutes, he is now in-market to purchase a brand new Corvette.
So which dealer is going to sell him the car he wants?
If you choose to neglect your marketing budget, it will be one of your rival dealerships a few blocks away. By the time you have realized that digital marketing is the key to survival in the modern automotive industry, Dan and thousands of other potential buyers will have passed up your dealership for someone else.
Now is the time to make your dealership stand out. The industry is constantly evolving; being an early adopter will make a difference in your profit margin. The best part is, you will not have to break the bank to do it.
1. Motion Catches Eyes – Intro to Video Advertising
Video and multimedia have become essential tools for businesses in the digital age. Many companies can no longer afford to neglect video and the benefits that it provides.
Automotive dealerships can benefit from video in a few different ways. Promoting their business through video on social media, using hyper-targeted paid advertising on platforms like YouTube or Snapchat, and building rapport with their online audience by showing off the dealership or cars. Using video to engage your audience is a guaranteed way to stick out from the crowd and bring traffic to your physical location and website.
Say we ignore measurable benefits (sales or traffic); from a public relations standpoint, video can help build or facilitate your reputation with the audience. If you come off as trustworthy, authentic, and friendly in your videos, people are more likely to visit your dealership.
Hiring an expensive production crew to create and share these videos is unnecessary. Something like a smartphone (or anything with basic video capabilities) and internet connection are the only tools needed for the job.
2. Newsworthy Events
As a public relations practitioner, promoting and hosting newsworthy events is my bread and butter. In my experience, people are always looking for something to do. If you can offer a compelling reason for them to leave the house, customers will come in droves.
A great place to start is hosting a car show. It engages the community by offering them a chance to participate and be a part of the show while also driving traffic to your physical location. It puts your lot in full view of potential buyers and costs little to nothing to host.
You can also host 4th of July events (in addition to other local holidays), parties, festivals, and even educational/safety seminars. All of these options are equally viable in how they promote your dealership.
Regardless of what you choose to do, promote it well. Announce to your community when the event is happening, its purpose, and ways to participate. I’ve found that having your story picked up by a radio or television network yields the best results.
3. Investing in SEO and SEM
SEO and SEM are often used interchangeably because of their similarity but have a fundamental difference in their approach.
SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s a marketing practice that involves increasing the quality and quantity of internet traffic to your website through organic search results. To those who may not be as tech-savvy, have no fear; this is not as complicated as it seems. Companies like Google, Yahoo, and Bing have algorithms to determine where a website lands on their search results pages. The position of your page is determined by its relevance to words searched. Your goal is to be the first search result when someone searches for car dealerships near me or a car service center near me. Optimizing keywords achieves this. The better or more searched a keyword is, the more your position on the results page will be. Our recommendation is to allocate part of your budget to hiring an SEO professional to help manage these efforts.
SEM stands for Search Engine Management. It uses paid strategies to improve your position on the search results page. Advertisers will often bid on specific keywords, which allows their ads to appear next to relevant search results. The benefit it provides is putting advertisements in front of potential buyers when they are ready to make purchases.
At Market Doctors, we have dedicated professionals and programs aimed at improving your SEO and SEM. We understand the importance of being #1 in the search results and have provided incredible results to our clients for many years.
4. Partnering with Local Businesses
Local businesses are a core pillar of your community. People trust them and go out of their way to support them financially. By partnering with local businesses, you gain access to invaluable benefits such as cross-promotion, co-sponsored events, and free promotion of your upcoming projects.
This symbiotic relationship between your business and theirs is free. Both of you receive an exponential growth in exposure to your brand and can drive traffic to each other in a variety of different ways.
Are you struggling to get people on your lot? Consider talking to the local body shops and service center near you. It may lead to much bigger opportunities in the future.
5. Online Review Campaigns
Buying a car can be a pleasant experience. Other times it can be a hassle and may cause some pushback from your customers. Whether the time in your store was top-tier or a catastrophic failure, customers are more inclined than ever to share their experience on social media or your reviews page. We live in a digital world where opinions reach across the globe and can affect the number of people who visit your lot or decide to conduct business with you.
You could always wait for reviews to trickle in from former customers, but this process is slow and inefficient. Only those who have amassed thousands of reviews could get by on customers organically finding their review page and taking the time to write something up.
The alternative to this is following up with every customer about their experience. Every dealer and salesperson has access to a CRM. CRMs are a valuable asset to follow leads and garner reviews from customers you would have otherwise forgotten.
If there is an incentive to get as many five-star reviews as possible, it should be improving your position on the search results page of search engines. Google loves to promote positively reviewed businesses over those with a bad reputation. The difference between your dealership appearing first versus one of your competitors could be within decimal points in your review score.
At the end of the day, which strategies you decide to use come down to the needs of your dealership. This information in this article is not an exhaustive list of marketing strategies. I encourage you to seek out more from other sources. Thinking out of the box has always been the best way to distinguish a business from the rest.
I recommend that you take a look at the products and services that Market Doctors has to offer. Market Doctors offers industry-leading marketing strategies for an affordable price. With over 20 years of experience in the automotive industry and an impressive roster of industry experts at your disposal, Market Doctors prescribes the best solutions for all of your problems. For more information, please visit our website at www.marketdoctors.com or contact us directly for a consultation.