I keep hearing about the new normal and brand new world when it comes to marketing a dealership. When I do, I chuckle because nothing about this is new. The truth is that great engagement principles have long existed and the online, engagement-rich marketing world is no longer in its infancy. Are you profiting?
You’ve probably been learning about and reading about and maybe even implementing engagement marketing (social, digital, web, content, video) for some time. The so-called new normal has been the norm for a while now, even if you aren’t profiting from it quite yet.
This month, let’s focus on what that normal is in a growing engagement economy. An engagement economy, as recently described by Marketo’s CEO Steve Lucas, is one where everyone and everything is connected. Let’s face it, we’ve discussed on the MIADA site before how your buyers are connecting with you long before a foot steps on your lot, how they are talking to peers, family and trusted advisers about your cars, and how they are engaging with the larger community on social networks and review sites. Your buyers are more informed and opinionated than ever before.
Engaging with your buyer throughout the process and, most importantly, after the purchase can create raving fans that drive sales. Here are a few tips:
- Car buyers are often buying experiences. Your buyers are looking for vehicles that provide a needed or wanted experience. Describe and showcase your vehicles using experiential words and phrases. Your videos should show how the experience of the vehicle is perfect for a lifestyle. It’s not difficult to describe the perfect pairing of a growing family and a sedan or SUV on your lot. Engaging your prospective buyer in the experience is everything.
- Continue to market to buyers throughout the lifecycle. In my travels, I’ve spoken to many dealers who said that much of their business came, in the past, from word of mouth, but that percentage was diminishing. Here’s a news flash: it doesn’t have to! Word of mouth is still as relevant and powerful as ever, but it’s morphed into something bigger and badder. If you continue to engage with your buyer during and especially after the sale, you can harness digital word of mouth. Give them tools to easily share your number, Facebook page or Instagram account. Ask them to post their story. Tell them to submit a photo and offer monthly prizes for those who do submit a photo. Touch them monthly with a value-added enews that reminds them of why your dealership was great and how much you value their business. It’s a whole lot cheaper to retain current customers and have them rave about you to their friends and family than to acquire a brand new customer who has never heard of you.
- Don’t press them for referrals, testimonials or anything else if you haven’t engaged with them. This is a personal pet peeve of mine: asking me for referrals or a testimonial or for a service contract when you haven’t even given me the time of day since I signed the paperwork. Grrrrr. One of the very special things about independent auto dealers should be their innate ability to connect with the buyer on their lot! YOU, dealer, are in unique and enviable position, just by virtue of being smaller (usually) and embedded in the community, to be able to develop key relationships with your buyers. These are relationships that, with a little care and feeding, will turn a buyer into a raving fan. You should not make the ask if you have not engaged with the buyer in a valuable and meaningful way.
The engagement economy isn’t going away. People expect it their way every day and they expect it in an engaging format that is tailored to their needs. That may sound like a tall order, but by listening and engaging every step of the way you can reap the benefits and sell more cars.
Lee Brogden Culberson
Certified Inbound Marketer, Muscle Car Aficianado
Partner, Professional Mojo Marketing