A few weeks ago, this image flooded my LinkedIn feed:
It’s a very powerful concept – especially for the automotive industry. We all know that the average customer visits fewer dealerships prior to making a purchase than ever before. In fact, the number has dropped drastically in the last 10-15 years.1 But the problem doesn’t end there. Nearly 90% of vehicle shoppers are choosing to shop online rather than at dealerships and 78% of those shoppers choose to use third-party sites.2
The question we have to ask ourselves is, why?
Many dealers would blame technology or the Internet, but I believe the real problem is a failure to make customers’ shopping and buying experiences simple and fast.
The truth is, the internet and third-party websites are not killing dealership website and floor traffic. What’s killing dealership traffic is a failure to provide customer-centric marketing.
[bctt tweet="3 Reasons Why Customer-Centric Marketing is Key" username="JandLMarketing"]
Technology is not the problem – the problem exists in the dealerships themselves.
We’ve found that many dealers continue to do the opposite of what the consumer wants. Dealers want to give prospects limited information so that they must visit the dealership to find the information they need to purchase. The only way those prospects can get all of the information they want is to drive to the dealership for the age-old appointment and test drive.
This has led to customers seeking information from other sources.
As a customer, why would I show up to your dealership to find out what my payment might be? In what other industry is this acceptable? If you’re going to inconvenience your customers to get information that they need, they will seek out other sources and make their decision before visiting your dealership – if they ever do.
What is Customer-Centric Marketing?
Customer-centric marketing occurs when a company prioritizes the customer's needs and desires. Not only is the goal of customer-centric marketing to acquire high-quality customers, but also to keep them and build strong, lasting relationships. Brands that ignore customer-centric marketing as an option can seem tone-deaf and miss revenue options because audiences ignore the message.
Here's why you can't afford to ignore this marketing strategy for your auto dealership: because sites like Edmunds aren’t killing your showroom traffic. Your website/marketing is killing your showroom traffic because it doesn’t provide your potential customers with the information they need. It makes the customer shopping experience harder – not easier. So, they’re going to sources that make it simple.
By failing to provide every piece of information that your customer might need to purchase a vehicle in an up-front and simple manner, you will drive your customers away. They won’t be drawn to your showroom out of curiosity, they’ll find another dealership or third-party website that will give them the information they want and need.
- Customer-Centric Marketing Helps Align Company Goals
Customer-centric marketing requires companies to focus on the big picture and understand the customer's journey. Dealers need to understand how visitors interact with their brand so they can better communicate with their potential customers.
- A shopper learns about your dealership during a preliminary Google search
- She sees your Facebook adlater that week and clicks
- She visits your website and browses your inventory
- A few days later, she receives a letter from your dealership in the mail
- Then she gets an email from your dealership
- She walks into your showroom and buys a vehicle
“Dealerships that understand customer-centric marketing know that all of the marketing channels the customer interacted with was critical in making a sale.”
Dealerships that understand customer-centric marketing know that all of the marketing channels the customer interacted with was critical in making a sale. No one channel is responsible for the sale - all are necessary to give the customers the information they need to purchase a vehicle. By providing the information they need across your omni-channel, customer-centric marketing platforms, you will engage your customers with information they want through their preferred medium.
- Product-Centric Marketing is Vulnerable to Competitors
More and more companies are investing in technological development, which means new products constantly hit the market as "the next best thing."3
Instead of focusing on each product and every update, you can take those features and use them to help your customer-centric marketing strategy. For example, Subaru positions its brand as a safe solution for families. During their initial searches, many families check out the Subaru brand because it's perceived as safe, regardless of how its safety features actually stack up against its competitors.
This is a great example of engaging with vehicle shoppers in a competitive, yet engaging manner.
- Customer-Centric Storytelling Helps Dealers Connect with Customers
While you're likely to meet a few gearheads at your dealership who understand cars and the buying process, many buyers only visit a dealership every few years and don't understand common dealership lingo. Even if the customer is confident they're making the right car decision, the financial side of the purchase is intimidating.
Customer-centric storytelling doesn't focus on the technical aspects of car-buying and instead uses storytelling to paint a picture.4 It taps into the emotions of driving a new car and the joy that comes with a good experience. This means customer-centric marketing isn't just for your advertising programs or your sales team. It can be used wherever your dealership is involved.
Consider the customer’s wants and needs throughout every step of their buying journey – even after they’ve chosen a vehicle. Some customers avoid dealerships solely because of the pain-points that come with the financial side of the car-buying journey.5 How can you make this experience not just acceptable, but enjoyable?
How to Incorporate Customer-Centric Marketing into Your Dealership
If most dealerships are continuing to avoid open and transparent marketing, why not do what your competition won’t? Give your prospective customers all the information they want. Your targeted customers will appreciate your transparent, honest, convenient, and customer-centric information. Most dealerships do not currently have this type of reputation.
At J&L Marketing, we’ve come up with a unique strategy that boldly incorporates technology into a marketing campaign that’s designed to give your prospective customers everything they need to purchase a vehicle at your dealership. The idea is to give them power through a customer-centric, omni-channel marketing campaign – while you retain control.
This turn-key product, powered by LeadGen Technology allows customers to view your entire inventory (along with discounts and incentives), calculate their trade-in value/equity, select their preferred monthly payment, and more, so that they can find their dream vehicle at their ideal price – without having to compare prices at other dealerships or use third-party sites.
This strategy targets in-market buyers who have a high propensity to buy your make, markets to them early in their buying journey, and provides them everything they want in a vehicle shopping experience, faster and easier than any other dealership or third-party website.
In addition, my upcoming sneak-peek webinar will give viewers the chance to see our latest update that gives dealers like you even more control over each visitor’s shopping actions. Join me as I reveal:
- Why your BDC/sales staff isn’t closing as many online leads as they should
- How new online reporting will empower you to convert more leads into deals
- A real-time 360-degree view of car shoppers interacting with your online inventory including:
- Vehicles viewed
- Time spent viewing inventory
- Payment range, credit tier, and other financing details
- Trade-in value/equity
This type of innovative change to the vehicle shopping experience can give you the one-up you need to out-market your competition, increase showroom traffic, and sell more cars.
Customer-centric marketing isn't a plan that you can launch overnight. It requires you to invest resources and training to create a brand mentality. However, the investment is worth it to dealerships that are willing to put the customer first.