Times are changing, technology is advancing with immense measures, and what used to be marketing has evolved into something bigger and greater.
There's a cause and effect relationship with technology and the world we work in; although marketing has basic mechanics, if you aren't keeping up with the advances, you could get left behind.
It feels like just a short time ago that we relied on our local news station or our daily newspaper for weather predictions, sports updates, and news reports. This is no longer the case. Today, we get all of this info from other sources - when and how we want to.
Automotive dealers need to recognize this technological force because it isn't going to slow down. The automotive industry has changed and the buying journey for the average consumer no longer looks the same.
Why Car Dealers' Ads Are Not as Relevant as They Should Be
Car buyers used to rely on car dealers or the manufacturer, to give them the information they needed – like price, financing options, monthly incentives and trade-in value.
Usually, dealers would get them this info through marketing and advertising. Car shoppers relied on this advertising to inform them of what was available. As a result, everything they advertised consisted of features, benefits and offers. The only way consumers could learn more was to call or visit their local dealership.
Over the last 100 years, dealers and the manufacturers had control over all messaging and offers - not anymore. The Internet stole this control and consumers began seeking information online that was previously only found at dealerships.
Because of this, car dealers were forced to turn their focus towards website optimization and digital marketing, but this change of focus did not solve the problems.
Today, dealers still face the same issues, while their circle of influence shrinks every day as they lose more control of the buying journey.
The problem is, dealers either have been slow or have not changed their message - dealers never changed what they were offering. Dealers changed their marketing to different channels, but they never changed the message based on what consumers look for today.
The pool of car buyers who pay attention to the offers and discounts dealers provide is shrinking fast because they can find the same offers and discounts without a car dealer's help. Plus, they trust the other sources more... and usually get the info faster and easier.
This Marketing Message Is Not as Relevant As It Used To Be
So, why are digital marketing, direct mail, TV commercials, and radio spots still filled with information like lease and APR offers – especially when these lease and APR offers are the same offers that every competing dealership (same brand) is offering?
We live in a day and age where dealerships are faced with a game that only a few can play – the survival of the fittest. Whoever evolves their dealerships to meet the needs of consumers fastest and best, wins.
Become More Relevant by Giving Car Buyers Exactly What They Want
Car buyers visit a lot fewer stores today compared to ten to fifteen years ago.
The key for car dealers to expand their circle of influence and attract more quality traffic is offering prospects something they can’t refuse. Give them what they want!
From a consumer perspective, people continue to respond to the basic principles of successful marketing for a few reasons.
The perception of exclusivity – Consumers love something that is exclusive to them and that others cannot receive.
There’s a believable call to action or reason for them to enroll and engage.
Urgency always suggests that the offers are too good to offer long-term or to the general public. This can create a “fear of missing out (FOMO)”. People don’t want to miss out on deals.
There are also marketing mistakes we want to avoid such as... Failing to address our customers’ needs. Not being unique. Making customers work too hard.
The Question Every Dealership Should Be Asking Is...
How easy is it for your customers to get all the information they need and (more importantly) want?
To expand their influence over the car buying journey, dealers must consider focusing a large portion of their marketing efforts on avoiding these mistakes.
Stay Ahead of the Marketing Game
The easiest way to make customers an offer they absolutely can’t refuse is to guarantee them a result they absolutely want!
The only way to take advantage of this technological Internet force and the huge opportunity it gives dealers is to give consumers what they want... this is a theme I keep repeating for a reason. It's a dealer's only choice because the Internet has already won.
Advertising and marketing has to become more exclusive and believable, and it must include a strong call to action – all while creating an urgency that ensures prospects won’t want to miss out.
A successful marketing campaign should hit on the top reasons why consumers respond. Consider appealing to the 98 percent of shoppers that normally don't respond to traditional advertising.
It starts with marketing to an exclusive in-market audience and introducing them to information that is not for the general public (create tremendous exclusivity). It has to motivate them to go take action through a call to action or offer that solves their pain and guarantees them the result they want most.
Yesterday's advertising and marketing offers that focused heavily on incentives should be replaced with advertising/marketing that offers the information buyers want - faster, quicker and more of it.
Today’s car buyer wants to interact with the inventory. But, they want to do it faster, better and easier than what most dealers give them now. They want to quickly and efficiently adjust monthly payments and prices on the fly, they want this information to include their trade-in value, equity, and credit tier.
Compare that experience to the status quo. Most dealerships do not provide all this or (if they do) it is done in a way that is inconvenient. No wonder the average consumer only stays on a dealership site for an average of 3-4 minutes!
Give them what they truly want and consumers will no longer have to bounce from one site to another in order to discover this information. They should be able to get all of the info they want in one place.
The reasons most consumers invest the majority of their shopping time on 3rd party sites are that they trust them more and it’s a better shopping experience.
They compare dealership experience with companies like Amazon – not the dealer down the street.
The Internet has opened multiple new marketing channels and provides a lot of great data and insight, but it has also come at a cost.
Third party sites are saturated with commoditized inventory and pricing. This creates an environment of razor thin profit margins and makes it much more difficult for dealers to differentiate themselves from competitors.
If car dealers want to differentiate their dealership from competitors, the task is clear – they must give consumers information they can’t get everywhere else.
This allows dealers to make unique marketing offers that other dealers and 3rd party sites can’t make. Dealers have to provide it to them in a way that is more convenient and easier to use.
Amplify Your Influence and Reclaim Control
Oftentimes, dealers I talk to prefer for people to come into the dealership because it allows them to control the sales process and handle objections.
They want to walk the lot with the customer and find out if they’re interested in new or used, if they plan to finance or lease, what type of vehicle they’re interested in, which vehicles they spend the most time looking at, what type of down payment (if any), what credit tier they might think they’re at, if they’re willing to trade-in a vehicle, the details for that trade-in, their payoff equity, and more.
The only way car dealers currently feel like they can get all that information is by bringing the shopper to the lot, but that's not true... today’s technology allows dealers to track all of this information online - in real time!
Dealers must engage with consumers earlier in the buying journey and be willing to meet with them where they want, and that's frequently online. If not, they sell themselves! Dealers who do this are expanding their influence over consumer buying decisions and regaining control of the sales process.
Dealers who do this will attract more buyers because they are giving them what they absolutely want… convenience, time savings, hassle free shopping, etc.
Being truly committed to creating a better car buying experience means it can't start once they show up - it has to start with how car dealers market and merchandise their products.
Dealers who take advantage of these marketing forces are doubling and tripling the amount of website visitors’ time on site to seven to twelve minutes and working three times more leads than the average dealer who continues to advertise status quo marketing messages.