When you look at your competitive landscape, you are most likely faced with an increasing amount of competition. Not only do you face competition from the other dealerships in the vicinity of your store, but you also battle a crowded service market, with many customers showing preference to independent shops.
Now, complicating the situation further is the rise of new digital competitors, businesses operating almost wholly in the online world, encroaching on even more of your market space.
While this might seem like all bad news, the reality is that when you learn to differentiate yourself in your market, you can succeed no matter how crowded the space becomes.
Today, we’ll take a look at the problems a crowded market creates, the way digital marketing is further changing this landscape, and three key steps you can take to set your dealership apart from the crowd. The result is that you can feel more confident in your business's future, regardless of what new competition arises.
The problems of a crowded market are not new. Regardless of what product is being sold, battling a crowded market has always made the landscape favorable to buyers and challenging for sellers.
Today, however, this crowded market is becoming more complex than ever. Age-old tactics, such as mailing direct flyers to customers' doors, are no longer enough to push the needle forward.
This is largely due to the fact that customers are demanding information in new ways. With the rise of digital shopping, customers have created ingrained habits, and those habits are now spilling over into the car buying and servicing space.
This has created a crowded but changing market where there is a remarkable amount of opportunity for companies willing to change.
If you are similar to most dealerships, you have most likely historically relied heavily on promoting weekend or monthly specials through a variety of marketing channels.
While this tactic may have served you well, you may have started to notice a decline in your ROI for this marketing strategy.
That's because the internet is rapidly changing how people shop for and buy cars, as well as how they find where they will take their car in for services.
In fact, more than 90 percent of U.S. car buyers use the internet to research for their next purchase.
With the bulk of customers turning to the internet to proactively search for vehicles and services, dealerships have a unique opportunity to outpace the competition in this online sphere — and it all begins with differentiation.
With customers turning to the internet to begin their quest for finding a new car or a nearby oil change, it is no longer a question of whether you should invest in digital marketing. It is now, instead, a question of how you differentiate yourself in this space.
Realistically, your competition is most likely already investing in digital marketing strategies.
However, while the online space is crowded, it is filled with good intentions and failed attempts. Therein lies your ticket to success. Using three key steps, you can build a strategy that leaves your competitors behind.
As dealerships became savvy to the fact that customers are turning to the internet to seek out information, many responded by quickly putting together a website and funneling marketing spend into online ads.
However, what resulted has often been a low-quality experience for the customer. Many sites are difficult to navigate, landing pages don’t make sense, and ads are passed over because their information is irrelevant.
One of the best ways to stand out in your market is to build a better experience focused on a website that is intuitive, helpful, and well planned. This must be paired with customized landing pages that are matched to relevant ads.
What was once a flyer advertising a weekend sale now needs to become a highly targeted, personalized ad that sends customers to a page that quickly outlines the information they seek and makes it simple to convert them to interested buyers.
For example, when potential customers are looking online for information on financing for a 2021 Toyota Tacoma truck, they should be served a personalized ad that showcases your current financing specials. From here, they should land on a custom landing page that provides the same information and invites them to chat with a financing agent at your dealership or to fill out a form to be sent further information. The form should be intuitive, auto-filling information and making it simple to convert. If they opt to chat in, your agent should immediately be provided with their information and query, creating a seamless experience for the customer.
Marketing is an ongoing process. It requires you to serve up information to your potential customer at periodic intervals.
The good news is that with the power of today’s detailed data, you can improve the cadence at which you provide information to potential buyers.
Think about Amazon and how relevant it is in its marketing. It almost feels as if it's listening in on your thoughts, and it’s highly effective.
You need to know what your shoppers are interested in and what actions they take or don’t take. Your marketing should then continually adjust to ensure you are providing the right information to customers at the right time.
To create such a marketing strategy, you have to learn how to access critical data and feed that back into your digital marketing tactics. Otherwise, you will simply be throwing darts blindly at a board, hoping something sticks.
Going back to the example above, if a potential buyer landed on your website and researched financing options for the Toyota Tacoma but wasn’t quite interested in committing yet, you wouldn’t simply give up. Instead, you would look for the chance to target this same potential buyer again with a customized offer at just the right time. At 10 p.m., the same potential buyer is on the phone, toggling between looking at Toyota Tacomas and surfing that Facebook feed. Right then and there, you serve a Facebook ad, showcasing a limited special on the exact make, model, and color of Toyota Tacoma the shopper wants.
This is just one of many ways you can serve up information to your customers in a timely manner, learning how to read their minds through the use of data.
Finally, the last step in differentiating yourself in your market is to communicate with the leads you receive from your digital marketing strategy across multiple channels without missing a beat.
This starts with creating a reporting dashboard that tracks every interaction shoppers make with your staff and via your landing pages.
This allows your sales staff to understand some key metrics that will improve communication. For example, all of the following information should be readily available to your sales and financing team:
- How long each shopper has viewed your online inventory
- What the shopper is considering trading in
- How much the shopper is willing to put down
- What the shopper's credit tier is
- What equity the shopper has
- What the shopper's desired payment range is
- Which vehicles the shopper has spent the most time researching
- Whether the shopper wishes to purchase or lease
Additionally, every call should be recorded with detailed notes taken to create a robust data set on any potential buyer.
All of this information makes it possible for staff to create a seamless communication loop where customers feel heard and understood. Nothing is worse than a customer who has filled out an online form and has chatted with an online agent, coming in to visit your dealership, only for your staff to start over from ground zero. This is a frustrating and stilted experience.
Customers expect their information to flow from one channel to the next. Meeting this expectation can boost your dealership past the competition.
The reality is that as more and more buyers look to the internet to make their purchasing decisions, many dealerships are going to be left behind.
While it is challenging to set yourself apart in such a crowded space, there is a huge amount of opportunity for those who invest their dollars wisely and intelligently, starting today.
As you look at your market, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my competitors doing online?
- Where are their greatest weaknesses?
- What is my current digital strategy?
- Where are my greatest weaknesses?
- How can I create a plan that addresses my weaknesses and fills in the gaps my competition is leaving?
Through a quick analysis of your competitors, you can begin to see where the opportunity lies. From here, it is only a matter of building the right digital marketing strategy to take advantage of those chances for differentiation.
Differentiating yourself in a crowded market is not simple, especially as customers’ expectations only continue to increase. If you are still working with outdated technology and are sending potential buyers to a cumbersome website, it is time to make a change.
At J&L Marketing, we can set you up for success with our virtual sales platform. We can help you with all of the following and more:
- Creating a streamlined website with meaningful inventory
- Improving your online customer experience with intuitive forms and chat channels
- Building a powerful dashboard that feeds customer data directly to your team
- Implementing digital sales events that target interested buyers
- Harnessing the power of data to create intelligent marketing strategies
- Improving the return on your investment of ad spend
The result is that no matter how crowded your market becomes, your business won’t be adversely affected. Instead, you will lead the pack, taking advantage of the power of a changing space.
To learn more about how we can help, reach out for a consultation with our team. We will be happy to look over your strategy and provide you with advice on how you can better leverage your business’ strengths to leave the competition behind.