Dear Reader,

In all likelihood, this is not how you prefer to be addressed. You’re not alone. Because of this, personalized marketing has never been more valuable.

The automotive industry has recently seen a severe dip in customer loyalty and an increase in defection. The retention rate of the average dealership is less than 25%. And, while it’s important to utilize the latest marketing trends to increase customer retention, every dealer must be allocating advertising dollars towards conquest customers to refill their customer base on a regular basis.

That said, each type of customer has different motives, preferences, and concerns. You can’t conquest customers from other dealerships with the same marketing that you use for your current or former customers! They’re different groups of people with different motives for their actions.

How to Market to Current and Prospective Customers Uniquely Click To Tweet

Dealerships rely on their marketing to bring in current, previous, and prospective customers on a day to day basis. So, the question you must ask yourself is: How can you make your marketing stand out above the rest and drive more traffic to your showroom?

It has to start by being personal

Consider Coca-Cola. The soda giant began a marketing campaign in Australia where they utilized the power of the first name. By adding popular first names to their labels, the company sold 250 million named bottles and cans in a nation with under 23 million people.1

So what can we learn from this campaign? While a letter addressed to “FirstName” might have the same intention as a bottle of Coke with the customer’s name on it, dealers are missing something if they think this type of marketing will evoke the emotional response they’re hoping for. Dealers can learn from Coca-Cola’s innovation in personalized marketing by considering how to bring personalization to their marketing in ways that it has never been done before. No one had ever thought to put random names and labels on their cans and bottles before, but Coca-Cola had an idea and tried it and saw results beyond what they had ever imagined. This is the power of personalized marketing.

Personalization in today’s world can be accomplished by incorporating only information that is important to the recipient. Personalization done right will differentiate between previous and prospective customers by addressing their different car-buying emotions and outlooks and give them the feeling that they are valued by your dealership.

Discover the motivations

Your marketing needs to speak to your audience – this is basically the key to successfully marketing. So why is it that dealerships are so willing to send the same marketing messages and invitations to multiple different groups of people? Why would it make sense to send the same or similar marketing to people who have never visited your dealership that you would to loyal customers? What about inactive customers? These types of vehicle shoppers have different personas and motivations.

That said, they probably do have some similarities. If customer retention at the average dealership is less than 25% then you can guess that most shoppers are considering defection – whether it’s from your dealership or someone else’s. They’re spending most of their shopping time online and deciding on their ideal vehicle before visiting a dealership. Sixty-five percent will switch brands with their next vehicle. And, whether they’re a current, prospective, or inactive customer, they’re most likely to trust family, friends, third-party websites, media reviews, manufacture websites, and (lastly) sales people at dealerships.

Remember, buying a vehicle is not something a shopper does every day. This is a huge investment and they’re likely to feel both excitement and anxiety. You want to make sure your marketing builds trust, encourages a relationship with them, and puts down their defenses.

But the similarities stop here.

Because previous customers have purchased from you in the past – whether this was recently or many years ago – your marketing must be presented in such a way that they’re motivated to come back. They might be more motivated by familiarity than they are by other factors. Your marketing should make them feel valued. Remember, it’s significantly more profitable for you to keep a current customer than to gain a new one. Consider how you can convince your current customers to return to your dealership. You might want to use the power of familiarity by offering exclusive customer discounts and V.I.P. treatment. After all, they bought from you in the past. If you can offer them an experience that’s better than the one they had at your dealership the last time they visited, then you’ll likely catch their attention. The last time they were at your dealership, they drove away in a new vehicle. That’s a pretty good experience! If you can top that with special customer incentives, then you’ll keep their business and maybe even produce a lifetime customer. They’ll know where they can get fair treatment, special deals, and quality service.

Conquest prospects are trickier. You don’t know them so you might not know their motivations as much. You’ll need to bank on their dissatisfaction with previous dealerships or their current vehicle. If you can convince them that they will receive better deals and service at your dealership, you’re in business. This is easier said than done though. Remember, they don’t want or need your marketing. They can find all the information they need online. You have to give them a reason to be interested in your marketing. You’re interrupting their day with your offers and incentives so you’d better have a good reason and a great offer in order to convince them that they are important to you and not just another name on a list. With previous customers, you always have the ability to pull on the emotions of a previous relationship. They’ve bought from you before and you appreciate their business. You want to keep their business and you care about their satisfaction with your service and their vehicle. With a prospective customer, you have no “in”. There’s nothing to recommend you to that shopper besides your own marketing. So consider how you can speak to their emotions in a way that intrigues them and makes them feel unique.

Be intentional

Personalized marketing today is more than a first name and it’s more than the right copy and incentives. It’s about showing a genuine interest and desire in your current or prospective customer’s needs and wants. You don’t have to write individual letters to accomplish this, but it is important to speak directly to their motivations. You might think that you are accomplishing this already. Maybe you’ve already split your conquest and previous customer lists. But if your version of “personalized marketing” to these shoppers is the difference between a valued customer greeting and a “you’ve been selected” greeting, you’ll miss your market and fail to stand out amongst the competition.