The coming holiday season presents a unique challenge for dealerships, but also a significant opportunity.

Automotive News predicts a slump in the fourth quarter and recommends increasing marketing and incentives to combat the possible decrease in sales.1

Vehicle sales are down, but that doesn’t mean those in the auto industry should just give up on 2018. Over a five-year period, we’ve seen a rise in vehicle sales during the final months of the year so there’s still time to turn this trend around.


Holiday spending is expected to increase nearly five percent – this year3 – and it’s risen every year since 2009.Additionally, since 2013, November, December, and January have had the highest number of vehicle sales each year. Don’t you want a piece of the action?

Start Online – With Digital Marketing

Think With Google recently did a study on the 900+ digital interactions one consumer had before signing a lease for a new vehicle.5 They discovered that the average research timeline for a new car purchase can span months and within that time, countless “micro-moments” occur between a consumer and their devices – but five stand out as deciding moments in the shopping cycle.

These moments can be influenced – if you play your cards correctly.

A vehicle is rarely an impulse buy. People looking to buy a vehicle by the end of the year are starting their research now and they’re no longer loyal to a dealer or a brand.6

If shoppers are looking for vehicles during the October and November months, you can bet that they will make a purchase before the end of the year. And, if you’re not a betting person, then influence them to buy with offers and incentives, events, and advertisements that they can’t refuse.

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You need to get them early in their buying process, before they’ve made a decision, and long before they’ve visited another dealership. Because if you don’t influence them before then, you may never get the opportunity.

The key is to develop consistent and informative marketing from the beginning of their car-buying journey to the end. If you can accomplish this, you’ll have the reigns to a holiday marketing strategy that meets the needs of each customer – and you will sell more cars because of it.

The truth is, vehicle shoppers believe they can get better deals during the holidays. Events like Black Friday, Pre-Black Friday, and End of the Year sales are touted as the best times for vehicle sales by third-party sites like Edmunds – encouraging shoppers to take advantage of these sales!7

Take advantage of these mentalities with carefully targeted marketing and private sales. A good holiday marketing strategy will influence their micro-moments early in their car-buying journeys and funnel them through each micro-moment until they end up on your lot. Give them the answers they need to purchase their next vehicle from your dealership.

Make Sure Shoppers Find the Answers They Need

One Google study stated:

“Being there and useful in consumers’ initial auto searches leads directly to dealership visits. The brands that want to win sales on the lot need to first win these early micro-moments.”8

Google went so far as to say that these interactions influence shoppers’ decisions as much as (and possibly more than) a salesperson on a lot. Gaining this type of influence over your ideal customers is why your holiday marketing must engage vehicle shoppers throughout their journey – micro-moment by micro-moment.

Vehicle shoppers are trying to find answers. They want to know which vehicles are best, which of those vehicles will work for them, and which vehicles they can afford – and they start this research online. You have to be there to provide that information.

If they’re on Facebook, be on Facebook. If they’re on Google, make your information prevalent. How much more likely are they to visit your dealership this holiday season if you’ve been answering their questions and solving their pain points throughout every step of their journey?

Consider where your customers will be and what they will want. Then you must use that knowledge to market to them where they’re at, with what they want, in a way that will move them down your marketing funnel and into your dealership. If you market the right information at the right time, you will influence their decisions!

You’ll only be able to reach your customers every step of the way if your information is there every step of the way. Contextually relevant communication throughout each step of a buyer’s journey can only happen through omni-channel marketing – that’s display ads, social media ads, emails, direct mail, the in-store experience, and more.

Be Specific

If your marketing strategies haven’t had proven results in the past, don’t expect them to get results now. Even if your marketing strategies have worked in the past, there are probably newer, more innovative, and more effective marketing strategies that have been developed in the last year that can help you achieve even better results.

Consider VIN specific campaigns. This is a great way to get into the minds of your potential customers. As they shop, they’ll see your ads for vehicles they viewed. It’s an advanced technological capability that uses CRM data to automatically create paid search ads tailored to your shoppers’ search queries. It can be used to serve customized remarketing ads via display and Facebook based on what shoppers were looking at on your website.

It’s automating the personal touch. Most car ads are broad, showing a lot full of vehicles and talking about a sale. The VIN specific strategy allows you to serve ads that your targeted viewers already have a vested interest in via Facebook, Google search, Gmail, and even YouTube.

Properly timed, these ads turn shoppers into buyers. It will get them from their screen to your lot.

Don’t Waste Your Marketing Budget

If you’re going to spend marketing dollars (and you are), then the holidays are a great time to do so. For a couple months at the end of every year people think about gifts, treating themselves and each other, and spending money before the taxman gets it.

By the time they’ve made it through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, they’re exhausted and broke.

Don’t wait to implement your holiday marketing strategy. If they’re going to buy a car from someone, make sure it’s you.