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.

But, as my younger readers can attest, this is no longer the case. Now, we get all of this info from other sources – when and how we want to.

As dealers, we have to recognize this technological force because it isn’t going to slow down. Our industry has changed and the buying journey for the average consumer no longer looks the same.

This is What is Missing in the Car Buying Journey

Consumers used to rely on us or the manufacturer, to give them the information they needed – like price, financing options, monthly incentives and trade-in value.

Usually, we’d get them this info through marketing and advertising. Our prospects relied on this advertising to inform them of what was available. As a result, everything we advertised consisted of features, benefits and offers. The only way consumers could learn more was to call or visit us at the dealership.

Over the last 100 years, dealers and the manufacturers had control over of all messaging and offers – not any more. The Internet stole this control and consumers began seeking information online that was previously only found at dealerships.

Because of this, we were forced to turn our focus towards website optimization and digital marketing, but this change of focus did not solve the problems.

Today, we still face the same issues and our circle of influence shrinks every day as we lose more control of the buying journey.

This is What We’ve Lost As A Result

The problem is, we never changed our messaging – we never changed what we were offering. We changed our marketing to different channels, but we never changed our message based on what consumers look for.

The pool of car buyers who pay attention to the offers and discounts we provide is shrinking fast because they can find the same offers and discounts without our help. Plus, they trust the other sources more… and usually get the info faster and easier without us.

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?

No wonder we’ve lost influence over the buying journey!

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.

These Are the Mistakes You Need to Avoid

We all know that car buyers visit a lot fewer stores today compared to ten to fifteen years ago.

The key to expanding our circle of influence and attracting more quality traffic is offering our prospects something they can’t refuse. Give them what they want!

From a consumer perspective, people continue to respond to great marketing for a few reasons (So, never abandon what works)…

  • 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 customer’s needs. Not being unique. Making customers work too hard.

How easy is it for your customers to get all the information they need and (more importantly) want?

To expand your influence over the car buying journey, consider focusing a large portion of your marketing efforts on avoiding these mistakes.

This is What You Need to Do to Rise Above the Noise

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 reverse this technological Internet force is to give them what they want… this is a theme I keep repeating for a reason. It’s our only choice.

Your 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 your prospects won’t want to miss out.

A successful advertising/marketing campaign should hit on the top reasons why consumers respond. You have an opportunity to appeal to the 98 percent of shoppers that normally never consider driving to your dealership or responding to your 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/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 your inventory. But they want to do it faster, better and easier than what you 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 our sites 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 is because they trust them more and it’s a better shopping experience.

They compare their experience with your dealership to 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 we want to differentiate our dealership from competitors, the task is clear – we must give consumers information they can’t get everywhere else.

This allows us to make unique advertising/marketing offers that other dealers and 3rd party sites can’t make. You have to provide it to them in a way that is more convenient and easier to use.

How to Expand Your Influence and Regain 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 we currently feel like we can get all that information is by bringing the shopper to the lot, but that’s not true… today’s technology allows us to track all of this information online – in real time! We have to engage with consumers earlier in the buying journey. 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.

If we are truly committed to creating a better car buying experience – it can’t start once they show up. It has to start with how we market and merchandise our products.

Dealers who are taking 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.