2017 is just around the corner, and for automotive dealers, it’s a great time to assess what worked (and what didn’t) in the past year and make the right adjustments to set yourself up for success next year. Car buyers constantly change their expectations and behaviors, and it’s up to dealerships to tweak their marketing accordingly to stay relevant and be successful.
So, if you’re wondering what your dealership needs to start doing regarding marketing, and what to stop, here is our advice about what automotive dealers need to know.
START – Engaging Consumers on Social Media
According to recent figures from Automotive Social Media Trends, about 75 percent of car buyers say that internet research was the most helpful medium when choosing a dealership to visit. By internet research, we’re talking social media and review sites. Also, 68 percent of customers looking just for automotive service said the same. If you’re not meeting your potential customers on social media and digital channels, 2017 is the time to start.
STOP – Promoting Too Aggressively
The era is over for aggressive sales at car dealerships. Consumers are simply tired of being sold “at” or “to,” mainly because they find it tiresome and disingenuous. Instead, they now prefer to be educated and informed so they can make the best possible decision. If you’re not already, now is the time to make the shift from aggressive sales and marketing tactics, to consultative and educational.
START – Listening to Your Customers
Feedback can come in many ways, and if you’re not already taking it into account, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. This can include surveys, online reviews, and social media chatter that are taking place around your dealership. Gather as much feedback, sentiment, and advice as possible to improve both your marketing and customer service.
STOP – Getting Defensive
If you’re like most other dealerships, occasionally, you’re going to deal with an upset customer or two. Far too many get defensive and paint the customer as the bad guy while failing to acknowledge their shortcomings. Don’t make this mistake. Even if the customer is partly to blame, there’s almost always a kernel of truth that you can put to good use in the future. Use the situation to let them know that you came up short, what you’ll do to correct it, and try and turn them around. If you do so, they won’t just be a loyal customer, but a voice for your brand because of how well you handled adversity.
START – Apologizing for Mistakes
As we just mentioned, not owning up to wrongdoing can be just the excuse a customer needs to avoid returning to your lot for good. Many times, customers can deal with mistakes, but what they can’t deal with is if you’re disingenuous or try to “sweep things under the rug.” Maybe you’ve done it once or twice this past year because it seemed expedient, but ending the practice now and simply apologizing for mistakes will pay huge dividends in the long run. Especially if you take the right steps to turn things around.
STOP – Being Pushy
Every dealership has certain numbers and quotas to hit, and one side effect of that can be staff that comes across as “pushy” in person to customers. You might feel the need to “always be closing,” but the result will be turning off customers. What they’re looking for is a long-term partner who will cater to their needs during their in-person visit. So, don’t be pushy, simply get to know your customers, what their wishes are, and offer the best products and solutions on a consistent basis.
STOP – Doing Things the Same Way Over and Over
Not doing things the way they’ve always been done doesn’t necessarily mean change for change’s sake. But it’s the automotive sales industry, so there’s a tendency to follow the same age-old practices. It could use a shake-up here and there. Don’t be afraid to try new tactics when it comes to marketing, creative, or sales methodologies. Maybe dealerships employ the same tactics, so you might just strike on something new and unique that sets you apart from the pack of competitors.
START – Using Radio
With all the (sometimes over justified) hype around digital marketing and social media, you shouldn’t forget about radio. People are often actually in their cars when they’re listening to the radio, so commercials about buying a new car or getting serviced will resonate with them directly. And although you might be using radio now, it’s a good time to take stock of how you’re advertising and what you can do to make your ads more effective.
STOP – Sounding Like Every Other Dealership
One of the big issues with car dealership ads is that there’s a certain sea of sameness to the way they sound and feel. The result is that very few standout. In fact, most dealership ads take a hard sell approach and push the cars so boldly that it can turn customers away. So, when you think about how to advertise for 2017, take the tact of educating your customers and wooing them with personality and charm. They’ll be much more willing, and comfortable, to walk onto your lot.
Don’t be afraid to make some changes by putting some of our tips for automotive dealers in 2017 into place. By doing things like ditching the typical “user car salesman” routine, and integrating your marketing with social media and radio, you’ll stand a much better chance of achieving your goals in 2017.