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Tag Archive: Marketing Strategies

Laura Madison

Using Social Media to Eliminate the Car Salesman Stereotype

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Let’s face it; the public’s perception of a car salesperson is not pretty. Salespeople are regarded as sleazy, quick-talking, plaid-loving “professionals.” The negative stereotype was formed in a time when salespeople held all the cards—a time when information regarding pricing, the car-buying process, and the product was largely unavailable to consumers. Today, the consumer has the ability to research all aspects of car shopping and the industry is becoming increasingly transparent. The behavior that earned automotive salespeople this reputation has almost vanished, but this negative perception still plagues the automotive industry.

So let’s transform it.

Many dealerships today are staffed by millennials, veterans, automotive enthusiasts and people who are genuinely as interested in helping their buyer make a good decision as they are in making a paycheck. Car salespeople today are genuine, likable people. Our best way to communicate this to the public is by using social media to introduce the real people of our business. We can do this by allowing salespeople to contribute to dealership social media channels. Allowing salespeople to participate in the online movement is both empowering and innovative. You can encourage salespeople to do simple things that show they are helpful, caring resources rather than hungry, front-door vultures. For example, a salesperson could film a quick video off a smartphone of new features on a redesigned model or write up a quick social post that includes tips for the best test drive.

If salespeople can begin to brand themselves, provide guidance and context, and show that they are caring people, they have the opportunity to build themselves apart from the shadow of this terrible stereotype.

Beyond the Salesperson

Social media is a portal that allows us to revise negative perceptions even beyond those of salespeople’s. Customers are all online gathering information and doing research before they ever walk into a showroom; why can’t dealerships begin to be the ones to provide this valuable information to their local car buyers?

Dealerships could use Facebook pages to provide answers to frequently asked questions or highlight product comparisons, instead of using them (often unsuccessfully) as an advertising platform. Providing value and sharing information about the product allows people to make real connections to the dealership and the cool things they sell.

These are only a few examples of how dealers can use social media to make people more comfortable walking into the showroom. Social platforms provide an incredible avenue of communication that could transform the way the public perceives the automotive industry. The tools and the audience are online; it’s just a matter if the automotive world is finally going to make a move and take action.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/09/using-social-media-to-eliminate-the-car-salesman-stereotype/

Jody DeVere

Three Quick Tips for Marketing to Women

In automobile center

One of the basics of marketing to women is that marketing (in the traditional sense), is just one step. You can create a fantastic advertisement or marketing promotion, even incorporate compelling features based on feedback and input from women, but if the experience at the dealership is uncomfortable or stressful, you won’t get the sale.

In their book, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?, co-authors Brian & Jeffrey Eisenberg help marketers understand how to deal with the reality that the customer is in control. They suggest becoming your own customer and going through your own dealership buy process. Pretend that you’re a prospect just at the beginning of a purchase, searching for information. What search terms would you use? What stores would you visit? What questions would you ask the salesperson? Then, how does your business line up to this?

Dealerships that want to succeed must take every interaction into account and understand that for today’s consumers, it’s action not words that motivate. (Especially when it comes to women, who make 80% of the purchasing decisions.)

“The experience becomes the brand,” say the authors, “…it’s about experience… theirs”, and I couldn’t agree more.

According to the authors, like cats, today’s consumers are independent, unpredictable and finicky but many marketers are still approaching them as if, like Pavlov’s dog, all they have to do is create a compelling message. However delivering an outstanding experience for women is the best marketing of all.

Three Quick Tips:

1. Be Patient:

Women consider how a vehicle is going to fit into their long-term lifestyle before making a purchase. They’re a lot more cautious and careful than men are and usually take longer to make their decision. They’re going to buy a car they’re happy with for years. Refrain from high pressure closing tactics, be patient and don’t rush her process.

2. Listen:

Women buyers like to tell “their whole story” to sales people. Having outstanding listening skills help build a relationship, understand her lifestyle car buying needs and create a friendly, enjoyable experience.

3. Trust:

Women have become nearly every family’s chief purchasing officer. She looks for a salesperson who wants to be a part of her buying process, who shares her values regarding honesty, respect and trust.

According to a study called “Elevated Expectations: The New Female Value Equation,” 97 percent of women expect good customer service everywhere they shop. Eighty-three percent buy more when in a store with good customer service. The study also found that 89 percent of women choose one store over another, with similar merchandise and prices, if it offers better customer service.

When women have bad customer service experiences, 80 percent say they will not go back to that store, even if it was just one bad encounter. And 94 percent say they will tell other people about the bad experience. Women expect “Nordstrom-quality” service everywhere they shop, but they rarely find it.

There is great opportunity for dealerships to raise the bar by focusing on how to improve the experience of women customers and increase their dealership’s positive “brand image,” grow market-share and increase positive word-of-mouth, both on and offline.


Jody DeVere is the CEO of AskPatty.com and a new guest contributor to the Up To Speed blog.  Through AskPatty.com, Jody provides automotive education to women consumers and certification and training for automotive retailers on how to attract, sell, retain and market to women. She is also a featured subject matter expert on NCM OnDemand, NCM Associates’ new virtual training and communications platform.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/09/three-quick-tips-for-marketing-to-women/

Laura Madison

A Personal Brand: Why Automotive Salespeople Should Go For It

Personal Brand

A personal brand is an incredibly powerful tool for salespeople to increase visibility with prospective clients and increase sales, so why aren’t more salespeople taking action? Perhaps because automotive salespeople do not realize how creating and maximizing a personal brand can solve two important challenges they face. Here are two problems having a strong personal brand can solve:

Challenge #1 – Leads

A common complaint among car salespeople is there are too few leads to keep them busy. A number of factors can be blamed for this complaint; slow phone traffic, a quiet season, or minimal walk-in showroom traffic.

How a personal brand can solve this challenge:

A personal brand is an opportunity for salespeople to come out of obscurity. Salespeople can use social media sites like Facebook and YouTube to promote themselves and their role selling cars to begin to gain local visibility. Participating on social platforms allows salespeople to connect with prospective customers and ultimately motivate them through the front door. Social media is also a phenomenal way for salespeople to build and maintain relationships with previous customers, so they’ll never forget who to refer and work with on the next purchase.

Challenge #2 – Differentiation

Differentiation may be the largest problem a salesperson faces. Whether the challenge is an inability to differentiate their Toyota store from the one down the street, or the Toyota Camry from the Honda, or differentiate themselves from other salespeople on staff, differentiation is an enormous salesman struggle.

How a personal brand can solve this challenge:

By creating and using a personal brand salespeople are building value in themselves. They are introducing themselves to prospective buyers and utilizing a platform to speak with customers genuinely, on a human-to-human level. An opportunity for an automotive salesperson to speak with prospects about what differentiates himself, his store, and the product is invaluable.

A personal brand puts a salesperson’s face in front of a prospect and begins building trust and relationship. By the time that customer comes into the dealership, he will know how to ask for and recognize his automotive professional and online connection. Creating a quick video, for example, to follow up an incoming internet lead can be an extremely powerful differentiator. If the customer submitted leads to five stores, the salesperson maximizing personal branding will likely be the only who has used something like video to communicate, and begin to build trust with, this customer. Building this type of value can not only earn a sale, but also make a customer fiercely loyal in the future.

In summary, a personal brand can help salespeople create a pipeline outside the walls of the dealership and build value in themselves, their dealership, and their product. That should be enough motivation to begin encouraging salespeople to create a strong personal brand on social media, so get to it!

UV Training

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/a-personal-brand-why-automotive-salespeople-should-go-for-it/

Laura Madison

4 Reasons Why Video is Your Fiercest Weapon

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Today, we can find social media participation in nearly every corner of the automotive industry; dealerships are active on Facebook, automakers are sharing images on Instagram, even salespeople have joined the movement tweeting and posting trying to win more business. It seems to be clear: social is not optional. However, even with all this progression in the social realm, the automotive industry is still missing one key component in social presence: video. Video has the most incredible opportunity for visibility, creating connection and building trust, but it remains the least utilized medium by our industry.

Think about yourself for a moment. How many videos have you watched this week alone? Chances are, at least a couple. Have you seen the video of the Nascar driver dressing in disguise and scaring the used car salesman on a test drive? Video is a powerful medium that people simply enjoy engaging with and sharing. For these reasons, video has the potential to become your fiercest marketing weapon, creating visibility and leads for your dealership. To be successful on social you must work video into your master (marketing) plan.

So why is video your fiercest weapon?

1) Our customers prefer it. IT’S EXCITING!! It’s visually stimulating and interesting. Video is engaging and easy to tune into. Our brain also processes video far better than audio alone or simple text. People remember 50% of what they watch compared to only 10% of what they read.

2) Video gives you the opportunity to communicate your message clearly. The visual element of video allows you to communicate non-verbally with things like facial expressions and tone. It was Tom Hopkins who said, “selling is the transfer of enthusiasm supported by conviction.” Video is the perfect medium to transfer enthusiasm with so many verbal and non-verbal elements at work: tone, body language, facial expression, and volume. Combine this clear and effective communication with how much people like to consume video, and you have pure marketing gold.

3) The Internet’s heavy players recognize the importance of video and favor it as a type of content. YouTube has Google behind it, making it an extremely strong tool for organic search engine optimization. This will aid in appearing towards the top of any relevant automotive keyword search in your area. Another heavy player in the social world, Facebook, favors video over other types of posts meaning a video uploaded straight into Facebook will be more visible to your audience than a simple text or picture post. More visibility allows you to make more impressions and connections on this social giant.

4) Video is your fiercest weapon also because video is do-able. It’s more do-able than you think. We don’t need fancy or expensive production with commercial quality. We need to create genuine connection and that can absolutely be accomplished quite simply using the camera on your smartphone. There’s a simple app called the YouTube Capture app that will allow you to film video, move clips around, edit out the beginning where you set the camera on the dash and the end where you hit the button to stop recording, and upload it straight to YouTube with a title, keywords, and a description. If you can use e-mail, you’ll be able to use this free app to create simple videos. Apps like this and simple tools like a smartphone make video absolutely do-able.

So, in review: consumers love watching videos, video allows you to communicate a message clearly, there are huge visibility advantages to video, and creating a video even off a cellphone is simple and do-able. You can use simple video to connect, differentiate your dealership, build relationships with clients, and win more business. Video is your fiercest weapon. Now get started.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/06/4-reasons-why-video-is-your-fiercest-weapon/

Ali Mendiola

40 Percent or More of Your Website Traffic Comes from Mobile. Are You Ready?

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You build a website thinking that customers will take the time to go to a computer and do their research. After all, they’re going to spend thousands of dollars on a new or pre-owned vehicle, so you want the experience they have on your website to be scalable, colorful and rich in content and tools.

And you’d be right. Your website must offer lots of brilliant content in a design that makes your cars shine, and with digital retailing tools you must connect the online world with your in-store shopping experience. Your website must be a digital conversion machine.

There’s only one catch: That picture is changing, and fast. Today, according to comScore and Mobile Metrix, around 80 percent of people in the U.S. own smartphones. So when it comes to car shoppers, it makes sense that many are actually using a smartphone, or tablet, to visit your site, search inventory and conduct those all-important first purchase steps. In fact, according to traffic on the Dealer.com network, more than 40 percent of visits to dealership websites come from mobile devices.

That’s four out of ten potential buyers looking at your inventory on a screen that could be as small as a business card.

That’s not a trend. It’s a fact. Mobile shopping behavior will and is continuing to gain momentum, to the point that your sales and marketing solution must accommodate the differences. Check out this interesting article from Dealer.com on the most important differences between Responsive, Adaptive and Seamless mobile design. Part of that design approach must also include retail tools that help ease the process of conversion from shopper to buyer.

It’s not enough to have a search-and-user friendly mobile experience; the same digital steps that dealers count on to help speed car buyers through the initial purchase steps of a website should do the same on the mobile equivalent. From searching inventory to calculating payment, checking realistic finance offers and trade-in values, these types of efficient digital tools – when designed correctly – are more valuable because they’re available when and how consumers want to shop, and when they want to buy. That sort of on-demand and mobile-first approach to digital retail is a significant difference maker.

It’s critical that dealers provide consistency across their sites and apps, no matter what device is being used to access the information. That’s not only about the look, feel, and information displayed on a site, but also when it comes to providing an online shopping environment. Too often, in fact, talk of a mobile experience ends at the research phase when what dealers need is a complete package which includes mobile and tablet-ready Digital Retailing tools. From trade-in to finance, those tools empower shoppers to find the perfect vehicle, serve up pricing and payment solutions in line with your dealership criteria, and even provide trade-in offers based on your inventory needs.

The reason? Convenience amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life. The reality is that people want to complete more of shopping transaction wherever and whenever they can – sitting in the carpool line before the school bell rings, between meetings, or waiting at the doctor’s office. Those spare 10 minutes are valuable opportunities to get shopping and research done via whichever type of device consumers wish to use. Dealers and their staff, as a result, have to be ready. Those that are ready will improve sales and the overall buyer’s experience.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/03/40-percent-or-more-of-your-website-traffic-comes-from-mobile-are-you-ready/

Russell Grant

How to Motivate Your Customers: It’s a Gift

travel-incentivesAs I travel the country speaking to dealers, there are several questions that have come up consistently in the 20 years I have been in this business.

One of them is: “Why do I need to give something away to get people into my dealership, especially if they’re already my customers? I don’t want a bunch of gift seekers at my dealership.”

While there are a number of reasons why gifts are a strategic part of a successful marketing campaign, I want to share with you the three most important:

  1. Law of Reciprocation. We all know that if we do something for somebody they will feel obligated to do something in return. This doesn’t mean someone will buy a car out of obligation, but it does mean if you get that customer to your showroom they may take a test drive—or be more generous with the time they give you at the dealership.
  2. Motivation. Just because someone is interested in purchasing a vehicle doesn’t mean they’re coming to your dealership any time soon. By offering them a gift, it motivates your customer to take action now. This way, your marketing gives customers a reason to respond when you want them to, which is often much earlier than they would have without your offer.
  3. Proven Results. At J&L Marketing, we have been tracking marketing results for 22 years and the results are overwhelmingly stronger for campaigns that use a gift versus those that do not. Also, dealerships that highlight their gift in marketing materials receive a better response rate and experience the high quality traffic they’re looking for. The best approach is to make your offer first and then motivate the customer to take action with a gift.

Be Strategic With Your Offers

Premiums/Gifts should have a higher perceived value than their actual cost. However, be careful. They should not be a gimmick.

Trip incentives are a great way to motivate the customer with something they may not be willing to give themselves. This fits the description of high perceived value. Would you be willing to visit a dealership for a chance to win a trip to the Super Bowl? Most people would if they were also in the market for a vehicle. The best part is you can insure the cost of this once-in-a-lifetime trip so that your dealership only pays a fraction of the cost and can guarantee there will be a person who wins—if they show up at the dealership with the winning number.

Maximize Your Incentives

Utilize microsites and give your customers a gift if they RSVP for an appointment. Wouldn’t it be worth the $500 to gather valuable information from customers on the RSVP microsite; information you can use to help sell vehicles before your promotion even starts? Plus, that same information can be used for your future campaigns.

So don’t worry about gift seekers. If your campaign is done properly and creatively, a gift is a strong tool that will motivate customers and drive high quality traffic directly to your dealership.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2013/07/how-to-motivate-your-customer/

Jeremy Anwyl

Is Your Auto Dealership’s Sales Process Customer-Approved?

Today, we’re introducing a new Guest Expert to the Up To Speed blog. Jeremy Anwyl, Vice Chairman of Edmunds.com will be contributing a series of articles on consumer-centric and cost-efficient marketing strategies for automotive dealerships.

customer-approvedEvery few months or so we have groups of dealers visit the Edmunds office in Santa Monica. The idea is to get “street level” market feedback and stay current on any issues dealers might be wrestling with.Along these lines, we also get together with consumers regularly to develop insights and understanding on their views on the vehicle buying process.

Some time ago we had a group of dealers in and decided to try to bridge the two exercises; basically, to get dealers thinking like consumers.To make this work, we asked to dealers to participate in the following exercise:“Imagine you have been asked to deliver the keynote at a fictional prestigious automotive conference. (Think TED for autos.)

Your selection was based on how you have reshaped the retail sales process, removed customer pain points and achieved a remarkable level of business success. In your speech, you share your secrets.”We split the dealers into two groups and give each 40 minutes to outline their speech. I found the result interesting.

Here’s the combined work from the two groups: First, the dealers identified the pain points; the things that consumers valued, but also found frustrating.

Pain point #1.  It just takes too long. The dealer nailed this one; it is a recurring theme from consumers as well. The interesting thing in talking with customers is that it is not the entire process that takes too long.  Some aspects of buying a new vehicle consumers actually enjoy. Things like checking out options or touring/viewing vehicles in inventory. Some dealers are trying out an extended delivery at the consumer’s home that consumers really like, as well. The parts of the process that take too long and the customers don’t enjoy, are getting in and out of F & I, and the back and forth of negotiations.To address these areas, the dealers talked about how they launched digital contracts, where most of the consumer and deal information could be entered online. They also proposed integrating the tools that consumers use across the Internet so the same information doesn’t have to be entered over and over again. The dealers didn’t focus on this, but it would also seem to emphasize that customers set appointments before coming into the store so the personnel can be ready and waiting.

Pain point #2.  The customer worries about paying too much. (Ripped off, using the dealers’ words.) The dealers proposed transparent pricing as the solution.

“Transparency” is a catch all term these days. Sometimes it means access to info on what other consumers paid for the same vehicle. In this context, the dealers were referring to pricing info that is freely available, with no or limited negotiation.

This worried the dealers a bit as they made the leap that if/when this kind of transparency arrives it is going to drive down margins. There is a tension they expressed as “new world pricing with old world expenses.” The dealers correctly see being more efficient as being essential to survival in the future. But also feel they are being pulled in the opposite direction by manufacturer demands for facility upgrades, etc.

The risk that margin pressure will increase is real, but there is also a chance we might be surprised in how this plays out. So far, transparency has been about a single price; specifically, a new vehicle price. But we all know that a deal involves many elements. The new vehicle price is just one.

Testing a theory, I asked our analysts to run some data. They ranked a set of new vehicle transactions, in order, based on the new vehicle gross. This ranked list was divided into four groups.

My suspicion was that for deals with a lower new vehicle margin, dealers work harder to make up for the “loss” by pushing for higher margins in other areas.   (Think of the old four square.) Charging a bit more for the loan, or offering a bit less for the trade. This might not work in all cases, but across a broad enough number of deals a pattern should emerge.

The group with the highest new vehicle margin was a bit of a surprise in that the interest rate paid was also higher and the appraised value lower than the other groups. Apparently there is a group of consumers—even today—that makes a mess of buying a vehicle. They pay way over the norms in all areas. (They averaged paying over $2,000 more overall!) Let’s forget this group for a moment.

There is also a small subset of the deal with the lowest margins. These buyers are very savvy shoppers who are willing to put enormous time into getting the absolutely lowest price, often have no trade and don’t use dealer financing.  Let’s ignore this group as well.

Looking at the remaining transactions—roughly 60% of the market— there is a pattern where the new vehicle gross and the margin on other deal elements are inversely correlated.

Seems to me that this accounts for much of the frustration that consumers associate with vehicle purchases. The greater the focus on the new vehicle price, the greater the level frustration with the overall negotiation.

The dealers see a future with more transparent pricing around all the elements of a deal. What is preventing dealers moving in this direction today is the fear that offering this level of transparency will just make it easier for consumers to take the new vehicle price and shop another dealership; a dealership where it is simple enough for a salesperson to offer a lower price and work to make it up on the trade, etc.

The irony is that consumer behavior is the impediment to consumers getting the simplicity and straightforwardness they crave. The dealers didn’t have a solution for this, but it is clearly a puzzle we need to figure out.

The final pain point: Confidence in making a purchase.  I put this pain point in my own words as the dealers were focused on the customer feedback that is scattered around the Internet. I rephrased this because what we see consumers looking for when they look at customer feedback is the assurance that the vehicle and/or dealership will perform as promised. One way to ease this concern is to look at the experience of other customers.

As the dealers pointed out, currently this feedback is a bit of a mess; some is useful, much is not. There also is no single source—either for the consumers to rely upon or the dealers to stay on top of.

As I think about this area, it is clear that if we focus on the pain point for the consumer, there are ways to deliver confidence that don’t involve customer reviews. Referrals, for example, are a source of business for dealerships where the store has great credibility. (A customer is hardly going to refer a store to a friend if they had a bad experience.)

I am not sure that customer feedback on the Internet is going to prove to be the best way for customers to feel confident about a decision. The source data is just so unreliable. But in identifying this pain point, the dealers again tied closely to what we have been hearing from consumers.

In fact, that is what struck me the most about this exercise with the dealers.  They get it. What consumers are looking for in the sales process is not a mystery. (We are hearing the same things from consumers as well.) What may be a mystery is figuring out how to remove these pain points in a way that supports a profitable business.

I have some thoughts on this that I will start to explore in the next article.

Jeremy_Anwyl

Jeremy Anwyl began his auto industry career in 1979 working with auto dealers who were looking for more consumer-centric and cost efficient ways of marketing. In 1991 he began working with manufacturers—again on projects that focused on retailing and marketing efficiency. Anwyl joined Edmunds in late 1999 where his years of experience working with dealers and the manufacturers on retail opportunities have been a key part of Edmunds’ success. To reach Jeremy, tweet @JeremyAnwyl, call 310.309.6393 or email janwyl@edmunds.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2013/04/is-your-auto-dealerships-sales-process-customer-approved/