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Tag Archive: Marketing

Chelsea Magee

Intimidated by digital marketing? Don’t be!

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It doesn’t matter what amazing deal, video or article you have, unless someone sees it! That’s why digital marketing is so important. It drives traffic to your website, and that traffic to your website drives leads to your CRM. Sounds easy and not super complicated, right?

It all starts with search

Fortunately, Google wants it to be that way. Most traffic starts with search. After all, whenever someone has a question, what’s the first response?  I ALWAYS say, “Just Google it!”

Your customers use Google to look up certain vehicles, your dealership reputation and much more. In fact, the search engine giant receives more than 3.5 billion searches per day. A solid digital plan makes their searching easy and quick, like a drive thru window.

You don’t need a web developer

So often, I find that dealerships think digital marketing is a super complicated thing. Many are concerned that they need to have—or hire—someone with extensive technical knowledge, like a website developer. You’ll probably be surprised to read that the best online marketing strategies aren’t about understanding computers, but understanding people!

People are the secret to digital marketing

Expanding your online presence starts with learning what online shoppers expect so you can get consumers’ attention.

Think about what grabs your attention at drive thru windows. Is it the price? Probably not—it’s about the tantalizing photos and descriptions. Digital marketing is about offering the right content, images and offers in the right places. Once you understand how your customers interact with the web, you can identify the best mobile strategy, website design, and social media presence. Then you learn how to use performance metrics to gauge your results. This part is a little technical, but with many resources to guide you, you don’t need to worry!

You can do this

Really, the biggest takeaway I want you to get from this blog is that digital marketing isn’t all that different from skills you already have: understanding what customers need and knowing how to talk to them. It’s just that you’re doing it in a different way. When you focus on people, not the technology, you can see that the digital landscape is really all about relationship building … with a few extra bells and whistles!

Join Chelsea for Kain Automotive and NCMi course, How to Lead in the Digital Marketplace, for more actionable insights and strategies for digital marketing.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/01/intimidated-by-digital-marketing-dont-be/

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

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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/

Jody DeVere

Surprising Facts About Selling Luxury Vehicles to Women

Young Woman on Phone

Luxury car dealers, do you know your audience? If you’re like most that I’ve spoken to, you may be selling cars with the wool over your eyes, assuming that the affluent male is your crème de la crème, and some wealthy widows, female executives, and women entrepreneurs rounds out your market. But a recent study seems to show that just isn’t the case, and as the CEO of AskPatty.com, a website dedicated to providing automotive resources to women and helping auto dealers like yourself attract and retain more women customers, it surprised me, too!

The Shullman Luxury, Affluence and Wealth Pulse, Autumn 2014, has revealed some very intriguing findings on who is actually buying in the luxury market. First of all, it’s not all affluent people. In fact, 61% of buyers with a household income of $250,000 or more don’t own a luxury car! Interestingly, it seems that the Millennial generation of women are driving more luxury vehicles than one might assume. While most of us are targeting the older crowd, it seems that millennials are more interested in a luxury lifestyle than boomers or generation X members!

According to the study:

“The $75,000-249,999 affluent segment is the primary buyer of all the luxuries consumer spending , including luxury vehicles. The second-largest buying segment for all luxuries was mass-market America (those with less than $75,000 in household income). The very high-income buyers (those with $250,000+ incomes), although fewer in number, typically spend the most on average for each luxury bought and tend to buy more luxuries per adult than the other two income segment. … The number one luxury buying generation today, according to this survey, is the Millennial generation (18-34 years of age in 2014) who constitute 45% of luxury buyers.”

So, let’s take a moment to consider our target – the new target: the millennial woman!

Facts About the 18-34 Segment of Women Today

So, if we’re going to be selling to millennial women, we need to understand how they operate. They’re not baby boomers, and they’re not Generation X, so those approaches are going to ring false with this group. It’s also worth noting that in my experience at least, these are women who are actively working in advertising much of the time, so the trite marketing methods are going to fall flat. They know all those tricks!

Today’s millennial women are a technologically connected, diverse, and educated. They prefer the speed and convenience of smart phones and email to telephone conversations or walk-in business. In terms of work, they tend to have more job market equality than previous generations, and are earning four year degrees at a higher rate than male counterparts. This higher income translates to higher overall household income for their families, and it also means a new kind of family – one where the mother is the sole breadwinner.

Millennial women share some things in common with boomers and Gen-X-ers. They are also brand influencers who quick to share their opinions with friends, family and their online communities. A majority of social media outlets are predominantly female users, and they use them to speak their minds! Millennial women want to be included in the conversation, rather than being told what to do or what to purchase. They value inspirational messages, important causes, and most of all, they support brands who support them.

Marketing to the Meme Generation

When it comes to advertising to millennials, remember that this is the generation of the “meme.” That means that iconic, engaging visual marketing plays an important role in what resonates with them. Don’t shy away from humor, and focus on making your messaging instantly accessible and simple. Ever looked at Pinterest? It’s just a wall of photos, but to the millennial women, it’s a wall of ideas, conversations, and opportunities to do something amazing. Consider this: 58% look to Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration for everything from meals to makeup to home décor. Most of all, these women are “social shoppers,” social media users who value the opinions of their social media peers more than anonymous reviews or snappy slogans.

Cause-related marketing also works with millennial women, as long as you take care to ensure that your cause means something. They’re quick to spot practices like “pink-washing” (that is, coloring a product pink for breast cancer awareness month but not actually providing any meaningful support for the cause), so choose your charities wisely and remember that transparency is key! When you commit to a cause, it should embrace your entire company. For example, consider TOMS Shoes. Their message is clear, simple, cause-driven, and instantly accessible: for every pair of TOMS Shoes you buy, they will donate a pair to a child in need. This clear, concise message, coupled with transparency and accountability, has made the company absolutely huge with millennial women. To date, they have provided shoes to over 10 million children.

So let me ask you again, luxury car dealers: do you know your audience? Are you shifting your practices away from the older executives and widows to encompass the generation of Pinterest projects and Tumblr blogs? If you’re not approaching your marketing plans with the goal of making instant accessibility the core of your brand, then you could be missing out on the number one buying segment of luxury vehicles today.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/marketing-to-the-meme-generation-surprising-facts-about-selling-luxury-vehicles-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

Humanize Your Online Presence

SocialPhone

The use of social media is becoming mandatory for dealerships. Prospective clients are looking for local dealers’ Facebook pages; they’re searching YouTube for product comparisons and even asking friends across social platforms for recommendations. The problem in the automotive world is: the vast majority of dealerships and individual salespeople are using social incorrectly. Simply being active on a platform does not mean that platform is being effectively used. The key to an effective social media presence is creating human connection.

To illustrate the importance of human connection, have a look at how people in Japan buy and sell cars. Japanese salespeople go door-to-door trying to sell vehicles, rather than waiting at the dealership for the next ‘up’.  Once they find a prospective buyer, face-to-face meetings continue in their home with few Japanese car buyers ever even setting foot in a showroom. Paperwork is drawn up and signed in clients’ living rooms. When the sale is complete, a relationship has been formed that will last far beyond the delivery of the new vehicle; salespeople maintain constant contact with sold clients by calling, writing handwritten cards, even taking their clients to dinner.

What this demonstrates, I believe, and what the Japanese have remembered and we have forgotten is that commerce has always been personal. It has always been about people doing business with other people. This is where we have run into trouble in the digital world. We spend so much money on well-organized websites and so much time attempting to sell using social media but what we’re missing is connection. We’re missing the most critical element of relationships.

Consider for a moment what keeps a customer loyal, it’s not an oil change punch card or a fancy website; it’s relationship. It’s human-to-human connection.

Real connection is key to winning business.

There is some science behind the power of human connection in persuasion. Humans are born with a special part of the brain whose sole purpose is to recognize faces.  It is called the fusiform area and is located near the brain’s emotional center. The fusiform area makes us hard wired to use the human face as a centralized point for information and believability. So, in the case of faces: seeing is believing. In other words, an image of a salesperson’s face posted on social media is infinitely more powerful than a stock image of a new truck.

Fewer people are setting foot in dealership showrooms in 2015 than ever before, which provides a bit of a disadvantage in trying to create relationships. Social media, however, can fill this void by giving us a way to still create human-to-human connection with potential clients who already do all their research and shopping online.

Use this information to begin to dominate with a social media presence. Before your next social media post, consider human connection. Instead of touting an upcoming sale or a low, incentivized lease payment, introduce your followers to one of your salespeople. Keep personal relationships and human connection in mind with your dealership’s social presence—and always remember the power of the face.


Want to learn more from Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions?

We’re hosting Management by Fire in August. Watch this video or call 866.756.2620 for details.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/06/humanize-your-online-presence/

Jonathan Dawson

The Five Ingredients of a Personal Brand

Personal Brand

You should know by now that you need to brand yourself. (If not, then read my last article!) For a salesperson, branding simply means doing a few things to separate yourself from all the other sales people in your field, and even at your store. But how do you start developing a personal brand? There are five basic brand elements or “ingredients” you should consider implementing:

The first ingredient is a nickname.

I know we all like to think our name is memorable, but the sad truth is that people forget names all the time. Common names, unique names, short names, long names – Your customers WILL forget your name unless you give them something else to remember.

Consider using a nickname instead of your name. My student Nate Allen goes by the nickname of the “Official Singing Salesman.” As you’ve probably guessed, he likes music and enjoys performing custom made songs for his customers at the dealership. Just think about it. If someone told you to go in and ask for the Official Singing Salesman, how likely are you to forget it?

The second ingredient is a slogan.

A salesman in Atlanta uses the slogan “You will get the royal treatment.” The slogan goes with his nickname, ”King Stinson.” Imagine customers telling their friends, “Go see King Stinson and he will give you the royal treatment!” This is unique and is not something customers will easily forget.

The third ingredient is a logo or imagery.

Creating unique business cards, key chains, bracelets, or buttons that have your brand image on them is a fantastic way to become unforgettable. My student Monti Hansard uses pigs with purple wings as her brand image. She has them on her custom business cards, her personal vehicle, and on her desk. Everyone knows to come in and ask for the lady who loves pigs.

The fourth ingredient is having your own website.

For example, check out KevinTheJeepGuy.com. You’ll see that Kevin uses this website to share his story, customer testimonials, and contact information. Having your own personal website means you have a central place where customers can learn about you, your brand, and your product.

The fifth ingredient is color.

Bill Stout from Wichita uses gold and black as his brand colors. He’s a fan of the Wichita State University basketball team and uses their colors for his brand. He will only wear gold and black and uses these colors for his website and business cards. He calls his desk a “shrine to WSU.”

I know it’s overwhelming to figure out what your brand should be, but the key to developing a brand is to start small. Do not add all five ingredients at the same time. Instead, start with just one idea, such as a nickname. As you get comfortable with one ingredient, start adding more over time.

Here are a few questions to help you get started:

  • Is there something interesting or unique about you that people tend to notice or comment on?
  • Which one of these five elements immediately resonated with you?
  • What would be a unique way for your customers to remember you?
  • What could you have fun with?

I believe that spending time and effort on developing a brand will produce better results than begging customers to buy from you.


Upcoming NCM Institute course: Principles of Service Management Mastery, October 28-29 in Kansas. City. Click the banner for details.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/10/the-five-ingredients-of-a-personal-brand/

Jonathan Dawson

Why Should You Brand Yourself?

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How memorable are you?

If you learn how to become unforgettable, there is no limit to your success as a salesperson. Branding is one way to make yourself unforgettable. When I bring up the topic of branding, some people ask, “Why do I have to brand myself? I’m not a business.”

Well, my friend, I have news for you that’s good and bad. YOU ARE A BUSINESS! The good news is that the sooner you embrace this, the more successful you’ll become. The bad news is that if you’re not branding yourself, you’re helping your competitors who are.

Have you had any of the following happen to you?

  • A customer came back to the store but didn’t remember your name and bought from another salesperson
  • You call to follow-up with a customer regarding a vehicle they looked at yesterday only to learn they bought from another store
  • You’ve sold about the same number of cars for months, even years

If any of these happened to you, you have a branding problem. Not a traffic problem, a management problem, a weather problem, or a location problem. YOU have a branding problem. Salespeople who have a personal brand do not worry about lot traffic, bad weather, or what the competition is doing.

Personal branding is not a complicated concept. For a salesperson, branding simply means you’re doing things to differentiate yourself from all the other sales people in your field and even at your store. You’re actively doing things to become unforgettable. You’re actively creating a unique experience for the customer.

To put it another way, branding is about getting the customer to remember who you are, what you do, and how you made them feel.

A personal brand will do many things for you:

  1.  Consistency – A good brand will deliver your message consistently. Sales people who don’t deliver a consistent message in their marketplace don’t have a solid brand.
  2.  Uniqueness – A good brand will also confirm your uniqueness in the marketplace. If your brand doesn’t make you stand out, it’s not a very good brand.
  3. Connection – A good brand will help you connect with your target prospects personally. You want to build a brand that is attractive to some people and not particularly attractive to others. You want your brand to be something that people either really like or don’t like. Your brand will attract a certain group or demographic of people and convert them to fans.
  4.  Motivation – Another thing a good brand will achieve is it will motivate lookers and shoppers to consider you seriously. The stronger your brand is, the more it will separate you from all the other sales people a looker may have talked to in a day and will motivate them to do business with you.
  5. Loyalty – A strong brand will also foster loyalty. People like to go for something they’re familiar with, so the stronger your brand is within your customer base and within your community, the more loyal people will become to you.
  6. Better choice – Finally, a strong brand will separate you as the better choice. The stronger your brand is, the more distinct and memorable you will be compared to all the other sales people offering similar products.

Did you know that most businesses fail within the first five years of opening up? Most businesses also do not invest in developing a brand. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. As a salesperson, you ARE a business. If you want to stay in business tomorrow, you must develop a brand TODAY.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/07/why-should-you-brand-yourself/

Jody DeVere

Marketing to Women in the Dealer World: She Loves Her Mobile Device

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Diamonds may have been a girl’s best friend, but today’s women prefer ringtones to rings.

In a recent study, Time, Inc. and Nuance Digital Marketing discovered that women are increasingly attached to their mobile devices. In fact, the study called “Women + Mobile: The Unbreakable Bond,” found that 60% of women say their smartphone is the most important device they own, and 88% of women say their phones give them something to do during their “empty” time every day. What does that mean for you and your dealership? Well, if you’re not fully engaging the mobile space in your marketing to women efforts, you’re missing out.

Text Reminders and Alerts

If you’re not taking steps to go paperless at your dealership, you’re in danger of being left behind by dealers who are. Not only is paper becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive (if you don’t believe us, just take a look at how much you spend each year on printing alone), but women are very responsive to auto dealers who have green practices – and going paperless is a major step in that direction.

Using paperless agreements, email, web, and mobile advertising, online appointment scheduling and finance qualification, and even utilizing text messaging to keep in touch with your customers after the sale are great ways to make sure your dealership remains front-of-mind for your women customers.  Service reminders, 30k, 60k, and 90k maintenance notices, recall information and more can all be transmitted wirelessly straight to the conduit via which she gets all her other important updates: her mobile phone.

The Mobile Web

Of course, you also want to use the mobile space to reach women who aren’t already your customers, and the mobile web is where you do that.  Smartphone and tablet users are threatening to overtake the population of desktop PC users on the web, so if your dealership is still using a website designed for desktop viewing, it’s time to give that site a face-lift and retrofit to fit inside the mobile space. It’ll make your site cleaner, simpler, and easier to navigate from a smaller screen, with some added benefits on the back-end as well: mobile SEO.

Giving your website a mobile makeover is a great time to revisit your SEO practices, ensure your entire website is “crawlable,” that you’re still targeting the right keywords, and most importantly, that you’re capitalizing on SEO geared at the mobile user. Mobile searchers are on the go, which means she’s actively looking for a business like yours if they’re searching for a car dealer on her phone – so if you’re not taking steps to make sure she finds you first, you’re going to miss out on important sales opportunities.

The Pitfalls

When it comes to advertising on the web, mobile or otherwise, most women don’t mind ads as long as they can control the experience. Location-based offers are very effective right now, as 41% of women saying they prefer ads that are relevant to where they’re searching from. While 52% say they prefer ads that are relevant to what they’re currently doing on the web. And the number one negative? Intrusive ads – 91% of women say they hate ads that pop up, take over, or otherwise distract from her browsing experience, so stay away from that! Simply make yourself visible, mobile friendly, and allow your business to become part of her mobile web space, and when she finds herself ready to shop for a new car, she’ll find you!


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.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/06/marketing-to-women-in-the-dealer-world-she-loves-her-mobile-device/

Russell Grant

Why Your Best Conquest Sale Isn’t a New Customer

magnetOver the past 20 years, one of the most common questions I get from dealers is: “What can you do to get me some conquest business?” My response is, “Why is that so important to you?” And they usually respond by saying they need new business to grow their business. Their statement is true, but that approach is also much more expensive per vehicle sold—and the grosses are usually lower. My point is that if a dealer just wants incremental business because they want to grow their business; they’re missing out by not focusing on customers who are lost or inactive.

The Sales Department sells the first car; the Service Department sells vehicles two through ten.

Your lost and inactive customers must become a vital part of any owner marketing strategy or customer retention plan. What is your dealership’s strategy and do you have a plan? Most dealerships have touch points with service customers while they are active, but not with lost customers. And if the dealers do reach out to lost customers, they use techniques similar to those for their active customers. The problem is, you can’t approach lost customers with the same plan you used when they were active customers and expect the same results.

There’s a reason customers are inactive or lost.

Most customers become inactive and defect at the point the warranty expires. They leave because, in most cases, the value proposition from an independent is more appealing to them. This is usually a perception issue, because quite often, dealers have very competitive pricing, are just as convenient, employ factory-trained technicians, and use genuine parts.

Do you have a value proposition?

Dealers need to address the value proposition with customers to make sure they understand the difference between what an independent offers and what the dealership offers. In order to do this, you need a marketing strategy that communicates this effectively using three important techniques:

  1. Identify the best customers to target. Defining an inactive customer will not be effective by just segmenting your data. You can’t just target customers who have not been to your dealership in 12 months. Every customer has different driving habits, so a customer who drives 7,500 miles per year may still be active, while a customer who drives 30,000 miles per year may have become inactive six months ago.
  2. Employ multi-channel marketing. The customers you’re targeting are important—so contact them in multiple ways. Consider social, email, mail, digital and mobile techniques with your offer.
  3. Provide multiple ways to respond. Your marketing strategy must make it easy to respond—building microsites for each customer is an excellent way to do this.

Make it an event.

After identifying which customers to target, invite them to a service clinic that includes a free inspection of their vehicle. The goal isn’t to just get the RO, but to keep the customer coming back. To do that, you need to sell your value proposition to the customer. And if you’re successful, then not only will they keep servicing, but they will buy their next vehicle from you. In fact, customers are six times more likely to replace their vehicle at the same dealership if they’re an active service customer. It’s why I say your best conquest sale isn’t a new customer, it’s the one you’ve already had and lost. And that’s why it’s so important you develop a multi-channel owner marketing strategy to win them back. service_mgmt

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/01/why-your-best-conquest-sale-isnt-a-new-customer/

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