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The Most Cost Effective Marketing Techniques for Dealerships

DATE PUBLISHED: November 12, 2012
In large part, the public has become desensitized to traditional marketing initiatives by car dealerships. Although television, radio and print ads have some traction with consumers if they are in the market to purchase or lease a vehicle, most consumers have long since learned to ignore these intrusive promotions. You might feel that your marketing strategy should only be directed at prospective car buyers, but that is a short sighted strategy that will have your competitors gaining the upper hand.

Your dealership must now survive in a much more cutthroat environment, which requires comprehensive marketing strategies designed to heighten the selling potential of your employees and attract the maximum number of potential customers possible. In order to be successful in an anemic economic environment, you need to be developing innovative marketing strategies that penetrate the public’s ennui and makes them take notice of your dealership. Some of the creative and cost-effective strategies include:

  • Employee Testimonials – A dealership in the Southeast asked its employees to post videos explaining why this business was the best place to purchase a vehicle. The owner incentivized the employees with a contest that rewarded the employee who received the most likes online. The contest was marketed online and on television and radio. The result was a 5 percent sales boost over the same period from the year before. The success of this strategy was based upon an exciting contest platform that also engaged the public with authentic human testimonials.
  • Widen Target Segment – The auto marketing industry has changed radically. Strategies that were rock solid ten or twenty years ago may only net you a small portion of the potential customers you could attract. A recent study by ValueClick found that traditional marketing venues like auto review sites, rental businesses and auto parts catalogs were not nearly as effective some non-traditional venues. The study found a huge number of consumer responses on computer gaming, music, and sports & recreation sites, while the traditional automotive sites reported only a modest response. The conclusion of the study was that the visitors to these traditional sites are less likely to be impacted by auto ads than visitors to sites which rarely host auto ads. Developing a broader marketing strategy then refining it to meet consumer response is critical.
  • Social Media – Sites like Cars.com, Google+ and Yelp are beginning to heavily influence consumer purchasing decisions. A study by Digital Air Strike found that almost 70% of consumers were influenced by review sites. Dealerships that cultivated a strong and positive presence on these review sites had a much greater likelihood of attracting customers and from a greater distance away. Almost 71% of consumers had used a Google search to find a dealership and 49% clicked on a review site before visiting a dealership.
  • Emphasize Dealership Strengths – Instead of touting prices that are the “Lowest in the State”, dealerships need to pick key characteristics that differentiate it from its competitors. You are initializing a relationship with the consumer through your promotions and you want create a relationship that is based on trust and integrity from the outset. Many consumers expect an adversarial relationship during the purchase process, so anything that can offset that is likely to help keep that customer long after the sale is over.
Marketing has changed radically, and the dealerships that can adapt their marketing strategies to the new business environment are the ones that will survive. Understand that you are cultivating relationships for the long term, and those relationships are supported by a variety of interactive channels. Broaden your marketing strategy; you will be surprised at how successful some ignored market segments may be for your dealership.

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