Growing your dealership’s audience is no easy task in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace. In addition to the traditional competition between established brands in dense metropolitan areas, the new competition is hotter than ever. Established stores have to battle not just with other brands, but also with direct-to-consumer companies like Tesla and Rivian, not to mention the litany of used-car tech companies like Carvana and Vroom. .
Moving beyond the “only in my zip code” mentality can seem daunting, but with the right tools and creativity, growing your dealership’s audience can be sustainable and profitable.
1. Tell compelling stories
Today, most automotive companies have a presence on social media, but few take advantage of the power offered by the ever-changing world of social media.
You and your staff know better than anyone that buying a vehicle is an emotional experience for customers, and it often represents a milestone in their lives. People love to read other people’s stories and every customer that walks out of this dealership is a unique opportunity to tell a story. Posting photos of customers, or families of customers, posed next to their new vehicle and writing a compelling caption with it can go way beyond your local zip code. These stories show the human side of buying a car, and it’s the human story that gets the most views.
Potential ideas for compelling social media content include a monthly focus on a military veteran who happens to be a customer, an outstanding student in the community, or a local organization doing great work. In addition to telling other people’s stories, encourage employees to participate in community events such as food drives, Habitat for Humanity builds, or even car shows supported by charities. These events are important to the local community and can help extend your dealership’s reach even further.
According to Google, 75% of shoppers say online video has shaped their shopping habits or purchases. This can range from watching a vehicle review to listening to an industry expert explain the current automotive market.
If your dealership doesn’t have a YouTube page, you’re missing out on opportunities to grow your dealership’s audience. look at this video from a dealership in Parkersburg, West Virginia. This simple video describing the differences between two models of Mitsubishi Outlander has more than 56,000 views on the platform! All you need is a smartphone, basic editing software, a willing host, and a YouTube account to enjoy similar levels of exposure.
Here are some potential ideas for quality YouTube content.
- Make a full video that shows the interior and exterior of every vehicle your brand sells
- Compare trims, colors or model types next to each other
- Take a guided tour of the infotainment system and ADAS systems
- Show room in the back including a car seat
- Fold down all the seats of an SUV and show cargo being loaded
- Show hitching a trailer using camera systems
- Load the bed of a pickup with material
- Show off accessories like bed liners or wheel sets
This gives you a place to send customers to inquire about vehicles and allows your staff to provide this information to people well outside your postcode. Companies like Intelichek also provide genuine competitor service pricing overview, giving dealers the advantage of providing customers with actionable, research-based recommendations when it comes to maintaining their vehicles. Who knows, maybe the next video you post can go viral!
3. Work with journalists
One of the fastest ways to get your name out there is to become a media expert and receive links to your dealership’s website.
outlets like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) frequently solicit expert advice on a variety of topics, including the automotive industry. Journalists who work in the HARO universe solicit requests from experts and then provide the experts (at their discretion) with links to their company’s website as a sort of compensation for the time and information they have provided . This is a unique opportunity to put GMs, Sales Managers or Owners in the spotlight and bring some attention back to your store. HARO stories are often syndicated nationally with some of the biggest publications in the world.
Another approach to working with journalists is to do so locally through local newspapers and publications. Local newspapers often carry articles about the automotive industry, especially in recent years. As sales professionals, you know the hurdles of vehicle supply chain challenges better than anyone, and local publications often seek out experts like you to help them tell stories with authority.
Make calls, send emails – you’ll be amazed at what you find.
4. Leverage your brand demographics
Creatively tapping into your brand demographics can expand your dealership’s audience beyond your local area.
Subaru is a perfect example of a brand that taps closely into the demographics of its owner. Their research has shown that 67% of Subaru owners have a pet and half of those owners have a dog. So what did Subaru do? He rolled out dog-friendly ads and accessories and aligned himself with pet adoption groups across the United States. Knowledgeable Subaru dealers have launched their own local campaigns and began organizing everything from dog adoption events to community cleanup events at their stores. These events have not only strengthened within the local community, but on a much larger scale.
Spend time researching your brand to see what motivates your buyers, then host an event. You’d be shocked at how many people come from far and wide to join in the camaraderie and fun. Plus, these events are fantastic opportunities for social media posts.
5. Think outside the box
The auto industry may suffer the pains of stagnation, but your store doesn’t have to. Compiling traditional marketing techniques such as Pay Per Click advertising, engaging landing pages, and text/chat options for potential customers with unique, out-of-the-box ideas will allow you to expand the audience of your dealership far beyond your local area.
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