People are naturally competitive and love to stand out from the crowd. This is a characteristic that has been ingrained in most people at a young age. Competition is what fuels us to be better versions of ourselves, and it is the innovative ones who ultimately reap the rewards. The desire to upstage the competition often translates into the business world. Yet, we’re seeing dealerships struggle to differentiate themselves from their competitors because the buyer experience tends to be similar amongst dealerships.
Technology today is a double-edged sword; it has allowed businesses the opportunity to market to an audience that would not have been reachable prior to technology. On the other hand it has resulted in the average consumer being exposed to up to 5,000 marketing messages in a single day, causing consumers to become numb to marketing messages.1 While these statistics sound discouraging, there are solutions to help your dealership stand out amongst the sea of marketing content.
With more and more consumers basing their purchase decisions on customer experience, dealerships are missing out on a great opportunity to differentiate themselves. In fact, 55 percent of consumers admitted they would pay a higher price for a product if it meant a better customer experience.2 But, 42 percent of dealerships have seen a decrease in traffic since 2011.3 These statistics help illustrate that dealerships are not doing enough to stand out to consumers in stores and enhancing the customer experience is the most effective way to do so. So, what steps should a dealership take to make sure it is standing out from others?
Today, consumers are bombarded with marketing messages. Content marketing offers brands a different and an increasingly more effective way to reach their customers with more meaningful information. When it comes to content marketing, quality is better than quantity. In fact, one in four people that download marketing content will never communicate with that brand again if the content was not beneficial to them.
Conversely, 61 percent of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content.4 These statistics illustrate how brands who wish to stand out must use consumer centric content in their marketing strategies.
It may seem overwhelming at first when you think about developing a content marketing plan, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with a list of content that you would find helpful as a consumer if you were purchasing a piece of equipment from your dealership. This could range from best practices for making an initial purchase, to troubleshooting tips for common maintenance issues, to a maintenance checklist, etc. Once you have a list of ideas, then you’ll need to think about the best form for each piece of content such as video, infographic, whitepaper, blog post, etc. Some topics will lend themselves to a particular content type while others may work for a variety of different ones. Your initial goal should be to develop and publish one piece of content each month and work to increase that number until you’re sharing new content every week. You’ll also want to make sure you’re publishing content in a variety of different forms so you meet the needs of various audiences.
After developing content, the next step is to share that content effectively. Most brands use their own website and social media channels to share content. While this helpful, it pushes content only to people already familiar with your brand. To reach new customers, you must look to other channels. Paid social media ads are a great place to start. 43 percent of dealers saw a higher ROI in 2016 than 2015 after using Facebook ads.5 This means there is strong potential for brand recognition when content marketing is done effectively no matter what stage of the product lifecycle a consumer is in.
Though we may hate to admit it, social media is a major component of our lives. The average consumer spends 54 minutes on social media each day to not only to check in with our friends and family, but also for work-related topics. When asked to rank how frequently one uses different social media platforms to obtain information from the trucking industry — 0 being never and 10 being constantly — 24 and 20 percent of respondents ranked Twitter and Facebook, respectively, as an 8.6
Social media usage is rising across all generations. 72 percent of adults over 50 can be reached on Facebook, which is the second most popular website after Google.6 It’s time to recognize that social media is an important avenue when marketing to all potential prospects.
To effectively embrace social media, your brand must have a regular posting schedule and promptly engage with all activity on your social media channels. Daily or weekly posts ensure your brand’s message is constantly on your customers’ minds. Sharing content on social media channels during optimal times also ensures your message is seen. Peak time on Facebook is Wednesday at 3pm, Mondays through Thursdays from 9am to 3pm for Twitter, and LinkedIn is Tuesdays through Thursdays at noon.7
Additionally, Facebook posts with photos generate 53 percent more likes and 104 percent more comments.7 On Twitter, a tweet including a picture increases retweets and leads by 41 and 55 percent respectively.7 By narrowing down when and how to target, dealerships can put better efforts into tailoring a story that will convert prospects into actual customers. To get started with a social media plan, you need to determine what channels will be the most effective for your dealership based on your target audience. Not all social media channels make sense for all brands so you’ll want to think through this strategically before you invest time and resources on publishing content on a new channel. Once you’ve identified your social media channels, you’ll want to rely heavily on your content marketing strategy because you can easily turn one piece of content into numerous social media posts to use to effectively promote the content. You’ll also want to take advantage of customer quotes, industry stats, sales and promotions, and more to help promote your dealership on social media. Social media is also a great place to showcase members of your team and your dealership through pictures and short videos. Think of social media as a way to create a personal connection between your dealership and your customers before they even step on your lot.
Inventory doesn’t have to be boring. We’ve all been amused by a store’s catchy advertising slogan in the past. Or perhaps you can think of a time an aesthetically pleasing window display caught your eye. As cliché as some of these marketing tactics are, they can help your brand stand out. When inventory and price are relatively the same across dealerships, there needs to be something else that grabs the customer’s attention. Dealerships who come up with creative marketing campaigns for their inventory by creating a story have an opportunity to drive traffic into their dealerships. An example would be creating a marketing campaign with the message being, “Who is going to get this equipment dirty for the first time?” This simple question sparks an interest by creating a connection between the product and consumer. To stand out from competitors, your brand should take advantage of its inventory as a tool to connect with customers by telling a story.
And, don’t forget to take advantage of all of your marketing channels once you have a creative marketing campaign idea to promote your inventory. You can promote the campaign with signage at your dealership, social media posts, blog posts, video, and more to help generate buzz about what your dealership is offering.
Customer experience drives success. This phrase should sound familiar, as it is one of the most important values to dealerships. What some dealerships might not be familiar with though is the integration of smartphones to aid in the customer’s experience. Why it might not be familiar with some dealers is that they might have the misconception that customer experience solely means a face-to-face conversation with the customers. While that is a key part, mobile experiences can be just as helpful, if not more, throughout the customer’s journey.
82 percent of smartphone users use their mobile devices in stores to make a product decision.8 To be successful in standing out, brands must use mobile engagement to reach their customers. Having a mobile engagement strategy that includes pre- and post-sale touch points allows brands to stand out. A mobile experience can allow the customer to have product-specific information available for review at any time, reach a sales representative, be informed of service needs, and purchase additional parts. A mobile experience gives your brand a method to meaningfully connect with a customer both prior to and after a sale.
The best way to get started with developing a mobile engagement strategy for your dealership is to think about the various use cases of how your customers will want to engage with you via mobile. The most obvious one will be during the purchase process. Most consumers will likely do some research on their purchase either before they come to your lot or once they have visited before they make a purchase. This provides your dealership with an opportunity to stand out from others by providing a highly-personalized mobile experience for a specific piece of equipment that the consumer can take with them as they do further research and make a buying decision. One way to accomplish this is to have product-specific mobile experiences that consumers can access via your website or directly from the piece of equipment and take with them via their mobile device. Not only does this provide the consumer with all of the information they need about the piece of equipment, it also provides them with a direct line to your sales team once they’re ready to buy. And, you can even change this mobile experience over to a customer version once the purchase occurs, making it even easier for them to learn more about their recent purchase and stay connected with your dealership.
The best practices discussed of providing relevant content, embracing social media, crafting a story for your inventory, and looking to the future of mobile gives your brand the ability to truly stand out from the competition. These best practices also help your brand deliver unparalleled customer experience. However, it’s one thing for customers to be interested in the products you sell, but it’s another for customers to want to buy from your specific dealership. By using these best practices to stand out and providing excellent customer experiences, your brand can turn customers into brand advocates, and win them for life.