American football players in game, quarterback running. Game

Winning Is Knowing The Rules Better Than Your Competitor

by Brian Cox

On January 11, the New England Patriots faced the Baltimore Ravens in a contest that would dictate which team moved onto the AFC Championship game. Going into the game as heavy favorites to win, the Patriots quickly found themselves losing the game 14-0 quickly. Undeterred, they powered through trading touchdowns with the Ravens for the remainder of the game to ultimately win. The real story that comes out of this win, however, is how the Patriots reached into their bag ‘o tricks to achieve what they had come to – win.

Several players on the Ravens were quoted as follows in an article in the Boston Globe

“They pulled out every trick play in the book” – Chris Canty, Ravens defensive end.

“They couldn’t just drive the ball down on us regular. They had to do something tricky.” – Ladarius Webb, Ravens cornerback.

“You’ve seen one gimmick, you’ve seen them all.” — Terrell Suggs, Ravens linebacker.

And the most profound…

“It’s not something that anybody’s ever done before.” – John Harbaugh, Ravens head coach.

John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens were not just upset that they had lost, but that they had done so because of what they deemed trickery on the part of the Patriots. Their anger, however, was misdirected as the Patriots did nothing wrong, according to the NFL rules.

New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, summed it up best in his reply to their criticisms when he said, “Maybe those guys got to study the rule book and figure it out? We obviously knew what we were doing.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did. Any other team in the NFL could have pulled off the plays and formations that the Patriots did which helped them win that game – but nobody ever had. By knowing the rules and using them to his team’s advantage, he was able to throw unexpected plays and confuse his opponents enough to win. On the other side of the field, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, was complaining about the rules and how the Patriots won. He was so incensed during the game that he even, literally, cried foul (and got one) when he ran onto the field to argue with officials.

Being successful in business and marketing is no different. Dealerships have so many rules placed on them by so many different regulating bodies, it’s surprising that they can say anything more than “Here is our car. You should buy it.” To win in the automotive industry, you have to be a leader.

Business leaders are creative. They find ways to innovate and do things that their competitors aren’t. They know the rules of the game backwards and forwards. They find strategies and incorporate plays that nobody else does, and then use them to win. Whether that’s winning a new customer, a star employee or simply sales volume, they have thought about all scenarios and crafted strategies to achieve them. There are plenty of books that tell you how to be a successful leader, run a successful business, have success in marketing and hire superstars. Every business has access to those resources. Success lies in not only knowing the rules but in knowing the rules so well that, when you pull out that trick play, your competition doesn’t know what hit them.

Turning on a Quality button with the word Quality in white lettering

Forget MORE Leads. Focus On More QUALITY Leads.

by Tim James

In the world of automotive retail, dealerships are always searching for ways to increase leads. Whether they choose to pursue that goal through third-party lead providers, increase page rankings through better SEO, or various other ways, if there is a customer in their market who wants to buy a car, dealers want an opportunity to earn their business.

When a shopper shows up to the lot, the sales team is trained to engage the shopper and ultimately get the shopper emotionally attached to a vehicle, even if it is not the exact vehicle the shopper was initially inquiring about. In other words, your goal is to make the shopper want a vehicle the dealership has in stock, regardless of which vehicle the customer came in asking about. This is accomplished with the walk around.

This sales technique doesn’t have to be limited to physical customers at your dealership. Online, a good video will accomplish this same emotional process. A video is the best way to engage a consumer on your VDP Pages and showcase your vehicle. This highly visual medium allows you to deliver the most information while also selling your dealership and the vehicle at the same time.

Getting the consumer emotionally attached to the vehicle and MAKING them want a vehicle you have versus simply HOPING they will want a vehicle you have is how you produce the MOST & BEST leads you can get. They are more likely to re-engage after their initial communication (answer your phone call or respond to your email); more likely to set an appointment; more likely to show for that appointment and they are more likely to purchase.

This whole process is less about the information you have available on your site and more about how you deliver the information.  You could have tons of information and all kinds of pictures, but today’s consumer wants their content delivered via video…which is a “win/win” because with a video you can deliver the information and “sell” the vehicle at the same time.

Make good use of video and ensure that you have full and complete vehicle descriptions. You end up with more quality leads which should translate into increased responses and more productive engagement (less haggling over price), leading to the ultimate goal of increased sales.

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Personalized Video on Bottles of Beer?

by Brian Cox

While QR codes haven’t exactly gone mainstream for a variety of reasons, one company has found a creative way to use them. Argentinian beer company, Andes, has started incorporating unique QR codes onto its bottles that allow buyers to record video messages through an app. They can then pass along the message to whomever they wish, simply by giving them the bottle.

 

 

QR codes are simple and easy to make. In fact, you can generate one online for free. The reason they may not have caught on is because the user needs to download an app to scan them with. If and when cell phone companies integrate this scanning capability into the native operating system, they could easily become more useful and popular.

However, this new video capability adds a whole new level of creativity. Businesses could use this in many creative ways to better connect with customers. As an example, car dealerships typically attach branded keychains to the keys of a vehicle before delivering the car to the customer. Oftentimes, those keychains get discarded when the customer finds a personalized keychain more to their liking. Imagine, however, if the dealership’s keychain happened to have a video message via a QR code printed onto the keychain. It could offer something such as instructions and information on available manufacturer vehicle roadside assistance for new or CPO vehicle sales. The consumer may find value in keeping the keychain in the event of emergencies. This then increases the exposure and life of the keychain itself for the dealer. Or perhaps the dealer principal could record “Thank you” messages to every customer that purchases a vehicle. Salespeople could record video messages with their contact information and, perhaps, a referral offer.

Video marketing for dealers seems to have been pigeonholed into inventory marketing and branding. The point is that video can be used in many creative ways to offer value to, connect with and stay top-of-mind with your customers. I guarantee that the customer stuck on the side of the road in need of assistance would appreciate the ease with which they could use the QR code video to access information to get help.

If you get more creative incorporating brand, product and personalized messaging into your video marketing, consumers will pay more attention to them. While QR codes and this new form of video may not end up taking off, there will always be ways in which to distribute videos conveniently. Be creative. Think outside the box. Don’t limit your video marketing to just inventory. Generate video content that will continue to offer value to a consumer beyond a transaction. You will find consumers appreciate your efforts and thereby reap the benefits.

FF1

Using Emotions To Excite Customers: Honda’s Brilliant Holiday Marketing

by Tim James

To promote their brand this holiday season, Honda is pulling out all of the stops by incorporating just about every feeling and sentiment it can into a series of commercials featuring toys. Consider their “Happy Honda Days” commercials that published around Thanksgiving. Every one of them featured a toy covering many demographics – including He-Man & Skeletor, Stretch Armstrong, Strawberry Shortcake, G.I. Joe, Jem and even Little People. These commercials were designed to evoke a feeling of excitement and nostalgia that, they hoped, would then be associated with Honda vehicle — and Honda isn’t afraid to tell consumers that is exactly what they’re up to.

Take a look at this commercial featuring He-Man’s arch enemy, Skeletor, which begins:

Salutations. It’s me Skeletor. Remember the exultation you felt when you got me for the holidays? Well, feel that again with a new Honda CR-V…”

Or this commercial featuring another popular toy from the past, Stretch Armstrong:

Hey, I’m Stretch Armstrong. Remember how pumped you were when you got me for the holidays? You tried to pull my arms off. Didn’t happen. Well, feel that excited again with a new Honda Accord…”

That’s about as in your face as you can get, folks.

Honda’s December holiday campaign features a series of videos titled “Toy Tunes,” which up the ante by adding in popular (and created) holiday songs sung by some of those same nostalgic characters from our past. This is all tied in with a contest that awards several charities $50,000 for the most watched video – the Urban Little League Initiative, the Children’s Hospital of Orange County and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

Honda’s marketing team has produced clever film and video content for quite some time now, including the Honda “Hands” and “Illusions” commercials that won big in the 2013 Automobile Advertising of the Year Awards, presented at the Detroit Auto Show last January. They know what they’re doing.

Building an emotional connection with your customer – whether that’s excitement, nostalgia, charity or simply a “feel good” type video – creates a connection in the customer’s mind – even if they aren’t aware of it.

So take notes from Honda’s marketing playbook when considering your marketing strategy. Emotions sell — and that’s exactly what you want to do.

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Don’t Be So Serious!

by Brian Cox

A little over a month ago, a couple of employees at a car dealership in Illinois published a music video on YouTube titled “Keys In A Box,” which parodied a sketch from Saturday Night Live. These two individuals proceeded to have a great time and showcased their dealership in a creative and fun way. Their reward? Over 67,000 views in just one month, as well as compliments from Jalopnik, Edmunds and AdWeek. I wouldn’t be surprised if this helps place the dealership top-of-mind when a local customer is ready to buy their next vehicle.

 

 

Having fun with your branding and being creative with any videos can help you stay top-of-mind with your customer base. Think of the Volkswagen commercial that debuted a few Super Bowls ago – the one where the little kid dressed as Darth Vader and ran around trying to use the “Force.” It was a huge hit and created a lot of media interest and created quite a firestorm on social media.

But why do videos like these stay in our minds while other types don’t?

The answer is simple. They tell YOUR story. The buzz this fun and creative dealership video created is very likely worth more than any print or television ad they could have purchased. And my guess is that all it cost was a little time investment.

Videos are a powerful way to connect with customers. They allow you to share your unique personality. Whether you develop inventory videos for your website, or personalized videos destined for a specific person, take advantage of this opportunity to connect with your customers online. Create a lasting and memorable impression.

Think about perhaps finding the fun, creative people in your dealership and let them do a little outside-the-box thinking. Yeah you’ll probably have to nix a few of the crazier ideas. But I bet you get some great stuff out of it. Consider stepping outside the box a bit and share what is unique and different about your dealership. I am willing to bet you will notice the difference in customer response.

Sports Car Film Strip

Why “Just Do It” Is A Waste Of Time

by Tim James

In this high tech age, there are numerous tasks that an Internet or eCommerce Director has to tackle in order to correctly market their dealership and its inventory. In the past, you were doing a great job if you were writing custom detailed vehicle descriptions and taking multiple photos of your pre-owned vehicles. You were a superstar if you were also doing these things for your new vehicles. Then video entered the picture. Some dealers embraced video and used data feeds to syndicate video, vehicle descriptions and photos to their website and other third-party sites. Forward thinkers also uploaded the videos with proper tags and descriptions to YouTube.

However, with the fast pace of advancing technology, the number of consumer touch-points keeps growing and it has become an almost overwhelming task to keep up and still try to sell cars.

But one thing hasn’t changed, the key to a successful marketing strategy is getting the right content, in front of the right shopper, on the right touch-point, and at the right time of the buying cycle. The more exposure you get for your content, the more impact that content is going to have on your sales. Content that’s not seen is worthless.

I remember a story from not too long ago about one of the largest volume dealers in the world. This dealer was manually uploading their inventory to their website and every third party website for over 10 stores – one by one – daily. They chose to pay someone $100+ per DAY, rather than use automation and data distribution technology to accomplish the same task at a cost of just $150 per MONTH.

I’m starting to see a lot of this same mentality today with video. Many dealerships have gone out and purchased some great video production tools, and are doing a great job producing some very good video content. They are then manually uploading their content to YouTube and manually embedding links on as many touch-points as they have the time and ability to do so (not all touch-points allow a manual upload). They would rather invest hours of their time to manually place their content on fewer touch-points, than use automation and data distribution technology to accomplish the same task (with more touch-points) for just a couple hundred dollars a month.

I believe that many dealers, managers and Internet directors understand the importance of having their dealership and inventory positioned properly and in as many places online as possible. The problem I see is two-fold: They either don’t understand that technology exists that could transform their Internet marketing and sales without putting an undue burden on their staff. Or they don’t believe that the investment in this technology will produce results.

I can guarantee you this. If you’re simply doing it for the sake of doing it, you’re wasting your time. If nobody sees the content you create, it might as well not exist. The fact is video is “content,” just like any of the other “content” that you utilize to market your dealership and inventory. You don’t spend your day manually cutting and pasting your other content on multiple touch-points all day long — manually uploading photos, and manually writing vehicle descriptions over and over. Why on earth would you try to manually manage your video syndication when producing the content can be time consuming enough.

If you focus your efforts on ensuring that you have great video content, and then utilize technology to get that content on as many of the sites consumers view in the car buying process as possible, then you will be significantly more likely to have the right content, on the right touch-point, in front of the right consumer, at the right time of the buying cycle. This is the only thing that’s going to engage more shoppers and increase sales.

Nike’s old slogan of “Just Do It” needs to be revised when applied to successful marketing strategies today to “Just Do It Right.”

Ciel et Message

Building Rapport Before the Lead Is the Way to Win the Sale

By Tim James

In my last blog article, I discussed the importance of building rapport with leads through the use of “Why Buy From Me” and “Lead Response” videos personalized for each customer. Now I would like to take this one step further — Building rapport should in fact start much earlier than simply upon the receipt of a lead.

Think about the first contact a customer has with your dealership. Chances are good that they either went to your website, or found a vehicle that matched their interest on a third party site. At this point, detailed descriptions, images and video walkarounds can certainly make your vehicle stand out from the others. But how about further increasing the probability that the customer chooses to deal with you over any competition? How about building trust and rapport at this first entry point instead of waiting for them to put in their personal information and enter your CRM as a lead?

Just as you can integrate video walkarounds of the vehicle on VDP pages, you can also integrate your “Why Buy From Us” or “Why Buy From Me” videos into your vehicle display pages, as well as your most visited page on your website – your homepage. Sell The Dealership, Sell Yourself, Sell The Car…This simple rule can have a significant impact on the number of shoppers who see your online advertisements and ultimately trust you enough to reach out to you and inquire about a vehicle. And a HUGE impact on your sales once the customer arrives on your lot.

These actions help to build rapport and establish trust prior to receiving a lead, making the process of contacting the customer and engaging them that much easier when you do receive a lead. The fact is that you can build so much likeability and trust with a shopper that they decide that “you” are the dealership or sales person that they want to do business with, even before they have landed on a specific vehicle. You will even have shoppers who call you, email you, or even just show up at your dealership, without having settled on an exact vehicle, simply because they like and trust your dealership, or one of your salespeople. They thus reach out to you to help them find the right vehicle. Combine the above actions with walkaround videos and personalized video e-mails and you’ll find it much easier to win over a customer, leaving your competition in the dust.

Start creating rapport at the first touch-point, otherwise you could find yourself competing with four other dealers for the potential customer’s attention. A successful sales career is all about building relationships. The earlier in the car buying process that you can accomplish this, the easier it will be to engage a customer, more customers will show up for test drives, and you will haggle significantly less over price. You will get more sales and higher gross, because you are the good guys and the shopper wants to do business with YOU!