Boy is presented flowers to girl

Can Anybody Find Me Somebody To Love?

By Tim James

That classic line from the song “Somebody to Love” by legendary band, Queen epitomizes the destination for consumers and the goal of all salespeople. There’s not a doubt in my mind that you’ve heard the phrase “People buy from people they like.” In the past, a consumer had to come into a dealership to start the car shopping process. This is where the important skill of “building rapport” came into play for salespeople. Great salespeople learned quickly how to find common interests and develop relationships with their clients, while assisting them to find the right vehicle.

Fast forward to today. Consumers now have the option of car shopping anonymously. Dealership Internet and BDC departments are inundated with leads arriving from countless sources. Consumers chose to share some or all of their information after narrowing down their online research. They’ve engaged with you to some degree and have given you the opportunity to earn their business. You must remember, however, that to the consumer, you are only a car dealership. Chances are also good that you are not the only car dealership who they (or a third party) has given this opportunity to. All dealerships have auto-responders and the standard “Why Buy From Us” email templates are sent to leads pretty quickly. Because the consumer is inundated with these templates, they are meaningless.

The fact is that people buy from people they like. So, how do you make that emotional connection with a lead? It’s certainly not through e-mail templates.

Consumers like to be treated as if they are special. They can smell an e-mail template before it even hits their in-box. While it’s fine to tell your dealership’s story, don’t forget the importance of building rapport — it will go a long way towards winning the sale.

Highly successful dealers have started sending out individualized “Why Buy From Me” type videos in their e-mails. These videos are personalized to each and every customer. These are not just a homogenized blanket “one size fits all” type of message. The reason this works is because of a very simple concept known to salespeople. By saying someone’s name, you recognize them as a person… and individual. No longer is your video message “My name is Tim. And I would like to earn your business… Mr. Blank.”

Instead the message is directed to the individual as … “My name is Tim and I want to earn YOUR business, Mr. Smith.” — That’s a very different message.

What do you do if you see someone you know walking nearby, but out of reach? You yell out their name! Why? Because it gets their attention! And that’s exactly what personalized video responses accomplish.

The bottom line is that the possible touch points on the consumer’s online car shopping path are increasing at an incredibly rapid pace, almost daily. It is becoming more and more difficult to stand out and claim a customer’s attention. This very simple technique can make your interactions more personal and help to gain the customer’s attention. I am sure you will find that more people appreciate, respond and give you the opportunity to earn their business.

After all, we all simply want to find somebody to love. Make sure that somebody is you.

Little-mermaid-1080p-disneyscreencaps.com-1906

Don’t Get Distracted by Gadgets and Gizmos: Master the Basics to Succeed

by Brian Cox

For years, dealers have been inundated with technology. Salespeople from every vendor in the automotive space are continuously calling to present the latest and greatest product that is going to supercharge your sales. Great salespeople can convince a dealer or general manager to try products. Some of these products are excellent and could actually help … if you understand how to use them to their full potential.

There are some dealers that have both the time and expertise to devote to learning and using technology. But, sadly, that’s not realistic for many dealerships. To the vendors presenting their products, it may seem easy. However, if the product or service isn’t used to its full capabilities, chances are good that a dealer doesn’t stay a client very long.

If you are one of the rare dealerships or auto groups that has a tech-savvy employee who understands the products and services, and also has the time to use and implement them, you are ahead of the game. If, however, you aren’t in a position to hire or give someone these responsibilities, chances are that all of the gadgets and gizmos that sound wonderful will end up collecting dust. In any profession, continuous practice in the basics of your profession can assist you in growing and developing more advanced techniques.

As a dealership, there are certain basic services that are necessary. You need a DMS and CRM to track customers, vehicles and transactions. You also need a website that consumers can visit and gain information from. And, in order to capture the attention of online car shoppers, you must have the ability to distribute your inventory to your website and all your third-party sites, in a way that provides maximum exposure and appeal.

Technology continues to develop at the speed of light and is almost impossible to keep up with. It’s really not that long ago that many dealers did not see the need for a website, let along photo and video descriptions and a digital marketing strategy! However, the fact is that over time, the early adopters had a huge advantage over those who didn’t use technology to create exposure for their dealership and inventory.

The bottom line is there are a HUGE amount of gadgets, gizmos, who’s-its and what’s its available to help enhance your presence with today’s vehicle shoppers, both on and offline. It can be overwhelming to know where to start, and what’s important. If you want to do it yourself and don’t have the budget to hire someone internally, or an outside resource, take a step back and think about learning, practicing and mastering the basics before graduating to more advanced technologies. Otherwise you just may find yourself in a cave surrounded by thingamabobs wondering what they do!

Dating

Car Shopping: The Dating Game

by Tim James

For many car owners, their vehicles become an extension of their lives, a partner, and something that they have a true emotional bond with. In most places, cars are necessary to life. We use them to get to work, visit friends and family and take our kids to football practice. According to an article on the Tempo blog, a study done by Harvard Health Watch found that, on average, a person spends 37,935 hours driving during a lifetime – over 4 years of their lives. It’s no wonder that consumers build an emotional connection with their vehicles.

A time will come for nearly every consumer when a new vehicle is necessary. Perhaps because of an expanding family, an accident, or the fact that the age and condition of a current vehicle necessitates it. These can be emotional times for people, and can be an important thing for us to consider in the buying process — the fact that some consumers have emotional attachments to their current vehicle and are looking for their next “partner,” if you will.

Brands lure consumers to their vehicles with original content designed to generate interest in their make. It is then your job to take that and transition it to interest in a specific vehicle. Think of it like speed dating. The car lots of the world are now represented online with every dealership of every make representing potential suitors. However, few do a good job of representing their potential “dates.” The consumer wades through countless profiles and descriptions trying to find their next “partner.” The process becomes frustrating as the consumer’s search narrow in, become more specific, yet they are met with numerous profiles that all virtually look the same. You have the same 35 to 50 photos as everyone else, the same list of features, and the same buttons with the same calls to action as everyone else. Why should the shopper choose you?

The point is that successful dealers make it as easy as possible for a car shopper to start the love connection with THEIR car by telling the vehicle’s story through images, narratives descriptions and, most importantly, a good unique video.

But that’s not all. Let’s take the dating analogy again — Perhaps match.com isn’t the ideal place for you to meet that next special someone. It’s certainly not the only dating site in existence. To position your dealership’s inventory to have the best chance of success, you need to make sure that you are on as many dating sites as possible. Ensuring that your car has the best chance of getting chosen involves developing a strategy that reaches the right shopper on the right touch-point at the right time in their buying cycle. With the right strategy, you will appeal to the fundamental emotional relationship that most shoppers are searching for (it’s not just a car to them) and successfully match more shoppers with their next “partner” than you will by simply trying to motivate the shopper with “price”.

hand press play button sign to start or initiate projects as concept

Why Video Is Important For Your Marketing Strategy

by Brian Cox

When businesses ponder how to increase their presence on search engines, they typically turn to SEO strategies. Content marketing has always been a large part of any SEO strategy. It’s a given that the more fresh, relevant and unique content you produce, the better chance your online properties will have of showing in search engine results. According to an article by Search Engine Land, in the past, when considering an SEO plan, the primary type of content marketers thought of was text. As consumer behavior changes, however, visual content is becoming increasingly important.

According to the article, a Google study that tracked consumers’ points of influence on their path to purchase, found that 64 percent of consumers were influenced by video they saw on YouTube – 2/3 of which were “how-to” and “product visualization” type video. These videos match the content type that auto dealers use. In fact, according to the study, 60 percent of consumers reported that online digital marketing factored into their path to purchase. And a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that experts are now advising marketers to move 10% to 25% of TV ad dollars to online video.

Today’s vehicle shoppers have many decisions to make along the path to purchase. A consumer who visits an online shopping portal will typically be presented with a list of vehicles that meet their criteria in order of price, lowest to highest. They will then start filtering out vehicles from those results based on such things as mileage, condition, vehicle descriptions and pictures and video provided by the dealer. Vehicles with no (or poor) descriptions or ones that lack photos and video have a greater likelihood of being passed over. Vehicle description pages that contain rich details including images and video stand a far greater chance at seeing customer engagement. It’s hard to believe that anyone would disagree with this very basic assessment.

The same idea translates to search engine optimization. The goal, obviously, in any search engine optimization strategy is to be found whenever a consumer makes a relevant search. According to Search Engine Land, however, that’s not what the real goal is (or should be). Simply showing up does nothing except satisfy a marketer or SEO practitioner’s ego. The true goal is click-through-rate. The more opportunities you can provide a customer who is searching for a vehicle to find your dealership and/or vehicle (i.e. the more times you appear within a given search), the greater the likelihood will be that they will click on a link to your content versus your competition. To accomplish this, you must have a presence on all the consumer touchpoints in every medium possible – video, images and text – thereby offering more content for a search engine to crawl and deliver within the results.

The bottom line is that consumers are using more resources than ever before when shopping for a vehicle. Ensuring that the type of content a consumer wants to see is present on every touchpoint is essential to increase web traffic and consumer engagement. Don’t get me wrong, simply throwing money into video marketing is not what I advise. You would be wise to invest in a comprehensive video strategy that maximizes the exposure, quality and effectiveness of your video content. It will make the difference and allow you to dominate all of your online marketing channels.

Wizard-of-Oz-behind-the-curtain

Does Your Dealership Hide Behind The Curtain?

by Tim James

Virtually every dealership today uses their website, social media channels, and email to be a part of their “voice” when it comes to communicating with their customers and begin building a “trust” relationship long before the shopper ever visits their store.

The ultimate goal of each of these communications is to drive the consumer to your lot. Your team is very good at building that “trust” relationship with each shopper once they do actually visit your dealership. The question is, are you putting your best face forward on the web?

The faces behind the voices

To really accelerate the “trust relationship,” consider putting short videos of each of your employees on your website. Vehicle shoppers are now used to using electronic devices and many prefer a more visual approach to research. They like to use videos to help better educate them on their options. This is a great opportunity to highlight employee knowledge and expertise and to personalize your store for the customer. It is human nature to want to do business with someone that you feel a personal connection with. We all know that people buy from people they like. Well, people will choose your store to visit for a test drive over your competitor’s if they feel that personal connection, too. In fact, you will find that many shoppers may visit your store just because they feel a personal connection with a member of your sales team, even while they are still undecided on a vehicle. At the very least, consider including names, photos, contact information, and perhaps even short text bios, as this can help build customer trust. This practice can even assist a customer to reconnect with a specific person they dealt with on their previous visit and liked.

Personal video e-mail bios are also an excellent way to connect with your customers, the response rate can double as consumers like to receive personal contact from a “real” person. “Thank you” and “Welcome” videos from the dealer or general manager integrated into auto-responders for incoming leads can also further personalize your store. This simple action can elevate you over your competitor’s uninspiring automated responses. In addition to the personal video e-mail bios and visible employee information on the website, consider including a thumbnail photo, or at the very least, a specific person’s name, and title plus their contact information on all emails.

Building rapport with the consumer and developing trust usually pays off in dividends with in an increase of customers into your dealership, as well as higher loyalty and retention from existing customers. The customer’s ride may begin online, by phone or through email, but if you are to help them on their journey, your dealership and your staff need to be visible and available so that there is no mystery about who or what is behind the curtain.