The Future of Video Marketing

By Tim James

The majority of consumers prefer video content which is why social media and streaming services thrive (and prefer) this form of media.

I remember when it was revolutionary for an inventory syndication company to take still photos and convert them into stitched photos videos

Then we evolved to video walkarounds where an actual video of the vehicle is used (rather than still pictures put together) which increases engagement because the consumer can see the vehicle almost as if they are on the lot This also enables the dealership to produce their own custom voice-overs whereby a salesperson describes the features and benefits just as they would if they were doing it in real-life.

And then we moved on to taking personalized videos of vehicles for a specific customer, answering their questions then emailing the video to them. Take it up a notch and we are now able to use individual shopper data to change the viewing experience for each individual shopper based on their viewing habits and report each viewing experience back to your CRM in real-time.

Then we graduated to real-time Livestream video to communicate with customers on mobile devices, whether that be for purchasing questions or simply to let the customer guide the salesperson while doing a virtual walkaround (or virtual test-drive) to show them what they want to see. Imagine a salesperson being able to communicate with a customer just as if the salesperson were standing in the room with them!.

Now we get into the Star Trek zone…

The Cirque de Soleil show, Michael Jackson One, in Las Vegas, has an awe-inspiring feature — Michael Jackson himself appears as a hologram. And the recent Digital Dealer Conference featured an ENTIRE CONCERT with a hologram of Whitney Houston. Let me tell you, it looks like these departed celebrities are really there. They’re dancing next to real-life dancers and singing their songs. It is certainly very engaging.

The point is that video – as well as technology in general – continues to evolve. The technology to bring people in various locations together so they can engage with each other in meaningful ways will only continue to progress. What is the thread that drives all of this? It’s video. And that is how important it is for engaging others.

What’s the next step? Perhaps we’ll be able to just transport a salesperson and a vehicle into the customer’s living room (with their permission, of course.) Now, beam me up, Scotty!

Video Experience Landing Pages: Sell Your Dealership, Then Sell the Car

By Tim James

Most automotive sales professionals are familiar with the road to the sale. Steps vary in details from dealer to dealer, but everyone agrees on the importance of the meet and greet, the vehicle presentation, and selling the dealership. The purpose of the “sell the dealership” step is to build trust and rapport with the customer.

Considering the large number of commercials that are being aired by the online retailers attempting to convince the consumer that they will have a terrible experience if they shop with you, these steps have never been more important than they are now.  Selling your dealership lets the customer know that they are at a dealership that they can trust – one that respects their time and has a knowledgeable and informed staff that the shopper believes are there to help, without pressuring them into decisions that they aren’t ready to make. Selling your dealership starts with breaking down barriers to inspire trust between the customer and whoever they will come in contact with at your dealership throughout their buying process.

On the lot, sales professionals are trained to sell the dealership first, then sell yourself, and then sell the car. Unfortunately, most online dealerships only focus on selling the car, forgetting that building a trust relationship with your shoppers by selling your dealership is still just as important in the online marketplace. Most consumers still need to learn more about the dealership and the sales professionals before engaging with their initial contact. In fact, Google tells us that “Where Should I Buy It” is even one of the most important micro-moments in the online buying cycle. So, how can you ensure that you are still selling your dealership when engaging with a customer online early enough in the buying cycle for it to have the largest impact?

The key is to implement an online video marketing strategy that duplicates your physical strategy and assures you are getting the right video content in front of your shoppers at the right time of the buying cycle. This can be easily accomplished by adding a landing page to your website that provides a complete Video Experience, containing all of the Why Buy videos that your shoppers will seek throughout the entire buying cycle. Displaying all of these videos in the same place on your landing page via itemized menu tabs, and making that landing page accessible from every drop down on your site’s main navigation, allows you to seamlessly guide shoppers down the buying cycle.

Here’s an example of what this tabbed video experience on your landing page might look like:

From your site’s main navigation, include links to a specific tab on the above menu that displays the most relevant information when they land on the page. The good news is that you already have all of the video content that will be on the landing page, you are simply offering it to your shoppers in a different manner.

Here are some examples of videos that can display on every menu item on your landing page, according to the main menu navigation dropdown that they should be found in:

New Inventory Dropdown: Pointing shoppers to New Model Test Drive Videos from the Research Pages dropdown in your site’s main navigation will boost consumer engagement and dealership trust dramatically. Without videos on these pages, you are forcing your shoppers to either find new model information OFF of your website, or forcing them to read text descriptions while browsing a handful of photos. Adding New Model Test Drive videos will not only drive more organic SEO to your website and keep shoppers on your site longer, but will also prevent them from leaving your site to find information on new models (and possibly ending up back in the marketplace as they look for that information).

Now that the shopper is on your website and researching your various brands, include your dealership Value Proposition and Testimonial video content as additional video content on those same pages. This helps to transition consumers from top-funnel video content to mid-funnel video content, where you are now selling the dealership just like you do when a customer physically walks onto your lot. Adding a New Model Test Drive Videos option in your New Inventory dropdown is also recommended.

Pre Owned Inventory Dropdown: Every dealership should have inventory videos for their used inventory, on both SRPs and VDPs. However, on the Pre Owned dropdown of your site’s main navigation, you should also include a link directing shoppers to the Pre Owned Inventory Standards section of your video experience landing page.

Pre Owned Inventory Standards videos build trust by informing shoppers that you care about the quality of the vehicle that they are purchasing from your dealership, and that you are committed to giving them the best experience possible. These videos outline the process that you take to clean and inspect every vehicle, from engine degreasing to deep carpet cleaning. They also give the perfect opportunity to promote returning for service whenever the buyer may need detailing or something on their car looked at. Build trust with your shoppers by showing them that your dealership cares about the quality of your inventory, and put your reliable vehicles and service at the forefront of your shopper’s mind.  Then be certain to include these same video, along with your dealership value proposition and testimonial videos, alongside the VIN specific inventory videos on your SRP and VDP displays.  This puts them in front of your shoppers at a stage of the buying cycle when they will have the biggest impact, selling your dealership at the same time you are selling the car.

Finance Department Dropdown: Many consumers enter the automotive shopping process with several concerns regarding finances, such as: the impact that their financial condition will have on their ability to purchase, the final price of their purchase, and how they will purchase. Make it easy for your online shoppers to get their questions answered long before they contact you by having various Finance FAQ videos on your Video Experience Landing Page. With these videos on your landing page, customers can find them both by seeing them while watching other videos on your page, as well as by having that specific section linked to in your sites Finance Department Dropdown.

These videos can vary anywhere from “Can I get a loan after bankruptcy?” to “How can I get the lowest car payment?”. The goal and end result with having these videos readily accessible and linked to from your main dropdown is to display that your dealership is transparent and is there to guide your shoppers through this process – while giving them valuable financing information.

Service Department Dropdown: To continue efforts on getting buyers to come back for servicing their vehicles, you should also feature a Service FAQ tab in your Video Experience Landing Page. These videos should answer the most common questions asked when it comes to your dealership’s service department, doing it in a much more engaging way than text on a screen and giving your shoppers the chance to navigate to the other tabs and videos on your landing page. These videos can include how to make a service appointment, current service offers you have, etc.  

About Us Dropdown: On the About Us portion of your site’s main navigation, linking to dealership specific videos on your Video Experience Landing Page is a great way to humanize your store to your shoppers. When a customer clicks on this link and is directed to videos in your About Us page tab, they are specifically looking to find out if your dealership and your staff are people that they can trust with their purchase. Your goal with videos in this section should be to inspire emotion and guide shoppers toward contacting your sales team. Let the consumer know that they will gave a great experience doing business with you, contrary to the message being presented to them by the online retailers.  These videos can include topics such as your mission statement, your community involvement, staff biographies, customer testimonials, etc. – anything that shows what makes your dealership different and trustworthy.

In the online marketplace, many dealerships forget about selling anything more than just the car. The fact is, shoppers still need to be sold on your dealership and your online strategy should not be all that different from your in-store strategy. The best way to accomplish this is to provide your shoppers with a Video Experience Landing Page – a place that contains all of your Why Buy videos and is linked to from your sites main navigation menu. Having these videos consolidated allows you to build trust and guide customers through the buying cycle all on one page, while giving them a one-stop-shop for all of the information they could need regarding why they should buy from you over your competition.

Make Your Videos Talk, Even When They’re Silent

by Tim James

When it comes to marketing, video is the most effective, engaging, and preferred medium by consumers. Every social media platform has preached this for years and statistics support this fact. Streaming video is beginning to outperform cable and consumers increasingly choose video online over all other mediums.

There are ways to supercharge your video content by using the videos you are already making to further benefit your marketing strategy – specifically by adding subtitles to those videos.

According to an article on Marketing Week, adding subtitles to your videos produces multiple benefits. Similar to I-frame content or widgets added to your website, Google cannot always “read” video content when crawling your website, and so it has no benefit to search results. But Google (and other search engines) can read videos that have subtitles included. Why? Because by including the text, it transitions your unreadable video into a readable one. This adds incredible value to your video content from an SEO stance.

Have you ever scrolled through a social media platform, seen a video without the sound on, and kept scrolling? By adding subtitles to your video, consumers can not only watch the video but also see what you’re saying. The Marketing Week article shares statistics from Verizon stating that a full 50% of consumers watch video content with the sound off. This percentage increases to 69% when consumers watch a video in public. Subtitles allow those consumers to watch your video content and get the words, thus increasing the percentage of people who see and continue to engage with your video content by simply allowing them to absorb the content and keep engagement on their terms.

Google (and others) penalize websites that aren’t compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many OEMs and website providers are also requiring ADA compliant videos and more are soon to follow. Plenty of car shoppers are hearing impaired and, while a video is great, if a potential car buyer can’t hear your video, it’s useless to them. By adding subtitles, those consumers will be more attracted to your dealership in the same way that having a salesperson that knows sign language, speaks Spanish, Korean or any other language makes those customers feel more at ease. Consumers feel more comfortable when dealerships (or any business) communicate with them on their terms.

While all of your videos should be ADA compliant, there are some videos that would benefit the most if they can be watched in any setting. Customer testimonials, value proposition, finance & service, FAQs, and other “Why Buy” videos all benefit by having great subtitles. If your shoppers are in a situation where they need to watch your videos without sound, these informative and emotion-inducing videos must have subtitles so they can still make an impact no matter the setting.

Competition between dealerships for consumers is hyper-competitive from acquisition to retention to brand loyalty. Anything you can add to your arsenal gives you an advantage over your rivals. Making your videos ADA compliant and available to watch in any setting gives you an edge over dealerships whose videos can’t evoke emotion or transfer information when customers have to watch silently.

Consider adding subtitles to your dealership’s video experience so your videos stand out and shout even when they’re silent.

Interactive Video: The Power of Story

by Tim James

Video has taken over as the preferred form of content for consumers. According to an infographic on The Drum, in 2017 only 63% of businesses used videos in their marketing. Fast forward to 2021 and that statistic has exploded to 86%. In addition, 85% of consumers stated that they would like to see even more video content from businesses. But forget about these statistics for a moment and just think about yourself and your habits. Would you prefer to read a bunch of words about a product you are researching, or watch an informative video on it?

In my past blogs I have shared various ways you can use video to engage your customers — but here is another idea:

Most dealerships hold new car-owner clinics designed to welcome shoppers who just purchased a new car to the dealership’s family, introduce them to service, and answer any questions they may have after owning their vehicle. These clinics handle a variety of things from how to set the seat memory function, to how to pair their iPhone with the vehicle’s entertainment system. The clinics are designed to invest the customer in your dealership while encouraging them to continue to do business with you as well as refer their friends and family.

If run well, the clinics show the customer that you care and that they are important to your dealership. This sort of service builds tremendous trust with your dealership’s new customers. The problem is, especially now with Covid, many new car owners don’t show up. Whether that’s because of a scheduling issue, or a feeling that it is not important, varies from customer to customer. What if you could offer a similar experience to your customers through video? It’s quite simple!

Think of an interactive video similar to a choose-your-own adventure-type experience. Do you remember those books? You read a page and then, at the end of the page, decide what you want to do next. How about creating a similar experience for your customers, but with video? As vehicles become increasingly more sophisticated and technology-infused, these questions will become more frequent, and your customers will go online to find the answers to their questions rather than come to you. Why don’t YOU become their go-to resource?

Start with what you want them to see and learn, along with the people you want them to meet, and make videos of those things. Typically, at these events, salespeople answer the customer’s vehicle-specific questions such as how the memory seats work, or how rain-sending wipers are set up.

Then, you need to put these videos where your customers will see them. The best way to get these videos seen is to use video email/text to follow up with your new customers. First, create a video introducing how your process works. Put this video on a landing page that includes videos covering the car-specific topics that you think the customer should see, whether it is features of their vehicle’s infotainment system or unique settings on their seat adjustments. This allows customers to guide themselves through your educational process at their own pace, using the power of video to retain more information and come back to watch whenever they need to.

Finally, offer each consumer the opportunity to Live Stream with you on the fly. I know that we all have become familiar with many live streaming services like ZOOM or Facetime. The problem is that not all live streaming services work on all devices (Apple, Android, Desktop, Mobile, etc.) and scheduling set times to live stream often leads to consumers ditching because something came up at that time. Utilize the new “one-click” live streaming technology that places a “Video Call” button on your landing pages (or any designated page) that the consumer can engage anytime at their convenience. This button will call into your dealership’s system and ring any designated team member who is online at that time. When the call is answered by a dealership employee, the consumer and employee are instantly placed in a live streaming call, and it all happens at the consumer’s convenience. Now your employee can walk through the various features with the consumer, just as if they were at a live event. 

Interactive, personalized video engages your customers. It also makes you their go-to resource, helps the customer gain more familiarity with your dealership and staff, and starts the process of building brand loyalty which, hopefully, culminates with a brand advocate. And there is no better, or more profitable, customer than that!

All Aboard! Using Video to Onboard Employees

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, there are many uses for video in marketing. One thing I haven’t yet discussed is using video internally in your dealership. At many dealerships, training is not always a strong focus and new employees are introduced to the dealership and company culture through piles of paperwork, manuals, and other tedious tasks that, for the most part, get skimmed through – rather like all of those “Terms and Agreements” we are all subjected to continuously. For the most part, these just go unread, and we simply scroll down until we reach the “Agree” button.

Well, similar to how you can use video to great success to engage your potential and existing customers, you can also use video to engage new employees and make it simpler and more enjoyable for them to learn about their new career as well as your dealership’s culture, branding, and messaging. Incorporating training videos into your onboarding process will be more engaging and will also be remembered over piles of paper.

Here are four ways to incorporate video into your training:

  1. Sexual Harassment/Discrimination Policies – These are pretty standard in almost every business. Typically, however, there are manuals that have to be read. Then, at the end, the employee just needs to sign the last page and turn it in. These are very important for company culture and legal compliance. Consider having your corporate office or Human Resources department create a video outlining the dealership’s policies THEN have the employee watch the video and sign the form stating they understand them. It would be much more engaging, and, with the right platform, you can have a data record of what has been watched.
  2. Company Culture Overview – Dealerships market the experience consumers should expect and employees are on the front line of this. Employees can either reinforce that promise or detract from it. Consider creating a video for employees that illustrates the company culture and the importance of complying while also explaining expectations. You can then get a head start on the new employee’s indoctrination into the organization.
  3. Meet the Team – All too often, a new hire completes all of the paperwork and gets thrust into their new role without knowing who else exists in the dealership outside of the few they work with directly. Just as it is a good idea to make videos introducing yourself to customers, why not have department managers – front, back office, and service – create a short video introducing themselves to a new employee? This will help the new employee start their career with a sense of who everyone is and what they do and add a sense of the “team” they are joining.
  4. Social Media Policies – Most dealerships have policies in place for employees’ use of social media platforms. Whatever your policies happen to be, the new employee should be informed of them right from the beginning. There have been lawsuits whereby employees were terminated because of social media use and, when the employee sued the dealership, the dealership lost due to lack of a policy.

When you make these videos, you would be wise to use a video platform that provides data. Then you can allow these employees to watch these videos in the comfort of their own home –rather than sticking them in a closet with a bunch of paperwork.

Employees will feel more comfortable, will pay more attention, and should, ultimately be ready to roll from the first day they step into the dealership.

Taking Moment Marketing to a Whole New Level

By Tim James

In a past blog, I talked about how dealers can capitalize upon customer moments in their video marketing strategies. This is an excellent tool for utilizing sales and service customers to acquire new ones without spending hundreds of dollars. A recent article I read by MarTech suggests taking this “Moment Marketing” strategy to the next level. Mainly, utilizing current topics and trends to create marketing that consumers care about on a larger scale, going beyond just the dealership’s internal assets.

I am sure you have seen some examples. Do you remember when the power went out during the 2013 Super Bowl? All sorts of companies capitalized on that including Walgreens, Oreo, Tide, and even Audi taking a shot at Mercedes… and they all went viral.

I realize that your dealership probably does not have the resources to accomplish that level of marketing. However, you may be surprised to learn that many of you are probably already doing it on some level. Think about how most dealerships’ marketing changed during the pandemic to showing how hygienic, clean, and safe their dealerships (that could be open) were. Or how they instituted pickup and delivery services for both service and sales during the pandemic.

Currently, the auto industry is experiencing turmoil in vehicle acquisition and pricing, with some consumers paying MSRP for used vehicles. These acquisition pricing challenges at auction have shifted the marketing focus towards enticing consumers to trade in or sell their cars to the dealer. In addition, dealers are aggressively targeting the end of lease customer 12-18 months before their lease end date rather than the 3-month norm. There are also many consumer-oriented sites advising customers that now is the time to get rid of that vehicle because they can get an extremely attractive trade-in value.

To take a larger view of Moment Marketing, and to produce the most ROI from this marketing, it helps to additionally be aware of what’s going on in your communities, PMA, and the world. Besides using video to focus on how great your dealership is through customer testimonials; consider utilizing video to show how your dealership understands and cares about the exact things your customers do. It’s not a hard concept because every dealer, dealership employee, or even your vendor partners care about a lot of the same things that are going on. Whether that’s unusual or funny things that happened (like the lights going out at the Super Bowl through social media posts); or more emotional things such as the Budweiser Clydesdales kneeling to remember September 11 ten years after the fact, these are things that endear people to your brand by touching their hearts and creating an emotional connection.

There is no way for me to know what’s going on that is important to your local community. Every dealership is going to have its own “moments.” I can tell you, however, that the majority of us know what’s going on in the United States. By being sensitive, identifying what matters to YOU and your customers, and using that information to create sensitive, emotional, funny creative video (depending on the situation, of course,) your videos can transcend the normal “buy a car” type videos.

Create videos that connect your dealership with consumers, build brand awareness and advocate and increase engagement with your content. This will endear your customers and potential customers to you and, when they’re ready, they will choose you over your competition.

Live Video Calling: Carvana’s Kryptonite

Video marketing has been a growing focus in nearly every industry for over a decade. But during the past year-and-a-half, due to a majority of business moving to virtual, video use at dealerships has exploded. While covid-related restrictions have started to ease in recent months, video has taken root and continued to be an essential tool to help sell more cars. This is because not all consumers are ready to venture out, or they recognize the convenience of an online car buying experience.

At the same time, the used car market is exploding, forcing dealers to increase prices on their lots, with few new vehicles to sell because of chip and parts shortages.

As Carvana and other disrupters are making a play to capture even more market share by running anti-dealership campaigns while willing to lose money buying vehicles high and selling them low, consumers are gravitating towards them.

There is a way, however, to overcome the marketing tactics that these online retailers are pushing so heavily: live video calling. The ability to follow up with your leads with a live video call humanizes your dealership. It gives a face and personality to your sales staff that builds the valuable trust relationship that these companies are trying so hard to break.

While vehicle description pages exist, there is no emotion for a consumer to connect with when they look at text on a screen. Your shoppers will almost assuredly seek more information, while also trying to decide if your dealership is a place that they want to do business with. Through live video calling, your salespeople can connect with their customers, show them the vehicle live and answer any of their questions in real-time.

It does not matter if the live video call is one-sided (where the consumer sees you, but you can’t see them) or two-sided (like a Facebook Live video call). You can build rapport with a customer through a live call, show them the vehicle they expressed interest in and reassure them that YOUR DEALERSHIP will be there for them for whatever they need during the car buying cycle.

As the market continues to lean more and more to the digital side, both dealerships and these industry disruptors will continue getting online leads. The good news is your dealership can still have an advantage over these online companies. Through live video calling, you can prove that you are a business that can still be trusted… much more than any multi-story “car vending machine” can.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Video Content

by Tim James

Video is a great way to engage car shoppers and there are many ways your dealership can benefit from using it to make an incredible impact during the buying cycle. Here are some simple best practice tips that work well and can help you get the most out of your video content.

1. Utilize Video Walkarounds on Vehicle Display Pages and Additional Touchpoints

A lot of dealerships shoot great walkaround videos of various inventory and then post only to their Facebook accounts. When you are already putting in the effort to get videos of your inventory, why not utilize those videos to their full extent? Customers are mainly digital-first in the modern market, and there are countless opportunities to display your videos – ones that you are likely already paying for, like your VDPs, SRPs, Autotrader, and Cars.com. With hundreds if not thousands of “in market” shoppers on these other touchpoints that you are already investing in, it makes the most sense to put your awesome merchandise walkarounds there too.

2. Repurpose video walk-around content

One of the most obvious examples is video walkarounds. The method that most BDCs or salespeople use is to make them on the fly. A lead or phone call comes in and the consumer wants more information about the vehicle and more images. The BDC or salesperson then goes onto the lot, finds the vehicle, pulls it out of the line, records a video (hopefully personalized at minimum), and then emails it to the customer. What happens when, 30 minutes later, another customer calls in with the same request? Well, the process starts over.

How much time are those employees taking to do this? My guess would be a few hours a day that they “could” be following up with opportunities. There are services out there that can reduce that time to minutes. Once a walkaround is completed, the car itself does not change but the message to different shoppers will. Rather than shooting a totally new video of the same thing, you can simply record a personalized picture-in-picture, showing your sales person talking about the features of the car that specific lead is the most interested in.   

3. Repurpose evergreen content on your website to attract more eyeballs

Another great way to repurpose content is to take your evergreen video content and reuse it elsewhere to attract more views. Let’s say that you made a video explaining the importance of a transmission flush – something that customers in your service drive don’t think of or understand. Why not take that video and make a written version of it for your website? This provides great content for customers in your area searching for that information and is also great for SEO purposes.

4. Social Media

Video can also be effective for social media purposes. All platforms now embrace video as the best content format. Using short-form videos to engage customers in their Facebook feeds (or other social media platforms) is a great way to spread the word about your store and tell your story. Some simple content ideas that you can put on your social media are: videos that show what makes your dealership unique, customer testimonials, current deals/incentives, new model test drive snippets, etc. Video doesn’t need to be complicated to be impactful on social media, just give your shoppers content you know they will be interested in an authentic way.

5. Blogs/Content Marketing

If you are writing blog content, take that blog and create a video of its message. You’ve already taken the time to do the writing, why not create a dual-use for it.

On the opposite end of that spectrum, you could take those transcribed or repurposed blogs and create an e-book for your customers out of a compilation. Say you made a video explaining the importance of the many service upsells that consumers don’t understand. Then you made blog posts from those videos. Why not create an e-book or PDF/graphic compiling all of these explanations that consumers can reference?

Keep in mind that you want your dealership to be the go-to resource for all things related to your brand and services. If you don’t provide that information, they will simply find it someplace else. And that might be from a competitor.

In the end, video content can be repurposed in several ways to help your dealership communicate with customers and improve engagement. It can also provide powerful SEO for your website and build your site into a place consumers visit before the competition for sales and service-related information. You become thought leaders for your brand which can then lead to an increase in sales and a higher percentage of service recommendation acceptance.

When it comes to video marketing it pays to take a look at the larger picture to see how you can utilize video for all of your content – and make life easier.

How Do You Sell a Vehicle without Knowing Which Features are Most Important to the Customer? Video!

by Tim James

Part of the vehicle sales process is to learn the customer’s needs and wants. You probably encounter a large number of consumers who don’t know exactly what they want (or need). In fact, it isn’t unusual for an online lead to provide no additional information other than the vehicle they are interested in. Reaching the consumer to learn more about them and their wants/needs can also be difficult. They might respond to you simply asking for a price, and that could be the only information you have when trying to move forward with the sale and relationship-building process. This conundrum makes it more difficult than ever to sell cars, but luckily video is the solution to this issue.

Recently, a dealer asked a question in a Facebook group that was amazingly simple: “What’s the most important thing for you in a car?” As you can imagine, the answers were all over the place. One of the funniest I saw was “an engine,” but many people answered with more interesting responses. The reason they were interesting is that, as a salesperson, you don’t know what a customer wants unless they tell you… and many times they won’t. So how do you sell a car to a customer if you don’t know their needs and wants, and they won’t tell you?

Video walkarounds and video communication. That’s how.

Video Communication:

While a growing number of dealerships utilize video in their lead follow up process, many dealerships still respond to inquiries with a simple “give me a call” or “we’ll be in touch soon,” without answering any questions or trying to connect with the consumer on a personal level at all. This approach simply isn’t enough to make your dealership stand out against the lot on the other side of town. Shoppers look for transparency and someone they can trust when going through the big commitment of buying a new car – and you need to show that your sales team and dealership are trustworthy. Dealerships that utilize video communication in their lead follow-up process not only stand out, but they build those valuable trust relationships that keep shoppers coming back and sharing their experience with anyone they know that may need a car. In other words, you go from just another dealership to a trusted source for your shoppers — simply by getting face-to-face with them over a video call and answering any questions they may have.

Video Walkarounds:

But… without a great video experience, one that includes video walkarounds, some dealerships might not get much of a response from their shoppers at all regarding their inventory.

By using video to display your inventory, you’re able to make an emotional impact on every shopper and get across all the vital information your shoppers care about the most. When you have a video for every car in your inventory, you get the benefit of humanizing your inventory and your dealership, while giving the customer anything they might want to know in the fastest way possible.

Although photos and vehicle descriptions are extremely important merchandising tools, emotion is what sells. There is no better way to transfer the information the consumer is looking for, while inspiring the emotions that will get the consumer attached to a vehicle, than a good video of the vehicle. With this method, you have a much better chance of selling the vehicle or getting a response from the customer about what works or doesn’t work regarding a specific vehicle. Because of your virtual showroom, once a customer is interested, you know what their needs are and can begin building a closer relationship with them via video communication. Win-win!

Video walkarounds and video communication enable you to better engage the customer, build rapport by selling the vehicle, yourself, and the dealership, and become more of a consultant to them than a salesperson. Don’t simply throw photos of your inventory on your site. Instead, combine video inventory and video communication in your strategy to stand out from the rest.

Think of your presentation like your virtual car lot. Take the customer on a tour of the vehicle via a video walkaround, or personalized video that includes all the selling points you would present if they were there in person – Safety, Comfort, Fuel Economy, Performance, etc.

An equally important note is to, no matter the form of video, use it to also sell yourself and the dealership at the same time you are selling the car. The most important sell is “you.” Introduce yourself and your dealership and let the consumer know that you are trying to learn more about their wants/needs and that YOU will work hard for them and provide them with THE best experience — so no need to shop anywhere else.

Utilizing video in this way, having a video strategy for every stage of the buying cycle, allows you to find out what your shoppers want while establishing yourself as a trusted resource.

Capturing Customer Moments and Making them Marketing Gold

by Tim James

Today’s car buyers are usually excited to show off their new car to their friends, families, and associates, either in person or by posting a video of their new vehicle on social media. This creates a huge opportunity for your dealership to earn sales referral business while building a strong library of customer testimonials to utilize across all your online marketing strategies.  What if YOU assisted the customer with their video while they were still at YOUR store? Now the customer is sharing a VIDEO of themselves with their new vehicle, telling people about the wonderful experience your dealership provided, how happy they are with their new vehicle, why their salesperson was great and why others should buy a car from YOU.

Here is an example of how one successful dealership I know has implemented this strategy.They have an area set up with a gong and red carpet. The salespeople use their smartphone cameras to essentially interview the customer about their experience while they are excited. Best part? The salesperson is in the video WITH the customer. The salespeople work as a team and another salesperson (or manager) does the recording. The dealership gets a solid video testimonial that can be used for marketing; the salesperson gets a little juice to sell himself; and, best of all, the customer gets a video they can share with their friends and family!

You may be wondering how the dealership can get away with doing this, as there are all sorts of “potential” issues with using a customer’s video for marketing and/or review purposes without their written consent.

The dealership does one simple thing to ensure it is following rules, it incorporates a media release into its finance paperwork. This way, when the customer comes out of finance and is taking delivery of their new (or new to them) vehicle, and is excited, the salespeople can capture these memories for the customer. And the dealership can utilize those videos on social media or any other channel they wish. Will every customer agree to do a testimonial? Of course not. But If they do they sign the release in the F&I office.

This is an excellent way to build a solid list of customer testimonial videos that will grow throughout the years. Think about it. If your store sells 9 cars per day and, to be conservative, let’s say 50% decline being filmed, that still means 4-5 video testimonials a day, 120 per month… and so on. You get the picture (or video, I should say).  Now you have a library of testimonial videos to display on a testimonials page of your website, next to your inventory videos, on other third-party touchpoints, on social media, and to use as part of your online marketing strategies.

Some may think it is difficult to elicit these responses. Well, it’s not. Just follow two rules: First, train your salespeople to ask specific questions to get the required response you need; and second, always ask the customer to talk about themselves! Don’t ask them why YOU are wonderful, ask them what THEY thought about the experience. You’ll get the answers you are looking for.

If you incorporate video testimonials into your sales and F&I process and train your staff to ask each sold customer to do one, you’ll have more videos than you could desire in no time. Now, go make some videos!