Video Isn’t Only for Marketing

When it comes to video, most dealerships tend to think of it for purely sales department use, and sometimes in service. From communicating with customers via personalized emails, to live video walkarounds, video is certainly an excellent way to engage customers and increase VDP views. It is also a great tool for the service department to better explain and illustrate service recommendations and educate customers on the necessity for any needed repairs.

However, there are a couple of other powerful uses for video that tend to be overlooked when implementing a video strategy.

  1. Human Resources – Every time your dealership hires an employee, a typical onboarding process likely involves lots of paperwork and a significant amount of time spent reviewing manuals or other materials that tend to be rather dry, boring and hard to get through. Video can be a highly effective tool in these instances. Use it to pre-record important company policies and other onboarding information in a more engaging manner that new employees will find easier to remember and will tend to pay more attention to.

    Video can also be used by your human resources department in recruiting and hiring. Video resumes have become increasingly popular. They are much easier for human resources to review and get a real feel for an applicant. They also offer more insight into the personality of the applicant. This works especially well when considering a salesperson. If you think about it, a video resume is simply a candidate selling themselves to you. In addition, it shows effort on the part of the applicant and weeds out those that may be applying but have no real interest in a career in retail automotive. This saves human resources and management staff time in the selection process and can bring in better potential candidates for interviews.

  2. General Questions / FAQ – Another great use for video is to identify general questions that customers ask and then create video content for your website. Examples could include: “Why does it take so long to buy a car?” or “Why an extended warranty or service contract should be considered.” These videos provide rich content that engages your customers. It also serves to show those visitors that are on your website – but who have not yet contacted the dealership – that you are helpful and willing to provide information.

This type of information is exactly what customers search for during their journey along the many touchpoints in the car buying process. Ask your salespeople, service advisors, F&I managers and receptionists which questions tend to be asked repeatedly. The customer probably already tried to find the answer on your website and, had you offered the content, it could have swayed that customer towards choosing your dealership over your competitors. By providing this content, it helps keep customers on your website longer, engages them, and has the hidden benefit of increasing search engine optimization.

We live in a society with short attention spans. These days, for the majority of consumers video is THE preferred method of communication. Regardless of generation, most people simply would rather watch a video than read a long article, blog post, or technical description.

Save your dealership time, increase exposure, recruit more efficiently and make the onboarding process more engaging by making your video strategy more comprehensive… I promise you it will soon pay dividends.

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Inflatable Gorillas or Videos?

by Tim James

Most dealers have spent many years in the car business. They know what it takes to sell cars. They know when a customer walks onto the lot, the salesperson must give a professional presentation while being able to emotionally connect with and excite the customer into making that purchase.

To this end, most dealers are really great at merchandising their vehicle inventory on the lot. The cars are gleaming, the rows are tight and they use balloons, inflatable gorillas and other attention-grabbing devices to create an air of excitement.

And what about their online inventory? With more than 90% of car shoppers beginning their journey on the Internet, is your dealership doing everything it can to merchandise your vehicles online? After all, your inventory is your #1 asset.

Unfortunately, most Vehicle Display Pages (VDPs) on dealership websites look very similar to each other. This is not the fault of the dealers or even the website providers; these page formats must be standardized so the inventory data can be pulled and distributed to third-party sites. But the result is that these pages, their data and photos look static. A dealership’s most important online merchandising presentation, of their #1 asset, and it is unemotional, unappealing, and has nothing unique about it at all.

That’s why more dealerships are creating inventory videos. Videos convey information while appealing directly to car shoppers’ emotions. In a video, you can include intros that state your dealership’s value proposition; what makes you stand out from your competition? You can include custom promotion and incentive information; why should this shopper come to your store today?

In videos, you can include information beyond what just appears in the inventory data. Instead of reading data (the what), your customers listen to custom voiceovers that appeal to their comfort-loving side, or adventurous side, or budget-conscious side (the why).

Inventory videos are a great way to make your VDP pages shine. However if you decide to go this route, make sure your customers are aware that you have these videos! One mistake that some dealers make is that once the videos are created, they get buried somewhere or can only be accessed via a tiny button somewhere that may have a video symbol but no real call to action.

Fortunately many website vendors are realizing that VDPs need to be re-designed (only slightly) so that videos are more visible. If your dealership is creating inventory videos, make sure your videos can be seen! Here are a few tips:

1) Add a video slider or widget featuring inventory videos on the homepage of your website so your online visitors know that you have videos.

2) Make sure your inventory videos are clearly visible on your VDPs

3) Create a landing page for each inventory video. This will make it easy for your shoppers to have access to your value proposition, customer testimonial or additional inventory videos without having to search your site. More importantly, it puts these videos in front of your shopper at a time of the buying cycle where they can have the biggest impact on your sales. Your landing page should also include a call to action and a lead form.

4) Give your videos emotional appeal! Use professional voice over, music, banners and intros to convey your dealership’s personality and make the customer want more.

The fact is online merchandising efforts have a greater reach and more impact on potential car buyers than merchandising efforts on your lot. As appealing as that purple inflatable gorilla may be, inventory videos are bound to give you more bang for your buck.

Think Virtual Reality is a Fad? Think Again.

by Tim James

Virtual Reality has been quite a craze recently with video gaming and other consumer electronics. However, the high cost of entry and expensive units limited its reach. Even Google’s cardboard VR glasses required smartphones that cost upwards of $700. The Oculus Rift Goggles were even more expensive and required high-end computers to work.

Now, however, Sony has provided a more cost-effective way for consumers to experience VR with the release of VR glasses designed for use with the Playstation 4 game console. With an installed base of 44 million Playstation 4 owners, the glasses instantly sold out on pre-order and are still hard to acquire, which illustrates the high demand for VR experiences. This release immediately made Virtual Reality readily available for mass consumption.

But if you think 44 million is a lot, what about rolling out Virtual Reality to over 2 billion consumers?

Well, that’s about to happen!

In a recent article, Facebook’s CTO revealed a roadmap for the future of Virtual Reality. As you may or may not know, Facebook owns Oculus Rift. However, according to Facebook, their plans for the future of VR for Facebook users do not include Oculus Rift. Instead, Facebook is working on a standalone product that will make Virtual Reality glasses which are integrated with Facebook “cheaper, easy to use and highly distributed.”

The project, named StandAlone, could instantly thrust Virtual Reality into almost every consumer’s hands, transforming it into common use in all areas including conversations via messaging (both audio and video), marketing and content on Facebook’s platform. Imagine experiencing all of the content posts and marketing messages in a VR setting.

Many automakers are currently implementing or actively working on their own VR experiences. And a few already have VR content in place. Virtual Reality is here and consumers are pursuing and embracing this technology. With the cost of entry decreasing and consumer adoption increasing, Facebook’s VR glasses could instantly change the game.

Dealerships that aren’t prepared or that have not already implemented VR experiences with their inventory merchandizing may find themselves scrambling as this technology is increasingly in the hands of consumers. VR isn’t going away, and it is not a fad. It’s also not the future. It’s the now.

Are you prepared?

Design a Video Showroom to Banish Customer Fears

by Tim James, COO, Flick Fusion

Car shoppers still hate to visit dealerships. Ask them why and they’ll tell you they don’t like pushy salespeople, they’re afraid of being ripped off and that buying a car still takes too much time (among other reasons).

In an attempt to banish these customer fears, dealerships come up with marketing slogans like, “No haggle guarantee,” and “Your friendly neighborhood dealer.” But car shoppers remain skeptical. They take to social media, ask friends for recommendations and read online reviews. And increasingly, they’re watching videos.

Video is by far the most powerful communications medium because it taps into our emotion at a sub-conscious level. As human beings we evolved to pay attention to how other humans talk. We interpret their body language. We sense their sincerity. Our very survival can depend upon whether we decide to trust someone–or not.

Instead of telling prospects to trust you, show them they can trust you with videos designed to banish their fears. Create a video showroom on your website that mirrors your sales process and answers your customer’s biggest question: “How will I be treated when I visit this dealership?”

Once you have some good video content, your strategy needs to evolve around getting this video content in front of the right shopper at the right time. Just throwing it on the Homepage or About Us pages of your website doesn’t solve the problem.

Think about it: you train your sales team to “sell the dealership, sell themselves, and then sell the car” when taking an up. This should also be your strategy on your website. Your value proposition and testimonial videos need to be on a landing page along with your inventory videos. So when shoppers click to watch your inventory videos, you are selling the dealership and building trust when it matters most.

What videos should you include on your inventory video landing page? Here are some great ideas:

Value Proposition Videos. After a car shopper decides which make and model they want, the next question they ask is, “Where should I buy it from?” Your video showroom should contain several value proposition videos that give your customers reasons to buy from you.

These videos may have titles like, “Family owned,” “Community involvement,” “Huge selection of vehicles,” or “Fair and upfront pricing.”

Educational Videos. First-time customers and even repeat customers who have not purchased in a while may not know what to expect when they visit your dealership. One of the best ways you can avoid disappointing customers is to set expectations. Create at least one video that takes the customer step-by-step through the process of buying a car. Tell them how much time it will take and explain why each step is necessary.

Customer Testimonials. Today’s car shoppers want social proof. It’s critical to have several customer testimonials in your video showroom that show ordinary people talking about why they like your dealership. When videotaping your testimonials, ask your customers to share what their biggest fear was, and how it turned out they had nothing to fear at all.

Intro Videos. Introduce your general manager, sales manager, service manager and parts manager with personal profile videos. Ensure that the subject is at ease and comes across as likable and friendly. People want to do business with people they like. Video can immediately create that perception, giving your prospects the feeling that they already know and like your staff.

The more you can remove your prospects’ fears and objections, the more you should see an increase in calls, appointments and ups.

What are you customers’ greatest fears? Do you have ideas for videos that will banish those fears?

Don’t Use a Band-Aid When What You Really Need Are Stitches!

by Tim James

There is a lot of talk and buzz building about the importance of video marketing – as there should be. Video is quickly becoming the preferred medium for consumers. Don’t believe me? Literally thousands of articles exist on the Internet illustrating the benefits of using video in your marketing.

But for this blog I would like to take a step back for a minute. I’ve talked about using video in emails, virtual reality, etc. However, it’s time to get back to basics, because, despite the power of video, there are still some dealers who don’t even have videos of their vehicles on their websites.

Let’s get real here. You spend tons of money on your website. That website has one major purpose – to show off your inventory so that a car shopper can get emotionally attached to a vehicle and call you. And I am sure you also spend quite a bit of money driving traffic to your website and vehicle display pages. As well as a considerable chunk of change to get your vehicles on third party listing sites in order to influence and engage with car buyers there. Seeing as all this money is spent to market inventory and drive traffic to it in order to do the only thing that matters – sell a car – then it makes sense to ensure the greatest return on your investment by having the very best advertisement for your vehicle on that vehicle display page!

If you aren’t actually taking full-motion videos to merchandize your vehicles, the next best thing is stitched photo videos. Yeah, I have heard the naysayers that don’t see the value of stitched photo videos but, at the same time, are not doing any video whatsoever. Those dealers are missing out on customers. You don’t have to listen to me… but you should be listening to your customers – and here’s a nugget of data for you:

According to data, stitched photo videos on vehicle display pages have an average 75 percent completion rate.

Now let me ask you a question. Would stitched photo videos have a 75 percent completion rate if customers DIDN’T like them? Of course not. Most dealers have about 40 or so pictures of each vehicle along with a written vehicle description designed to provide information while simultaneously creating an emotional attachment to the vehicle. By presenting this same information with a video (even a stitched photo video), you increase both the informational and emotional value of the content, which means you get more leads.

Look, let’s remove our “opinions” from the equation and just focus on the data, which clearly shows that consumers like and are influenced by stitched photo inventory videos. Time and time again we see dealers go from NO video whatsoever to stitched photo videos — and very quickly realize a significant increase in some of their most important KPIs. We have seen122% increases in unique VDP views, 110% increase in total VDP views, 75% increase in return website visitors and lead form conversions of 95% or more. These are actual increases realized by your peers, just by adding stitched photo inventory videos!

If you’re NOT using video, don’t you want these performance increases from your website? And these are results from dealers that simply flipped a switch with their video provider and turned on stitched photo videos. This took no extra effort on their part whatsoever. The pictures are already being taken. The software does the rest.

Nobody ever said video marketing needs to be overwhelming. Sometimes you have to crawl before you can run. But what really matters is that the mere act of crawling will get you farther than doing nothing whatsoever.

There are many other reasons that inventory videos are critical to your Video Marketing Strategy, even if you only use stitched photo videos — particularly when it comes to the data capture and utilization power of inventory videos. The bottom line is that customers want to watch inventory videos and they will have a significant impact on your sales. If you don’t provide it for them, you may find them watching another dealership’s videos. And that probably won’t work out in your favor.

Communicate Your Dealership’s “Why” With Video

by Tim James

Great leaders and organizations inspire people because they are good at explaining why they do what they do. Their why gets people motivated. Their why makes people want to work for that company. Their why makes people want to buy their products.

For auto dealerships, your purpose is your “why buy” or “value proposition” message. The goal of this message is inspire, motivate and make people want to buy your cars.

Dealers, if you don’t know your why, I highly recommend finding it. Author Simon Sinek has a book called “Start With Why” and a course on how to find your why. There are dozens of articles on the Internet that can help you find your why. I won’t go into that here because the purpose of this blog is not to help you find your why.

The purpose of this blog is to help you communicate your why.

Chances are you have some “About Us” content already on your website, and you may even share your “story” during your onboarding process for new employees. But what happens then? The most successful companies throughout history, and the most successful automotive dealerships, are passionate about their “why”.  But having a “why” and communicating your “why” are two very different things.

Once you have your why, you’ve got to get that message out there. You’ve got to be excited about it so your employees are excited about it and your customers are excited about it.

And the best way to communicate your why? Video.

People remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see and 70% of what they see and hear. Video is the ideal medium to communicate your why. The emotion that video conveys can inspire both your employees and your customers.

To illustrate my point, read the following paragraph:

“You can write everything down if you want to. Be brave enough to write every one of your goals down, but I’m gonna tell you something. Life’s gonna hit you in the mouth and you gotta do me a huge favor. Your why has to be greater than that knockdown.”

What do those words make you feel? Anything? Now, if you watch a video and listen to those same words narrated to visual effects, you’ll get an instant chill down your spine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNQhuFL6CWg

See how the same words in a video have a much bigger emotional impact than simple text? Your videos can have a similar effect. If you’re going to make the effort to create videos, you must take advantage of the emotional impact that videos can convey. Otherwise you’re not using the medium to full effect.

Once you have created a powerful “why video,” put it to work for you and you will be amazed at the impact it can have on your business. There are a lot of places to share your “why video”, but for now I’m going to focus on a place where it can have an immediate impact on your sales: your website. I often see dealerships hosting their “why videos” on YouTube, embedding them on the homepage of their website, and that’s it. This is wrong for a couple of reasons. First, if the video that you have embedded on your website is hosted on YouTube, then YouTube is claiming your SEO value for that video. You should either self-host your “why video” or utilize a 3rd party host who will let your website claim the SEO value. This way, when the video is found on Google and engaged by the shopper, they are directed to your website and not YouTube.

Next is where your “why video” should be displayed on your website. Your homepage is a great start; however, the goal is to get it in front of the shoppers where it is more likely to be seen and have an immediate emotional impact. One of the best places to display your “why video” is on your VDP Pages, alongside your inventory video for a vehicle. Not as a pre-roll on your inventory video, but as a standalone video that is visible and can be easily engaged by the shopper as they are browsing your inventory and watching your inventory videos. This is also a great place to have a testimonial video or two as well. And don’t forget the “About Us” pages of your website. This is another relevant page of your website that should include both your “why video” and your testimonial videos as well.

Why wait? Communicate your why to create an emotional connection, inspire and motivate your customers. Video is the most effective medium for doing so.