Come on – Does Video REALLY sell cars?

by Tim James

Technology has drastically changed the way businesses and auto dealers operate. Hey, think about it. It was not too far in the distant past that we did just about everything via fax machine. Leads came in, financing was secured and, well, just about everything was via fax.

Consider this… there was once a time when radio and newspaper were the dominant media for disseminating messages to consumers. Potential customers read the newspaper every day and listened to the radio as a primary form of entertainment.

Then along came this revolutionary device known as television. At first, it was expensive and limited to the more affluent classes. However, it very quickly grew into almost 100% of households. Then along came TV commercials. Many car dealers asked themselves, “Why do we need to advertise on television? How is that going to sell more cars?”

However, they soon saw the results and eventually came around. Television continues to be a major player in most dealerships’ marketing budgets. Radio focuses on listening, newspaper focuses on reading, while television combines the two, making for a much more impactful message.

Then along came the Internet and these curious things named “websites” popped up. Consumers were fascinated and dial-up connections became AOL’s claim to fame. Remember those discs which used to be packaged in every magazine, arriving in your mailbox every other day?

The Internet continued to advance. Businesses started buying domain names and setting up websites. And dealers asked, “Why do we need a website? How is that going to help me sell more cars?”

Fast forward to today and every dealer has a website, whether they want one or not, courtesy of the manufacturers.

Now let’s visit mobile phones. Remember when phones were in big suitcase looking things? They were that way because they had to be. Slowly, as technology advanced, they became the brick phones, then consumer demand kept making them smaller… and smaller.

However, as bandwidth increased, and streaming video became popular, all of a sudden Samsung came out with a phone that was… BIGGER!  Why? What changed the trend away from smaller and towards bigger? Video. Video is easier and more entertaining to watch on a bigger screen. And other manufacturers followed suit.

Of course, we cannot talk about cell phones without talking about the providers. It wasn’t that long ago when just about every provider had an unlimited data plan. Slowly but surely, as data usage by consumers increased, those unlimited plans were eliminated.

But, you have to ask yourself, “What event precipitated the disappearance of those plans?”

The answer is simple. Data usage spiked. The reason it spiked is simple… video. With only 1 GB of data, you could visit 3,000 webpages, receive 1.5 million WhatsApp messages, upload 4,000 photos, send or receive 10,000 emails, watch 310 minutes of YouTube videos or listen to 160 songs.

Once video became the most popular media, data usage spiked, as it takes up a lot of bandwidth. Rather than clog up their networks, cell providers opted to eliminate unlimited plans and, in some cases, throttle speeds for heavy users.

But now the trend has reversed… again. Cell providers know that mobile users are streaming video. Cell companies with smaller market shares began to differentiate themselves from their larger competitors by, once again, offering unlimited data plans. Slowly, the other smaller carriers fell in line until the largest, Verizon, finally began offering unlimited data on February 13th.

The point is that consumers want… and crave… video content. Technology has reversed itself from small to large, cell phone providers have reversed themselves from eliminating unlimited data to embracing it. All because the media of choice for today’s consumer is video.

Let me state that here again — the media of choice for today’s consumer is video.  So, if you are still asking yourself, “Why do I need video? How is that going to sell me more cars?” Well, that’s like just a few short years ago when dealers were asking, “Do I need a website?  How is a website going to sell me more cars?”

Technology is not going to slow down and wait for us just because we aren’t ready to embrace it. Video IS already the most powerful online marketing strategy for those businesses that have already embraced it.  As with any new technology, there are “Leaders,” and there are “Laggers.” Which side of history do you want to be on?

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