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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 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.

Build Your F&I Revenue Through Video

Dealers are increasingly adopting video in order to engage customers and win sales. Well, how about adopting this strategy in the F&I department as well?

As front-end margins decrease, many dealerships are placing more emphasis on F&I to make revenue. With digital retailing on the rise and customers shopping from home rather than in the showroom, how does a finance department sell F&I products in the absence of the dealer?

Going under the assumption that home delivery means that the entire deal has already been done as the paperwork must be printed in advance, dealerships are probably finding it difficult to present finance products in the most convincing way.

And that is where video comes in.

Most companies that offer various F&I products have product videos available for your use. The first step to increasing your F&I profit is to package these videos along with your dealership’s value proposition (Why Buy) videos, testimonial videos, and other finance FAQ videos on your website where they are easy for the consumer to find. Consumers know these “upsell” product offers are coming. Provide them with the opportunity to educate themselves on the various products higher in the buying cycle. 

The next step is to strategically re-introduce these videos to the consumer as they continue through the buying cycle. After you have used “video messages” when following up with inquiries (leads) and setting appointments, include these F&I videos in the “video experience” that you send to your leads to confirm appointments.

This provides the shopper with another opportunity to view the various F&I videos, and, with the right software, you can enjoy real-time reporting on the exact video content they view. When your shopper shows up for their appointment, you have insight into all the F&I videos they have watched (or haven’t watched). You know if they watched videos about purchasing with bad credit, lease vs. purchase, the impact of a divorce or bankruptcy, and all the extended warranty and other F&I product videos that you offer. Armed with this information, your team can provide a significantly better experience for each consumer, while helping them with any questions they may be afraid to ask. Both your profits and CSI Scores go up. 

For the best results, I would suggest having the finance manager make multiple videos of products on an individual basis. This personalization will increase the informational and emotional value of your videos and reward you with an even larger success ratio.

For example, your finance manager could create a video explaining why paint & fabric protection is a worthwhile investment for the consumer. Then another video explaining wheel and tire protection. Then continue to create short videos “selling” products as if the customer is sitting right in front of them. In addition, you could also create a short video with the finance manager summarizing all of the finance products.

Regardless of if you use stock product videos, or your own personalized videos, be certain to include some testimonial videos for each product.  Consumers constantly hear how they don’t need the various “upsell” products. Let them hear a few success stories from other consumers who found the product valuable. 

As the finance manager is the correct person to explain and adjust payments based on product and accessory choices, it is important for them to have that engagement and to have these product videos handy should the customer prefer to do everything online. The finance manager can then engage the customer with video via email or even live over a “one-click” video call, whatever the customer’s communication preference may be, while the vehicle paperwork is being created and sent to the customer.

Video can be used in every department to increase brand loyalty, vehicle sales, F&I product sales and service revenue. It is a highly effective tool that should be added to your marketing toolbox. However, to truly maximize the benefit of your videos, utilize your video content across multiple touchpoints as an end-to-end video marketing strategy that combines video content with video data. Then you will realize the true value of video.

How Do Consumers Use Video In the Buying Process?

By Tim James

Dealerships sell more than just vehicles. They also sell accessories, parts, and swag. Consumers may not be interested in these other items at the time of purchase (or may not have been presented with any of these options). However, once they get home, or at some point decide they want to get their windows tinted, a bed liner for their truck, or need to upgrade a part on their vehicle — Now what? Well, that is where providing an amazing video experience comes in!

An article on MultiBriefs.com shares that there are three key stages where video is extraordinarily powerful in the buying process — no matter what a consumer wants to buy.

The three stages are Awareness, Consideration, and Decision, and they work as follows:

  1. Awareness: When a consumer decides they want to purchase any product, most go online and research it. This is when a video experience shines. Whether it be describing the benefits of this year’s newest model, or an educational video on the best bed-liners for their new truck, followed by testimonial videos to back up the claims, video will get the most information to a consumer in the most emotional way possible. By utilizing video high in the buying cycle, dealerships can present themselves as a guide for their customers, building trust and showing a shopper they are a resource to help throughout the car purchasing process.

    But a curated video experience does so much more than just give the shopper the most information about inventory possible; it also gives the dealership the most information about a shopper possible. When a dealership gets a notification that a returning customer is looking at accessories, they know it is probably for a new vehicle and can target them with value proposition videos.

    A customer is looking at parts and repairs? Target them with specials, lease offers, and new model test drive videos that show why the consumer needs to ditch their worn-out vehicle and get into something safer, more reliable. Providing this experience puts the dealership a cut above the competition.

  2. Consideration: Now that a consumer has decided they need or want one or more of these things (including parts), they then start looking where to buy them. My advice is to be that resource by providing explainer videos about the benefits of buying those items and getting them installed at your dealership. Many consumers find other retailers online or, even worse, a competing dealership where they purchase and have these items installed.

    Use your explainer videos to clearly illustrate to customers the benefits of conducting the transaction at your dealership. This could include facts such as your dealership will know exactly what the consumer needs based on the make and model of the vehicle, and that installation at the dealership is done by factory-trained technicians rather than the independent down the street.

  3. Decision – The consumer has now moved down the funnel and is ready to purchase. In this stage, videos such as customer testimonials, FAQs, and personalized video communication can convince a customer to choose your dealership rather than the competition. Customer testimonial videos are powerful. Most dealerships focus on testimonials in sales but having them in parts, accessories and service can be just as powerful when it comes to gaining trust and establishing rapport.

    FAQ videos can be used to answer common questions about products, such as “How long will it take to get the bed liner?” “How long will it take to install?” “Will I be out of my vehicle for a day or two?” — You get the point. By providing this information upfront via video, you end up with an educated customer and no longer need to explain these things to the customer. The easy way to figure out which questions to focus on when making these videos is to simply ask your service or parts department about the most common questions they get from customers. Then make videos answering those questions.

    Finally, personalized video emails and texts help establish your sales team and dealership as a trusted source. People buy from people they like, and whether they are purchasing a new car or a new set of tires, video communication is the best possible way to get consumers to trust you and buy into the fact that your dealership is the best place they can go for anything they might need regarding a vehicle.

Dealerships can sell more than just cars, and they can sell everything in a more impactful way by giving their shoppers a high-quality video experience. Consider taking your video marketing strategy to the next level with your entire inventory, from cars to bike racks and repairs, by providing the best online shopping experience to your shoppers.

Who You Gonna Video Call?

By Tim James

According to Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, the “working-from-home” economy is likely to exist far beyond the pandemic. Employers are enjoying decreased expense in office space and increased employee productivity, while employees have more freedom with the luxury of no longer having to commute. A whopping 42 percent of U.S. employees are now working from home.

How are they able to do that? Via Video, of course.

Statistics increasingly show video as the preferred choice for consumers when it comes to media due to its viability and multiple benefits across all platforms and channels. And, during the pandemic, video has become the most used method of communication on all fronts.

Almost every company outside of essential workers is utilizing video services to efficiently continue their operations and stay in business. Video conference calls have become the norm, rather than the exception and video conferences or person-to-person video calls have exploded out of necessity.

According to Forbes, this digital pivot may become permanent – in all walks of life. Many students are having to do in-home learning and the only way some employees can continue professional development is via video. Trade shows and conferences are opting to hold virtual events First, because it is safer during a pandemic, second because it is much less expensive than in-person events, and third because viewers can choose to watch an event live, or later at a more convenient time.

Video is not going away and is certainly not losing any ground. Its popularity has exploded faster than was expected! When this pandemic eventually goes away, consumers and businesses alike will be fundamentally transformed.

As a marketing and sales tool, video will allow your team to inspire more emotion from a consumer than a text, email, or chat could ever get close to accomplishing. Think about this — when are your sales associates at their best? When they are face-to-face with a consumer, of course. An effective video marketing strategy embraces that understanding and puts your sales associates face-to-face with the consumer, even when the consumer is still at home.

Your dealership would be wise to have a video-first marketing strategy to place you in a position of dominance over your competition who may only use video as a stopgap out of necessity.

Be sure to embrace video now more than ever to take advantage of this extreme acceleration in video adoption by consumers. This will put your dealership ahead of the game and build a sound foundation from which your dealership will benefit for decades to come.

Become a Social Media Influencer

Did you know 92% of consumers trust recommendations from a social media influencer more than they trust advertisements? Lehel Reeves, Flick Fusion’s Director of Partnerships and Business Development, explains why dealerships and salespeople should start using social media accounts to become social media influencers.

Three Tips for Great Live Video Conversations with Customers

By: Tim James

During these times, consumers are becoming more comfortable with online transactions and are much savvier about how they chose to communicate with businesses. As a result, dealers are having to utilize technologies they may not have previously embraced

Video, in and of itself, has proven to be a necessity for successful marketing for dealers. In today’s world, live video is even more important. But not everybody does it as well as they could!

A great article on Business2Community lays out some simple best practices dealerships can use while performing a live video for a prospective car buyer. These tips are great for salespeople or BDC agents who communicate with your customers.

Here are three of the top tips:

Pause! –  When you are having a conversation with someone and they do all the talking – that quickly gets old, right? A one-sided conversation is not something many people enjoy which leads to the first tip in the article, Pause!

You have the customer’s attention. You have them on a live stream and, just like selling a car in person, you need to listen to their needs and wants. You have to listen to tailor that walkaround and your conversation to supply the information they requested. Listening is also how you find out what is important to them so that you can tailor your conversation to that specific customer.

It is much more effective to listen to your customers, answer their questions, and proceed to the sale than to dominate the conversation. Take a breath. Don’t worry about the uncomfortable pause. As long as the customer is still with you, you don’t need to fill the gap with conversation. They may be digesting what you have already told them and considering their next questions. If they don’t ask any questions, you can easily prompt them by saying something along the lines of, “Should I proceed with the other features I was going to show you or did you have specific things you would like to see?” — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.

Engage – The customer didn’t agree to a live video engagement because they weren’t interested in the vehicle. The very reason that they are on a live video call with you is that they are VERY low funnel and in the market RIGHT NOW! Think about all the Internet leads your dealership gets and how hard it is to contact the majority of these opportunities. Here you not only have a customer that engaged with you but one that agreed (or requested) to do a live video call about a specific vehicle.

Perhaps something about the vehicle which they inquired about doesn’t suit their needs. Since you have them live, you can easily ask them if you could show them similar vehicles you have in stock and, essentially, show them multiple vehicles.

What’s the other option? The customer doesn’t like the one you showed them and disengages simply to move on to the next dealership. Don’t waste the opportunity to show them more inventory. You only need to ask them — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.

Eye Contact – While you may not be able to see the customer, the customer can see you. If you aren’t looking into the camera while engaging, you lose the opportunity to build rapport. Most of our communication is physical. We typically read expressions and interpret answers by how someone is looking and/or physically gesturing. In a live video, the customer can see you. By making eye contact with them, it is much more personal.

How do you do that? By looking into the camera, itself. Not just at the phone. You can practice with another salesperson beforehand to get the hang of it. When you are talking to the customer, look directly into the camera. To them, it will seem as if you are talking to them rather than seeing your eyes focused elsewhere.  — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.

Bonus Tip:

Smile – There’s magic in your smile and smiling while engaging in a video call can be one of the most important strategies for success. Smiling while on the video call will not only help you relax and improve your mood and energy, it will also help the consumer relax.  Remember, it’s not only “what you say,” but “how you say it” that matters. The video call is your opportunity to build a personal relationship with the consumer and get them to truly like you. We all know that people buy from people they like, and a simple smile while engaging the consumer is scientifically proven to improve your chances of being liked — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.  

Live video has never been more important in the sales world. Buying a car is a big decision for most customers, typically the second-largest purchase any consumer makes. Regardless of whether you are open for business completely, or only online, consumers are getting more comfortable with online shopping. If you are a veteran in the automotive industry, think about how different your communication strategy was in 2010 versus 2020.  Now imagine how different it will be in 2030. Trust me, the next ten years are going to fly by, so make sure you stay ahead of the competition and are prepared for the acceleration and adoption of this technology by consumers. Great conversations certainly lead to more sales. And live video is a highly effective way to have great conversations with your customers.

[Video] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 1: Which Car Is Best

In this series of video blogs, Flick Fusion COO Tim James shares Google’s 5 auto shopping moments that every dealership should know and how to take advantage of those moments to lead customers to your dealership.

Five Critical Micro-Moments for a Successful Video Marketing Strategy

In a recent study titled “Winning the Moments Before Your Dealership,” Google outlined five critical moments buyers encounter on their online journey to your dealership. For any marketing strategy, ensuring that you are in front of potential customers is imperative to maximizing its effectiveness. The same goes for video marketing. In video marketing you have to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of simply creating videos that are ineffective, which nobody will ever watch, or which are irrelevant to what you do. Knowing the type of video, along with the correct message that will attract customers and continue to guide them along the path which ends at your dealership, is what matters and will bring sales.

Google’s five critical micro-moments are decision-based and centered on where that buyer is in the car buying funnel.

They are:

  1. Which car is best?
  2. Is it right for me?
  3. Can I afford it?
  4. Where should I buy it?
  5. Am I getting a deal?

Understanding these micro-moments and applying them to broadcast video content so it engages customers, is something every dealership should do — not just for your video marketing, but for every digital marketing channel you participate in.

If you can tailor video to those moments you’re much more likely to guide customers down the “yellow brick road” that ends at your dealership, avoiding any encounters with the Wicked Witch (your competition), which could end badly for you (meaning your customer ends up at your competition).

For those of you that haven’t yet taken the plunge into video marketing, knowing HOW and WHAT TYPE of video content to produce, along with WHERE to put it, and WHY it’s important, will get you dealership off to a great start.

Of course, you won’t know what’s working and what’s not without the data to show you. We’re in an era of data-driven marketing and now have the information to make decisions based on real-time actions — to then take that data and entice and convince customers that, in each micro-moment, your dealership is the one they should choose.

And believe me, folks… it works.

Consumers today are far more likely to watch a video than they are to read or look at the 40 or more pictures a dealership has on its VDPs, whether that’s a vehicle walk-around, dealership introduction, or a personal branding video message. By simply HAVING video, you are ahead of the game. Through learning and embracing these micro-moments, along with producing relevant videos that are part of a larger video strategy designed to capitalize on these decision-making moments, you’ll be leaps and bounds in front of your competition.

Join me at the 22nd Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition on Wednesday, April 12th from 2:30-3:20 pm for my session, “Mastering Google’s Five Critical Micro-Moments with Video – Creating a “Video Marketing Strategy to Maximize the Effectiveness of ALL of Your Video Content and Deliver Measurable ROI through an Increase in Leads, Appointments, Shows and Sales.” I will show you how easy and inexpensive it is to enter the realm of video marketing. You will learn how to create a strategy and how to measure the results through accurate data while being relevant and engaging by incorporating Google’s five critical micro-moments. I look forward to seeing you in Tampa, FL.