strategy

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.

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.

Video Marketing: Strategy First

When it comes to video marketing, I see a large variety of strategies within the automotive industry. Some dealerships are hyper-focused and create their video content with a defined purpose and strategy, some have a good idea of the “type” of video content that they need to capture but no defined strategy for maximizing the value of that video through touchpoint distribution, and some dealerships simply bring out a cell phone and start aimlessly wandering around their lot, with employees capturing video of whatever they want to. While these actions are certainly a start, it is far more effective to have an overall video marketing strategy. Start by thinking about what video content will have the biggest impact on your shoppers throughout the entire buying cycle. And then figure out how you plan to distribute your content across the various touchpoints to be seen by the right shopper at the right time.

An excellent article in Rolling Stone magazine showcases advice from eight video marketing experts. All of the panelists give solid advice. But the one that stuck out to me the most was by Brian Chin, Co-Founding Partner of p3 Maine, a video production company. His advice was as follows:

I run a video agency, and far too often we see companies waste money on ineffective video content because they’ve just been told they “need video.” Put in place the correct strategy for your needs, targeting the correct audience with the right message. And if video is the way to go, create beautiful and engaging content that inspires people to take action. But strategy first.”

I’ve always believed in a “strategy first” approach to all marketing, not just video. You can save yourself so much time and money by “starting with the end in mind,” and understanding what content you need, as Brian Chin mentions. Also, by understanding the technologies that are available to you to help maximize your efforts. It’s not simply about taking video. Shooting videos is great, and it is something that data shows every dealership needs to be doing. However, videos need to be seen by the right audience at the right time to maximize their true value.

Here are three simple points to consider that can help your dealership when creating a highly effective video marketing STRATEGY:

1. How and where are you using that video? Before making any video, it helps to know exactly how you plan to use it. Ask yourself the following questions: “Is the purpose of this video to inspire an emotional response and increase engagement on a social media campaign? If so, where else would it have that same emotional value? Should it also be displayed with a specific Make or Model (or even a specific vehicle) on my VDPs?” “Is it to build trust with high, mid, or low funnel shoppers? If so, what are the touchpoints where I know my shoppers will be throughout the buying cycle and how do I make sure that all of my shoppers are presented with this video content (without them having to look for it.) “Am I trying to increase recommended service repairs?” Having solid answers to the question “how and where” is a great way to start formulating a strategy.

2. What outcome do you desire for each video?

Once you’ve determined the purpose, now ask yourself what outcome you want from each specific video. Is the video designed to increase sales? Is it to increase conversion from an ad and drive more traffic to your website or landing page? Get leads to engage with your BDC or sales team? Brand your store? There are a lot of outcomes you might expect from a video marketing strategy. But, you have to know what to expect and how to make certain that your video content is presented to your shoppers strategically before you can measure it.

3. How can you use data to improve the effectiveness of each video?

Many video platforms only show rudimentary data such as views or likes, but fail to provide valuable information about the HOW, WHO, or WHEN. And that is what is needed to make your video marketing actionable.

Everybody gets excited about having thousands of video views. Of course, if it a branding video and that was the purpose and desired outcome, that’s great! But sometimes it is just that one view that turns a video into a sale. The point is that it’s not just data, but detailed and actionable data that matters.

If you make a video specifically for Mr. or Mrs. Smith, knowing that they watched it, when they watched it, and how many times it was viewed, and being able to see what OTHER videos they watched is invaluable information for creating a correctly targeted sales strategy. Having this valuable data allows you to get the right video in front of the right shopper at the right time of the buying cycle, while also allowing you to know the exact second that one of your leads or customers is live on a touchpoint and watching one of your videos. This provides you the most strategic opportunity to reach out to them with a follow-up call.

Make sure you use a platform that allows you to capture that data and archive it in case Mr. and Mrs. Smith are not ready to buy NOW. Then you are prepared for them when they are.

These are just a few quick tips designed to show you some of the basics of how to start to incorporate a strategy into your video marketing efforts. Having videos is great but, as Mr. Chin said: Strategy first.

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.

Live Video, The New Normal to Sell More Cars and Service

By Tim James

Every penny spent on advertising and marketing is to get more people into the dealership. Dealers also make a significant investment in the salespeople themselves, training them to help develop the person-to-person skills needed to sell to all the prospects marketing dollars drive into the dealership. Those person-to-person skills are where most automotive salespeople excel, it is what they are best at. Phone calls, emails, text messages, or online chats may not be their biggest strengths. However, put them face to face with someone and they excel. But how are salespeople supposed to ‘get them in’ when countrywide shutdowns and capacity limits are encouraging shoppers to stay home as much as possible? The answer is video conferencing, also known as video calling or video chat.

It is a different world now – today doctors conduct many patient appointments via a live video conference. Many doctors are scheduling video appointments, our children are using video conferencing to go to school right now, and most of you reading this are utilizing video conferencing at your workplace to replace onsite meetings.

Live communication in this way is becoming the new normal– all kinds of shopping is accelerated to the next level via a live stream. Well, guess what, vehicles are no different. During the pandemic, and even before, dealers have been utilizing tools such as Zoom to engage with customers via live video and it is not hurting sales, in fact far from it, it is helping to sell more cars than ever before by making it easier to shop the way today’s customers want to. And it is a safe secure, method, for practically zero budget!

There is one thing that I know for sure and that is video sells. An unfortunate misconception is that vehicle details shared outside the dealership walls can demotivate shoppers from visiting a dealership. You cannot sell them a car if you don’t “get them in”, right? This misconception may prevent some dealers from realizing the full potential of video in nearly every department from sales to service to F&I. Selling a consumer is, was, and will always be about getting the consumer emotionally attached to The Dealership, The Sales Person, and The Car. The pandemic has pushed more shoppers than ever before into shopping online. COVID-19 certainly has motivated more dealers to incorporate video into their sales and service processes. Now, a way to trump your competition is to go one step further and embrace live video conferencing to inspire the emotional connection.

In fact, the most immediate benefit of live video calls is that salespeople now have an opportunity to use those natural person-to-person sales skills they have spent their entire careers perfecting. Even the most technophobic salesperson can engage with the most cutting-edge technology utilizing live video calls. If they can answer a phone, they can answer and make a live video call. It really is that simple, it’s safe, and consumers love it!

It is easy to incorporate live video calls directly from your website. Think about how many website visitors you have every day and imagine being able to instantly engage with them on their terms. It is like having a live service or sales window on your website Today’s customers have grown used to being serviced on their terms, not yours. Also, your sales and business development staff can ‘cut to the chase’ and get into direct contact with customers, eliminating hours of back and forth via calls, texts, and emails.

Live video for a vehicle demo enables a salesperson to guide a consumer through the vehicle features and benefits in real-time, just as if the customer were standing right on the lot. With some platforms, the salesperson can text the customer a Personalized URL and all the customer has to do is click on the link to instantly be engaged in a live one-way or two-way video conference.

Live video calls can also compliment the post-sale delivery process as part of a cautious and contactless sale. The salesperson can simply go over the delivery walkthrough as they always have, but now they can do it through a live video call.

The sales department isn’t the only branch of a dealership that can boost profits with live video. A typical service department experience involves a customer dropping off a vehicle and waiting at the dealership or leaving and awaiting a call for a diagnosis.

Using live video to discuss a vehicle diagnosis is a powerful way for service advisors to explain and demonstrate repairs while keeping the customer engaged during the decision-making process. Having a live video call with a customer after sending service recommendations increases acceptance rates and will quickly become your service advisor’s favorite tool. Live video can eliminate hours of annoying phone tag back and forth by the service department. The customer can also see the recommended service in real-time which reinforces the recommendation and can easily elicit a response of “yes,” rather than “let me think about it,” so that they can go and ask a friend, family member, or price shop the repair with an independent facility.

The F&I department can benefit too. The F&I Manager can advise the customer that they are recording the video call, record the full F&I presentation with all disclosures, and do the entire deal remotely. They can even send the entire recorded presentation to the customer.

Live video calls keep a customer fully engaged with you. Facetime did not gain it is huge popularity on Apple devices because consumers did not like it, but rather the contrary. By using live video at your dealership, you quickly build rapport and earn the customer’s trust. And that is how you increase revenue.