consumers

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

Those of you with spouses have probably heard this at least once: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!” Whether at home or at work, miscommunication can cause plenty of problems.

Have you ever misinterpreted the tone of an email that a colleague wrote to you? Perhaps you thought a tersely written email meant that person was angry, but in fact, they were just rushed. Or someone joked about something in an email, but you took offense because you thought they were serious?

Miscommunication is so common that it’s one of the main reasons why some dealerships require BDC staff and salespeople to use templates for customer communications. And it’s why some CEOs are issuing video recommendations to employees, instead of email memos.

Videos allow people to see how you’re saying something, leaving little room for error in the interpretation of what you’re saying. In fact, videos are so effective at expressing personality and tone that it’s become trendy for job seekers to send video resumes to prospective employers.

Let’s face it: a public perception still exists that in general, car dealers are not humble, caring or honest. One bad experience with an overeager or aggressive salesperson is all it takes to forever sour the car-buying experience for a consumer.

As a dealer, how do you change this perception? You could try creating marketing slogans and post them on your website, in ads and in emails, but words by themselves don’t have much impact. Online consumers are very adept at scanning information to find out what’s important to them; which isn’t necessarily what the dealership thinks is important. We all have the ability to ignore or visually ‘tune out’ messages right before our eyes.

When a consumer watches a video, however, it’s not as easy to tune out the message. Videos offer a multimedia experience with live action, sounds and sights, so the entire message is absorbed. Retention rises too. Video viewers retain 80% of what they hear and see in videos, versus just 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they see.

This is partly due to the fact that so much of our communication is non-verbal. Think about your own experiences. Have you ever had a customer service experience and were put off by the customer service rep, even though they were saying all the right things? Perhaps you believed the person wasn’t truly sincere. Or perhaps their tone started getting defensive, leaving you with the impression that they didn’t care about your problem.

When we communicate, we pick up multiple cues from facial expressions, gestures and tone. This happens largely on a sub-conscious level, but the end result–the emotion we feel–is very conscious.

If you’re looking for ways to improve customer perception and communications at your dealership, try creating the following videos.

  • A value proposition video that features a dealer or other company spokesperson showing, not telling, what your dealership has to offer
  • Vehicle walk around videos that generate emotion and excitement about your inventory
  • Customer testimonial videos that feature real customers saying nice things about your staff; these do a lot to alleviate car shoppers’ fears about a bad experience
  • Lead follow up videos from salespeople that engage car shoppers; if the salesperson comes across as likeable, these greatly increase the probability of response
  • Service videos that feature service staff help to build trust and the perception of honesty

Of course, you have to make sure that your videos are conveying not just the right message, but the right tone. When you first start to create videos, ask as many people as you can for their objective and true opinions. Don’t get emotionally attached to the videos you’ve created, and don’t get defensive if the feedback from others isn’t what you want to hear. The last thing you want to do it spend time and money creating videos that turn prospective customers off.

Video communication is powerful, so use it wisely. More than two million years of evolution has equipped most humans with the ability to accurately sense insincerity, arrogance and plain old hogwash. So say what you mean, and if you don’t truly mean it, don’t say it.

Video Marketing: Sell, Don’t Tell.

by Tim James

Why are we obsessed with television and movies? Because, just like books, they have the ability to capture our attention and transport us into fictional situations and universes.

Regardless of whether the movie or television show is fiction or non-fiction, this is an engaging way to tell a story that we’re interested in hearing and also seeing. TV, movies and video make stories come alive in ways that connect with our emotions – whether through fear, sympathy, action or drama.

But what if you went to a movie and rather than watching the story of a young farm boy transforming into a hero by blowing up a huge space station, you were presented with only the facts. Just an outline or bullet-points. That wouldn’t be very engaging, would it?

Video marketing is no different. It’s really easy to forget that in order to engage the viewer, you need to connect with them. Telling them how great your product is with facts alone would be like doing a walkaround for a customer, simply reading the information on the window sticker.

That is certainly not very interesting, engaging or creative.

In car sales, salespeople are trained to do vehicle walkarounds by first identifying any attributes of importance to that particular customer. The salesperson then shows and explains any features and benefits in the vehicle which fulfill that individual customer’s interest. To put it plainly, great salespeople tell stories about their products that put their audience “in the story.” They don’t just present facts, they generate a desired emotional response by focusing on “why” a product is needed, not just what the product is, (sell “why,” not “what”).

Effective video marketing – including walkarounds, personal video messages and any other kind of video you can think of – is no different. That’s why so many consumers love Super Bowl commercials. It is also why some commercials make us smile, laugh out loud, or even bring a tear to our eyes. They are effective because, in most cases, they manipulate our emotions to connect those products and services with us on a personal level and make us want to engage.

You can do the same thing with your video marketing efforts and, by so doing, establish more of a bond with the customer. Show your customers that you are interested in helping them with THEIR needs (not just selling them a car) and it will increase the likelihood they will engage with you, or reach out to you, should they simply come across a video on a VDP.

Video marketing isn’t rocket science. BUT you still need to have a strategy to do it effectively. Try changing your focus from trying to talk to everyone, to talking to a single person. Tell your story, the vehicle’s story, or whatever story you wish to relay with your video, as if that person is standing right in front of you. These types of videos resonate with individuals more than any other tactic. Why? Because the viewer feels as if you’re talking directly to them, rather than to some generic mass audience. And those are the types of videos that both engage and connect with the viewer.

Most advertising attempts to connect with as many people as possible. Sure, it may be segmented so that the message is demographically or geographically targeted. But, in the end, people can tell the difference between if you are speaking to them directly, or to a generic, random group of people. Yes, they may intuitively know that some video on some random VDP page wasn’t made specifically for them. But, EMOTIONALLY those videos will have a more impactful influence on them. And that’s the whole point of video marketing. Facts may provide details about your product, but an emotional story will sell it.

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.

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.

What to Do with the 5 Must Have Types of Video Content

by Tim James

In my last blog, I shared the five types of video content you must have when beginning your video marketing initiative. To recap, they include: New Model Test Drive, Inventory, Value Proposition, Testimonials and Lead Follow-up.

Hopefully you’ve begun the process of creating this content. Now for the next step!

Effective video marketing requires much more than just content creation. In fact, if used strategically, video can be one of the most effective ways to steal your competitor’s business. However, if no strategy is involved, you will simply be wasting your time.

So, as promised, here are some strategies that can be used to make those videos effective and capture more business.

The keys to transforming your video CONTENT into a video marketing STRATEGY are:

  1. Exposure – If nobody ever sees your videos, they’re pretty useless. Consumers look at up to 24 different touch points in their buying journey. You have to ensure that your videos get on the right touch points to be seen by your buyers at the right time in the buying cycle and without them having to work to find it. The problem is that some of those touch points make it difficult for dealers to get videos onto these sites. Video files are extremely large and most touch points don’t want to host the video. In fact, they would prefer (some even require) that your videos are hosted elsewhere and then just hyperlinked or embedded on their site.

    That is why the right hosting platform is so important. It will automate a large portion of your exposure and make it very easy to integrate your video content with your Sales & Marketing strategies, getting more of your video content in front of your shoppers, at the most critical decision points, which brings me to my next point.

  1. Data Capture – The right hosting platform can be one of your biggest assets when it comes to video marketing. By having your videos all hosted together your hosting company can capture your viewer’s data from more touch points and then you can use that data to communicate with a shopper in real-time via the video. This data can also be utilized to generate real-time alerts via your CRM, no matter what video is being watched, and no matter what touch-point the video is being watched on. Which brings us to personalization.
  1. Personalization – How cool would this scenario be: You send a video email campaign out to your existing CRM database. The data from your existing customers (and all of your abandoned leads) that engage with that email is then captured and matched with your video viewer database from your video host. From then on you receive an alert in your CRM every time someone from your database is back “in market,” because they are watching one of your videos.

    Armed with this knowledge, you can then send personalized videos to that specific customer with various messages. Perhaps the customer has been consistently watching videos of Honda Civics in your inventory. Sending a video message informing them of special offers on Civics would certainly be relevant and give you the fast track to selling them a vehicle before they start shopping at your competition.

    However, there’s a fine line between personalization and creepy. So make sure that the video doesn’t necessarily inform the customer that you KNOW they’ve been shopping. The video message should be something relevant to the behaviors you have seen them make, without crossing that line.

  1. Tracking – Because you’re capturing this data and it’s being matched to buyers, you’ll get a notification that your buyer is watching one of your videos, along with which touch point that they are watching it on. Now you know that right at that second Joe Smith is on AutoTrader, Cars.com, or any other touchpoint out there, and what vehicle(s) videos they are viewing. Wouldn’t it seem like a good idea to call them at that point?
  1. Conquest/Geo-Targeting – This technology allows you to know which site they are viewing your video on and you can also see where (as in physical location) they are watching it. Imagine getting an alert that Joe Smith is watching your video and happens to be on your competitor’s lot at that exact moment. The right hosting company would enable you to know this information, call Joe and in addition queue up a “last chance offer” as a banner ad right there on the video they are watching… all in real-time!

A video marketing strategy isn’t just about the video. It’s a strategy that involves getting MORE of your videos on MORE touch points while capturing MORE data. Then utilizing that data to your advantage to know exactly how and where your customers are watching your videos. Then sending more personalized, relevant and perhaps even deal-saving messages to them in real-time.

There is nothing more powerful than to communicate with your customer exactly at the right time, with the right message, in a way that they know is just for them.

YouWho? Why YouTube May Not Be Your Most Effective Video Marketing Option

As consumer touch-points in the car buying journey continue to increase, it’s ever more important to ensure that your video content is available at each and every one of those pit stops the car buyer takes. Your digital touchpoints are in essence your brand’s points of customer contact, from start to finish. For example, customers may find your business online in an ad, see ratings and reviews, visit your website, or receive an email, to name a few. Often, the problem is getting your videos on all these touch-points.  It may be very time consuming to upload each of your videos to each touch-point.  For that reason, many choose to “host” their videos with a hosting service and then hyperlink or embed their video URL’s to get additional exposure and visibility.

YouTube has long been the king of video hosting platforms and may seem to be the obvious choice. However, there are some things that you should consider when developing your video marketing strategy that may or may not make YouTube the best option for you and your marketing partners. “Self-hosting” or using a “3rd party host” that specializes in the automotive marketplace may be a better option for you.

If you are spending a lot of money to rank your website, certain pages of your website, landing pages, etc., then embedding a YouTube video on those pages may not be your best option.  You see, when you upload a video to YouTube, YouTube claims the metadata and SEO value of your video. So, if a consumer were to find that content via a Google search, they will most likely be taken to your video on YouTube, versus to the page of your website that your video resides on.

However, if you self-host, or utilize a third party host that allows you to claim the SEO value of your videos, then you can apply a meta tag and video sitemap strategy on your web pages that can create the same (or better) visibility for your video on Google, but bring shoppers, when engaged, back to YOUR website, or the webpage that the video resides on.

One of the most powerful advantages of self-hosting or utilizing a hosting platform within the auto industry is that you now have real-time access to your data. You can also integrate that data into your CRM. For example, you can follow the customer along their path as they watch your video on a third party listing site; and again, as they view a video email you sent them; and later, when they start viewing inventory videos on your own website. All of this behavioral data provides clues as to where in the funnel – and what vehicles specifically – these customers are considering. This enables the delivery of precise messages that are extremely relevant to the consumer, at the exact right moment in their buying process. Because this video content is hyper-relevant, consumers will engage with it more. In addition, the ability to follow the customer on their path (and see the vehicles they are interested in and where they are watching your videos from), enables video remarketing opportunities in real-time via the video the consumer is watching, such as geo-targeted messages for shoppers who are showrooming from your competitor’s lot.

Utilizing a hosting service that specializes in the automotive industry could also open up tons of advantages such as automating the process of getting your video content on many of your most valuable touch-points. Now you can control how and where the video is delivered. Industry-specific companies also allow you to integrate third party conversion widgets straight into your video. Because you have this level of control, you can generate dynamic rule and behavior-based content in real time. This transforms all of your videos into content that has greater informational and emotional value.

Don’t misunderstand me — YouTube and other video platforms are also touch-points on a consumer’s journey and can provide video search engine optimization benefits. You can absolutely upload your video content to YouTube as well, to maximize your exposure on their network.

Chances are your automotive specific host could automate that part of your strategy for you as well. That being said, those VSEO benefits from YouTube, while valuable, cannot trump the level of personalization and customizability that an industry hosting service can provide. So, rather than relying on YouTube to host your video, take your content back under your control by leveraging all of the benefits an industry specific hosting platform. You’ll find out very quickly that you can implement a more effective video marketing strategy.