digital

In Video Marketing, the Car Should Be the Star

Video marketing is becoming more important as consumers increasingly choose this medium over others. That’s exactly why almost every platform has shifted to a video-centric algorithm.

I’ve spoken many times about the types of video a dealership should produce outside of inventory videos to create an emotional connection to your brand, dealership and employees. However, there is one thing I have touched on in the past that needs more attention. It is, in fact, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give:

The car should always be the star!

What do I mean by that? Regardless of the type of video you produce, the sole focus of each is fundamentally to excite and persuade a potential customer to choose your dealership and come in to buy a vehicle. But what about personalized walkaround videos, personal e-mail responses, why buy videos, or customer testimonials?

If you’re creating video content for your dealership and only take one piece of advice from me, let it be this: Make sure that the brand you represent, and/or the vehicle you are trying to sell, is visible in every video.

It’s great to send a personalized video email response to a customer. It’s certainly engaging and puts a face behind the name. But, while the personal video e-mail response will do that, the customer ultimately is considering purchasing something you sell.

Imagine how much more powerful a personalized video response would be if, instead of filming in front a background consisting of a white wall or other desks, it was filmed in front of the exact vehicle the customer inquired about. I’m not talking about a walkaround. Simply a little product placement.  There’s a reason major brands pay big money for product placement in movies, television shows and video games. That’s because it pays off! That Pepsi can that the actor is drinking out of may never be mentioned or referred to — but I can guarantee you one thing… it was noticed.

Make sure that, when making a personal video response, why buy video, or while filming a customer testimonial, the background contains either a vehicle that you sell, the specific one the customer is interested in, or the vehicle they already purchased.

Video content is evergreen in that it doesn’t expire. It can float around the digital universe for an eternity if you want it to. Ensure that as many videos as possible promote not only your store and employees, but also the vehicles that you sell. You never know when someone will come across it and be impacted by it.

Many times, those accidental or unintended video views lead to relationships that span a lifetime. Make sure every piece of video content displays your vehicles – even if that’s not the video’s intent – and you’ll take your engagement and connection to the next level.

Body Language Is Important…But Even More So In Digital Marketing

Interpreting meaning through communication can be hard.

For example, the simple statement “Fine.”

What does that word really mean? Ultimately, it depends on the context and, more importantly, how it’s said and the body language which happens in that exact moment.

When your significant other says “fine,” you darn well better know what it means, or you can be in a whole world of trouble! Or, if you tell a teenager they must clean their room before they can go out with friends, play video games or whatever they want, there are many ways fine” can be expressed. If they say it loudly while slamming the door in your face, that has a much different meaning than if they say it in a low submissive but agreeable way.

Humans are masters of perception. We all communicate, and that communication comes across in different ways be it vocal, physical, or via some activity.

But what does all this mean as far as your dealership and communicating with your customers?

As marketers, with all the data available to us today, we can better interpret customer interactions and more effectively communicate with them than ever before.

An argument could be made that a customer’s digital activity can tell us more about their intent than a face-to-face conversation. Ultimately, the digital footprints a customer leaves throughout their car buying journey are, in fact, a conversation. You may not be able to see the customer, but they express their intent through their online activities.

That customer looking at your website and bouncing through your entire used car inventory, who also jumped around on third-party listing sites, is much higher in the sales funnel. They are having a conversation with you. Something along the lines of, “I’m in the market for a car but I don’t know what I want.”

A customer visiting your website, viewing every Honda Civic in stock, is not only telling you they want a Honda Civic but, if you want to get granular, also which trim level, price range and mileage restrictions they value.

Whatever they spend the most time viewing is probably the best fit for what they are searching for. An unlimited amount of data is out there to help you identify, define and motivate customers. You must just take the time to look at it.

Now that you know the customer’s intent, where they are in the funnel and what they are interested in, what’s the best way to communicate with them?

VIDEO!

While you have the secret-agent advantage of all this relevant data showing the customer’s intent, the customer still wants good old face-to-face interaction when it comes down to the sales process. Simply sending a templated email accomplishes nothing. It’s not personal, is not directed to them, fails to really interact on an emotional level, and usually has little relevance.

Of course, you “could” take the creepy road and tell them everything you know about them but that would likely be counterproductive.

The best way to engage a customer is through a personalized video response. They can see you, hear you and read your body language. If you’re sincere, friendly and engaging, and use the data you have about the customer’s digital journey to craft a personal response, the customer will be able to relate; rapport will be established infinitely better than any “Buy from us because we love you” e-mail template.

Don’t be afraid to send video email responses to your customers. Most of your competitors simply send those canned templates from their CRM with ZERO impact – if they even make it through the customer’s spam filter.

Make an impression and win business using technology that allows you to interact with customers the same way business has been won for decades… in person. With video you can now interact in person, without the customer even being in your showroom.

The statistics show that customers respond to video. They can read your personality and intentions more clearly via video than a written communication, because emotions are more clearly illustrated. And, more importantly, as a result they will connect with you better and choose your dealership to buy or service their car. Then everything will be just “fine!”

Winning the Marketing Game Is About Being Consistent

by Tim James

Baseball players are famous for their superstitions and rituals when performing. Some will refuse to shave. Some will wear their hat backwards. Some will wear the same pair of underwear every game. Do they know if those superstitions or rituals affected the outcome of the game? No. Does it matter? No. Why? Because the players are doing the same thing, in every game, the same way, every time. When asked if he had any superstitions, legendary baseball player Babe Ruth replied, “Whenever I hit a home run, I make sure that I touch all four bases.”

Why is that statement so significant?

Because Babe Ruth understood that it’s not the home run that matters, but consistently applying the fundamentals of baseball. He could hit a zillion home runs, but if he didn’t touch all four bases, he would be called out every time and that home run wouldn’t matter. In other words, if he was not so consistent in his game, we would not know him as one of the greatest baseball players of all times, but rather as one of the most famous failures.

Consistency in your inventory marketing is the same. While a baseball field may only have four bases which players need to touch to ultimately score, the digital world we live in has grown into a field with many, many bases a consumer can use to ultimately end up at home plate and buy a vehicle. If you’re not diligently consistent in your marketing, and fail to ensure that you have a strong presence regardless of which base a consumer steps on, you may just find that they end up on someone else’s field.

But it’s not just having a presence there that makes a consumer continue around the bases on YOUR field, it’s connecting with them – giving them a reason to continue to round those bases. Emotion is what drives a consumer to lust for, desire and want to come touch, feel and drive that vehicle at your dealership. Video creates an emotional impact over and above pictures or the written word. Video builds trust in the brand, in the dealership in the salesperson and, most importantly, the individual vehicle.

You can’t capture a car shopper’s emotion unless you’re present AND have the most engaging content at each and every touchpoint. There is no better way to capture the emotions of your consumers than video content of your vehicle, dealership and salespeople, consistently – over every touchpoint – every time.

Engaging content will motivate the customer to continue past first base, then second, third and, ultimately all the way to your dealership. By doing so, you’ll ensure that every time the ball goes over the wall, it actually ends up as a homerun… and not an out.

How to Make a Value Proposition to Die For

by Tim James

The first thing most people do when meeting someone new is to introduce themselves. This first meeting can quite easily dictate the future outcome of the relationship. If you come off as insincere or indifferent, the other party will probably not engage you again. However, greet someone with genuine interest and sincerity and you just might make a friend for life.

The same exact principal applies when introducing yourself to a customer that submits a lead or visits your website — except for one small thing – you can’t see them.

Most dealers nowadays have some sort of value proposition content that they put in front of customers. It typically appears in the form of an e-mail template or written content on the website (your “About Us” page, for example). While this is better than nothing, it is certainly not the most effective way to meet someone. Human beings are driven by their emotions. Heck, oftentimes the simple act of buying a vehicle can be emotional. A value proposition done with video has a distinct advantage over any written message – the customer can see you. Humans communicate in more ways than just speech. We use our eyes and ears and monitor everything from body language to facial expressions. These subtle cues can sway whether we believe someone is sincere, sarcastic, lying or joking. Written content cannot as effectively project any of these on to a customer. And, since you cannot see or even know who you will be meeting with these online leads — you should strive to create the best value proposition video possible.

What is a value proposition video, really? There’s a very simple answer to that question. A value proposition video is your dealership’s opportunity to convince a customer to choose to do business with you. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that in any interaction someone is being sold. This is no different. You are trying to convince (sell) the customer of the fact that you are a good choice for them. If, when creating a value proposition video, you approach it as if you were tailoring the perfect elevator pitch, you’ll have a better idea of what you should say.

Here are a few tips about what a value proposition should and should not include, along with some techniques on how to interject a little personalization into these videos.

Make it short. – No customer is going to watch a 5-minute video about how great your dealership is. Plain and simple: If you can’t describe what you do, the problem you can solve for the customer, why you are different and why they should care, in 60 seconds, you should re-evaluate your value proposition.

Stop making it about you! – Most value propositions inevitably include statements such as “We’re the best!”; “We have the lowest price.”; “We’ve been in business for 187 years,” etc. Stop that. The customer is NOT meeting you, they are in the process of deciding whether they WANT to meet you. Do you see the difference? The more you can avoid using the pronouns “We” and “Us” and “Our” the better.

While most value proposition videos try to talk to EVERYONE, make yours more personable as if you were talking to an individual. Use pronouns such as “I” and (even better) “you.” The only person that matters at that specific moment in time is that one single customer. Craft your value proposition as if you were making it for that one person. And then proceed to make your video about them. If the video is going to be displayed on your website, your dealer principal or general manager should deliver the message. If the video is designed to be sent to a customer that submitted a lead online, the message should be delivered by the person sending the e-mail. This transforms the video from a generic, impersonal piece of content to one which will have greater meaning to the person watching.

I’m not saying that you have to make an individual video for each internet lead (although that would be a very powerful tool in your sales process), rather you should have one created for each dealership employee – whether that’s a manager, salesperson, internet manager or BDC rep – that responds to and interacts with customers who submit leads. Remember, this video is NOT a “Why Buy from Me,” that’s another topic. This is a “Why Buy from Us.”

An example of a “Why Buy from Us” word track delivered in a personal way is as follows:

“I can assure you that you’ll have a great buying experience here. You’ll find a great selection of vehicles and knowledgeable sales consultants who can assist you in finding the vehicle that best fits your family’s needs and budget. Just as my other customers have, you’ll want to keep coming back after you buy your vehicle here.”

That’s one great way to deliver a dealership value proposition in a way the customer feels as if you are talking to them, and that it is not all about the dealership.

Quality counts – If you are going to make a single video to be repurposed, ensure that the video is filmed, edited and presented in a high-quality and professional manner. Simply filming a selfie while standing against a wall is like showing up to a job interview dressed in shorts and flip flops. First impressions matter — and you only get one chance to make one. So, make this one count. These may very well be the most important videos you make. Deliver them in a proper, professional way, and you’ll find that customers watch them and that they make the impact you’re searching for.

In the end, a value proposition video is not a commercial. It’s your first opportunity to convince a prospective customer why they should choose your dealership over your competition. Pulling this off successfully will start to build a relationship and trust in you and your dealership. And, once you have those, the odds of you winning the business increase exponentially.

In Marketing, Consumers Want to Know What is In It For Me

by Tim James

 

People aren’t watching your commercial or video because they want you to sell them your product. They’re watching because they want you to sell them a solution.

In the world of online marketing, oftentimes marketers forget this very basic concept. Think of it as painting pictures when selling. The idea is that you want to tell the consumer why they need a feature, so that the consumer will visualize how each feature will make their life better, easier, more efficient. How it will make them more money, or provide a solution to a need. It’s not uncommon for salespeople to go on and on about the features of a vehicle. It has this type engine. It’s safe. It has Bluetooth, etc. They may as well (and some probably are) read the window sticker to the customer. Great salespeople, however, understand that the customer doesn’t necessarily care about the fact that the vehicle has Bluetooth, unless it’s tied back to how it benefits the customer.

Mr. Customer, one of the great features on this vehicle is that it has Bluetooth functionality. This will allow you to connect your cell phone wirelessly and accept or make phone calls without taking your hands off of the steering wheel. Which will make your commute for you and your family safer.

Consumers may watch dozens of video walkarounds in their car-shopping journey. If you’re doing live video walkarounds of your vehicles, consider this: How would you do a walkaround for a customer right in front of you? Why would you do your live video walkaround for your website and VDP’s any differently?

Create more memorable videos that capture a customer’s attention and sell the consumer on why they need the features of each vehicle. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk about the vehicle’s features. What I’m saying is that you’ll create more powerful videos if you tell the consumer why those features are important and highlight the impact each feature will have on their lives.

Forget MORE Leads. Focus On More QUALITY Leads.

by Tim James

In the world of automotive retail, dealerships are always searching for ways to increase leads. Whether they choose to pursue that goal through third-party lead providers, increase page rankings through better SEO, or various other ways, if there is a customer in their market who wants to buy a car, dealers want an opportunity to earn their business.

When a shopper shows up to the lot, the sales team is trained to engage the shopper and ultimately get the shopper emotionally attached to a vehicle, even if it is not the exact vehicle the shopper was initially inquiring about. In other words, your goal is to make the shopper want a vehicle the dealership has in stock, regardless of which vehicle the customer came in asking about. This is accomplished with the walk around.

This sales technique doesn’t have to be limited to physical customers at your dealership. Online, a good video will accomplish this same emotional process. A video is the best way to engage a consumer on your VDP Pages and showcase your vehicle. This highly visual medium allows you to deliver the most information while also selling your dealership and the vehicle at the same time.

Getting the consumer emotionally attached to the vehicle and MAKING them want a vehicle you have versus simply HOPING they will want a vehicle you have is how you produce the MOST & BEST leads you can get. They are more likely to re-engage after their initial communication (answer your phone call or respond to your email); more likely to set an appointment; more likely to show for that appointment and they are more likely to purchase.

This whole process is less about the information you have available on your site and more about how you deliver the information.  You could have tons of information and all kinds of pictures, but today’s consumer wants their content delivered via video…which is a “win/win” because with a video you can deliver the information and “sell” the vehicle at the same time.

Make good use of video and ensure that you have full and complete vehicle descriptions. You end up with more quality leads which should translate into increased responses and more productive engagement (less haggling over price), leading to the ultimate goal of increased sales.

Why “Just Do It” Is A Waste Of Time

by Tim James

In this high tech age, there are numerous tasks that an Internet or eCommerce Director has to tackle in order to correctly market their dealership and its inventory. In the past, you were doing a great job if you were writing custom detailed vehicle descriptions and taking multiple photos of your pre-owned vehicles. You were a superstar if you were also doing these things for your new vehicles. Then video entered the picture. Some dealers embraced video and used data feeds to syndicate video, vehicle descriptions and photos to their website and other third-party sites. Forward thinkers also uploaded the videos with proper tags and descriptions to YouTube.

However, with the fast pace of advancing technology, the number of consumer touch-points keeps growing and it has become an almost overwhelming task to keep up and still try to sell cars.

But one thing hasn’t changed, the key to a successful marketing strategy is getting the right content, in front of the right shopper, on the right touch-point, and at the right time of the buying cycle. The more exposure you get for your content, the more impact that content is going to have on your sales. Content that’s not seen is worthless.

I remember a story from not too long ago about one of the largest volume dealers in the world. This dealer was manually uploading their inventory to their website and every third party website for over 10 stores – one by one – daily. They chose to pay someone $100+ per DAY, rather than use automation and data distribution technology to accomplish the same task at a cost of just $150 per MONTH.

I’m starting to see a lot of this same mentality today with video. Many dealerships have gone out and purchased some great video production tools, and are doing a great job producing some very good video content. They are then manually uploading their content to YouTube and manually embedding links on as many touch-points as they have the time and ability to do so (not all touch-points allow a manual upload). They would rather invest hours of their time to manually place their content on fewer touch-points, than use automation and data distribution technology to accomplish the same task (with more touch-points) for just a couple hundred dollars a month.

I believe that many dealers, managers and Internet directors understand the importance of having their dealership and inventory positioned properly and in as many places online as possible. The problem I see is two-fold: They either don’t understand that technology exists that could transform their Internet marketing and sales without putting an undue burden on their staff. Or they don’t believe that the investment in this technology will produce results.

I can guarantee you this. If you’re simply doing it for the sake of doing it, you’re wasting your time. If nobody sees the content you create, it might as well not exist. The fact is video is “content,” just like any of the other “content” that you utilize to market your dealership and inventory. You don’t spend your day manually cutting and pasting your other content on multiple touch-points all day long — manually uploading photos, and manually writing vehicle descriptions over and over. Why on earth would you try to manually manage your video syndication when producing the content can be time consuming enough.

If you focus your efforts on ensuring that you have great video content, and then utilize technology to get that content on as many of the sites consumers view in the car buying process as possible, then you will be significantly more likely to have the right content, on the right touch-point, in front of the right consumer, at the right time of the buying cycle. This is the only thing that’s going to engage more shoppers and increase sales.

Nike’s old slogan of “Just Do It” needs to be revised when applied to successful marketing strategies today to “Just Do It Right.”