For professional marketers across all industries, the top priority for 2018 is to convert leads into customers, according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2017 report. Sound familiar? Most auto dealers I know have the same goal.
In order to accomplish that goal, 48 percent of these professional marketers will be adding video to their marketing strategy this year. In fact, video is their number one strategy, far above social media, email and other traditional forms of marketing.
The reason for this is simple: people love watching videos! Even those die-hard readers out there have to admit there is a time and place for video. There’s a reason why video is the number one type of content consumed globally.
Actually, there are several reasons why video should be your auto dealership’s top marketing priority in 2018:
1) People Trust Video
Trust is an important factor in the decision-making process. How can you get potential customers to trust you? Being likeable helps, but even more important is to have a brand that’s known for integrity and product expertise.
Videos are the ideal method for building a trustworthy brand image. You can post words on your website and broadcast them on radio, but the combination of video and audio delivers a far more powerful impact.
That’s because video conveys messages with both verbal and non-verbal cues. Remember that communication is:
- 7 percent the words that you say
- 55 percent body language
- 38 percent the tone of voice
For consumers, finding a trustworthy brand is an important step along the car-buying journey. Another study found that a user’s positive experience with a video increased brand association by 139 percent.
2) Video Creates an Emotional Response
Emotion sells because it happens on a very instinctive level. People may not be aware of why they’re buying–they just know they feel good about it.
To differentiate your dealership and generate a powerful emotional response in viewers, create inventory videos with voiceovers that focus not just on the features, but on how owning the vehicle will make the buyer feel.
According to a recent Gallup study, “businesses that optimize this (emotional) connection outperform competitors by 26 percent in gross margin and 85 percent in sales growth.”
3) Video is Memorable
When was the last time you heard someone talk about a great newspaper or digital ad they just saw? When was the last time you heard someone mention a great video they just watched?
The reason why videos are memorable is based on science. People remember only 10 percent of what they see, but 50 percent of what they see and hear. A great video can touch people’s emotions like no other form of media can.
The right combination of music, narration, visuals and motion invites viewers to experience your product and your brand, instead of just hearing about it.
According to the Online Publishers Association, 80 percent of Internet users recall watching a video on a website they visited in the past 30 days. Of that 80 percent, 46 percent took some action after viewing the video, including looking for more information, visiting the website, visiting the company and purchasing a product.
It’s pretty simple: use video to make your brand memorable, and consumers will remember your brand.
4) Video Saves Time
A two-minute video can deliver a lot of information. From the consumer’s point of view, watching a video takes less effort and time than reading text and trying to decipher which product or service is best for them.
Try viewing your Vehicle Display Pages (VDPs) from a car-buyer’s perspective. Do you think most people read all the specs listed there? A consumer may scan the text but unless they are looking for something specific, they won’t remember much.
Static photos don’t convey a lot of information either; only what the vehicle looks like. Video on the other hand, can present rich visuals along with a voiceover that helps to educate and excite the consumer.
In a sense, videos remove the burden of research, reading and decision-making on the part of the consumer. If all of that information can be delivered in a video, people will choose to watch the video, every time.
Is video on your 2018 marketing priority list? Consumers love video, so if you’re serious about giving your customers what they want, give them video.
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.
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.
by Tim James
Great leaders and organizations inspire people because they are good at explaining why they do what they do. Their why gets people motivated. Their why makes people want to work for that company. Their why makes people want to buy their products.
For auto dealerships, your purpose is your “why buy” or “value proposition” message. The goal of this message is inspire, motivate and make people want to buy your cars.
Dealers, if you don’t know your why, I highly recommend finding it. Author Simon Sinek has a book called “Start With Why” and a course on how to find your why. There are dozens of articles on the Internet that can help you find your why. I won’t go into that here because the purpose of this blog is not to help you find your why.
The purpose of this blog is to help you communicate your why.
Chances are you have some “About Us” content already on your website, and you may even share your “story” during your onboarding process for new employees. But what happens then? The most successful companies throughout history, and the most successful automotive dealerships, are passionate about their “why”. But having a “why” and communicating your “why” are two very different things.
Once you have your why, you’ve got to get that message out there. You’ve got to be excited about it so your employees are excited about it and your customers are excited about it.
And the best way to communicate your why? Video.
People remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see and 70% of what they see and hear. Video is the ideal medium to communicate your why. The emotion that video conveys can inspire both your employees and your customers.
To illustrate my point, read the following paragraph:
“You can write everything down if you want to. Be brave enough to write every one of your goals down, but I’m gonna tell you something. Life’s gonna hit you in the mouth and you gotta do me a huge favor. Your why has to be greater than that knockdown.”
What do those words make you feel? Anything? Now, if you watch a video and listen to those same words narrated to visual effects, you’ll get an instant chill down your spine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNQhuFL6CWg
See how the same words in a video have a much bigger emotional impact than simple text? Your videos can have a similar effect. If you’re going to make the effort to create videos, you must take advantage of the emotional impact that videos can convey. Otherwise you’re not using the medium to full effect.
Once you have created a powerful “why video,” put it to work for you and you will be amazed at the impact it can have on your business. There are a lot of places to share your “why video”, but for now I’m going to focus on a place where it can have an immediate impact on your sales: your website. I often see dealerships hosting their “why videos” on YouTube, embedding them on the homepage of their website, and that’s it. This is wrong for a couple of reasons. First, if the video that you have embedded on your website is hosted on YouTube, then YouTube is claiming your SEO value for that video. You should either self-host your “why video” or utilize a 3rd party host who will let your website claim the SEO value. This way, when the video is found on Google and engaged by the shopper, they are directed to your website and not YouTube.
Next is where your “why video” should be displayed on your website. Your homepage is a great start; however, the goal is to get it in front of the shoppers where it is more likely to be seen and have an immediate emotional impact. One of the best places to display your “why video” is on your VDP Pages, alongside your inventory video for a vehicle. Not as a pre-roll on your inventory video, but as a standalone video that is visible and can be easily engaged by the shopper as they are browsing your inventory and watching your inventory videos. This is also a great place to have a testimonial video or two as well. And don’t forget the “About Us” pages of your website. This is another relevant page of your website that should include both your “why video” and your testimonial videos as well.
Why wait? Communicate your why to create an emotional connection, inspire and motivate your customers. Video is the most effective medium for doing so.
By Gina Reuscher
Quality video content can manipulate emotions and convey meaning far beyond the capability of written words or any still images. But videos aren’t effective simply because customers can see you or view the vehicle, they also work well because another sense is stimulated – sound. In a personalized video email, your voice and message is conveyed without ambiguity. Customers can see your facial expressions, hear your tone of voice and interpret what you’re saying in the most effective way. And, music can take the experience to a whole new level.
Imagine going to see Jaws with no soundtrack. That “duh na duh na” whenever Jaws is around instills fear without the shark even being on screen. In fact, many of you probably had the sound from the famous score come into your head as you read this. That music is just as famous as the movie. It was specifically created to instill a sense of fear and foreboding. Most viewers would know when that music plays – and it gets faster – nothing good is about to happen.
Music is a great addition to video as it can more easily convey emotion to viewers. Consider adding music to your inventory videos as they then become that much more powerful at playing on the customer’s emotions and pulling them into your message. That being said, due to copyright issues, you can’t simply download a popular artist’s song and stick it in your inventory video. So what do you do?
There are plenty of music libraries out there for dealers of all sizes and budgets. Some offer royalty -free or public domain music. And, there are also sites that offer extensive music libraries which you can subscribe to and use in your videos as needed. Here are a few resources I like, which were also highlighted in this article by Vidyard:
There is a reason why some businesses choose certain types of music – because it sets a mood. If the customer wants luxury, play to that by choosing suitable music. Cars targeted to younger demographics could work well with a little more pop or hip-hop type background tracks.
Playing to consumers’ senses is not a new concept. However, auto dealers as a whole could to a lot more with it, especially in video. Did you know that Disneyland pumps the smell of popcorn into their parks before opening every day and throughout the day? They do this because the smell of popcorn instills a sense of happiness into people as they’re entering. And, while we may not be able to add new car smell into videos yet, you can use the same techniques and tricks that play to customer’s senses to make your videos that much more engaging, attractive and interesting to the viewer. And, if you get their attention and keep it, chances are much better that the customer will inquire about or come in to see the vehicle in person… which is exactly what you want them to do.
Note: Be aware of companies that administer copyrights on behalf of artists. Some have been known to aggressively file unsubstantiated Content ID claims with YouTube on a broad scale. This mostly only impacts videos that are hosted on YouTube. If hosted on an alternate platform, you don’t have these concerns. Their motive is to create an unscrupulous stream of revenue and they are a huge inconvenience to those following the rules — namely, you! Best-in-class video production and hosting platform solutions typically own their own library of exclusive music tracks and are knowledgeable on how to handle these kinds of minor setbacks for their clients.
by Tim James
Digital Marketing plays such an important role in a business’s success today that it is easy to forget how young this medium truly is. It has, in fact, experienced a growth explosion that is historically unparalleled. A new innovative marketing product seems to emerge almost on a daily basis. And everyone promises that if you use this new “insert buzz word here,” then you will get more leads. With this explosive growth, and all the new products and features that roll out, it is easy to get caught up in chasing “the next big thing,” and forget about some of the basic fundamental rules of marketing that must be followed.
Rule 1: Emotion Sells
There is no technique in the world that can sell as well as emotion. It’s the exact reason why every sales process includes a test drive to get a shopper sitting in a vehicle, their hands on the steering wheel, and their mind taking mental ownership as they drive down the road. The problem with online car shoppers is that, unlike the customer standing in front of you, you can’t open the driver’s door and slide them in. However, you should be using your VDP Pages to duplicate this emotional experience the best that you can. Having good quality photos and a good quality vehicle description is a good start, but the very best way to generate the most emotion possible in the virtual world is by creating live walkaround videos. Encourage your staff to interject personality into that walkaround. Another great way to use a walkaround is to personalize the video response for customers who have inquired about a specific vehicle. The customer will feel special and you can then begin to develop trust and rapport with them before they even step foot in the dealership. The more emotion you can add to the overall experience for a shopper, the more leads you will get — with more of those leads actually showing up at your store to take a real test drive.
Rule 2: Be Relevant
In marketing, relevancy is one of the most important things, no matter what the media source. The first basic fundamental of marketing is to analyze your message and determine if the content you are trying to deliver matches the audience it is being delivered to. The ability to understand the consumer’s motivation at significant points in the buying cycle, and to then deliver relevant content to that specific consumer, is key to converting car shoppers. Different videos impact different shoppers at different times in the buying cycle. For example, you may want to give a different message to a shopper watching a video on your dealership website versus a shopper watching your video on AutoTrader. Or a shopper that is standing on your competitor’s lot while visiting your website (showrooming) to check out your inventory to see how your vehicles compare. These are just a couple of the many examples of how you can utilize technology to increase the relevancy of your marketing message. One of the best aspects of using videos in your marketing strategy is that your videos can dynamically update your message based upon the relevancy to that particular consumer.
Rule 3: People Buy From People They Like (Trust)
Quite frequently, a customer browsing your website or VDPs does in fact have an interest in a vehicle, yet they do not submit a lead. In many cases, the underlying cause is that they simply do not trust car dealerships. Your dealership itself may not have done anything wrong to this person, but some past experience has perhaps infiltrated their thoughts. Address those fears in your videos and reassure the customer that your dealership won’t treat them poorly. If you make it clear that they will have a great car-buying experience, it can help entice them to fill out the form and click the submit button.
Rule 4: Call-to-Action
Make sure that you are very clear in your videos about the next steps you want the consumer to take. Having the video is great. But if you don’t tell the customer what to do next, you may find that they leave your website or VDP solely because they don’t know how to proceed. Be sure to lay out out a clear path for your customers to follow. Don’t rely on all of the widgets on your site, or third party VDP listings to do this for you. Include the call-to-action verbally in your video. This then helps to guide the car shopper to take the actions you want them to take. Make the process easy for the customer – don’t force them to guess. You could run the risk of the customer leaving your site and then getting overwhelmed by the many different calls-to-action that are present on most other websites.
All dealerships want more leads. The common thought process is usually along the lines of “If I get more leads, I’ll sell more cars.” However, if you rely solely on adding the latest gizmo to the numerous other ones already on your website, this is not the best process. Use these basic fundamental rules of marketing and you’ll see an increase in leads and end up with car shoppers further down the funnel, with a genuine interest in a specific vehicle, ready to engage with you. This will produce a higher closing ratio with less effort on your part.
by Brian Cox
A little over a month ago, a couple of employees at a car dealership in Illinois published a music video on YouTube titled “Keys In A Box,” which parodied a sketch from Saturday Night Live. These two individuals proceeded to have a great time and showcased their dealership in a creative and fun way. Their reward? Over 67,000 views in just one month, as well as compliments from Jalopnik, Edmunds and AdWeek. I wouldn’t be surprised if this helps place the dealership top-of-mind when a local customer is ready to buy their next vehicle.
Having fun with your branding and being creative with any videos can help you stay top-of-mind with your customer base. Think of the Volkswagen commercial that debuted a few Super Bowls ago – the one where the little kid dressed as Darth Vader and ran around trying to use the “Force.” It was a huge hit and created a lot of media interest and created quite a firestorm on social media.
But why do videos like these stay in our minds while other types don’t?
The answer is simple. They tell YOUR story. The buzz this fun and creative dealership video created is very likely worth more than any print or television ad they could have purchased. And my guess is that all it cost was a little time investment.
Videos are a powerful way to connect with customers. They allow you to share your unique personality. Whether you develop inventory videos for your website, or personalized videos destined for a specific person, take advantage of this opportunity to connect with your customers online. Create a lasting and memorable impression.
Think about perhaps finding the fun, creative people in your dealership and let them do a little outside-the-box thinking. Yeah you’ll probably have to nix a few of the crazier ideas. But I bet you get some great stuff out of it. Consider stepping outside the box a bit and share what is unique and different about your dealership. I am willing to bet you will notice the difference in customer response.
By Tim James
In my last blog article, I discussed the importance of building rapport with leads through the use of “Why Buy From Me” and “Lead Response” videos personalized for each customer. Now I would like to take this one step further — Building rapport should in fact start much earlier than simply upon the receipt of a lead.
Think about the first contact a customer has with your dealership. Chances are good that they either went to your website, or found a vehicle that matched their interest on a third party site. At this point, detailed descriptions, images and video walkarounds can certainly make your vehicle stand out from the others. But how about further increasing the probability that the customer chooses to deal with you over any competition? How about building trust and rapport at this first entry point instead of waiting for them to put in their personal information and enter your CRM as a lead?
Just as you can integrate video walkarounds of the vehicle on VDP pages, you can also integrate your “Why Buy From Us” or “Why Buy From Me” videos into your vehicle display pages, as well as your most visited page on your website – your homepage. Sell The Dealership, Sell Yourself, Sell The Car…This simple rule can have a significant impact on the number of shoppers who see your online advertisements and ultimately trust you enough to reach out to you and inquire about a vehicle. And a HUGE impact on your sales once the customer arrives on your lot.
These actions help to build rapport and establish trust prior to receiving a lead, making the process of contacting the customer and engaging them that much easier when you do receive a lead. The fact is that you can build so much likeability and trust with a shopper that they decide that “you” are the dealership or sales person that they want to do business with, even before they have landed on a specific vehicle. You will even have shoppers who call you, email you, or even just show up at your dealership, without having settled on an exact vehicle, simply because they like and trust your dealership, or one of your salespeople. They thus reach out to you to help them find the right vehicle. Combine the above actions with walkaround videos and personalized video e-mails and you’ll find it much easier to win over a customer, leaving your competition in the dust.
Start creating rapport at the first touch-point, otherwise you could find yourself competing with four other dealers for the potential customer’s attention. A successful sales career is all about building relationships. The earlier in the car buying process that you can accomplish this, the easier it will be to engage a customer, more customers will show up for test drives, and you will haggle significantly less over price. You will get more sales and higher gross, because you are the good guys and the shopper wants to do business with YOU!
By Tim James
That classic line from the song “Somebody to Love” by legendary band, Queen epitomizes the destination for consumers and the goal of all salespeople. There’s not a doubt in my mind that you’ve heard the phrase “People buy from people they like.” In the past, a consumer had to come into a dealership to start the car shopping process. This is where the important skill of “building rapport” came into play for salespeople. Great salespeople learned quickly how to find common interests and develop relationships with their clients, while assisting them to find the right vehicle.
Fast forward to today. Consumers now have the option of car shopping anonymously. Dealership Internet and BDC departments are inundated with leads arriving from countless sources. Consumers chose to share some or all of their information after narrowing down their online research. They’ve engaged with you to some degree and have given you the opportunity to earn their business. You must remember, however, that to the consumer, you are only a car dealership. Chances are also good that you are not the only car dealership who they (or a third party) has given this opportunity to. All dealerships have auto-responders and the standard “Why Buy From Us” email templates are sent to leads pretty quickly. Because the consumer is inundated with these templates, they are meaningless.
The fact is that people buy from people they like. So, how do you make that emotional connection with a lead? It’s certainly not through e-mail templates.
Consumers like to be treated as if they are special. They can smell an e-mail template before it even hits their in-box. While it’s fine to tell your dealership’s story, don’t forget the importance of building rapport — it will go a long way towards winning the sale.
Highly successful dealers have started sending out individualized “Why Buy From Me” type videos in their e-mails. These videos are personalized to each and every customer. These are not just a homogenized blanket “one size fits all” type of message. The reason this works is because of a very simple concept known to salespeople. By saying someone’s name, you recognize them as a person… and individual. No longer is your video message “My name is Tim. And I would like to earn your business… Mr. Blank.”
Instead the message is directed to the individual as … “My name is Tim and I want to earn YOUR business, Mr. Smith.” — That’s a very different message.
What do you do if you see someone you know walking nearby, but out of reach? You yell out their name! Why? Because it gets their attention! And that’s exactly what personalized video responses accomplish.
The bottom line is that the possible touch points on the consumer’s online car shopping path are increasing at an incredibly rapid pace, almost daily. It is becoming more and more difficult to stand out and claim a customer’s attention. This very simple technique can make your interactions more personal and help to gain the customer’s attention. I am sure you will find that more people appreciate, respond and give you the opportunity to earn their business.
After all, we all simply want to find somebody to love. Make sure that somebody is you.