marketing strategy

How to Shoot Professional Quality Videos with a Smartphone

When dealerships first start their video marketing programs, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “Will I have to buy an expensive camera?” The answer is no. Just about everyone these days has a smartphone that can shoot HD video. When used properly, the quality of video produced can be exceptional. All it takes is practice.

Most dealers start with inventory walkaround videos and these are probably the trickiest videos to shoot, so that’s what we’ll focus on here.

First, to ensure a good high-resolution (and non-pixelated) video, adjust your camera setting to record video at 1920 x 1080 and 30 frames per second (fps), unless you plan to extract your still images for the inventory from the video.  In that case you may want to utilize 60 frames per second (fps).

Next, invest in a stabilizer. Most smartphones have a pretty good stabilizer built into them today, but they will only make a good video better. This is the merchandising layer for your inventory that most shoppers are going to view, so invest in the tools that you need to provide the best experience for your shoppers that you can. Don’t fool yourself into believing you can walk around the vehicle while holding the smartphone steady in your hand. The result will be a bouncy video that will make your viewers seasick and result in low video completion rates.

A hand-held stabilizer or tripod is better than nothing, but if you want to produce the best quality video invest in a 3-axis gimbal for a couple hundred bucks. It is worth every penny! For top of the line stabilization a 4-axis gimbal is even better, but may run you a couple thousand.

Currently we recommend using a set-up that includes your smartphone, and the DJI OSMO camera/gimbal combo. This is a really cool camera that takes amazing quality video and connects wirelessly with your smartphone, so you can use your smartphone to view what the camera is recording.

You can find a DJI OSMO starter kit for around $500 and depending on how you want to accessorize it, you may spend $700 to $800. This is a small investment that will make your inventory shine!  GoPro also offers some great camera/stabilizer combinations that cost less and produce very good quality videos as well.

Once you have a stabilizer, the next thing you’ll want to address is lighting. Smartphones have small lenses so adequate lighting is critical. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re shooting outdoors, but always position the vehicle so you will not be pointing the camera into direct light, such as the sun.

When you first begin shooting walkarounds, you may want to allow extra time to shoot the entire video two or three times. With each ‘take,’ experiment with different ISO settings, which measure your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. On a sunny day your ISO settings will be lower and on cloudy days your ISO settings will be higher. If you do shoot on a sunny day, avoid shooting midday because that’s when the sun casts the harshest shadows. Instead, schedule shoots for early morning or late afternoon.

For vehicle walkarounds, you want to feature shots panning the side of the vehicle, as well as the front and back so the viewer has a good sense of what the vehicle looks like from all angles. Open the doors and shoot the interior, both front and back.

Then focus on shooting the features that you will use to sell the car, such as the Infotainment system, new tires, safety features, etc. The total length of your walkaround videos can range from one to four minutes. Don’t believe experts who tell you that all videos have to be one minute or less. Though this is probably true for a bad or dull video, if the presentation is informative and entertaining, two, three or even four minutes is okay. There are plenty of dealerships that get 80 to 90 percent completion rates with videos that long, and plenty of dealerships that only get a 50 to 60 percent completion rate with their bouncy and dull one- minute videos.

If you are worried about the audio track for your videos, you can have your photographer shoot your videos and have a data driven audio track added to the video automatically.  If you are adding your own audio while shooting the videos, or if you decide to shoot your walkaround videos featuring a salesperson or spokesperson giving a live presentation, invest in a good noise-cancelling microphone.

Either way you can always go back and replace the audio layer of the video if you want or need to without having to re-shoot the video.  You can even personalize the audio layer of the videos for specific leads (personalized walkarounds) without having to shoot another video, saving you a LOT of time while producing an identical personalized walkaround video to one that was shot from scratch.

Finally, expect that the first few videos you create will probably suck. Don’t be discouraged! Practice makes perfect. Keep doing it and eventually things will click. Pretty soon you will find your own unique style and every walkaround video will become a mini-masterpiece.

What tips do you have for shooting professional quality video with your smartphone?

[VIDEO] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 2: Is It Right For Me

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

Weekly ISM Checklist

from drivingsales.com, posted 6/3/08

Now for the weekly check list.  ISMs need to be completelting these items on a weekly basis and reporting to their management on their progress of each of these items.  Following this task list regularly will greatly increase your success: 

Weekly Check List

Date _______

1. __ Visit dealership website. Call toll free and other phone numbers to ensure they’re working and being answered properly.

2. __ Check AutoTrader, Cars.com, UsedCars.com, and/or other third party website photos, pricing information, and phone numbers.

3. __ Blind shop competitors selling both similar and different makes and models.

4. __ Post any upcoming Events and Specials on website. Be careful about posting any future discounts or pricing – those should be only posted once they are on, or when they are about to end to instill urgency.

5. __ Schedule broadcast email once per month, at the beginning of the third week of the month. Preferably, send on Tuesday or Thursday afternoon. Always have something for the customer first and foremost – give them a compelling reason to open your email.

6. __ Schedule automated targeted email campaigns to existing customers, including interests, specials, birthdays, etc.

7. __ Check with vendors to see if there are duplicate addresses they are sending leads to, to former employees, etc..

8. __ Test templated emails to see how they are arriving to customers.

9. __ Check your site for manufacturers compliance or non-compliances issues.

10. __ If you find any issues, send an email to your vendor (so you have it in writing), cc-ing your GM or ID, and immediately follow up with a phone call. If the issue is not resolved in 24 hours, re-send the email, and cc you GM or ID. They should take it from there.

Following these processes and checklists will help you maximize you efforts and success! Good luck.

http://drivingsales.com/blog/rafi/2008/06/03/weekly-ism-checklist/

7 Strategies for Marketing in a Downturn

Published: May 22, 2008, from iMedia Connection, by: Guy Maser

The following tips will carry your company through the lean times and beyond.

In a challenging economy, you must find new ways to make marketing work more effectively, get more out of marketing investments, and measure and account for marketing decisions. In short, you must make changes. Doing the same things in an uncertain economic environment and expecting the same results is, at worst, a definition of marketing insanity. At best it is a flawed strategy.

How can your company be one of those success stories that market and grow their businesses during challenging economic times? The following strategies will help you allocate marketing investments to better performing programs that will carry your company through the economic downturn and beyond.

Get targeted
A fundamental but sometimes overlooked marketing tenet is to “fish where the fish are.” In other words, invest in those specific, targeted media where you know your customers and prospects will be exposed to your message.

Research shows that virtually all engineering, technical and industrial professionals now use the internet throughout their work process. The same holds true in most B2B markets. But the internet is vast, and the fish you are looking for may be using specific websites where the content is directly related to their information needs. Work with your media partners to identify and target those sites.

Measure performance
While it’s always the right time to purge marketing programs that don’t perform, it may be time to scale back any marketing plans whose results you can’t measure or are unsure about. In other words, re-allocate and “right-size” marketing budgets to measurable programs. Online programs — which are built around delivering visibility, impressions, clicks, leads and customers — are easy to measure.

Think integration
Integrated marketing means your marketing strategy takes advantage of multiple media, resources and customer touchpoints to create a whole that’s greater and more effective than the sum of its parts. The more that marketing efforts are integrated and comprehensive, the greater impact you can achieve in gaining visibility in your market, qualified leads and sales.

Maintain frequency and consistency
The benefits of regular visibility in the market tend to compound over time as more prospects recognize your company. This improves your opportunity to get on a prospect’s short list of potential vendors and also shortens the sales cycle. A consistent online presence where your customers and prospects are looking for information — including websites, directories, search engines and e-newsletters — will help your company stay visible as well as provide measurable lead generation benefits via online contact.

Push and pull your way to success
Most marketing can be classified as either push or pull: companies push their message out through tactics such as direct mail, advertisements and e-newsletters; and they also establish a presence in online directories, websites and search engines to pull customers in real-time when prospects are searching for information, products and services like those your company offers. Rather than struggling over whether to allocate resources to push marketing or pull marketing, seek out a media partner that has your target audience captive and can offer both push and pull programs under an integrated program.

Focus on quality over quantity
If marketing efforts focus solely on quantity over quality, fewer leads will convert, more sales resources will be wasted, and sales people will begin to distrust marketing’s lead generation programs. Commit to programs in which quality is a key attribute: programs that can deliver interested prospects, provide prospect contact information and offer reports of program performance.

Seek assistance from media partners
The economy is likely forcing you to make harder and smarter decisions about allocating budgets. While you may be facing challenges, you don’t have to face them alone. Ask media partners to demonstrate how their marketing solutions help your company achieve the strategies mentioned above.

Ask them:

  • Do they have your target audience’s attention?
  • Can they keep your company visible to prospects and customers at all times?
  • Do they offer a variety of integrated marketing solutions aligned with your goals?
  • Can they provide both visibility and lead generation? 
  • Do they deliver targeted, quality leads with full contact information? 
  • Do they provide reports you can use to measure the performance of your marketing and justify your marketing investments?

During challenging times or when things are going well, marketers need to clarify goals and create tailored, integrated marketing solutions that complement the current media mix and extend their companies’ ability to compete and win business in the market. Utilize a wide range of digital media advertising and marketing solutions. Consider keyword ads, email marketing, searchable product catalogs, banner ad networks and industry-leading e-newsletter advertisements. Figure out the right combination and you will deliver the right message at the right time to the right audience and integrate with your traditional marketing efforts.

 http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/19318.asp

Watch for Personal Bias

As marketers, we’re constantly building, tweaking and adapting our marketing plans in an effort to maximize the return on our marketing investment. In doing so, we have to make judgments about which tactics will be most effective. And that’s where, if you’re not careful, mistakes can be made.

One of the most common mistakes I see marketers make is to forget a simple truth that should be obvious. That truth is this: You are not your audience. It’s the same mistake that causes us to buy birthday gifts for our friends that are actually something we’d like, rather than something he or she would enjoy.

You are not your audience. It seems obvious, but forgetting it can have profound implications. Just because you personally don’t respond to direct mail, watch Channel 8 News or like the color red doesn’t mean that’s not the right solution to your marketing challenges. Learning what personal biases you may have is important when designed a campaign meant to influence other people.

So, trust your audience, trust past results and trust the numbers… they won’t lead you astray nearly as often as your hidden, personal biases.

D. Jones
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
SmackDabble, LLC

Maximizing Pre-Owned Traffic From the Internet

By: Pat Ryan, Jr.
From Digital Dealer Magazine February 2008

Every week seems to bring an interesting new study on how consumers are using the Internet in their car buying process. While all of these studies point to the importance of an evolving e-strategy for dealerships, it is not always easy for dealers to glean actionable takeaways from these studies. With all the data flying around, this presents a great opportunity to make sense of it all. Let’s start with the most dramatic headline.

The 2007 Dealer eBusiness Performance study sponsored by Yahoo revealed that 88 percent of consumers use the Internet for research prior to visiting a dealership. At the same time, dealers we hear from typically report 15 to 20 percent of their business coming from their Internet departments.

What happened to the 68 percent of buyers that used the Internet to research vehicles yet were invisible to the Internet department? Simply put, they may have shopped your “virtual frontline” but did so anonymously; some later came to visit your dealership while others bought from your competitor.

Why do the majority of buyers using the Internet choose to stay invisible to your Internet department? Because the majority of Internet shoppers are reluctant to share their personal information online with dealers or third-party web sites and therefore never become a “lead.” The result: the majority of visitors to your “virtual frontline” are invisible and untouchable for your Internet team.

How does this impact my business?
Dealers routinely work hard to engage every guest who walks their lot and shops through the traditional buying process. In the online world, if your vehicle is not competitively priced with similar vehicles in your market, a consumer will leave your virtual frontline for another dealer’s with one click, never returning and never speaking with anyone on your team. Buyers will also “vote” with their mouse by clicking away from vehicles that do not have enough pictures, have poor quality pictures, or lack compelling descriptions.
What makes dealerships vulnerable to these kinds of missteps?

Dealerships traditionally priced pre-owned inventory on a “cost-plus” basis-pricing the vehicle to ensure they have enough room to negotiate with a customer and still sell a vehicle for a strong gross profit. Since pre-owned vehicles are more varied in value because of age, condition, mileage etc., consumers were unlikely to find a similar vehicle to yours across the street, giving dealers the upper hand. However, in the Internet age, customers can see your pricing next to nearly all of the similar vehicles in your market, making cost-plus pricing a barrier to driving traffic from the Internet.

In addition to the consumer being empowered by the Internet, dealers who are inconsistent in putting enough pictures or robust vehicle descriptions online will find themselves clicked past by consumers as well. It’s no longer enough to just be online. Dealers need to excel online by being as diligent in merchandising your online inventory as you are in the presentation of your dealership’s showroom.

How can I maximize my pre-owned traffic from the Internet?
1. Market pricing – Replace “cost-plus” pricing with market pricing by competitive shopping every vehicle versus the competition. This ensures that your pricing will appear fair for its value in online search results. Treat competitive vehicles online the same way you would if they were on the frontline across the street. Price based on the “key strengths” of your vehicles but be realistic given the competition.

2. Consistently execute the online advertising fundamentals – Mystery shop your own dealership to ensure all of your vehicles are online with robust descriptions and pictures. You’d never put a vehicle on the frontline without detailing it. Make sure you detail your online vehicles to the same standard.

3. Mystery shop the competition – Experience your dealership’s “virtual frontline” versus the competition as the consumer will experience it. Go to an online advertising site such as autotrader.com or cars.com and see how your vehicles compare. If you are using market pricing and executing online advertising fundamentals consistently your vehicles should show well, but you may find that your vehicles differentiation is not clear to a potential buyer. For example, you may find that your vehicle is the lowest mileage vehicle in the market. In that case it may be okay to be the highest priced vehicle; you simply need to ensure that your online listings are highlighting the value. Know each vehicle’s online market and ensure that your listings are highlighting the unique value of each vehicle.

With those three simple steps any dealer can ensure that they are maximizing the potential of the online advertising they are purchasing. The key is to execute consistently, the same way you do every day in merchandising the showroom and frontline at your dealership.

http://www.digitaldealer-magazine.com/index.asp?article=1787