marketing

Why Face-to-Face Conversations are More Important than Ever

By Timmy James

 

By nature, humans are social creatures. Need more proof? One of the worst punishments our legal system has come up with is solitary confinement. Not only is this dreaded by inmates, but it can also affect their mental health. Whether an introvert or an extrovert, we all crave personal interaction.

Like many of you, I am currently working from home. And, at the end of one day last week I had an impromptu meeting with one of my customers. The meeting started on the phone but, after 15-20 minutes of the call, we decided to switch to a live-stream one-on-one video call. While we continued talking about the business matter, the conversation quickly changed into a personal chat. Just two people who have been working from home for many days now. While we both interact with people throughout the day, most interaction is via the phone or text. When we switched to the live-streaming video call, emotions changed into joy and excitement that we were having a personal, live, face-to-face interaction with an individual outside of our homes.

Even before this health crisis, people wanted to have live interaction. That’s exactly why sales managers are renowned for telling salespeople to “Just get them in.” Of course, at the moment, we have a quandary. Many salespeople are out of work, CRMs are still spitting out the same messages and consumers are still shopping for vehicles… but nobody is answering them.

We’re dealing with a situation unlike anything seen since the measles or polio breakouts decades ago. The entire country is hunkered down, sitting at home with their families. And many are very bored. What do people do when they are bored? They tend to accomplish tasks they’ve been meaning to but have not yet found the time for. And guess what? This could very easily include researching a vehicle purchase. 33 states have either halted or limited vehicle sales forcing salespeople to stay at home. However, in many cases, their CRMs are still receiving leads. OEMs are offering aggressive incentives and interest rates are low.

Car sales are all about emotions. That’s why the standard has always been to get the customer to test drive, kick tires, breathe in that “new car” smell and take mental ownership. However, before any of that can happen, a salesperson or BDC agent needs to create rapport to get that specific customer to choose their dealership.

Customers currently don’t have the luxury of visiting the dealership. But you can approach that level of face-to-face contact with live video chat. It builds the rapport needed for the customer to decide who to buy from and what to buy. Your dealership can interact with these customers in a personal way while building that emotional relationship with the salesperson, the dealership AND the vehicle. And what do those interactions produce when doing this via live-streaming video calls? The same as it produced for me and my customer — Joy and excitement. It helps move that customer down the line to the sale.

Many dealerships are experimenting with virtual test drives and video calling to provide that in-store face-to-face experience right now and having amazing success. But like all sales processes, it must be done right to have the most effective impact. Many of the popular video calling platforms out there require both users to install plugins or download the same apps to assure cross-platform and cross-operating system compatibility. These platforms are great for organized meetings, entertainment, or educational purposes. But when you need to engage a customer or a lead from your website, or for email/texting communications, the best video calling technology to utilize is one that allows a “one-click” audio and video communication to work inside web pages through direct peer-to-peer communication. This eliminates the necessity to install plugins or download apps and ensures an instant video connection; no matter what device or platform the customer or lead is utilizing.  This could alter the entire experience completely and make the difference between a GREAT video experience, and no communication or experience at all (another lost lead).

So, consider using live video chat to have that face-to-face interaction with your customers that is very much desired, especially right now. Combined with good storytelling through strategic vehicle and dealership marketing videos, it could easily slingshot your dealership into a consumer’s first choice. Not just in these times when it is even more crucial to communicate this way, but also when everything goes back to normal. And now is the time to start planning for the future. You don’t want your competition to beat you and take your customers away!  Get that competitive edge and create those loyal customers now!

3 Video Marketing Applications for a More Profitable New Year

By Tim James

Video has historically played a major role in car dealerships; from training with VHS tapes, to video messaging, text and Live Video Calling. As 2019 draws to a close and we approach 2020, it is clear that when it comes to consumer engagement and digital marketing, video is center stage.

There are many video marketing statistics and trends floating around currently. It is easy to get lost and it can seem a daunting task to stay head of the trends. In this short blog I have put together 3 practical ways to successfully incorporate video into your 2020 marketing strategy.

Communication

Why struggle wondering if your emails are opened and read? According to multiple reports an engaged audience will drop what they are doing to watch a video. In fact, email open rates increase by 7% if you include the word “Video” in the title.

Focus on quality! I always hear people saying, “keep your video short”. The fact is you should put your stopwatch away and focus on delivering high-quality information in an upbeat and emotional presentation. Too often people try to rush their presentation and simply don’t provide an educational or emotional presentation.

Nothing will lead to someone closing your video sooner than if you sound like you are just trying to rush through it, versus truly trying to assist them. If you are providing a great experience in your video message, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  Yep…someone stops watching.  But what about all of those who are truly interested in your message? If you are providing good (relevant) information, and delivering it in an emotional manner, the numbers show that a significantly high percentage of your email (and text) recipients will watch 100% of your video message.

Another good statistic to know is that adding video to your emails can increase click rates by 300%.

Vehicle shoppers appreciate the informational and emotional value of video. Live video calls and video chat are effective at increasing engagement and convert more website traffic to lot traffic as shoppers can now talk to one of your professionals “live,” from wherever they may be.

This does wonders for customer experience by offering a truly unique perspective of transparency. Consumers don’t need to wonder about availability if they can see the vehicle in a video behind you in real-time.

Website Conversion

Users spend 88% more time browsing a website if it has video. Video content humanizes your dealership, builds trust, and inspires higher funnel shoppers to actually pick up the phone and call you with their questions. Video on your landing page or VDP will increase conversion by 80%.

Inventory videos transfer more information. In addition, they help your VDP pages create more emotion from potential car buyers, much more than pictures and text alone. Website videos increase organic search traffic by 157%. You are then far more likely to appear on Google’s page one, driving more online shoppers to your website and into your sales funnel.

Social

For all social platforms , video has 12 times more shares than text and image alone and engagement is 13.9% higher if your posts include video.  How long should your videos be on social media? 30 to 90 seconds is the ideal length for social video marketing. But again, remember that this is because the viewers aren’t there just for your video.  They are socializing and have a short attention span (oh look, a squirrel). But you still don’t want to sacrifice quality for time.  The quality of your content always comes first.

What about the future? 360 degree interactive presentations and Augmented Reality are predicted to be areas with the most growth as marketers enjoy the ease of creating this type of content and it is becoming less expensive.

If your dealership isn’t using video in its vehicle merchandising or customer interactions, you could be missing out on opportunities. Let the consumer experience your inventory they way they want to experience it.  If you limit their options, you will also be limiting your leads.  It’s all about selling more cars and increasing service revenue. Video can help any dealership accomplish both with very little time, effort and cost.

If you don’t believe me, give it a try. I promise you will see the results and will continue to use video marketing at every possible customer interaction opportunity.

How to Make Your Own Commercial for the “Big Game”

By Brian Cox, President and CEO, Flick Fusion

In 2019, advertisers paid over $5 million for a 30-second commercial ad spot during the Super Bowl. That kind of budget is out of reach for dealerships, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own commercial for the big game.

TV ads that run during the Super Bowl can be funny or heart-wrenching. They can be warm and sweet, or edgy and trendy. A good Super Bowl ad captures and conveys the essence of a brand in 30 seconds.

For weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, everyone wants to know which companies are advertising and what type of commercial they’ll come up with. Some commercials are leaked as teasers and even the news media contributes to the hype. Super Bowl advertisers probably get just as much public relations value out of running an ad during the game, than they do from the actual ad itself.

Why not cash in on this buzz and create your dealership’s very own “big game” commercial? All it takes is some creativity and a camera.

Of course, your commercial won’t actually run on TV during the Super Bowl. Instead, you can distribute it across every digital channel for maximum exposure. Post it on your website. Use it in email marketing and digital ad campaigns. Post it on all your social media channels. Use a shortened version as a pre-roll ad on YouTube.

Promote the heck out of it. Maybe it will go viral. Have some fun with it.

According to a National Retail Federation Study, 73% of Super Bowl viewers see the ads as entertainment. That’s the power of video. If you make your own “big game” commercial, everyone will want to see it. Just make sure that your ad is actually entertaining.

Here are a few tips on what makes a great commercial.

Tell a Story. Most Super Bowl ads don’t try to advertise a sale or special. The most successful ads tell a story that’s designed to elicit an emotion from the viewer. Buying a car can be an emotional experience, so try tapping into your customers’ experience, whether that’s happy, sentimental or exasperated.

Keep it Simple. What’s your brand’s unique value proposition? Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Use simple concepts and headlines. Don’t let complexity get in the way of your message. An effective ad conveys one message that is clear to the audience.

Brand Recall. Sometimes companies do such a great job at being cute or funny, that the viewers love the commercial but they don’t recall the brand. What’s the point of that? To be effective, an ad needs to accurately reflect your brand identity, and viewers should remember the brand.

Originality. If your ad looks like everyone else’s ads, it won’t be memorable. Spend some time coming up with a truly unique concept. Think outside the box. Even if your ad falls short of being award-worthy, your viewers will give you an “A” for effort.

Tap into a Trend. The auto industry is changing. Peruse news headlines and think about what people are talking about: autonomous vehicles, advanced vehicle technology, ride-sharing, electric vehicles and buying cars from vending machines. Try to leverage these trends in your ads, whether it’s poking fun or promoting interactions with an actual human.

Don’t Use Trademarked Terms. The terms “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday” are trademarked by the NFL, so they can’t be used to promote your business in an ad, or the NFL will send a cease and desist letter. Use terms like “Big Game” or incorporate a football theme without mentioning any specifics. Also avoid using names of specific teams and players.

Be Honest. Most of all, make sure that your dealership delivers on your ad’s promise.

Once your ad is produced, it’s time to kick back, grab some wings and watch as the number of video views goes up and up. And don’t forget to enjoy the game!

3 Holiday Videos to Spread Good Cheer

Christmas tree.jpg

It’s that time of year again. Right after Thanksgiving, the starting gun booms and the mad rush of the holiday begins. Keeping your dealership top of mind during this season can be challenging.

We in the car business know that it’s a great time of year to buy a car, but not everyone knows that—and not everyone has the time or inclination to buy a car at the end of the year with so much going on.

To cut through the noise and capture your customers’ attention during this crazy time, you have to stand out from the crowd—and there’s no better way to do that than with video. Specifically, here are three essential videos every dealer needs for the holiday season.

Holiday Deals

December is the final month of the quarter and of the year. Let your customers know that some of the best deals to be had are in this month. Manufacturers do a great job of branding in December, serving up plenty of television commercials featuring the latest models with big bows on top. How is your dealership leveraging these ads?

Create a video featuring YOUR best deals and incentives this month, then use it in a multi-channel campaign. Send it in an email to a targeted list and send it as a text to customers who have opted-in to text campaigns. Create a Facebook and Instagram video ad campaign and a Google display ad campaign. Don’t forget to post the video on your website and on your YouTube channel. A targeted, relevant digital video campaign is less expensive than a mass-mailing postcard campaign and will return a much bigger bang for your buck.

November and December are also good months to get a car winterized for the onslaught of freezing temperatures ahead. Create a service deal and promote it as a gift for your customers—either to buy for themselves or for their loved ones. What better way to show that you care than keeping your family safe as they drive on icy roads? Similar to your sales deal video, promote this video across multiple channels.

Customer Appreciation

Although it’s a good time to promote your holiday deals, that’s not the only marketing you should be doing. This time of year, people are focused on family, friends, gratitude and giving. If the only message you send out is “Come on in for a great deal!” you risk being perceived as a Grinch.

Create a video holiday card for your customers. A video is more personal (and cost-effective) than a postcard, and you can even personalize the audio or text to include the recipient’s first name!

In this video DO NOT promote your deals or ask the customer for anything. Simply express your appreciation for their business and wish them a happy holiday season. This video should feature messages from your dealership principal(s) and department managers.

Don’t be afraid to get creative! A customer appreciation video can be warm and heartfelt, or funny and light-hearted. The main thing is to make it sincere.

A Time of Giving

The holidays are the best time of year for you to elevate your dealership’s brand by demonstrating how you give back to the community.

Is your dealership hosting a Toy Drive or taking donations for a charity or Food Bank? Create a video that shows how your charitable event benefits the community. Another option is to create a ‘recap’ video of everything your dealership has done for the community this year.

People feel good when they give, and nothing inspires giving more than seeing someone else give. Let your dealership be that inspiration for others and before you know it, you’ll attract people to your showroom because they want to help your donation efforts, and not necessarily to buy. And that’s OK for now. Because you’ll grab their name and contact information, add them to your marketing list and they’ll remember you when it comes time to buy or service a vehicle.

Make the holiday videos a fun project that all of your dealership employees (who want to) can get involved in. Use the holiday videos in multi-channel marketing campaigns to maximize reach, frequency and ROI. Before you know it, you may have a new holiday tradition that both your employees and your customers will love.