This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.
You have a dealership full of fantastic vehicles for sale, but across from you is another dealer that also offers great vehicles. To your right is another dealership, and to their right there’s yet another. It’s a common scenario that most auto dealers face across the country.
For you, it creates one simple challenge: how on earth do you make your dealership stand out from the rest? For anyone seriously considering a new vehicle, or just a random passer-by, they have so many to choose from. Beyond the vehicles’ manufacturer logos, it can be a bit tough to differentiate. So either you hope they really love the lineup of vehicles you’re selling, or you find a way to command their attention so they give more than a passing gaze.
Know Your Customers and Competition
One of the first essential steps to standing out is getting to know everything you can about your customers and your competitors. First of all, where is your dealership located? Is it in a high-class suburban city area surrounded by neighborhoods comprising mansions? Or is it in a working class part of suburbia where many people earn an average wage?
You need to understand the financial status of your customers, as well as what they consider important in life, to narrow down what and how you should be selling. Chances are a husband and wife who both work full-time and have three kids aren’t going to be taken by a luxury sports car. They want a safe vehicle that can do good mileage on a single tank of gas, has modern amenities with plenty of cargo space, and is built for the long-run.
By knowing who your local – and therefore most frequent – customer base is, it will allow you to refine all other aspects of your dealership, too.
Naturally, you want to know your competitors. No one ever won a sales war by just “winging it.” What do your competitors do to make their dealerships stand out? Look at things such as signage, which cars they have displayed prominently out front, how their dealers dress, how their dealership is laid out, the promotions they run – even go in and assess how they greet you. What words and accompanying mannerisms do they use?
Knowing your competitors goes far beyond the physical location, of course. What does their website look like? If they’re on social media, what voice do they employ? Be sure to check their vehicle listings and the language used there. Also of critical importance, and relating to the above point about your customers, how do they treat their customers both in-person and online? If they have great relationships with their customers, you want to find out why.
All of the above matters, because it’s essential to the next point…
Define Your Image and Brand
It’s hard to tell you exactly what to do here, because every dealership differs. But, suffice to say, a luxury brand dealership wouldn’t want to have untidy dealers with dirt on the floors, or horrendously unkempt restrooms.
In the end, though, it doesn’t matter whether you sell Ferraris or Fords, all dealerships should look clean and professional – that’s a given; but differences will naturally exist. For example, Fords are typically family vehicles whereas a Ferrari is more of a one or two-person luxury vehicle. So while having standalone chairs for customers to sit on could make sense in a Ferrari dealership, you may want to have couches at a Ford dealership so that mom, dad, and their two kids can all comfortably rest.
Beyond these basics, however, your image and branding can reflect the emotions and mental associations you want your customers to experience. Blue has been tied to feelings of security of safety – why do you think Facebook, a social network that handles billions of users’ personal data, settled on blue as its dominant color?
The colors you choose for your particular dealership and how they fit into your branding outside of the manufacturer logos can greatly inform the emotional association people form of you. For such emotional links to be effective, those very same feelings must be elicited through your products, customer service, and all other customer-based experiences.
We know a lot about automotive marketing here at Odenza: 70% of our clients are in the auto industry. Along with a unique travel promotion being a fantastic way to stand out from the other dealerships around you, you need to have an ongoing and defined marketing strategy.
This marketing, whether executed through more traditional mediums or newer digital channels, is how you push your dealership beyond the confines of its physical location. In many ways, it’s how you can take your image and your brand and give it that definitive presence it both needs and deserves.
If your target market is the typical family earning an average wage, then drive your entire presence to that. Create images and branding of smiling families going on adventures in your vehicles – the manufacturers you’re working with may have such images for you to utilize. But what about writing blogs about fantastic local road trips, getaways, or festivals that are perfect for families to enjoy?
Do you host a family day at your dealership? It could be something worth considering. If you do, just remember to keep their priorities in mind.
Of course, we understand that there are always parameters when you’re a dealer – there are things you can or can’t do depending on the vehicles you sell. However, parameters are never a barrier to creativity. Once you know your customer base and what your competitors are or are not doing, you can start to build a brand and marketing strategy that appeals to your customers and excels where your competitors are dragging along.
The best way to market is to embrace all channels. You can utilize the traditional avenues when you want to promote something to your local base on a broader level. Digital channels, be they social media, email, blogging, or video-sharing, are a great way to maintain a consistent presence and to build a relationship with your ideal base. Digital marketing also allows for impressively specific micro-targeting.
This way, you maintain an ongoing presence that keeps your dealership front-of-mind so that when you do run a promotion, be it a travel offer or otherwise, those local customers – or even customers one or two towns over – will have a higher likelihood of being driven in. Remember that a promotion still needs to make a real impression. If there isn’t anything of actual value on offer in the eyes of your target market, then you’ll find the ROI significantly lacking.
Want to Stand Out? Get in Touch
For the past 20 years, Odenza has helped auto dealers across North America stand out and succeed through the utilization of travel incentives. With a wide range of incentives to choose from and the ability to help dealers build their presence on and offline, Odenza Marketing Group is committed to helping businesses of all sizes make a mark and, most importantly, succeed.
If you’d like to find out more, be sure to contact us online or call us on 1-866-883-2968.