This article originally appeared on LinkedIn
If you’re an auto dealer, then no doubt you already know who your competitors are. After all, knowing who you’re up against allows you to work on standing out from them. But sometimes that’s easier said than done, and you’re still left with that question: “How do I stand out from my competition?”
That’s exactly what I’ll be answering here by focusing on three key areas:
1. Knowing your competitors
2. How incentives give you a competitive edge
3. Marketing for the highest returns
Knowing Your Competitors
Competition offers consumers more and more choice. And while this is fantastic for the customer, it does mean that you need to spend time ensuring you actually understand your competitors.
But what exactly does understanding them mean? Consider the following when getting started:
• Where they’re located: the closer they are, the easier it is for a prospective customer to check out their offers – but even if they’re a town or two over, don’t underestimate a customer’s drive to get the most bang for their buck
• What they sell: naturally, your biggest perceived competitors will be those that sell the same vehicles as you do
• What payment options they offer: outright purchases, monthly installments, interest-free for X number of months/years, etc.
• Perks: what do customers get from your competitors when buying from them? A year of free fuel, complimentary check-ups, extended warranties, cash-back, etc.
• How they market themselves: is their marketing better than yours? Are they more active on social and most digital channels, or they more traditional with print, TV, radio, etc.?
With location, you owe it to yourself do a quick Google search of your competition. Let’s say you’re a Kia dealership located near Cleveland, Ohio. When you do a quick Google search of competitors within that space, Google Maps returns the following results:
As you can see from the top 5 results alone, all of the dealerships have great customer ratings, and all of them are within reasonable proximity of one another. Across some of these dealerships within the region, they offer monthly payments such as:
• $223 per month (36 months) for the 2017 Kia Sorento LX
• $184 per month (36 months) for the 2017 Kia Sorento LX
• $179 per month (36 months) for the 2017 Kia Sorento LX
• $229 per month (36 months) for the 2018 Kia Sorento LX
You get the picture. Point being, all offers are within a $50 difference per month, with the 2018 model being the most expensive.
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO STAND OUT?
What if you’re that dealer offering the 2017 model at $184 per month and your prospective customer is seriously considering the $179 per month deal? What makes your slightly more expensive offer more appealing than your competitors? Same monthly payment option, same model, same color…
With the right perk, you can turn the tide in your favor.
Now, what would make a customer want your offer?
Travel Incentives! An Auto Dealer’s Competitive Edge
Okay, so you have $184 per month vs. $179 per month. The former, over a 36-month period, is an additional $180. That extra $180 the customer is putting into that dealership can be completely accounted for with a travel incentive.
Image the dealership with a slightly higher monthly repayment rate handed their customer a travel certificate that allowed them and their partner to go on a 5-day cruise with food, beverages (save the alcoholic variety), and entertainment all included.
What is $5 per month compared to a cruise that will offset that slight price increase by thousands?
The customer buys a vehicle, and then they get a cruise. And if a couple is buying the Kia Sorento LX, chances are good they’re parents. It’s often how the vehicle is marketed.
Gifting the parents with a relaxing cruise where they can spend five romantic and rejuvenating days together certainly beats saving $180 over three years. This is a great approach to incentivizing customers to go with you.
Marketing for the Highest Return
When it comes to actually marketing your incentive offer so that it will help you stand above the rest, you need to have full buy-in. After all, travel incentives are designed to help make it easier for your dealership to close more sales.
The list below shows some of the essential points to remember for the best marketing performance:
• Make sure you and your management team are all onboard with the effort (the aforementioned full buy-in);
• Ensure your sales staff are jazzed about the campaign and offer the trips at the point of sale (read here to learn more about getting your sales team behind an incentive initiative);
• Make sure you have put up all marketing materials in the showroom – posters, balloons, window decals, etc.;
• Market the incentive on your website, social accounts, email, and other digital channels;
• Work any advertisements of the campaign into your current budget – do not go beyond it;
• Boosted posts on Facebook are a great way to promote the campaign for little money. $25 per week is more than enough for good exposure; and
• Again, offer the travel certificates at the point of sale – do not wait for customers to ask, because most rarely will. You want people to know the offer is still ongoing, and this will create a bigger buzz and bring in more customers.
Along with the above points, take some time to consider how you’d like to implement these incentives into your sales efforts. Will they be used purely as closing tools or will they be part of a larger promotion or contest?
We have even more great advice here on how to get the most out of travel incentives across various applications.
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