If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, it’s time to stop the insanity of the majority of dealership marketing. Today’s customers don’t want to be sold with $99 lease specials or badgered to “come into the dealership for your test drive.” You can deploy a better strategy to get customers to engage and convert and stop throwing money away on ineffective marketing by evolving from a “selling” mindset to a “helping” mindset. 

There’s a reason the average dealer today spends $630 on customer acquisition for every new car sold. Customers are tuning out commercials and scrolling past social media ads because all the tired, old messaging sounds the same. As a result, you buy more air time and saturate social media to be heard by fewer customers. That’s insanity.

Other industries have the luxury of relying on the strength of their product to bring customers in. As a dealership, your product doesn’t differ greatly from what your competition sells. You have to find another way to make customers choose you. Start by focusing on the following. 

Build trust

Touting specials and lease deals is a race to the bottom. Customers don’t want to be sold. They want to be helped. Use marketing language that speaks to what the customer wants from you and you’ll build trust. This includes how your dealership does business with integrity and how your process fits buyers’ needs. 

Evolve messaging

Focus on how your dealership helps customers shop online or how your vehicle experts are available to answer every question. Stop immediately pushing for the test drive appointment. When you pressure customers, you scare them off because they’re worried about being forced into a sale. It’s ok to slow down, begin a conversation with the customer, listen to what they want from you, and become a trusted expert.  

Edit auto-responders

If you change your marketing messages, make sure your auto-responders align. You may have a Shop Online message in your social media but when a customer submits a lead, the auto-responder says “Someone will be reaching out to you shortly to set-up an appointment.” That doesn’t align.  The auto-responder should include messaging and a link to your digital showroom with a brief explanation of how to move through the steps. 

Limit calls-to-action

Emails are a great way to move customers down the funnel but only if you are intentional about what you want them to do next. Most customer emails have too many calls-to-action so customers feel overwhelmed and confused. Two options are plenty. Consider how Amazon gives customers the option to Buy Now or Add to Cart. It’s clear, decisive, and it works. Two low-risk calls-to-action for dealerships are Start Your Shopping Process Online and Text with a Product Expert. The customer is in charge of the process which builds trust. I recommend always including texting as an option because it’s low-pressure and allows the customer to set the pace of interaction.  

Offer product demonstrations

Helpful, low-pressure email and text conversations can naturally lead to an in-person visit if you follow the customer’s cues. For example, a customer asks about a panoramic sunroof. It’s a natural progression to invite the customer in for a no-pressure product demonstration. 

Stop the insanity of old-school marketing that costs too much for too little return. Evolve from “selling” to “helping” in your marketing messaging to engage and convert more customers while holding down acquisition costs.

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