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Effective Dealership Video Is As Close As Your Smartphone

Employees can both conceive and shoot very targeted marketing video, without a big investment in camera equipment. BY LAURA MADISON

In 2015, car buyers are more connected and knowledgeable than ever before. A consumer today can arrange online to have a car built, chat instantly with a dealership on its website and complete nearly all the research necessary to make a sound buying decision.

The industry has responded with a technology binge of its own, some of which sends instant, formulaic Internet responses or outsources human phone callbacks. Tragically, some of these “solutions” have almost entirely removed human connection from early communication with a prospective buyer. The consumer’s ease of shopping has advanced, but dealerships’ ability to truly connect has regressed.

The reality of commerce is that people still like buying from people. Customers stay loyal to and recommend businesses – be they a local coffee shop, a hairdresser or an auto dealership – that create some level of emotional connection.

To really experience success in digital marketing, the auto industry needs to reconnect with its buyers. I think the best way to accomplish this connection digitally is with video. Now, of course, video is not a person-to-person connection, but at least it presents real people – which is an advancement over a lot of the marketing communication going on right now.

Video is a truly exciting medium; most people love watching and sharing videos. The nature of video that gets the most attention online is one that provides direct and reasonably immediate value to the watcher, as opposed to many pure advertising messages. Such a “value video” gives insight, context, guidance; it may how a salesperson enthusing over his five favorite features of a hot-selling car model, or a finance manager explaining the benefits of leasing. A human being has been introduced (albeit one not in the same room) who represents your dealership, and that can help begin to gain the viewer’s trust.

3 Types Of Effective Video

Three categories of video that can create engagement with and connection to a dealership are:

1) Responding to FAQ

The questions that are asked most often at the dealership offer good insights into where mot customers get lost in the car-buying process. Try posing and answering a few of these frequent questions in video form, to target people searching for the answers online.

2) Asking questions of the viewer

Here, one of your dealership’s employees can ask the audience what new features in a vehicle, or which models, most excite them. Connections can comment with their answers and opinions, providing insights into their interests and ideas for future content. This video demonstrates that yours is a dealership that listens to its customers.

3) Comparing vehicles

If you compare a strong-selling model with its direct competition, highlighting the differences/advantage and perhaps even including some driver feedback, you provide real value.

These are just a few of the ways you can provide value using simple video.

Pricey Videographer Not Needed

Apart from being the most important medium for creating an emotional connection, video is one of the easiest types of marketing content to execute. Too often, dealers delay a video effort because they think they need expensive camera equipment or to hire a videographer. However, high-quality video that effectively connects with prospective customers can be filmed with a smart phone.

One YouTube channel I created for a dealership in attempt to increase visibility has garnered nearly a half-million views. All the videos on that channel were shot using my iPhone, with no additional equipment. Prospective clients are not looking to dealerships to create Spielberg-quality productions, and they do not demand spectacular hi-res quality. They are looking for genuine connections and answers to their questions. The video’s content, therefore, is immensely more powerful than differences in production quality.

Interesting and valuable videos can showcase competitive vehicle comparisons, highlights of a newly redesigned model, or trim-level breakdowns for a best-selling car. These can be simple, two- to five-minute videos that will increase a dealership’s visibility and push online researchers to come to the dealership in person.

Free Apps Help You Along

There are even free tools available for smartphones that make creating video that much easier. For example, YouTube offers an incredible free app called Capture that works on most smartphones. Capture lets you quickly shoot, edit and upload your video directly to YouTube. At that point, you can choose a title for the video, include a description and tag some keywords. Anyone who has the skills to send a basic e-mail will be able to use this simple app.

Be sure to consider what keywords are relevant to your video; title the video something like “2015 Toyota Camry Features” and tag your location as well as 2015, Toyota and Camry. Doing so will help greatly with visibility when a prospective client uses a search engine for “2015 Toyota Camry” in your area.

This video you are creating also presents an incredibly effective type of content to post to Facebook and your dealership website.

With the hurdles to high-quality video this low, there is no good excuse for your dealership to delay in getting started. Remember, these should not be “come down to our store” videos; they should offer value, content worth a customer’s time. Just as your prospective customers are fast-forwarding through commercials on their DVRs, they are ignoring overly commercial messages on social media.

Everyone On The Video Train

Executing on a consistent flow of engaging video, and a fierce online presence, require buy-in at all levels of a dealership.

Dealers: Strive to create an environment where generating video, or at least ideas about video, are accepted and encouraged. Make it clear that your culture asks salespeople to step away from the showroom front door and get involved in generating business. You might even consider special bonuses for salespeople who sell leads garnered from their video.

Managers: Begin tomorrow by mentioning this video movement in your morning sales meeting. Explain to your colleagues that video can be filmed with a free smartphone app. Start brainstorming on compelling video topics.

Salespeople: Get started immediately. Fumble through your first video and then look at what other dealerships have done, for inspiration. Put your own face out there; you’ll be surprised what a fiercely loyal customer base you can build.

Laura Madison
Laura Madison
Laura is a former auto sales person and now specializes in use of social media and personal branding by dealership clients. She has developed a “social selling” training course on how salespeople can effectively use social media and a personal brand to win more business. She has been featured in Automotive News and Advertising Age and on Edmunds.com.

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