Disruptive marketing strategies are swiftly emerging as the realities of dealership marketing change more quickly than ever. Dealers face a wide range of adjustments, including the loss of third-party cookies, the emergence of digital retailing technologies, and the transition to Google Analytics 4. Today on Inside Automotive, Glenn Pasch, CEO of PCG Digital and automotive marketing expert, breaks down what auto marketers need to know about these changes.
Pasch starts by explaining that dealers have a wide range of outlooks, especially in the face of ongoing inventory shortages. He says many dealers are reallocating automotive marketing budgets away from new vehicle sales. Instead, they focus on the growth of their used vehicle and service businesses, which includes working very hard at selling and acquiring used cars.
Pasch says a complete flip to pushing only used vehicle sales could be a mistake for dealers because, despite inventory shortages, demand is not going away. He explains that dealers need to remain visible to customers on both fronts, especially with dealers seeing increased profits recently and, therefore, having the automotive marketing capital to spend.
In terms of human capital, Pasch says dealer groups need to do better advertising careers within the industry rather than hiring people who expect to hold temporary positions. He believes that current, loyal employees and hiring initiatives are great ways to market a dealership’s overall culture and future drive. “In marketing, we are always adamant about getting reviews,” Pasch explains. “Why wouldn’t we have those testimonials from our own employees?”
Pasch says the inventory struggle has made many dealers better operators. However, he warns that there is a potential to start getting sloppy with delivering the customer experience because selling is so easy right now. He stated that the most successful dealers are “mentally planning” for 2024 and not just looking at next year.
He also says many manufacturers might see the current inventory levels as a positive outcome because a previously flooded market meant that incentives had to be very high to draw customers in and move vehicles. Moving forward, Pasch says dealers and manufacturers can find common ground, leveling the playing field, so everyone is happy.
On the digital advertising side, Pasch believes dealers need to use a targeted approach no matter what partners and platforms they use. Social media is essential for dealers because that’s where the audience is.
Other advertising methods, like TV and radio, are still effective in specific markets, but campaigns must be strategic. Pasch explains that direct mail marketing is not as effective unless the message is targeted to the right audience, such as well-timed service reminders.
As for Google, he says it can be very cost-effective and is under-utilized. However, he reiterates that messaging needs to be targeted across the board so that dealers aren’t wasting money on advertising the wrong information to the wrong audience.
Pasch believes it’s vital to have someone in your dealership who can be the digital advertising expert – a person able to translate the information and analytics gathered from automotive marketing campaigns. He says to “let them be the expert” because dealers often don’t have the time or knowledge to dig into the data and learn what’s working and what’s not.
Pasch then speaks about the upcoming Modern Retailing Conference and how they have worked to expand the content to feature a more all-inclusive strategy. The conference will now include five learning tracks: a full creative hands-on workshop, a sales process track, an HR and training track, a marketing track, and training for the upcoming Google Analytics 4.
Pasch says the goal was to ensure the content is actionable, giving dealers a space to build a network to help them navigate changes and have meaningful conversations with those in the industry.
He upholds that modern retailing is not just online. Instead, it’s being where the customer is, making sure that your team is prepared, making sure your customer is ready and being able to handle whatever the manufacturers are going to come up with over the next few years.
As for how dealers can navigate the rapidly changing future of the industry, Pasch states, “everyone has to have a mentality of being open and prepared.”
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