Archive for January, 2008
Chances are when your team sits down to discuss your marketing plan, the conversation centers around newspaper ads, television spots, outdoor boards and your latest radio campaign. Maybe you talk direct mail a little bit and have a quick check on the website. But do you discuss the sign out front? Or the cleanliness of the service department waiting room? How about the dress code of your sales team or the recording on your voice mail system?
Why are those things important? Because every customer communication – everything that sends a message to your customers – is marketing. And all those things send a message. Positive or negative. They can affect the way a customer reacts, remembers and positions your organization in their mind.
So just remember when your look around your dealership… it’s all marketing.
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
If you are a GM dealer, I am sure you have received some pressure from GM or Cobalt to give your domain name to them or forfeit your leads from GM. I have received many calls in regard to this, from customers and non-customers wanting to know what this is all about. Cobalt is a company that likes to strike up relationships with manufacturers and build manufacturer endorsed template web sites. Their goal is to try and standardize the message across all GM dealership sites. The issue is most GM dealerships do not want to integrate a cookie cutter template site with no individual brand. History has proven that these websites do not work. Cobalt created manufacturer endorsed 5 star sites for Chrysler and we can see that almost 99% of these dealerships have created their own website and have a secondary 5 star site linked up to Chrysler.com. GM has decided to try this for GM dealerships and Cobalt is helping with the push. They are trying to strong arm dealerships into using this site as their primary site. One year ago they attempted to do this and to charge the dealerships for it and dealerships just did not bite. Since that did not work they decided to give it away for free. Now they are notifying GM dealerships that they must provide their domain names so the Cobalt site can be set up to point to the compliant site instead of what they already have in place. All the calls I have received are from GM dealerships who are upset and confused. They are very upset and wondering what is going on and what to do, so here is the really simply solution to this whole dilemma.
Simply go register a new domain name, maybe a .net or .web address with your name. Give this domain information to GM/Cobalt and let them set the compliant site up under the new domain. You then have the Cobalt site running in cyberspace and you get the link on the GM website. You can still run your own website with whomever you would like under the original domain name with no changes.
Dealer Impact Systems
Today’s digital revolution has forever altered the way that companies reach out and communicate with their customers. And digital marketing’s first, and still most powerful, killer app is email. All the benefits of traditional mail minus the printing and postage costs and the three-day wait for the message to arrive.
So if email hasn’t replaced 90% of your direct mail, you’re missing the boat. The question is, why are you missing the boat? And the answer is this: permission.
In the post-spam e-marketing era, permission is one of the most valuable commodities you can get your hands on. When a customer raises their hand and says, “Yes, by all means contact me,” they should have just become a member of the most valuable marketing list you own.
How many names do you have on your permission marketing list? How are you using it?
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
As we begin a new year, we hope you’ve spent sometime planning for 2008. Specifically, we hope you’ve spent some time putting together a detailed marketing plan for the coming year. Here are a few things to think about as you put that plan together.
- Set specific, measurable goals and make certain people are accountable for them.
- Determine what tactics will help you most cost effectively accomplish those goals.
- Budget appropriately. Remember, marketing is an investment in future returns, not a cost center.
- Examine your mix of traditional versus digital marketing spending.
- Invest in replacing your direct marketing with electronic marketing to cut costs and increase customer interactivity. This means gathering email addresses.
- Push your website to become the center of your sales effort.
Putting you and your team though even a basic marketing planning process will help you learn a lot of things. It will also help to focus you all on the same set of goals. And that’s the most valuable part of the process.
Once you’ve done those things and set your plan into action, remember to constantly check your progress and readjust your goals and tactics. In short, keep planning all year long. Because here’s the thing… unless you do, you’re plan will become worthless. Your marketing plan can’t become something you do once because dozens of unforeseen things can affect how you go to market. For instance, your competition could open a new store or make a major advertising push. Your manufacturer could fall on hard times. One of your new releases could become the “must have” car of the year. Or you may have to respond to a failing (or surging) economy.
All of those things could render your plan useless unless you’re willing to alter your plan and adjust to a new reality by doing some more planning.
That’s why we say that planning is essential, but the plan is useless. Sounds crazy… but it’s true.
Marketing Strategist/Creative Consultant
by : Aimee Romero
From Digital Dealer Magazine – December 2007
Though most of the people who visit your dealership have first researched online, consumers who actually submit leads online are in a league of their own. These people are at a different point in the buying cycle and should be treated accordingly. To successfully turn Internet leads into sales, there are a few things you should know about online consumers and how to get through to them.
Online leads are often submitted early in the buying process
In other words, online consumers are interested in information first, a purchase later. The J.D. Power and Associates 2006 New Autoshopper.com Study indicates a change in the focus of online car shopping in general; consumers are increasingly interested in finding the right car, as opposed to the right price.
Online consumers use the Internet for research. They’re looking for the right car. When they find it, they will buy. Make sure that sale is yours; walk your Internet leads through the process of finding their perfect car. Let them go at their own pace. Be careful not to jump the gun and ask for a sale too quickly. You want to build trust by listening to their criteria, making solid suggestions, and helping them find a car that works for them. If you keep them comfortable, they’re far less likely to buy from another dealer at the last minute.
Give online consumers what they want
According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 New Autoshopper.com Study, more shoppers are looking to manufacturer sites for the information they can’t get elsewhere. One way to keep your dealership in step with this growing trend is to make sure your web site’s calls to action aren’t all based on “get a quote” or “take a test drive.” Many online consumers would be more interested in submitting a lead if your dealership offered to answer questions and help them find their dream car.
Follow up with your leads quickly
Internet shoppers are not just looking for information on a specific car, but on many cars. They expect help finding the car that best fits their lifestyle and needs. It’s more important than ever to quickly respond to your leads. Because Internet users are reaching out for information, chances are they’re looking in multiple places. The sooner you respond to them with the information they need, the more likely they are to stick with your dealership. Once you are in communication with your lead, make sure to listen and be helpful. Don’t push the sale.
Online consumers shouldn’t be the only ones digging for information. You should help them by doing the same. It’s in your best interest to listen intently to what your consumers are saying. Use the data your web site has collected in their lead submission. Ask questions that will help you determine not only what your consumers think they want, but also what their lifestyle is like. Do they have a family? Are they buying a car for their teenager? Do they primarily drive in the city? Find out about your consumers and their habits. This will help you offer them qualified help while building trust and increasing their comfort.
While price will always be a large factor in decision-making, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2005 New AutoShopper.com Study, almost three-fourths of online lead submitters do not consider themselves “highly price sensitive.” This is a dream come true for dealers! It’s not about the bottom line anymore. It’s about the relationships you are building with your customers and satisfying their needs.
When you’re gently leading your online consumers to the car that best fits their lifestyle, requirements and dreams, keep in mind that building this relationship will likely result not only in a car sale, but in a returning customer – and consequently, many sales to come.
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