The automotive industry is fiercely competitive, which is why strong branding is so important. Branding can help you clearly communicate to your target audience what it is that you offer and how you are different from your competitors.
Automotive manufacturers have built some of the strongest, most recognizable brands in the world. For example, people across the world associate the brand Mercedes-Benz with luxury, whereas Ford is known for producing American-made, durable vehicles.
There’s no doubt that automotive manufacturers have mastered the art of branding. But unfortunately, many automotive dealerships have not had the same success.
Dealerships must invest in branding in order to establish their identity, attract more customers, and drive sales. Follow these 7 branding tips to increase sales at your dealership:
Consistency is Key
One of the keys to a strong branding campaign is consistency. This means every message you deliver to the public, regardless of the channel used, should be on-brand. You should always speak with the same voice and present your brand in the same way when communicating to the public.
For example, if you want your dealership to be known for its professionalism, you shouldn’t use slang or colloquial phrases in your marketing content. Instead, the content should be written in a direct, professional voice.
Make sure you also use the same logos, colors, and other visual elements across all marketing channels. If you use one logo on Facebook and a completely different logo on local billboards, it will be harder to build brand awareness among your target audience.
It’s best to create brand guidelines to maintain consistency in your marketing efforts. This way, everyone can reference the same set of guidelines when creating marketing content to ensure it aligns with your brand.
Let Your Salespeople Shine
Don’t focus all of your branding efforts on your dealership. Instead, share the spotlight with your sales team.
Automotive consumers look for dealerships with knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful sales teams. Instead of simply creating marketing content that says your sales team has all of these qualities, let your sales team speak for themselves.
For example, encourage your sales team to use their Instagram to showcase their automotive knowledge. Allow them to post videos of new cars when they arrive on your lot or give behind-the-scenes tours of the service department. Give them the freedom to post pictures of happy customers posing with their new vehicles.
This type of content can strengthen relationships with your customers and humanize your dealership by putting a face on your brand. It will also give your sales team an opportunity to sell to a wider range of customers, which could ultimately increase your dealership’s sales.
Make sure they tag your dealership in every post so their followers know where to find them. Don’t be afraid to share your team’s posts on your dealership’s accounts, too. This will increase exposure and show your target audience that you value your team.
You should also share your branding guidelines with your sales team so they can ensure their messaging is on-brand.
Create An Online Presence
Establishing a strong online presence for your dealership is one of the first steps you should take as part of your branding campaign.
Make sure your dealership is active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Use the same logo, slogan, and other branding elements on all of these platforms to maintain consistency.
Enter as much information as possible about your dealership when creating these profiles. For example, if you are creating or updating a Facebook profile, make sure you enter your business hours, phone number, address, and other information that will make it easier for customers to contact you.
You should also create a Google My Business page if you haven’t done so already. Having a Google My Business page improves your local SEO, which means you are more likely to appear in search results for local dealerships.
Creating accounts on these platforms is just the first step. You will also need to post on these platforms to ensure potential customers know you are still active and in business.
Monitor Online Reviews
Automotive consumers often read online reviews of local dealerships before deciding where to go to purchase a vehicle. These online reviews could drastically change your target audience’s perception of your brand, which is why it’s so important to monitor them regularly.
Create an account for your dealership on Google, Yelp, Cars.com, and other relevant websites. If someone writes a review about your dealership, log into your account and respond to it as quickly as possible.
If the review is positive, you should thank them for taking the time to write the review. You should also say you are happy to hear that they had a positive experience at your dealership. Encourage them to contact you with any questions or concerns they may have in the future.
Responding to negative reviews is a bit trickier. No matter what you say, you may not be able to win the customer who is writing the review back. However, it’s important to remember that potential customers who are researching your dealership are probably reading your responses. For this reason, you should make it clear in your response that you are eager to help the reviewer address their issues and solve their problems.
You should also apologize if the reviewer had a negative experience at your dealership and invite them back in so you have an opportunity to make it right.
Remember, this may not win the reviewer over, but it could help other potential customers see that you are committed to providing exceptional customer service. This could prevent negative reviews from seriously damaging your brand.
Interact With Your Target Audience on Social Media
Many dealerships make the mistake of thinking of social media as a one-way communication channel. This means they create social media posts in order to communicate with their target audience, but they don’t expect their target audience to reply or provide feedback.
Don’t make this mistake. Social media platforms are two-way communication channels. You should continue to post content on social media on a regular basis. But instead of simply posting it and forgetting about it, monitor your social media pages to see if anyone interacts with your posts.
Answer questions, address concerns and help customers find the information they are looking for on your website. Be sure to follow your brand guidelines when communicating with customers to ensure your messaging is on-brand.
Even if a comment or question seems insignificant, respond to it. Every interaction—no matter how small—could eventually lead to a sale. If you don’t take the time to respond, you could lose these customers to your competitors.
A vehicle is a high-involvement purchase, which means consumers typically put a lot of thought into their decision to purchase a vehicle. They may conduct research, compare vehicles, ask questions, take test drives, and solicit advice from friends and family.
Automotive consumers want to gather as much information as possible about their options before making a decision. If you want to win these customers over, it’s important to present your dealership as a trusted expert that will provide them with the information they need to make the right decision.
There are plenty of ways to establish expertise in the automotive industry, including:
- Publish informative, easy-to-read content on your website. For example, if you sell electric vehicles, write a blog on the benefits of purchasing an electric vehicle. You could also write a blog debunking common myths about electric vehicles. Become the go-to source for electric vehicle content.
- Provide valuable information on social media. Discuss what’s going on in the automotive industry and local market. Keep your followers informed so they know to visit your page for the latest news.
- Train your sales team. Your sales team should be able to answer any question that is thrown their way. Provide them with the resources they need to meet this expectation.
- Increase your visibility in the local community. Look for opportunities to pitch yourself as an automotive expert to local radio stations, news shows, and newspapers. Even if you only provide a quote in a newspaper article, your target audience may remember your name and more importantly, the name of your dealership.
These are some of the many ways you can slowly establish expertise in the automotive industry.
Improve the Customer Service Experience Inside Your Showroom
Every interaction with your target audience is an opportunity to build your brand. This includes face-to-face interactions with customers who visit your dealership. For this reason, a crucial part of establishing a brand is improving the customer service experience in your showroom.
Take the time to observe how customers are treated by your staff. Is every customer greeted by someone as soon as they arrive? If they take a seat in the waiting area, are they offered a drink or snack? How long will they have to wait before someone is available to help? The answers to these questions can help you identify opportunities to improve your customer service experience.
Remember, every customer is an important customer. They should feel like their business is valued and appreciated from the moment they step foot inside your showroom until they leave.
You can’t establish yourself as a customer-centric dealership if you aren’t willing to put in the work to cater to your customers inside your showroom. In other words, your other branding efforts won’t be as effective if customers aren’t satisfied with their experience inside your showroom.
Branding is the key to success in the competitive automotive industry. Implement one or more of these branding strategies so you can establish an identity for your dealership and grow your business.