Each year, the outreach efforts for a car dealership might change and evolve. The market changes, buying habits might change…and sometimes a pandemic hits unexpectedly. An auto dealership marketing plan might need to change, too. While these plans could have been written in advance, perhaps to plan for the entire year of content and outreach, life happens.
Yet, there is one constant that might never need to be changed in the marketing efforts. This constant is high quality images. Pictures are a necessity. On social media. On the company website. Even in printed ads and other materials. Images help tell the story.
Creating an auto dealership marketing plan means detailing all the outreach efforts and creating a content road map of sorts. Every dealership might create their plan differently. The marketing plan could include an editorial calendar for the year, or it might simply be a layout of how the dealership will reach certain audiences. Each unique audience might include a separate action plan or outreach effort. After all, what works for the Baby Boomers might not work at all for Generation Z.
The Power of the Picture
The marketing plan might detail not just outreach efforts but content, too. How will the dealership reach their audience? How will they tell a story? Create an ad? What are the details for every campaign effort?
Whether a dealership is detailing a future ad campaign or social media outreach, photos might be an integral part of the messaging. Text communicates the message, but the pictures help tell the story. For dealerships, the photos are the product. Why? While even the best content creator can write up an amazing ad describing a car, buyers can’t see beyond the print. They want the photos.
What does the car look like? What colors are available? Buyers want the details, but they want to see these details. All the details are part of the message, part of the outreach…and part of securing the sale. Or at least securing the interest for the sale.
Different buyers might have different needs and they may have different preferences in how they explore images, too. What does this mean? Generation Z might love interactive marketing efforts like augmented reality or photos that can be rotated. Forbes also reported that a whopping 97 percent of Gen Z uses social media as inspiration during the shopping journey. The younger generation is well-versed and immersed in technology, they grew up with it, and they aren’t afraid of new platforms.
Of course, Baby Boomers might like interactive messaging, too. Or they may simply be just fine with photo slideshows. However, Statista reported that less than a third of Boomers use Instagram. However, more than three-quarters of Baby Boomers are on Facebook!
Typically, dealerships have the data of their audiences and their preferences. Hopefully, each dealership knows what their audience wants from messaging.
Photos via Social Media
The dealership marketing plan might detail social media outreach. Dealerships might be active on one or numerous social media platforms. Facebook is the most popular platform, with more than 2.8 billion users. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, also is an incredibly popular social media site and is focused mainly on visual elements (photos and videos). Twitter, TikTok and YouTube also could be used by dealerships.
Photos on social media can be used by dealerships to showcase new models and even tease upcoming arrivals of future models. Of course, dealerships also could advertise via Facebook to showcase and display their inventory.
Photo slideshows via social media can encourage followers to engage with the photos and content. They might see a new vehicle and click through the available photos. Dealerships also might wish to add pricing or maybe even available incentives or rebates (if applicable).
Instagram could be used for a similar purpose, although Facebook does have a larger outreach. But Instagram is a social media site that is dominated by visual appeal. Users are scrolling content photos, and posts with unique or attractive photos could grab the attention of followers.
Photos on the Dealership Website
Think with Google reports that more than 90 percent of buyers are researching cars online before they make their decisions. When buyers are looking and researching online, an updated dealership website could become a powerful sales tool.
While many car buyers look to third-party sites like Kelley Blue Book, they also may be scrolling through dealership websites in their area. While pricing might be one of the details that they want via sites, they also may be looking at a dealership’s inventory. If they are researching a new model, they might want to see those photos of the cars on the lot. What colors are available? What does the interior look like?
Buyers want to find this information online. Does the dealership site have what they need? If not, why? Photos of inventory and new models help engage customers visiting the site. While one thumbnail photo might seem acceptable, dealerships might ponder if visitors want more.
As more and more buyers are looking online during the research process, more resources might be necessary. Online marketing should help engage the consumer. Thus, the need for photo slideshows or even immersive photo content. If shoppers discover that they can interact with the photo, if they can turn the car around and view it from different angles, they may stay on the site longer.
Even high quality and detailed photo slideshows can keep site visitors interested. Buyers want to see the details of the vehicle. The more photos a dealership could offer a potential buyer…the better. Imagine a slideshow that includes up close looks at gear shifts, control panels, etc. Buyers may come away from the photo experience feeling that the dealership has engaged them, answered their questions and now it might be time to communicate about possibly taking that vehicle for a test drive.
Marketing plans include how the dealership will reach out and communicate, but these plans also could detail the tools that the dealership will use to reach their core audiences. Photos are a powerful communication tool, and the marketing plan may detail how images might be used to enhance the dealership’s messaging.
Not All Images are Equal
If images help enhance marketing communiqués and messaging, then is every image effective? Are some images more powerful than others? The larger question is: what does the customer want? And what keeps them intrigued, interested and what ultimately will convert them into a buyer?
Not all images are powerful in an effective way. In fact, some images used in marketing materials could dissuade buyers from a purchase. Poor images could translate to an unprofessional site experience. A badly cropped image or an image that is blurry or that features an unappealing background could lead buyers to click elsewhere.
Images should show products in the best light—literally and figuratively. A beautiful photo could help sell a product. With vehicles, however, buyers might want and need to see multiple photos. While an overall front shot of the vehicle gives a great visual overview, buyers likely also want to see inside. They want the details. They want to peek in the backseat. What does the interior look like? The details matter, and those details could make a huge difference.
Dealerships might snap their own photos. They may be the photographers of their own inventory. They also could hire a professional to take photos of new or pre-owned vehicles. However, there is another option: professional stock photos.
Using professional stock photos in marketing messaging and communiqués showcases vehicles in the best way. These images are captured in a professional setting; some feature picturesque backdrops that enhance the visual appeal of the vehicle. Stock photos also can include snapshots of interior details, too. This lets buyers see gearshifts, control panels and even wheel rims up close.
Professional stock photos offered by EVOX Images also let dealerships choose 360 degree photos. These images can be rotated so that buyers can view the vehicle from different vantage points. For more immersive marketing efforts, dealerships also can integrate stock photos into virtual reality experiences online. This can allow buyers to immerse in the exploration of their favorite vehicles!
YouTube and other video sites also are popular for dealership engagement. Videos create a unique experience for potential buyers; dealerships can use videos to create a virtual tour of a vehicle. EVOX Images offers professional stock videos, and dealerships could include these videos via their website to provide yet another engaging resource for site visitors.
Dealerships might be curious, though, about the offerings of stock photos related to past vehicle models. EVOX Images library currently includes more than 14,000 makes and models. In addition, new models are constantly added to ensure that dealerships have access to the most recent selection of inventory for their marketing needs. In addition, all color options are available for each different vehicle…this means that dealerships can provide their customers with a look of the model in different paint hues!
While every dealership’s auto marketing dealership plan might be unique to their audience, outreach goals and specific sales targets, marketing messaging might have one commonality: photos! For automotive dealerships, text alone cannot capture the vehicle. Marketing outreach endeavors might include photo slideshows or other interactive photo options.
While dealerships might have the budget to hire a pro to handle these visuals, stock photos and stock videos also are an option to ensure that images are the best quality and include all the details buyers want. More than 90 percent of buyers research their vehicles online, and dealerships might use photos to create the perfect research hub for those buyers.