Creating a memorable brand can help a dealership stand out from the crowd and attract customers into the showroom or onto the lot. Car dealership marketing materials can include advertisements—print, radio, and social media—as well as blog content (for the dealership’s website), social media posts/pictures/videos, branded events and more.
Yet marketing might even include branded materials that are handed out at local events—things like calendars, koozies, t-shirts, etc. Dealerships might even serve as a sponsor for a local sports team or event. Check out these three successful car dealership marketing strategies…plus a marketing campaign that led to complaints and a dealership that made headlines for giving back!
MEMORABLE BRAND AMBASSADORS THAT MAKE THE AUDIENCE SEE DOUBLE
Choosing a memorable spokesperson or brand ambassador for a dealership (or any business!) might help the audience remember a commercial and, most importantly, the dealership. There are many car dealerships that choose their owner to be front and center; others might even have a mascot (maybe a dealership pet).
Thomasville Toyota, however, took a note from Wrigley’s Double Mint Gum and selected identical twins as their brand ambassadors. Jennifer and Shelly serve as recognizable faces for the dealership, although according to Thomasville Toyota’s website, the twins don’t work at the dealership. Thomasville Toyota even offers a bit of background about their spokestwins for those who want to know more about Jennifer and Shelly!
When selecting a brand ambassador or spokesperson, the dealership might focus on an individual(s) who can resonate with the audience…and will stay in the memory after the customer watches a commercial or sees a print ad. Sometimes a bold outfit, catchphrase or some other standout feature ensures that the spokesperson remains fixed in the memory of the viewer or customer.
STRAIGHT FROM FACEBOOK: DEALERSHIP SUCCESS STORIES
McCarthy Chevrolet in Lee Summit, Mo. landed on Facebook for Business Case Studies page for automotive marketing. According to Facebook, McCarthy teamed up with Omni Advertising on a campaign to help generate new customers and provide photos of inventory to individuals that had looked at cars in stock. Facebook explained via the Case Study: “To look for new customers, the team showed automotive inventory ads to specific zip codes and cities around the dealership near Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and to a lookalike audience based on its current customer list….”
Ads used vehicles from the dealership’s inventory, and a Facebook pixel was placed on the site to better understand site visitors. The pixel converted this data into the ad content on Facebook…meaning that what the visitors viewed on the dealership’s website could be advertised to them via the social media site. Facebook notes that the campaign had more than nine-times return on ad spend…and sold 28 vehicles!
The takeaway? Creating an ad campaign via Facebook might be a great way to showcase vehicles to potential customers and remind them of their interest.
THE SPONSOR: DEALERSHIP LOGOS ON SPORTS FIELDS AND UNIFORMS
Don’t underestimate the power of sponsorships! Dealerships might choose to sponsor a Little League Team, a local high school team or even a local event. So how can sponsorships be a successful marketing strategy? The dealership name and logo might be used and/or printed in various places.
As many dealerships enter into sponsorships locally, this marketing strategy can be discussed a bit more broadly instead of focusing on the sponsorships of specific dealerships across the country. And sponsorships also may vary per city or area. For example, some youth sports teams might actively seek out sponsors, while others don’t need the support of a sponsor.
Some local high schools might allow businesses to advertise on fields. This might not be considered a sponsorship per se, but the opportunity might allow the dealership to place its name and logo in a very visible spot. Some high school fields can be seen from busy streets; these ads not only allow the business to be remembered and seen, but it also displays their support of the community.
Community events also might offer sponsorships; these might be offered at different financial levels. Becoming an event sponsor might come with perks like having a logo placed on all marketing materials for the event, like banners, ads etc.
There are many dealerships that might not be able to pay top dollar for a major event sponsorship. However, local events may offer booth space or some other way to be involved. Maybe the dealership also could enter the parade and create a unique float; staff could pass out branded merchandise (maybe balloons, koozies, pencils, etc.).
Dealerships can research all the different opportunities in their area and find the options that fit into their marketing budget.
JAZZING UP MARKETING: STOCK PHOTOS FOR ADS AND THE DEALERSHIP SITE
Whether a dealership is supporting a local team, actively pursuing a Facebook ad campaign or even selecting a memorable spokesperson, the dealership also will likely need to use photos of their inventory throughout many print and digital campaigns. While pre-owned vehicles might need to be photographed by a professional or a great in-house photographer (if the dealership doesn’t have the money for a pro), vehicle stock photos might be used for new vehicle models to showcase these automobiles in the most appealing way.
Stock photos like EVOX Images offer dealerships a variety of ways to showcase new vehicles. EVOX Images offers digital photos that can be rotated to show customers different views, and EVOX Images also offers videos of vehicles, too. Images from the car photo database and videos can be used on social media sites or even the dealership’s own website.
Professional stock photos also provide up-close images of all the small details within the vehicle. Customers can see the infotainment system, the tire rims, the gear shift and more. Little details can make a big difference to a customer that might be on the fence about a few models. These professional photos can help dealerships enhance their marketing campaigns and provide customers with an entire slideshow of images about the potential car of their dreams!
A MARKETING CAMPAIGN THAT LEFT CUSTOMERS LESS THAN IMPRESSED
Some dealerships might try out a marketing endeavor, only to watch it possibly upset customers. One notable example is actually a broader tactic used by some dealerships: the promise of a prize. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a story about this marketing tactic that was used by a local dealership.
The marketing campaign goes like this (per the paper): dealerships send out lottery type tickets that are mailed throughout the community. Individuals scratch off these tickets revealing—seemingly—that they’ve won something amazing. Believing they’ve won an amazing prize, the consumer visits the dealership only to find out…they didn’t win what they expected. At the bottom of the ticket might list some fine print that details the marketing campaign. Instead of an expensive gadget, the customer wins something small. And dealerships might use the visit to try to sell them a car.
The problem as outlined by the story is that customers weren’t pleased. While the story interviewed one customer, it also noted that The Philadelphia Mills Mall logged “…an unspecified number of complaints…” related to the local dealership that was called out in the article. However, many other dealerships have used this same lottery-ticket tactic…so it certainly isn’t exclusive to a single dealership in one city.
GIVING BACK: HOW ONE DEALERSHIP MADE ITS MARK FOR GOOD
Indy Auto Man, a dealership in Indianapolis, made the local news for its contribution to the community. The dealership is giving away cars to individuals who need them. The story explained that the dealership planned to provide one free car each month.
So who is receiving the vehicles? Fox 59 explained that the dealership accepts nominations for the free vehicle. The key to getting the key? Individuals who plan to use the car to do good. The first recipient was an individual who worked with children who have special needs. The dealership also offers the recipient free service for an entire year.
Giving back shouldn’t be viewed as a marketing tactic or a strategy. Giving back helps support the community. And while not every dealership could provide a free car each month, even choosing to become a regular donor to homeless shelters, animal shelters or food pantries can make an impact. Select a cause that means something to the dealership and help make a difference!
Dealerships can find many examples of unique and successful car dealership marketing strategies online. While there is an extensive amount of stories related to successful marketing campaigns for dealerships, not every campaign would necessarily be an ideal fit for every dealership. The goal is to stand out in a good way, to be noticed and to be heard and seen amongst all the competition. Dealerships can choose a memorable spokesperson, create a targeted ad campaign, support a local team or event or even design a completely unique campaign. Of course, giving back to the community also might show that the business is invested in the community beyond dollars and cents.
While giving back isn’t a marketing campaign, it is a meaningful way to connect with the community and support those causes that mean something special to the business. Dealerships may keep in mind that every campaign will leave an impression on the potential customer…some leave lasting great impressions, but other campaigns remain memorable for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, customers will remember the good campaigns…but those not-so-great campaigns also may stay in their minds…and possibly make headlines, too.