Avoiding Common Dealership Marketing Mistakes

Making mistakes in your advertising is like throwing money and leads away. If you are spending money on marketing your dealership but not attracting any new customers, it is time to reevaluate your approach. Mistakes in marketing are quite common by any dealership, but yours isn’t just any dealership. Yours is the best dealership and your advertising and customer engagement is how you prove that to your leads.

This makes it important that you continually re-examine how you advertise your dealership and how effective your marketing is. It is important to have the right balance of marketing tools to keep customers engaged without oversaturating them with contact. 

To avoid some of the most common marketing mistakes, periodically ask yourself the following questions about your marketing.

Do you have a marketing strategy?

The first thing you should examine is your approach to marketing. If you release your ad campaign without a plan, you are destined to fail. Any good endeavor requires a strategy, and your dealership is the best endeavor there is. Planning your marketing campaign means taking a look at how you reach out to customers and what makes them respond. It means consulting with your staff and analyzing customer feedback. Your strategy is not a fixed plan, but a series of fluid adaptations to changing conditions. The key to building a good marketing strategy isn’t just to come up with a plan, but to also come up with alternatives to stay ahead of evolving trends.

Are you giving your website the right attention?

Your website should be an online showroom because it needs to bring people to your physical showroom. Therefore, invest in it like a showroom. Give your website visitors what they came to the site for, which is to look for a car. While text descriptions can be helpful in describing your merchandise, potential customers want to actually see what you have to offer, so make sure there are a lot of pictures to compliment written information. Your website should also be transparent and offer as much information about prices and offers as you can. For a lot of customers, your website is your first salesman, so make sure it is doing its job.

Dealership Marketing Mistakes

Does your website work with mobile devices?

More people are using devices like cell phones and tablets to browse online, but not all websites accommodate mobile browsing. Especially as 5G allows instant access to the Internet while on the go, some people will be finalizing their research while they’re on the way to your dealership. In many cases, people shopping for cars will also want to have easy access to your information regarding the vehicles they are inquiring about, which includes having it on mobile devices so they can pull it up while in the showroom. Websites that are not mobile compatible are hemorrhaging money in the form of potential leads.

Are you spending too much on print advertising?

Since this is an online world, it makes little sense for a lot of marketing to be in print. Most people are going to reach out to you through your website or on the phone, so make sure these are represented adequately in any flyers or ads. Print ads that take up too much space cost more money, so using your space wisely means using it to sell cars, not list locations and phone numbers. Listing your website only gives a centralized place where all your locations are represented, and if you only have one location, a simple line below your website is sufficient. Any other information, such as your dealership location, can be listed on your website, alongside your merchandise.

Are you analyzing your data correctly?

The measurement of success of your advertising is how much response you get from the people you reach out to. Every response you get to any of your marketing, whether you website, flyers, mailers, billboard, or radio and television commercials, gives you a clue about the effectiveness of your marketing. Your in-person sales staff will also have insight, as they are the first human line of communication with the public. With all this feedback giving you information about how customers respond to your marketing, you have plenty of information to know where your marketing is at its strongest and where it could use a little more attention.

Are you keeping your website up to date? 

Since your merchandise is ongoing, your website needs to be updated, too. It does no good to have a vehicle on your website that you just sold, or one that you’re expecting in your showroom but isn’t there yet. You want to ensure your website is accurate and transparent. You also want to keep up with trends in information technology and website design so your website’s mechanics don’t fall out of date. Technology is always updating to the point where it seems like something you did last week is already obsolete. Don’t become complacent with what seems like a good website today, because tomorrow there may be something new that gives your competitors the edge.

Dealership Marketing Mistakes

Are you leveraging social media?

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and more have the potential of building a direct relationship with potential customers. It’s not just about posting your merchandise when it comes to social media, but also engaging with customers one-on-one. Imagine if your sales personnel were to take a few of the vehicles you have for sale to the public square, answering questions and representing your dealership to random passersby. Social media is a chance to do just that, but without ever leaving your showroom. As an intermediary way to reach out to customers directly by letting them reach out to you, social media is not a marketing tool that should be overlooked.

Are you using video on your website?

Your customers come to the showroom to experience, explore, and test drive your vehicles. Your website gives them the opportunity to do this virtually through videos and interactive graphics. Some sites even provide virtual test drives, where a driver takes the vehicle out and drives it in different settings while being filmed or even streaming the ride. You can also leverage video to introduce yourself and your sales staff, provide instruction and advice on common maintenance questions, and even show candid shots of your showroom. These can be tied to social media as well as to your site, especially short clips that can be included using the tools individual platforms provide.

Are you converting your hits to leads?

Impressions, or views on your website or social media, are not enough. When people come to your website to look, that doesn’t give you a sale. Your marketing should be converting these visits into engagements so they eventually lead to sales. People who come to your website are there because they want to know something about the vehicles you have to offer, but it is up to you to keep them there and funnel them to the next level. Impressions are not sales, so if you are getting a lot of hits with little return, this is a warning sign that you need to re-examine your approach.

Have you considered the value of a blog?

If your marketing provides something of value to those who receive it, they will not only return to your site often but will trust you when it comes time to buy a car. While you don’t want to overload the showroom portion of your website with text, a blog can keep prospective customers coming back if they can extract value from it. There are a lot of topics a blog could cover for a dealership, including the latest automotive innovations, tutorials, and vehicle profiles, especially of vehicles you have in stock. When your website provides the kind of information customers want, they will turn to it when in need.

Are you specific in your advertising?

When potential leads come to your website looking for a car, they are doing research to collect information about the vehicles you have to offer. It is therefore best to be specific about as much information as you can be. This includes prices, fees, features, options, and any other incentives you have to buy each car. These details can be included further down your site tree but it is important to make them readily available and easily accessed. The most important of them should be with the vehicle listing, and a breakdown of the total price of the car should also be immediately accessible so the customer has it to compare your prices to your competitors. Being transparent is the most important way to build trust with customers.

Are you avoiding repetition?

There is an adage in sales that repetition equals recognition and it’s true that people learn and remember things they’ve heard more than once. However, there is also such a thing as too much repetition, and this is something you want to avoid in your advertising and marketing. When a word or idea is repeated too often, this is called “oversaturation,” and can cause the target market to tune out. Make sure that your marketing materials are not falling into this trap, including visually. Repetitive graphics and videos will also turn the eye away from the most important thing your marketing should be showing them, which is your cars.

Dealership Marketing Mistakes

Are your human contacts knowledgeable and empathetic?

There are a variety of human contacts in the process of a sale, from customer service representatives answering questions on your phones or website to your sales force on the showroom floor, to your staff in the Finance and Insurance office that finalizes the deal. Each member of your staff should be regularly updated on your stock, its prices, its features and specs, and the process of buying the vehicle. This is an endeavor that requires continuing education for your entire staff, but is invaluable in establishing a relationship with your customers. Part of what your customers want from your staff is their knowledge and expertise because they are relying on them to make an informed decision.

Do you have service customers?

Many dealerships provide other services, such as selling vehicle accessories or doing various levels of major or minor repairs. If there is more to your dealership than selling cars, these are also potential leads that you can reach out to with your marketing campaign. Purchasing products and services from you opens the door to further potential purposes and often a way to create leads. Collect information from these customers such as email addresses to mail promotional materials to, or even an e-card each year on their birthdays. Remind them that you’re there to help without being too pushy. This is another way to build a trusting relationship that can lead to a sale.

Is your marketing campaign consistent?

If you are sporadic in your marketing efforts, you will receive sporadic results. Any marketing campaign must be consistent, but not repetitious or boring. It is important to keep your dealership in the forefront of your leads’ minds when it comes to vehicles so that they connect your name to buying a car. This means not neglecting marketing duties that seem trivial, such as updates, emails, and offers. Have a regular schedule for your marketing that isn’t intrusive but is frequent enough to invite clients to your showroom.

Mistakes Are Easy

Everyone makes mistakes in their marketing, because it is an organic discipline that ebbs and flows based on a variety of factors. Fixing these mistakes can make a huge difference in your customer outreach that will show when your dealership sells more cars. Your dealership is your life, so you want to show it the best care possible, and maintaining a good marketing strategy is the best way to get your name out there.