The auto dealership industry is incredibly competitive, which is why marketing is so important. The right marketing plan can help your dealership stand out from its competitors, attract new customers, and increase revenue.
But if you’re new to the world of marketing, creating a marketing plan for your dealership from scratch can be a daunting task. Fortunately, you won’t need to tackle this tall task on your own. Follow these tips to create an effective auto dealership marketing plan:
Know Your Audience
Understanding your audience is one of the keys to writing an effective marketing plan. For this reason, the first thing you should do is define your target audience.
Who are you trying to reach with your marketing efforts? You can’t reach everyone, which is why you need to narrow your audience down to the consumers who are most likely to buy a vehicle from your dealership.
Once you know who these consumers are, you need to understand their wants and needs. What types of vehicles are they interested in purchasing? What features are most important to them? How much are they willing to spend? Where do they go to research vehicles before making a purchase decision? Are their needs currently met by your competitors? Answering these questions will help guide you through the process of creating an effective marketing plan.
Know Your Competition
After learning more about your target audience, you should take the time to study your competition. This involves more than just identifying the dealerships in your community that you are in direct competition with. It also involves learning about your competitors’ marketing efforts, or more specifically, which marketing efforts and working for them and which are not.
Try to answer these questions:
- How is each competitor marketing their dealership?
- How is their website designed to convert visitors to leads?
- What types of promotions, deals, and/or discounts do they offer?
- Do they have a referral/loyalty program?
- What specific audience are they targeting with their marketing efforts?
Learning from your competitors can save you a lot of time and money that would have otherwise been spent on ineffective marketing strategies. It can also help you identify gaps in your competitors’ marketing strategies. If no one in your area is aggressively targeting consumers online, for example, digital marketing could be a great opportunity for your dealership.
Incorporate Your Sales Team
The in-person experience can make or break a dealership. If the experience is unpleasant, your customers may choose to do business with one of your competitors instead. However, if the experience is pleasant, a new customer may be converted into a loyal customer for life.
Because the in-person experience is so crucial, it’s wise to incorporate your sales team into your marketing efforts. These are the people who will be interacting with customers when they visit your dealership, so why not introduce them to your target audience?
Don’t just tell your target audience how knowledgeable and friendly your staff is–show them by featuring members of your sales team in your ads. You can even tag your sales staff in pictures you post on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
Showing your sales team is a great way to connect with your target audience and put a smiling face to your brand.
Establish An Online Presence
Before you implement any new marketing strategies, it’s important to establish a strong online presence for your auto dealership. If a potential customer is interested in purchasing a vehicle from your dealership, one of the first things they will do is go online to learn more about your business. If you don’t have an online presence–or if your pages are outdated–the potential customer may lose interest.
Your dealership should have business pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and any other social media platforms your target audience uses. It should be easy for your target audience to find your phone number, address, and operating hours on each of these pages.
Creating the pages is just the step. You also need to update them on a regular basis. This means posting photos, helpful tips, information on new vehicles, and details on upcoming promotions and events.
Start With Your Website
Having a strong presence on social media is important, but if you’re just starting to establish your business online, it’s best to focus on your website first.
Your website is where potential customers will go to learn about your dealership, browse your inventory, and decide whether they want to do business with you. If your website is outdated or incomplete, it will be very hard to convert these visitors to leads.
Your website should be user-friendly with a simple design. Visitors shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to figure out where to go to get the information they need.
Your website should also include information on and photos of every vehicle in your inventory. Visitors should be able to filter the search results by make, model, type of vehicle, price, year, and other options. The easier it is for visitors to find what they’re looking for, the more likely they are to convert.
Focus On Local SEO
Part of your marketing plan should focus on local SEO, which is optimizing your website for consumers who are located in your community. Local SEO makes your business more visible to consumers who are located nearby and more likely to visit your dealership to purchase a vehicle.
One of the easiest things you can do to improve your local SEO is setting up a Google My Business page. Creating a Google My Business page for your dealership will improve your chances of securing one of the top spots in local search results.
Provide as much information as possible when creating your Google My Business page. Fill out each section of your profile and include photos of your dealership, too. The more complete your page is, the better your chances are at ranking high within local search results.
Get More Online Reviews
When researching auto dealerships, potential customers often read online reviews to see what other customers have to say about your business. The reviews they read could impact which dealership they ultimately decide to purchase a vehicle from, which is why you should make an effort to get more positive online reviews for your dealership.
Ask your existing customers if they would be willing to write an online review for your dealership. Chances are, if a customer had a positive experience at your dealership, they would be more than happy to share their thoughts online.
You should also make an effort to respond to every review regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Your target audience will see that you are engaging with customers and making an effort to improve based on feedback, which might convince them to choose you over your competitors.
Join Facebook Groups
If you really want to connect with your target audience, joining relevant Facebook groups is a great way to start. Once you create your Facebook business page, search for automotive groups on the social media platform.
There are countless Facebook groups for people who are looking for content related to specific automotive manufacturers, auto repairs, and other automotive information. If possible, find local groups to ensure you are only connecting with consumers in your community who would actually purchase a vehicle from your dealership.
Once you join these groups, start interacting with other members. Be available to answer questions, provide advice, and share your expertise. Engaging with members of these groups is an effective way to build trust and strong relationships with your target audience.
Invest in the Right CRM Software
If you’re planning on implementing marketing strategies that will generate more leads, it’s important to invest in the right CRM software to help you manage them.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is designed to keep all of your customers’ data in one place, so everyone on your sales team can access it. There are dozens of CRM tools out there, but it’s best to look for one that is designed specifically for auto dealerships. This way, you will know that the CRM tool you choose will be designed with all of the features that you need to generate sales at your dealership.
When it comes to marketing, the importance of flexibility cannot be overstated. Even if you’re completely satisfied with your marketing plan, you may find that some aspects of it are more effective in generating sales than others. If one tactic isn’t working, don’t keep pouring money into it simply because it was part of your marketing plan. Instead, be flexible.
Monitor and track the results of your marketing efforts so you can see what’s working and what’s not in real time. Then, adjust your budget and marketing plan as needed based on how your campaigns are performing. This way, you can allocate more money to efforts that are helping you bring in new customers and stop spending money on efforts that aren’t seeing results.
Keep these tips in mind as you create and implement your marketing plan. By following this advice, you can take your dealership to the next level of success.