How to Generate Leads for Your Dealership

Advertising and marketing can go hand in hand, but the terms aren’t interchangeable. The American Marketing Association defines the difference in this way: “…marketing is the process of identifying customer needs and determining how best to meet those needs. In contrast, advertising is the exercise of promoting a company and its products or services through paid channels.”

Sales can be sluggish, but great marketing might help. Owners that are wondering how to generate leads for their dealership might just need some marketing pointers. Marketing may help dealerships increase visibility, but marketing also may help dealerships generate leads. As the AMA later points out, advertising is a form of marketing. However, marketing can take many different forms. Hats with logos can be a form of marketing. Promotions, branding, emails, social media and even videos are all also a form of marketing.

Get and Stay Social

Social media marketing is an easy and popular way to stay in front of customers—past, present and future. Keeping an active presence on social media reminds the world that the business exists. Each dealership may have a unique way of handling their social mediaand supporting their brand with these accounts.

Posts might be focused on promotions, used to update followers on new events at the dealership or engage with followers. Businesses often commemorate holidays via social accounts, wishing followers a Happy New Year or congratulating recent high school graduates. Some dealerships post videos on YouTube; these videos also could be shared via other social media accounts.

However, while social media is fun for engagement, it can also be a great way to generate leads. Hootsuite recommends that users add a Sign Up button or another type of call to action button on social media accounts to encourage followers to subscribe to a newsletter. In addition, all contact information via the user’s profile should be easy to find. That way, if someone sees something they like on social media, they can reach out.

Encouraging clicks via great content is also among the recommendations from HootSuite. Share a story via a link to the blog or some other content that drives leads to the site. Clicks can lead to leads! For dealerships, clicks could be related to a new car featured in the dealership or maybe a new promotion.

Advertise on Social

Dealerships also could advertise via social media platforms like Facebook. Clicking the ad could then prompt a screen that asks the visitor to fill out basic information. Advertising via social media could be one way that dealerships could generate leads.   

Again, call to action buttons via an ad that leads to the site and features a contact form could help generate future leads. However, the link via the ad should be something that the viewer cares about; this might be related to a specific car being offered or maybe a button that allows them to get more information about a particular promotion.


Did you ever get asked by stores for your email? This is a great way for them to send you updates, newsletters, sales promotions and more. Maybe you rattle off your email without thinking. The next week, you find a few emails from the company. Maybe they interest you, maybe not. But, at some point, an email pops up with a new shirt or gadget that looks really interesting. What do you do? You click to check it out! And maybe you put that item in your shopping cart and buy it!

While dealerships probably don’t give customers the option to click on a car and drop it into a virtual shopping cart—if ONLY it were that easy (maybe one day it will be)—dealerships could send emails that announce promotions or somehow direct the customer to the dealership’s website. Maybe the dealership creates a newsletter with updates on new team members, events and more.

Email marketing can help generate leads to the dealership. Get creative!


Event marketing also can help generate visibility for the dealership. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the dealership has to host something massive like a fair, although if the dealership has the space that could be fun! Events can be tied to special promotions and offer themes like Beach Party or Fourth of July.

Events may include face painting or other activities. Maybe the event offers a food truck for guests. Create an event that supports the dealership brand, and, of course, is feasible to pull off for the budget and the staff.

Dealerships also could participate at a local community event like a fair. There could be an opportunity to host a booth, and the dealership could hand out promotional items like a calendar, magnet, hats or something unique with the dealership’s info and logo on it.


Search engine optimization is really the new Yellow Pages, except with SEO, listings and rankings aren’t alphabetical. Appearing at the top of big search engines like Google means optimizing content—this is content marketing.

Optimizing content requires that keywords are used within content. Not just any keywords can be chosen, though. Ranking high and optimizing content requires using keywords that are the most popular for the particular market.  

When these keywords are plugged into blog or online site content, this will prompt the search results to display that web page when someone types them into a search engine. If content is optimized for the terms “blue Nissan Rogue 2021 Minneapolis,” anyone searching these terms on the search engine will see the dealership page on the top of the search list. Ranking high gives the site authority, and this usually leads to more people visiting the web page.

How does this lead to leads? If the content is well written and intriguing or if the page draws the visitor after they click, they could stick around and explore. And then they may get in touch for more information.

When focusing marketing efforts on content, dealerships might want to create an editorial calendar to map out strategies. An editorial calendar can track all blog content and ideas, and dealerships also can add social media content to the calendar, too. It also could be helpful to plan out content a few weeks in advance, so that individuals in charge of creating the content can plan well-thought-out posts and articles.

While blog and website content can benefit from SEO, other content can be optimized, too. Dealer Team Network suggests optimizing a Google My Business listing and a Bing Places listing.


While social media posts may help direct visitors to a dealership website, videos also can be used as an effective marketing strategy. This isn’t about creating commercials, although if the dealership has the ad dollars to spend, commercials may help increase leads, too.

Videos for marketing the dealership can be as simple as creating a YouTube account. YouTube is another social media site, and, as most already know, it is all video content. Visitors to YouTube can find almost anything. Want to learn how to make soda bread? It’s on YouTube! Want to learn yoga? Find some videos teaching easy yoga poses. Want to learn more about a particular car? Yes…YouTube!

Dealerships have posted tours of their showrooms, virtual test drives, and more. Businesses may add a link to their website or other social accounts. This allows visitors to click and learn more. Videos may help businesses engage with the public, showcase their expertise or even make visitors laugh.


Many dealerships have a ‘brand.’ This can encompass a logo, a certain tone in content, particular colors, a mascot, a slogan or catchphrase, etc. Brands are associated with a product or business. Think of well-known brands and why we know them.

Brand consistency may be helpful to establish name recognition. When visitors spot a logo, a mascot, or person, they recognize it as tied to a company or brand. Think about why we remember certain companies. Are there specific people tied to those companies that stick out? A certain logo? A commercial? Even specific songs become tied to a brand. That’s why on YouTube when people can’t think of a song name, they may search for a product’s commercial!

There are so many ways to use marketing to help generate leads; to list them all would take an entire book…or book series, perhaps! Every dealership may have their own way of marketing to their audience; some dealerships might create a marketing plan to map out their strategies, others may work with an agency that does this for them. Some dealerships might simply do what they can on a limited budget.

Marketing can encompass many different strategies, and perhaps one of the simplest ways that dealerships can help engage and reach out to the public is through social media. Dealerships also might get creative and come up with a marketing tactic that is completely unique…but amazingly on-brand. However, even sending something as simple as a car anniversary card (to commemorate the day a customer bought their car) could be considered part of the dealership’s brand…plus it’s a kind way to tell the customer they are remembered.