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Over the next several weeks, I’ll be working closely with the largest independent automobile association in the United States, Georgia IADA, to provide a segment of training to hundreds of independent automobile sales professionals and owners via the required CE classes. It’s quite an honor to be a part of this and I look forward to sharing our knowledge of digital marketing with the group. I thought I’d provide an overview of the workshop here. (See the bottom of the article for the download link of the workshop PDF.)

We purchase cars differently.

While the days of strolling the lot and sitting around in the showroom and lobby aren’t dead, our expectations as buyers are rapidly changing. Even in an iffy, if recovering somewhat, economy, I’m finding that having the lowest price on a car isn’t a sure sale. In fact, the trust the prospect has in the dealership, the sales folks and the cars themselves often trumps the price to a large degree.

A buyer’s journey to the lot and what happens on the lot is very different, too. During the sales process, the buyer has used his or her digital device a number of times, maybe even while standing on the lot itself! She is looking up reviews, texting friends and family for information, or researching prices and comparables in the area. She may be looking for warranty information or trying to determine if the vehicle has the right safety features.

Your role is important, but is morphing into something else.

Yeah, the industry still grapples with reputation issues, but there are ways you can improve the buyer process and and continue to bolster trust and reputation at the same time.

How can you improve the process for your buyer, improve the experience and cultivate a circle of trust? Consider these items:

  • Put whatever you can online: Make it super easy and efficient for the prospect to find inventory, comment on inventory, save inventory, chat about inventory, access financing paperwork, and get information about safety and warranties.
  • Make it visual: Invest in a library of evergreen content that helps answer the burning questions, aids in transparency and cultivates trust. Create videos discussing what you do and don’t cover, what’s involved with financing, what to expect with a car from your lot and consider education about car ownership or even the different types of safety ratings. The more information you share the better, especially via video.
  • Follow up via mobile: Append your customer data (there are plenty of third party services who can help you with that) and follow your buyers through their lifecycles. Also consider new mover data, as well. Once you have that information you can reach out and ask them to opt into texting for service reminders, trade-in reminders or just a happy birthday notice. You can also let them know when a sexy red convertible comes in (since they were asking about it earlier…)
  • Tell the stories of the cars: What are your top sellers? What kind of area are you in? Urban? Rural? Suburban? Positioning your cars using great social visuals can be the difference between you getting the sale the lot down the street getting the sale. They tied balloons on the antenna. You, however, showed that SUV with the back up, tailgating equipment next to it and a portable grill with hotdogs. See the difference?

Your buyers are more educated and more sophisticated, but as a car-centric society (and we are) we are forever emotionally entangled with our rides! The formula to sell more cars is straight forward:

We don’t want to be lied to.

We want to know you are giving us all the info you can and that you’ll stay in touch.

We want to totally dig that car and know that it’s the right car for us.

Digital has given you more tools than ever before to make the most of your assets. Go and do it! There’s no excuse.

If you are wondering just how to get started, how to craft a true strategic plan or even what tools are best for you, we can help. Whether fully turn-key social management or just a little consulting to get you started, we’re here.