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Imagine a world where car dealers earned the same community respect as fire fighters, police officers and other local philanthropists. A world where little kids dream of being car dealers when they grow up, where you receive recognition in your local paper, where community members stop by your place of business just to chat. Maybe this is already happening at your dealership, but if so, you’re the exception rather than the rule. Why is that?
After all, the industry has consistently marched in the right direction with a focus on professionalism, transparency and customer service. With the advent of Monroney stickers, Regulation Z, and Certified Pre-owned vehicles, dealerships have certainly become more ethical than the days filled with stories of throwing a prospect’s keys on the roof if they wouldn’t buy a car. So why is the perception still there? Frankly, it’s because dealers are their own worst enemy.
What I’ve found in my 13 years in the automotive marketing industry is that car dealers are too often the ‘unsung heroes’ of their communities. They too plant trees, sponsor Little League teams, and participate in their local Rotary clubs. They do as much or more for the community as many other esteemed business leaders. However, due to a variety of self-defeating behavior, these good deeds aren’t imprinting themselves on the public consciousness they way they should be.
Many dealers have caught on that a personal touch may help build a rapport with customers; now it’s time to get savvy about using new channels to build your dealership’s public persona in the most optimal way. (Note: There was just a great Driving Sales post about building an emotional connection on Twitter-we agree 100% and wanted to speak a little more broadly about how to apply the same principles to your entire dealership social media strategy.) Instead of posting pictures of your dog and your softball team on your website (which could be a distraction to hot-on-the-trail customers eager to buy) dealers should instead transfer these reputation-building efforts to their social media channels. “This will allow you to stay in touch with clients who are still in the consideration phase-possibly torn between you and a competitor with similar inventory,” Muilenburg explains. ”Your ‘good guy/gal’ perception will then naturally pay off to tip the tides in your favor.” Here’s how to do it:
Must-Do’s for Making Your Dealership Social Media “Like”able
By instituting these five simple steps, you as a dealer can finally begin to gain recognition as the community hero that you truly are. If every dealer takes these actions to heart, we will finally be on our way to transforming the industry perception once and for all.
Matt Muilenburg is Vice President of Social Media for ADP Digital Marketing Solutions, where he has been working closely with dealers and OEMs to identify new ways to improve automotive retailing and marketing effectiveness. When not sitting in front of a gadget, you’ll find Matt volunteering at the YMCA, attending his kids academic, musical and athletic events, or releasing stress by working in his yard and garden. You can reach Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 206-219-8259.
The Cobalt Group