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This is not 1996 anymore. It's 2009 and we have some exciting trends taking place in our industry; its time to come out of the cave and participate in these exciting opportunities!
What’s Out: Internet Departments
What’s In: Teaching your entire staff, desk included, how to handle Internet shoppers
The Internet is NOT a niche market anymore. Since over 80% of your customers are using the web to purchase cars, shouldn't at least that much of your staff be prepared to handle the demand?
What’s Out: CRM as a technology
What’s In: CRM as a management tool for your entire dealership
In today’s market follow up is imperative, especially with Internet marketing. We reach consumers much earlier in the buying cycle, requiring much more robust follow up.
(Check out CRM vendor ratings right here.)
What’s Out: Traditional marketing to drive customers to your store
What’s In: Traditional marketing to drive customers to customized landing pages/microsites
IF you are still sold on traditional media (this is opening a whole other can) at least send them to a special micro site or landing page to track and capture what is left of your traditional marketing effectiveness.
What’s Out: Walled gardens of information
What’s In: Leveraging the collective knowledge of peers to think smarter and faster
Individual trial and error wastes time and money; that’s why it said that “two heads are better than one.” Someone, somewhere has solved the issue you're facing. The most progressive professionals in the industry are blogging, commenting, discussing and leaning on their peers nationwide for guidance and ideas to improve upon and implement at their stores. Thousands of successful industry pros have flocked to dealer communities like DrivingSales.com, where they can ask questions, discuss tactics and get creative ideas to be more successful. Mass collaboration networks have revolutionized the way peers in other industry’s innovate; it's about time it hit the car business!
What’s Out: Websites that were made to be beautiful.
What’s in: Websites that were made attract traffic and Convert.
Dealers have figured out that a good looking, whiz bang website is not the objective. Websites that are open to the Search Engines and index well bring in potential customers. You site must also take visitors and convert them into leads so that your dealership can sell IS the objective. Stop judging a website by how cool the functionality is, and judge it by the simple equation of “leads captured”/Site visitors. That is how a website should be judged.
What’s out: Unprofessional, ALL CAPS LOCKS, misspelled and misaligned emails.
What’s in: Professionally branded l messaging.
Emails should be short and to the point. Include a proper signatures and links to more information including video and custom landing pages. Lastly, DON”T YOU KNOW ALL CAPS IS YELLING IN WEB LANGUAGE? All caps was acceptable in 1996, lots has changed and it is now (12 years later) offensive so its time you caught up with the times.
Lastly a few other things that are IN:
Dealership Chat: Chat is proving itself at stores across the country to dramatically increase the number of leads a site provides. Leads = Car Deals and Car Deals = ROI.
Craigslist, and other free online services to list inventory. Many established companies (Google) and new startups are getting into the space with innovative business models to publish inventory for free and capitalize on upgraded services. Dealers are taking advantage of these services for gains in incremental traffic and deals to their store.
Creative: (not the verb, the noun) Beautiful design can dramatically send a visual statement to your customers about your brand. First impressions set the stage and tone of the relationship. Poor creative is like wearing plad pants, white leather shooes and a fur coat on the used car lot, it doesnt strike positive emotions in your customers. Get your creative done right.