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Why don't you start your own list of locally grown followers? And I'm not talking just about social media.
If you have been anywhere near the automotive media, you have read blogs, stories and postings about different car lead services (*i.e., cars.com, car gurus, etc.) and their position on sharing and incubating sales leads. I’m not here to criticize them; they can and will do what they want. The marketplace will sort them out. If not, inbound marketing will.
But I believe that this could be a wakeup call for those who have found themselves over dependent on their services. It’s a tough drug to quit, but you need to do that by the end of this year. And here’s what you need to do about it now.
Has there been a big movement in using inbound marketing in Utah? Not yet with automotive, but there is a national movement centered in Utah for companies to gather organic customers and tend to them like gold.Reason: Big payoffs and the ability to free themselves from lead aggregates almost completely and to lower their cost of advertising. Inbound marketing creates a new approach in creating a a local list of followers that will convert into great customers.
Let's look at a 9 step process that will get you out of the lead aggregate control without breaking the bank.
1)Is your web site outdated for today’s market? Your first assignment may have research what your customer’s personas (customer types) are and build your website around them. OR, maybe it's just fine.
Who designed your website? Is it a template of someone else’s design for your customers? Was it designed to attract today’s (July 2013) best customers? How does it compare with your competitor websites? If you don’t know how you rank go to this site and take the test. One dealer confessed to me that he hasn’t touched his website in 5 years…
How shoppers perceive your website is how buyers are eventually going to attract to it.
2) You have to get on the radar map before the customer is in buying cycle, not during.
Buying leads and supporting marketing services during or late in the sale process leaves you with a “mooch” or as one dealer calls them, “finicky” customers. That customer has gathered a tremendous amount of buying data and is ready to confront you. You are on the defensive during most of the sales process and have to be priced aggressively to get a “mooch” to consider you.
These educated buyers leave you with less gross and less propensity for service retention.
3) Get back in charge of incubating customers at the point they left off with you.
Right now, everyone is using Google for research and your dealership isn’t coming up high enough. You have no web authority unless you’ve bought it. If you’re like most dealers, you have no active blogs; your Facebook gets very few interesting posts, your just one of many eager to sell cars. In their research phase, they don’t see buying tips, how to really know what you trade is worth, or any good tips from your senior technician. You’re not involved in art of romancing them while they are NOT in the market so when they ARE, they would consider you in their hunt.
4) Don’t rededicate yourself to Facebook and social media without a strategy. Without great content and part of a bigger social strategy, all is in vain.
If you’re like most dealerships, you seen few payoffs or likes when you tried your hand at social media.
The Lead aggregators and 3rd party vendors have replaced your dealership experience with theirs. Go look on their Facebook page. Bet there are thousands of followers. Some of those followers are yours.
You may be too worried about CSI scores or retention to notice that your customer is at the front door and not the back.
5) Start evolving your website into becoming more research and organic friendly. If you’re going to rebuild, you need to consider fresh blogs, landing pages, call to actions need to be updated and interesting. Start collecting organic leads and incubating them like there is no tomorrow.
6) Your competitors are not all in the car business. They are in the data collection business Why Catch on to what you need to do with collecting and incubating data. What are you doing with all the leads that have come into your web site this year? Do you have them in a work flow process that is segmented and sending them out quality and interesting content that is time and response based?
7) All the lead aggregates are making a better play for your data than you are.
The good people you pay to sell you good leads are building a kingdom in your own back yard. They are not going away, so start making a claim on your own customers.
They understand lead incubation. That’s why you’re mad at them, they’re just trying to keep their leads happy. Look how they are focusing.
Social proof: They have millions of fans to your 300 or so on Facebook and twitter.
SEO: Are you on the top of your searches? They are.
They bounce your customers interesting content, while customers are making up their minds where to purchase.
Recommendations and star ratings: They’re asking for, and getting, positive ratings.
Reputation management: Them, the good guys; You, the bad guy.
Invoice pricing and margins: They are the subject matter experts in pricing?
You: Overpriced. Them: keeping dealers honest
Can you find me an invoice on a new home? A fridge? Wolfe Range? no, no and no.
8) You need learn how to be “found” not just to find.
Why?, So that you are re-found or discovered by online lookers, shoppers and researchers. The new shopper are information gatherers early in their buying cycle.. Many of them are your former customers. A good example of this would be lowbooksales.com, a used car lot in Salt Lake that is raked high at 411,517thin the world, vs. lexusofnorthmiami.com at 2,106,847.
Low book is killing it with a 5x higher rank in traffic with a fraction of the ad budget the big Lexus store has. (And no, Low book is not a client, they’re just a used CAR lot with a good basic online strategy.)
9)The lead aggregators and others outside of auto have this down. Learn from them.
Your customers are recommending their services to their friends, not to you.
They’re connecting with the lead aggregates and being resold or rechanneled to you as packaged - one of many hungry and aggressive dealers
What’s worse is that you’re actually buying back the rights to sell to your own customers. Those customers, just a few years ago, would have walked into your dealership anyway and shopped for a car.
Take back what was yours!
I’m going to introduce to you to a term that you have never heard before: Inbound marketing.
I searched for this phrase at the NADA site from last year’s convention. Not one person spoke on it, nor was there one booth out of the millions of vendors that offered it.
See for yourself at: nada.org
Inbound marketing is the ability to do what the lead aggregators do. Start managing and incubating your own leads before they get away from you.
Today’s automation software, and the ability to learn from thousands of companies outside of the auto industry, will leave you shaking your heads for sure.
Tune it in with the proper direction. Find a company that understands content and attracting leads that turn into customers. Not the other way around.
Some dealer web sites are like lawn sprinklers you see them “on” in the middle of the hot July summer afternoon. Hitting two lanes of traffic, missing the main strip of grass, and evaporating before it can do any good.
I have a free service that I would like to offer you. Let’s see what your web site really looks like. This marketing grader will give you some insight on how well you’re competing with today’s marketplace.
FREE Analysis of Your Website
Just send me your website address and our group will take a look from the outside. If we feel you’re in need of improvement, our group will tell you where and why you may need to change. Or, maybe your ok.
My advice to dealers: Don’t take this laying down! Get going with adding inbound marketing to your website and take back what is rightfully yours from the lead aggregators. E-mail me and I'll help you locate an agency in your area that can help.