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From: Jared Hamilton
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Erik Radle

Erik Radle CEO

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Marketing and Selling Cars to Millennials

99 percent of consumers expect their car shopping experience to be a ‘hassle’ (according to the recently completed Consumer Experience survey by Driving Sales). That’s pretty clear systemic incitement, pointing to the fact that nearly every step in the purchase funnel has room for improvement including how we market to consumers. In the spirit of eating this elephant one bite at a time, let’s focus on how we can shape our marketing to face the now largest segment of our population, the Millennials. Born from 1981-1997, they will overtake the Baby Boomers this year in total population and range in age from 18-34. Attracting and retaining this population of consumers will pave the way for a successful future for those willing to address them on their terms. Here are 3 relatively simple changes that will positively impact the attraction of the Millennial audience. 

Don’t declare. 

Let’s start with our broadcast messaging, how we communicate via radio and television. The vast majority of broadcast marketing from dealers is declarative in nature, stating facts or superlatives. “We have the lowest prices. We have the best selection.” The Millennials love to participate in a conversation, to be asked versus told. Scripts that ask more questions (even those that are overtly rhetorical) will engage this audience. “Do you love getting a good deal? Would a bigger selection make it easier for you to buy your next car?” These “asks” also allow for the messaging to extend easily into social media. Imagine the spot (radio or TV) that concludes with an invitation to continue the conversation online? “Tell us how you’d like to buy your next car @SouthWestFord #carshoppingfun”

Respect Their Intelligence

When you respond to on online lead submission, from a Millennial or to anyone for that matter, you are marketing. Most dealers fail to recognize this uncomfortable fact, and is probably a topic worthy of another article. Simply put, besides the speed that is universally required these days, a thoughtful and intelligent response will dramatically increase your chances for continued engagement. Does your response encourage further conversation (see above: don’t declare)? Does it include a link to video? Does is include your picture? Does it make an intelligent offer to purchase with many choices? One of the most compelling tools on the market today is the ability to do a soft pull of a consumers credit with just name/address (no SSN required) such that your responses to leads could include VERY specific, personalized quotes on rates & payments.  #Gamechanger.  Millennials are accustomed to a world that conforms to their needs, where their Pandora channel plays them an increasingly more intelligent set of songs based on their likes and dislikes. Our world is more focused on personalizing experiences every day. Does your marketing keep pace with this new paradigm?

Mirror Them

Sales psychology 101, as people buy from people that are most like them, Millennials should be an ingredient in your TV spots, and should have a voice in your radio spots. While my generation has a sufficient case of Stockholm syndrome to tolerate what I call “Old dealer on lot spots,? the Millennials will tune that out completely. Start seeing your marketing efforts as a mirror to the people you are trying to attract. Millennials are as communal as it gets and they want to see a village full of their kind, in your marketing AND on your showroom (read: staff). This extends into sound as well, where a jingle that anchors to their day in music will encourage engagement.  

Many of you are old enough to have Millenials as kids, some still living under your roof. Hold a focus group of one with that Millenial, and see how they’d like to consume automotive marketing.

Joe Orr
Spot on! This new generation is forcing an industry evolution that I think will a positive one for all. Excited about all of it!
mark rask
This is a great article.....change is coming!
Kristy Elliott
Great article! This is the fastest growing segment of auto buyers!
David Ruggles
RE: "99% of consumers expect buying a car to be a hassle. $35K is a hassle in itself. Forms mandated by government are a hassle." Sales tax is a hassle. License and title is a hassle. State Inspections are a hassle. And dealers would LOVE to take the hassle out of it, at least on new cars. B ut the FTC won't stand for it. So why not look to the FTC instead of dealers?So what's the first thing a consumer does when they get the "One Price?" So who creates the hassle? Why are we even talking about this in the business of auto retail? People in hell want ice water. Car buyers want "No Hassle." Neither will get what they want. Millennials say they think a dealer is entitled to make an 8% - 10% return. But if they find out you made $3K off of them, they're pissed off and start calling names. Go figure.
Megan Barto
For many years, dealers have been told they need to adjust their marketing to who's buying their cars. With all these new studies out - millenials are buying cars! Great article!

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