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In my travels, I've found that dealers are often complacent about their past customer database marketing. It's usually not a flaw in their strategic thinking. It's confidence that they are treating their customers properly and that they see plenty of return business. I'm not going to argue that point today though I believe I can make a strong argument for the need to be constantly visible to them.
Today, let's talk about new business. Let's talk about the bulk of your marketing and advertising dollars that are being spent on getting people in the market today to come into your dealership. Most importantly, let's talk about the influencing factors that compel new business.
There are plenty of debates raging on the various automotive networks surrounding the effectiveness of influential types of advertising like social media, video pre-roll, and retargeting, but there is never a debate about the importance of good ol' fashioned word of mouth. People still talk to other people they trust when it's time to buy a car.
This is where the appropriate messages can come into play that help you to generate new business. You're already spending money on getting in front of potential new customers, but so is you competitor down the block. You can try to separate yourself with the right message, but who's to say that your competitor isn't putting out a better message or reaching more buyers?
By taking advantage of the influential factors associated with word of mouth, you get a leg up on most of your competitors. This requires the constant communication with your past customers that I talked about before. You aren't just trying to get them to buy their next vehicle from you. You're also trying to make them feel as comfortable as possible recommending you to their friends and family, particularly when they're in the market and asking for advice.
This is, in many ways, an ADHD society with a short memory. They probably remember where they bought their car a couple of years ago and they may remember whether or not it was a good experience, but it might not be enough to get them excited about recommending you when their coworker tells them they're in the market or when their brother's car finally breaks down. By staying in front of them with important and relevant messages across multiple advertising venues, you'll be much more likely to get them to recommend you proactively when the time hits them, even if it has been two or three years.
Staying visible to your past customers is more than just a best practice for grabbing them next time as the low-hanging fruit that they are. It can also benefit you greatly when it comes to getting new business. If you have a message about a $189/mo lease and your competitor is advertising $4500 off, it's hit or miss about which message will resonate more. The one message that gives you the advantage in nearly every circumstance is the personal recommendation that you can garner by keeping your past customers remembering who you are and why they bought their last vehicle from you.
In this industry, every advantage is crucial and can be the difference between success and failure in getting new business.