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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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sara callahan

sara callahan Owner/President

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I recently read an interesting article in Forbes about cause-based marketing which states that  55 percent of consumers would switch brands and/or pay more for a product or service to a company that demonstrates solid social values that the consumer also cares about.

This type of marketing is a win-win as it can position your dealership favorably to your customers while also helping those in need through charitable contributions. The great thing is that dealers are some of the most generous contributors to their local communities already. Cause-based marketing is simply marketing who your dealership is (brand identity) through sharing the causes that are important to your dealership.

Now don’t get me wrong here. There is a time and a place for this and nothing is more off putting than a business that constantly bangs its chest about how good it is and demands that you look at all its done. And, I also realize that some people prefer to just make the donation anonymously, purely to support the cause.

But some dealers are doing a really great job of cause-based marketing and it is worth a further look at this. One dealer group in Maryland goes all out in its community involvement efforts to ensure they are mutually beneficial to the dealership and the local community.  According to MegaDealerNews, these activities include performing health and safety services such as car-seat installations and checks every month, sponsoring multiple sports teams and underwriting a local field that services a minor league and college baseball team. The dealership also sponsors multiple hole-in-one tournaments and raffles off a Corvette every year.

This type of marketing can be powerful for several reasons. First, rather than pushing common things such as lowest price, it can earn business from customer goodwill and empathy and help the dealership stand out from the crowd. Second, as consumers these days are bombarded with “buy now!” messages, they tend to be more amenable to a message that is not trying to sell them anything, and this can help increase top-of-mind awareness. And last, but certainly not least, consumers can be more apt to trust a dealership which contributes to their local community.

There are plenty of examples of dealerships building their brand around community involvement and cause-based marketing. In today’s highly-competitive market it is important to create a competitive advantage to stand out from the crowd and overcome the noise consumers are bombarded with daily by the numerous retailers they interact with.

Dealerships are, in many cases, pillars of their communities and many have been in their local area for decades. Just existing, however, is no longer enough.

As part of your marketing strategy consider sharing with customers who you are and what you care about rather than a pure focus on what you sell. It may surprise you to find it helps sell more cars. And as it also helps support the local community, that’s a win-win.

Sherri Riggs

I could totally agree with this mind set! You can see it in action with Volkswagen. After it came out a few years ago that their cars weren't as "green" as they suggested they were, I had many friends who returned their cars, used the Volkswagen lawsuit money to buy new cars from different brands. It definitely makes a difference.

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