Digital Marketing plays such an important role in a business’s success today that it is easy to forget how young this medium truly is.  It has, in fact, experienced a growth explosion that is historically unparalleled.  A new innovative marketing product seems to emerge almost on a daily basis. And everyone promises that if you use this new “insert buzz word here,” then you will get more leads.  With this explosive growth, and all the new products and features that roll out, it is easy to get caught up in chasing “the next big thing,” and forget about some of the basic fundamental rules of marketing that must be followed. 


Rule 1: Emotion Sells


There is no technique in the world that can sell as well as emotion. It’s the exact reason why every sales process includes a test drive to get a shopper sitting in a vehicle, their hands on the steering wheel, and their mind taking mental ownership as they drive down the road. The problem with online car shoppers is that, unlike the customer standing in front of you, you can’t open the driver’s door and slide them in. However, you should be using your VDP Pages to duplicate this emotional experience the best that you can.  Having good quality photos and a good quality vehicle description is a good start, but the very best way to generate the most emotion possible in the virtual world is by creating live walkaround videos. Encourage your staff to interject personality into that walkaround. Another great way to use a walkaround is to personalize the video response for customers who have inquired about a specific vehicle. The customer will feel special and you can then begin to develop trust and rapport with them before they even step foot in the dealership.  The more emotion you can add to the overall experience for a shopper, the more leads you will get -- with more of those leads actually showing up at your store to take a real test drive.

Rule 2: Be Relevant


In marketing, relevancy is one of the most important things, no matter what the media source. The first basic fundamental of marketing is to analyze your message and determine if the content you are trying to deliver matches the audience it is being delivered to. The ability to understand the consumer’s motivation at significant points in the buying cycle, and to then deliver relevant content to that specific consumer, is key to converting car shoppers. Different videos impact different shoppers at different times in the buying cycle. For example, you may want to give a different message to a shopper watching a video on your dealership website versus a shopper watching your video on AutoTrader. Or a shopper that is standing on your competitor’s lot while visiting your website (showrooming) to check out your inventory to see how your vehicles compare.  These are just a couple of the many examples of how you can utilize technology to increase the relevancy of your marketing message. One of the best aspects of using videos in your marketing strategy is that your videos can dynamically update your message based upon the relevancy to that particular consumer.


Rule 3: People Buy From People They Like (Trust)


Quite frequently, a customer browsing your website or VDPs does in fact have an interest in a vehicle, yet they do not submit a lead. In many cases, the underlying cause is that they simply do not trust car dealerships. Your dealership itself may not have done anything wrong to this person, but some past experience has perhaps infiltrated their thoughts. Address those fears in your videos and reassure the customer that your dealership won’t treat them poorly. If you make it clear that they will have a great car-buying experience, it can help entice them to fill out the form and click the submit button.


Rule 4: Call-to-Action

Make sure that you are very clear in your videos about the next steps you want the consumer to take. Having the video is great. But if you don’t tell the customer what to do next, you may find that they leave your website or VDP solely because they don’t know how to proceed. Be sure to lay out out a clear path for your customers to follow. Don’t rely on all of the widgets on your site, or third party VDP listings to do this for you. Include the call-to-action verbally in your video. This then helps to guide the car shopper to take the actions you want them to take. Make the process easy for the customer – don’t force them to guess. You could run the risk of the customer leaving your site and then getting overwhelmed by the many different calls-to-action that are present on most other websites.


All dealerships want more leads. The common thought process is usually along the lines of “If I get more leads, I’ll sell more cars.” However, if you rely solely on adding the latest gizmo to the numerous other ones already on your website, this is not the best process. Use these basic fundamental rules of marketing and you’ll see an increase in leads and end up with car shoppers further down the funnel, with a genuine interest in a specific vehicle, ready to engage with you. This will produce a higher closing ratio with less effort on your part.

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Comment by Patrick Nash on July 20, 2015 at 2:47pm

Hi Steven,

I don't work at Douglas anymore but I see Kenny from time to time and will make sure to tell him you say hello. The ability to create a personal and unique message in an automotive landscape where OEM's want their message pushed is definitely a huge challenge for dealerships. You want to align yourself with the OEM's brand message for coherency purposes but you still need to let the customer see the human side of your business. 

Comment by steven chessin on July 17, 2015 at 3:02pm

Patrick  - Say Hi to Ken for me - my home is just down the road and I've had my car serviced  there. I always like his videos although he does need to consider de-caf ! (I wish I had his energy)       

Ken is one of the few that practices REAL VIDEO as I do. We believe that effective video must go beyond the vehicle listing level and include actual people. People respond to people because emotion is contagious. Whether it is hot enthusiasm or cool professionalism it is most of all HUMAN. "People buy from people" extends beyond the showroom.  

The "secret" of the Flick Fusion platform is that it gives dealers the flexibility to use either the basic default-mode or step-up to the actual sales team personal content level. You are 100% correct when you say customers appreciate the content - and the personalized touch. That also means means that  managers and owners that do not know what customers need and want are ignoring what their customers want or require.Trying to get stores to be receptive 10-15  years ago was a challenge I chalked-up to "Early Adopter Stage" due to emerging technology --- now there's no excuse.       


Comment by Patrick Nash on July 17, 2015 at 1:51pm

Great post. When I had the honor of working for the Douglas Auto Group, I got to learn about Automotive Marketing from Douglas Digital Marketing Director Ken Beam. The owners of Douglas also had the progressiveness and foresight to greenlight Kenny and I to create a lot of "real" personalized car videos:

As Kenny liked to say, we weren't trying to recreate "Gone With The Wind" but the personalized touch of having a dealership employee give a detailed explanation on our vehicles proved to be valuable. I can't tell you the amount of times a customer on the lot would see Kenny and yelled, "hey, I saw you do that video!." Not only would Sales Consultants tell us how much their customers appreciated the real video, but some of them used the videos even further to their advantage: right before a test drive, at their desk they would play the video of the car the customer was about to test drive as the Sales Consultant went to retrieve the vehicle. It definitely helped with the Wow factor for the customer. 

Comment by steven chessin on July 16, 2015 at 5:57pm

Tim - Human beings have millions of years of evolution hard-wired into brains even long before language. In cave days the important decisions of friend-or-foe and fight-or-flight had to be made fast so it was important to know how to read the signals of facial expressions and sounds instantly.This is why phone trainers tell trainees to smile when they talk because the listener is able to detect "friend". When it comes to buying cars MORE than the car itself has to be presented. There is a wave of info compressed into a few seconds of moving pictures and sounds that tells a whole story. The basic Flick Fusion tool handles the default listing well - and even adds the human voice over. But getting to all of the higher levels and purposes of communication and presentation require ACTUAL SALES PEOPLE. Fortunately your platform provides the tools for those ready to advance. At this store salesmen were sent to me to help them get their customers in and back-in.  From 2007 - Be Back Follow-Up Video

Comment by Britt Bischoff on July 14, 2015 at 6:02pm

This sounds like an outline of the fundamentals encompassing all of digital marketing and content marketing. Excellent post!

Comment by Paul Moran on July 13, 2015 at 11:39am

Great Post!

At Vboost, we have found that reaching out to your own customers' family and friends through their photo/video sharing is a great way to see more referrals without the need for pricing details.  More and more customers are looking to reviews to help them decide where to buy.  A review that comes from someone you know has the greatest impact of all.  A shared picture/video is like a review if it is branded.  If not video at least take pictures at the time of delivery and get your customers to share them in a way that promotes the dealership and the salesperson.  You will be amazed at how often they are forwarded and posted.

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