Depending on who you ask and the businesses involved, some people would argue that sales is actually a subset of marketing. Whether you agree or not, it’s hard to argue against the idea that even the best salespeople need some form of promotion to spread the word and bring in new customers and ultimately sell more products or services. Marketing is the tool by which that word is spread, the mechanism for promotion that convinces considering customers that your dealership or sales lot is the right choice for their needs. Read on to learn more about how marketing relates to increased sales and start working on a better strategy today.
Reach a Younger Audience
Whether you’re charmed or annoyed by millennials, the fact is that they’re the
people whose business you need to particularly keen to capture. This is not only because millennials are the adults of the future, the people who are going to be buying minivans after their first kid and taking a leap on their dream car after that first big promotion but because this is the first digitally native generation and they don’t shop the way their parents did. There are a lot of faulty assumptions that paint millennials with an unfairly broad brush and it’s important to avoid that. But, on the whole, this is an age group that tends to want to stay home and learn about something online before they make a purchase. They aren’t necessarily as eager to chat with a salesperson—something older generations weren’t exactly champing at the bit to experience in the first place.
This means that if you want to grow your market share, you’re going to need to capture the next generation of customers. Social media marketing and e-commerce sites are the key to reaching a digital audience. Whereas simple advertising or even just the presence of the dealership itself may have been sufficient to let customers know you’re there, millennials (and members Generation Z, the group that follows millennials) are best reached through digital marketing. Not print or TV ads, not billboards. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use those analog strategies. They can be an important part of your marketing plan. But if you want to define your niche and draw in the next generation of car buyers, you’re going to need an intelligent marketing strategy or ecommerce sites designed to capture their attention. The positive side effect of this is that it’ll position your business for long-term success and put you in an adaptable position. The car salesman who digs in his heels and refuses to adapt to new ways isn’t going to generate many sales leads or even survive as their older clients become less interested in buying cars, especially if the customer service isn’t there.
A smart marketing strategy includes the definition of a specific target audience and you can attempt multiple different marketing efforts at once, each designed to target a specific group. This means you can market cars that are appealing to a specific group—tech-enabled cars for younger customers, sensible budget options with user-friendly features for older customers—and provide a tailored approach that shows each individual something they’re likely to want to buy. One-size-fits-all marketing just doesn’t work well anymore, but fortunately, market segmentation for tailored services is easier than ever with digital tools.
Increase the Volume of Dealership Visitors Ready to Make a Purchase Today
If reaching an up-and-coming generation of car buyers isn’t enough motivation to influence better marketing, there’s data-backed proof that might change your mind. A 2016 study from Autotrader indicates that on average, car shoppers spend upwards of 14 hours on their car buying journey. More than half of that time is spent gathering information online. This means that digital marketing is grabbing your customer base while they’re still at home—presents a valuable opportunity. Still, that same study indicates that the vast majority of car buyers made their first contact with a seller during an in-person visit. So what does this mean?
First of all, it means that as of now, digital and physical presence are both important. You can’t neglect one and expect the other to take up the slack. It also means that you have plenty of opportunities to influence the shopper’s decision making before they even walk into the dealership. Effective marketing can show customers how useful you can be to them in their search for the perfect car. You can use a variety of tools on your website and social media accounts to attract attention, track engagement and promote special deals and events that will get considering customers to walk into your dealership. Once they’re in the dealership, you’ll be able to use your sales experience to persuade and close.
Secondly, this means that you can assume your customers already have a pretty good idea of what they want when they walk into your dealership, even if they say they’re just looking. Humoring this statement and showing how honest, courteous and helpful you can be may be all it takes to make that “just looking” prospect a new car owner. But what’s important is that all that time spent researching happens as close to your brand as possible. You don’t want your customer base coming to trust another source for information. Website content quality, including videos, photos and written content, all fall under the scope of marketing. If you can get all of these factors up to the highest standard, chances are that your prospective customers will walk through your doors already trusting the quality and experience you provide.
Make Use of Data Analytics
From a sales perspective, the only number that counts is the bottom line. Marketing takes a more nuanced approach, focusing on performance metrics that indicate how successful the marketing efforts have been. You can still make the bottom line your top priority number while also paying attention to some of the numbers that drive marketing in the digital age. Data analytics will tell you how effective your marketing approach actually is. Performance data can tell you everything from how long customers are spending on certain pages on your website to how many are actually filling out forms or clicking through on email offers they get in their inbox.
Why is this important for sales? Well, if you aren’t paying any attention to how successful your marketing efforts are, you’re wasting your time. Why bother having an email list if you aren’t sure whether your approach is working? Why bother optimizing your website to bring in more customers if you aren’t taking the time to see whether your strategy is paying off? Put another way, marketing data can give you a high-level view of how your customers are responding to what you’re offering. The data doesn’t lie and if it tells you that your marketing needs some work, chances are that means you’re missing out on some sales as well. If you’re wondering why your sales are slumping and you don’t have any insight into how successful your digital marketing efforts are, even if those efforts only consist of some emails and a basic website, you’re robbing yourself of valuable information you could use to turn your approach around.
Sean Cassy is the Digital Marketing Specialist and Co-Owner of Turbo Marketing Solutions. You can contact him by email here or reach him by phone every weekday at Turbo Marketing’s head office.