5 Marketing Tips for Dealerships

  • Website Improvements
  • Online Chat
  • Video Content
  • Ratings and Reviews
  • Social Media Versatility

 

We live in a digital age where consumers are coming to their conclusion about a business before they even step inside the front doors, all because of how they present themselves online. According to a NADA DATA report, US dealerships spent just over $8 billion in advertising back in 2014. That figure rose to a peak of nearly $10B in 2016 and has had a slight decline each year since.  

We’re nearly halfway through 2019, and although a lot has changed, traditional advertising like commercials and radio spots are still valuable to dealerships. However, salespeople at dealerships notice that the majority of car shoppers are on their phones while they’re on the lot to compare with prices and other options. Overall, US dealerships allocated just over half their 2018 advertising spend on digital channels, which is a significant sum and reflects the trends in shopper behavior. How do we adapt to the changes and market ourselves to remain relevant?

Here are 5 marketing tips, just for dealerships:

  1. Give Your Website A Face Lift: When was the last time you updated your website? According to marketing expert Marcus Sheridan, 70% of business is conducted online with a decision already made by the consumer before they even make contact. Your website is the first impression, so is it good enough to have the consumers make the next move and contact you? Is it mobile friendly? Does it have a sleek and professional look to it that is easy to read on any device and is a good representation of your brand? These are all things to keep in mind when revamping the website for your dealership.
  2. Use Live Chat: When a potential customer is exploring your site, they are searching for answers to several different questions. Having someone to communicate with via live chat is similar to holding their hand through a complicated process. Live chat is there to answer any questions they may have about scheduling, inventory, location, and more, and your chance to capture their information and begin the sales cycle.
  3. Create Videos: Videos are a quick and immersive way for a customer to get an inside look at your dealership. Not to mention, they are a representation of your brand. Over 50% of marketing professionals say that video brings in the best ROI. Whether it’s a commercial, filming a test drive with a customer, or just talking about your summer clearance event, videos are a sure way to bring in new customers.
  4. Customer Reviews: Any potential customer is going to want to see what other people have said about your dealership, as they offer a personal experience. Look at social media and review sites to see what people are saying about your dealership and highlight some of these on your website. If you don’t have any reviews, reach out to past customers and ask them to give a testimonial of their experience at your dealership. You’ll also find this is a great way to see how you’re doing and where you can improve in areas that you may have neglected. After all, the customer is the most important aspect of the entire decision-making process, and their decisions will be influenced by independent endorsements.
  5. Social Media: Nowadays, with Facebook Pages and Instagram business tools, social media has become an increasingly popular way to engage with new, potential, and previous customers. People who engage on the social media pages for businesses have the same expectation for responsiveness as they would on a telephone call. They could inquire about any number of things, like asking about a service, inventory, or even sharing their personal experience at your dealership. Additionally, social media is a great platform to advertise promotions and events happening at the dealership. This is the best part of social media, as you’re able to connect with users who are looking for a variety of information. Your job as the dealership is to know your customers, what they are looking for, and provide the answers. The more of a reliable source you are, the more you’ll appear as a knowledgeable, trustworthy dealership and the place they’ll want to take their business.


Marketing is all about connecting with your audience in as many ways possible, in order to be there when they choose to engage. Luckily, there are so many resources available to you to make your content engaging and fun, while also being the best representation of your brand. Focus on who you’re targeting and what makes your dealership the best choice to serve their needs. When you do that, you succeed in marketing your dealership.

Make Your Inventory Pop With These Photography Tips For Dealerships

In the automobile industry, your dealership’s website is just as much a first impression as when a potential customer walks inside the dealership doors. But this isn’t about what you should and shouldn’t have on your website. This article is about the photos you have of your dealership’s inventory. Only having pictures uploaded with the vehicle information just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Your inventory photos need to grab the attention of a potential customer who’s looking to buy a new car. If you have just cellphone quality shots of your inventory, it lessens the quality of your overall dealership. At the same time, if you use stock images of the vehicle but not actual photos of the car on your lot, it’s just as bad as using cellphone quality shots, if not worse.

Here are some ways to make your inventory pop, from actual professional photographers:

Lighting: Every professional photographer will tell you that light is everything. Direct sunlight will create strange shadows, whereas the shade could hide details of the car. The time of day is a good indicator of how harsh the sun will be, which is why shooting early morning or early evening is usually a good time to shoot. Also, overcast days act as a natural “diffuser,” which means it lessens the intensity of the sunlight. It’s optional if you’d want to use any additional lighting. But the same rules for working with sunlight apply to using artificial lights. Even a flash can sometimes be too intense and detract from the overall picture you’re trying to capture.

Background: Your background is just as important as the lighting because you want to make sure the vehicle is the only focus of the picture. Not only is it distracting to see other cars in your inventory in the background, but it will ruin the picture if you have anything else be the focus other than the car you’re capturing.

Take Lots of Photos: The more really is the merrier. The more photos you have of the vehicle, the more a customer can get a real feel of the car ahead of the time. Not to mention, having multiple photos for the customer to look at online makes them even more ready to make a purchase once they come inside the dealership.

Get Inside: When you capture the car’s interior, this shows any future buyers that you really care about the driver. They want to see the condition of the seats, what the car looks like from the driver’s POV, etc. Perhaps they want to see if there are any additional features such as heated seats or a USB cable for their phone. Let alone the fact that they may not want a cream interior or leather seats. All of this plays a vital role when someone is interested in a car. If they don’t get an accurate visual of the vehicle before coming into the dealership, they’ll feel like it was a waste of a trip if the car isn’t exactly as it’s pictured.

Experiment: Sure, you want to make sure that you or your photographer is capturing the images possible for your car. But what about capturing it away from the dealership? Depending on the type of photographer you have, it might be cool actually to capture the car in motion on the streets. Or if you’re near a scenic spot, take the car there to get some really epic and cinematic shots. People are all about the image of what looks best, so why not create some content that adds a unique flair to the typical dealership photos of your inventory?

Another way you can experiment is with the angles. Shoot from below to make the car look more powerful. Or cut off some of the car for a shot if you’re getting a real close-up shot and nothing else is going to detract from the focus being on the vehicle. Shoot vertically as well, since many people will be checking out your dealership’s website while on their smartphone.

Have Fun: It sounds a bit cliché, but having fun with taking photos of your inventory will show to any potential customer. People want to do business where it’s a welcoming environment, full of people who genuinely enjoy what they do. Not to mention, you represent a car dealership. You want the customer to have an enjoyable experience from start to finish because then you earn their customer loyalty (which is something money can’t buy). You might as well give them something they’ll never forget, starting with the photos.

How To Market Your PDR Business Online

  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Search
  • Content
  • Email

Online marketing includes any methods and promotional strategies a business will execute on the internet to reach its target audience. 70% of customers will conduct business online before contacting the company. Internet marketing is much more than having a website. It’s answering any potential questions that a customer may have and establishing a “brand identity.” But for someone working in Paintless Dent Repair, phrases such as lead magnet, AdWords, PFI, SEO, and PPC might well be a foreign language. They don’t need to be. Here are just a few of the most effective ways you can market your PDR business online:

  1. Website: When a customer goes to your website, they will instantly know if they want to do business with you or not based on your “brand identity.” Brand identity is when a business shows who they are through text, images, video, and audio elements. You can also include a page or highlighted section that contains the benefits of PDR and why they should choose your business over the competition (without name-calling, of course).

 

  1. Social Media: We are truly living in a digital age, and if you disagree, then you must still be using a flip phone and dial-up internet. Customers expect businesses to engage with them, especially if they are commenting about their experience or inquiring about a service. Facebook Pages and Instagram Business Tools have made this possible for businesses to turn social media into a platform to connect with customers and promote their business.

 

  1. Search Engine Marketing (SEM): SEM is all about marketing through search engines. Businesses can go about SEM in several different ways. One of the most common methods is from organic ranking through search engine optimization (SEO). SEO “is the method website owners use to help search engines find, index, and rank their web pages…” (Duermyer, 2018). You can purchase for your website pay-per-click (PPC) ads in something like Google AdWords. It’s an easy and effective way to drive traffic to your website. A third option is you can purchase pay-for-inclusion (PFI) listings in online directories, similar to Yellow Pages.

 

  1. Content Marketing: This is all about writing articles (aka “blog posts”) relating to your business and publishing them online to reach your target audience. When you write articles that answer questions customers may have, you’re able to connect with a broader audience. You could also have your written content published on other websites, drawing in new leads to your business in a completely different way. There’s always stiff competition amongst local PDR shops, so you want to do anything you can to stand out. Can you stand apart from the rest and prove you’re the best out there?

 

  1. Email Marketing: Email is a proven effective way to create and maintain a connection between business and customer. But how do you get the email list in the first place? You can entice people to give their emails if they want the exclusive website offer, like “half-price headlight restoration!” From there, you have their information to send them additional special offers, a newsletter, holiday greetings, car care tips, etc. Pretty much anything relating to your PDR business so ultimately, these leads can become customers and referrals. That’s the goal.

 

Conclusion

It’s important to keep in mind that as you begin online marketing for your business, the customer is the focus. If your website is challenging to navigate or you’re not replying to Facebook comments, then customers will go elsewhere. Utilizing even just one of the strategies listed above will help your PDR business grow, especially since the industry itself is ever-evolving and growing.

Although it’s possible to get rapid results, consistency is critical. Online marketing is all about long-term results and connecting with your target audience. Once that happens, their referrals will become new leads, and the testimonials/reviews of your customers will be what helps you stand out in the vast frontier of a digital world.

Winning Local Search – Control Your Google My Business

Last week, we taught you how to dominate the Google My Business local pack or “three pack”. But that advice only works for people who have control of their Google My Business (GMB) listing. If you don’t have access to the listing, don’t worry. We are going to walk you through it with easy to follow visuals.

Your first step is to see if your listing has already been claimed.

Here is how you do that: Search Google for “Paintless dent repair near ____” and add your city. You will get a list of three businesses in your area.  If you do not see your business there, then click “more places” at the bottom of the three.

After you click the “more places” link, you will get an expanded list of businesses in your area, and yours should be listed, even if you have not yet claimed your listing.

If you begin clicking on any of these listings you will start to see expanded results for each listing, that will look something like this:

If you look closely just under the phone number, you will see an option or two to interact with Google on this listing. If you only see the words “Suggest an edit” then the listing has already been claimed by somebody who once worked for the business and had the ability to verify the listing.

Last week, we discussed how to dominate the Local stack or “three-stack” on a Google local result.  The article assumed that you had already taken the steps necessary to claim your own Google My Business Listing.

If you see the words “Suggest and edit – Own this business?” then that means your listing has not yet been claimed.

Whether or not your listing is claimed, this article will help you claim or reclaim your listing.

Let’s start with claiming the listing.

Click on “own this business?”  and you will be taken to a screen that shows you the business and the address and asks you to confirm that you have the authority to claim the business.

Click Continue and you will be taken to this screen:

At this point, you have a couple of options. You can click the “Call” button and Google will automatically call the phone listed to confirm.

Note: this ONLY works if that number goes straight through to you and you are standing by the phone. If you have a call assist service where the caller has to make selections from a menu to reach you, this option will not work.

The second option is to receive a text but this only works if you have a cell phone listed and not a landline.

The next best option is to request an email or a postcard mailer. The postcard will take up to five business days and will have a code on it. Once you press the button to receive a postcard, you cannot proceed until you have that code. The same thing goes for the email.

Once you have verified your listing, you are free to make edits to it. You can add logos, change the cover photo, add photos, hours, website addresses and more.

 

What to do if you are a business owner with a claimed listing but you do not have access to it?

This second set of instructions happens all the time, especially if you have been in business a while or had several employees over the years. As Google became more sophisticated with its local maps and local search capabilities, its products have evolved over time. There used to be options like Google Places, Google Places for Business, and others. Now everything is under the banner of Google My Business. It is possible that you or a former employee claimed this listing under a different Google product and you don’t know your logins. What makes matters even more frustrating is that Google has no number that you can call to fix it. Instead, you have to jump through a few hoops to reclaim your listing. But don’t worry, we are going to walk you through it.

Step One- go to https://business.google.com/create

You will see a screen like this one:

Since you have an existing listing, as you start typing your name it will begin to pull up listings. Click on the listing you want to change and click next.

Next, you will be asked to verify the address.

For a  mobile PDR shop, you’ll want to make sure you check “I deliver goods and services to my customers”.

Next, you will be asked to verify the business type.

Verify the info and click next. You will be asked to verify the contact information.

Finally, you will be taken to this screen:

This screen will tell you the name of the person who claimed the page and will give you enough of an idea to see if you recognize the email address of the person. If you do, all you need to do now is contact that person and ask them to add you as an admin.

If you do not recognize this person, or if it was a former employee that you no longer have contact info for, you can click to request access.

What happens next is Google sends an email to that person and informs them that you are requesting access to this account. If that person grants you access, you will be notified.

If they ignore it after 5 days, Google will email you again and allow you to have a verification postcard sent to the business address listed. It is very important that somebody at that address that you can contact will be on the lookout for that card. If this is your current address then all you need to do is wait. If you have moved your location, you need to contact your old location and let them now to be on the lookout for the postcard from Google.

Once you receive your code, log back in, enter your code and you will have full access to your Google My Business listing.


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Twenty Tips to Help Rank Your PDR Business in Local Search

In the paintless dent repair world there are two kinds of businesses, fully mobile shops who move around from town to town chasing hail storms, and then there are local shops who service a local base of customers. If you are in this second group, this post, the first in a two-part series, is for you.

It seems almost silly these days to explain to business owners why they need a website for their business. We see so many companies who do all their digital marketing through one social media channel such as Facebook or Instagram. We have even seen really big body shops that only have a profile on a social media page but no website of their own.

The problem with a social-only digital marketing strategy is that you are at the mercy of the ever-changing rules and whims of that platform. Take for example Facebook’s big change announced in January of this year. Facebook’s goal is to keep its users on the platform and has to continually strike a balance between what keeps people on the website and what pays Facebook’s bills. Facebook’s big announcement in January is a reaction to people who have long said they felt the site had shifted too far away from friends and family-related content, especially after a rise of outside posts from brands, publishers, and media companies.

“This big wave of public content has really made us reflect: What are we really here to do?” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “If what we’re here to do is help people build relationships, then we need to adjust.”

With even a basic website, you are the captain of the ship, and you are in control. You are not under the control (or at the mercy) of the owners of the social media platform with which you market.

Having briefly demonstrated why you need a website for your business, let’s turn now to the instructive portion of this post: how to dominate local search for your Recon business.

No matter what your business is, if you serve customers within a set territory, you are a local business and your website needs to perform that way. You have probably heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and you have likely been inundated with offshore SEO companies who claim they can get you ranked #1 for just $50 per month.

With local search, most small businesses are only concerned with one thing, and that is getting to the three slots in the so-called “three stack” or “Three Pack” of search engine results.

The good news for local marketers is that Google has gotten really good at managing local search for businesses. Even just a year ago, it may have been difficult to find yourself on the first page of Google for your service. But with the development and enhancements to Google My business and its prominence in the search results, small businesses can rank well without having to spend their way to the top.

 

Main Takeaway

The one thing you must understand is that a Local search result is the result of the following formula:

Prominence + Proximity + Relevance= Search Result.

Prominence– is how well you show up on the internet. This includes things like your website, but it also takes into account backlinks, reviews, mentions on other websites, and directory submissions, (although directory submissions are becoming less of a factor).

Proximity- This is how close you are to the person doing the search and unfortunately is not something you can work on or fix aside from opening up office locations all around town.

Relevance- This is how relevant your service is to what the search has asked for. As an example, you will have a harder time ranking for Auto Body Repair near me, than you would for dent repair near me, even though we both know they could often be one in the same. Your reviews also help with relevance as long as the people leaving reviews are using your keywords in their reviews. We’ll cover that more below in the tips.

You could almost write a short book on how to rank high for local search, or even to place in the local pack, but to keep things manageable in this post, we are going to bullet list some key points.

Key Points

  1. Your rankings are relative to those of your competitors. You might be able to do something in one market and rank number one, that wouldn’t get you anywhere in another market.
  2. The ranking factor of proximity to the searcher has increased to be the number one factor.
  3. If you have a strong website and you’re doing a good job with normal SEO, the odds are higher that you’ll show up in the local pack.
  4. You have to be in the proximity radius to have a chance to rank, but you have to have the other factors (prominence and relevance) to really be able to beat the competition.
  5. You can use AdWords and Local Pack ads to broaden your scope and attract business through local search from other cities.
  6. If you’re a service area business located in a suburb, and you want to get rankings in the big city, you should create a page on your site and optimize it for that particular city.
  7. If you’re on the edge of a city and you get more links within the city that you’re not in, you have a better chance at moving into the local pack in that city.
  8. You probably aren’t going to rank too far outside of your radius if you’re a service area business. This is something that Google needs to change, especially for businesses who travel to their customers.
  9. Stop worrying about proximity. There’s nothing you can do about it unless you want to set up an office on every block.
  10.  A lot of the relevance factor is first determined by what category and sub-category you put yourself in in Google My Business, and what the person searched for.
  11. To boost relevance, take the page you link to on Google My Business and optimize that with keywords, and also related topics.
  12. Reviews are very important to relevance and prominence. If your reviews feature keywords relevant to you and they’re from people within your city, they will help a lot.
  13. Use ‘semantic relevance’ in your pages to increase relevance. This is the practice of including keywords parallel to phrases that are important for you (e.g. ‘Manhattan’ and ‘New York City’).
  14. Links can add a lot of location relevance. By joining the local Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, sponsoring local events and local non-profits, and getting mentioned in the local media, you can boost your relevance for that particular location.
  15. Aside from the SEO benefits, local link building can drive a lot of traffic directly to your site.
  16. If you have 1-5 locations, point your GMB listing to your homepage. If you have more than five locations, it’s time to start setting up location pages.
  17. Google wants to show the best businesses rather than just any old businesses, and prominence is one way that they try to measure that.
  18. If your citations are screwed up or you don’t have any, fixing them or adding them can help you be more eligible to rank in the pack.
  19. Pay attention to new, native Google My Business features, like Q&As, Posts, and ‘store-within-a-store’, as these will become more important in rankings over the next few years.
  20. Google is now getting data sources that we can’t really have any influence over, such as table reservations from OpenTable, and customer numbers from credit card companies. You can’t manipulate these things, so you just have to focus on being an awesome business, and making that awesomeness visible to your potential customers.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, it is; but it is manageable. Having a solid website is the heart of this, but the Google My Business page is equally important. Stay tuned to part two of this post where we walk you through step by step how to claim, manage or modify your Google My Business listing.

 


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