It’s a question that marketers in all industries ask themselves and one that should be the focus of any effective strategy. In automotive, it can be a challenge to keep this in mind. With the need to promote current incentives for new car sales, promote inventory on the used lot, keep the service bays full, with the odd recall thrown in here and there, it is easy to focus on the dealership and OEM’s requirements rather than your customer’s needs.
So how do you keep in mind customer preferences, while achieving your marketing objectives across different departments? In short, it comes down to understanding and respecting consumer behavior.
At the end of the day, every marketer is also a consumer. When putting together a marketing plan, or focusing on tactical opportunities, ask yourself, “Would this speak to me?,” to keep the customer in mind.
There will always be a need for advertising with a broad reach to make your store top of mind to owners and shoppers in your region. There is also great opportunity to have your marketing speak to individual customers who you already know — those who have already expressed interest through submitting leads on your website or who have bought or serviced at your dealership.
When communicating with your customers or prospects, how can you make your marketing more timely and relevant to their needs? Focus on the right audience for your message, and personalize the content.
Something to keep in mind when communicating to your customers is that they are your customers. You have a relationship with them and they have likely spent tens of thousands of dollars with you, or are considering doing so. You can ask yourself when creating a campaign, “Do they want to feel like they are being marketed to?”
When speaking to your customers about offers or incentives, greeting them by name and including their personal details makes it feel like they are part of a conversation with a local business rather than a cold mass-marketing machine a million miles away.
Don’t leave it there though, use this as an opportunity to provide a concierge experience. Having a landing page that has a URL with their name in it, greets them by name and includes offers that are tailored to them reinforces the connected experience.
Understanding that it’s important to make connections with our customers, it’s also important to consider how they want to be communicated with. For car dealerships, traditional media is still an important tool in your toolbox, but it’s not the most effective way to reach individual, specific customers.
Every customer has preferences in how they are communicated with. Focusing on one method is a sure-fire way to ensure that your marketing is lost in the clutter. Email is a great way to keep in touch with your customers, however, we have all experienced an influx of marketing emails. Some of us even have dedicated email accounts just for marketing emails.
Mail on the other hand has a psychological effect to it. It has a higher brand recall than digital advertising. However, it is easy for a consumer to have the perception of getting “junk mail” if it is the only form of communication they receive from a business.
So what’s the solution? Consumers nowadays have their guard up. They want to be communicated with by businesses that they have relationships with, but they also need to be reached in a way that resonates with them. There is no one-size fits all way of marketing that will convince every customer. There is a tried-and-true method of maximizing your effectiveness of reaching customers as individuals though — a media mix.
Integrated marketing communications — a message pushed out across multiple channels is an excellent way to reach your customers, providing them the opportunity to engage with your marketing on their own terms. Don’t focus your strategy exclusively on email, or exclusively on mail — that’s an underperforming strategy. Instead, make use of all the tools available to you, pairing email and mail together with your other channels to reinforce your message. If your customer misses one communication, you’ll have a second chance of reaching them with the next.
No consumer wants to feel like they’re getting over-marketed to by a business, but at the same time, nobody wants to feel like they only get communicated with by a dealership when they want to sell them a new car. There is no formula that works for every consumer, or set number of communications you can send that works across the board. You have a business requirement to communicate with your customers with some regularity, but should not overdo it out of respect for your customers.
One great way to help dial in your frequency of messaging is the targeting of customers for each communication. Don’t focus on sending every communication to every customer. Filter your communications down to customer segments relevant to the message.
Along with targeting individual segments to help fine-tune the frequency of communications, fall back to the idea of being a consumer yourself. Ask yourself, would I want to be followed up with so soon with another marketing campaign promoting the same thing?
How you market your dealership and speak to your customers is ultimately a question that only you can answer, but keeping in mind how your customers want to be communicated with will always be valuable. Making your communications relevant to individual customers across multiple channels, and contacting customers often enough — but not too often will make you a more effective marketer, and for your budget to go further.