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Stop Interrupting and Start Engaging Customers

Learn how to make your data actionable through intelligence and how to most effectively deliver messaging to your customers through multiple channels.

Tim Jackson is the director of OEM Relations for Activator Dealer Solutions where he is focused on building the relationship between the OEM and dealer partners. Tim has had 25 successful years of automotive marketing leadership, is a multi-channel marketing expert, and is a graduate of Indiana University school of business with a degree in marketing and a minor in psychology. With that being said, let’s get this presentation started.

Bridging the Gap Between Ever-Evolving Customer Expectations & Dealership Goals

Breaking through the noise. What does that mean? Your customers are overwhelmed with information on average and self-informed at best. What steps are you taking to break through all of that noise? Companies are all competing for our attention as consumers. This phenomenon is not limited to other dealers but also extends to other products and services, and they are all inundating us each and every day with messaging. 

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According to a recent Forbes study, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences. And, to make things even more challenging, each and every consumer expects certain things based on their demographics and lifestyle factors — and their expectations are constantly evolving.

The bottom line is this: We are competing for the most valuable asset — the consumer’s attention. And dealers must know who their customers are and what their needs are more than ever.

So, what are those demographic considerations? The first is that Gen X buyer, who represents about 95% of the business that the dealers currently have, while Gen Z and the greatest generation represent a much smaller amount of dealer business.

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As you probably know, the Gen X buyers are heavy users of social media. They are especially receptive to email marketing; they appreciate coupons and offers, especially when they speak specifically to life events that they may be experiencing. Not surprisingly, this group has grown up with and is very receptive to direct mail.

The baby boomers are arguably the most loyal to brands and to the dealerships. They might enjoy coming in for service and getting a cup of coffee and walking around your showroom and kicking tires. They prefer phone conversations over texts and are heavy users of social media, but in a different way than millennials and Gen X. They are more likely to tag ads as spam, and they are typically using such platforms as Facebook to connect with people versus connecting with brands. Lastly — and this is the most important information about the baby boomer group — is they account for the highest dollar per transaction and are more receptive to upsells.

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We already understand that millennials are heavy users of technology and frequent dealerships less than Gen X or baby boomers. Of course, they’re heavy consumers of social media but also pay close attention to product and service reviews. They expect near real-time responses, and phone conversations take a back seat to texting. Most importantly, they expect seamless and personalized experiences across all channels from the brands with which they do business.

This underscores the importance of dealers and their marketing partners bridging the gap between ever-evolving customer expectations and dealership goals. 

At any given day and assuming the customers are in market, your customers are thinking about the product, whether that’s buying a new vehicle or maybe their brakes are squealing and they need to take it in for service. The first step they take is to get information; they want to find out what the price is going to be. Then they do a little research on the dealership. And now with social media, they can actually select the person who they want to do business with. And underneath all of that, consumers expect that information will be easy to find, informative and personalized. Anything less these days misses basic expectations. Moreover, we as consumers also expect quick responses with few strings attached.

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In the competitive dealership market, you not only have to break through all of that noise, but you need to do it in a way that attracts and engages while riding the fine line of pushing too far or too hard. Let’s face it: The buyer really controls this process.

So, when a buyer is researching, a dealership needs to be ready to target that customer and be positioned to sell. When the customer is ready for service, the dealership needs to not only be thinking about it but planning on it, essentially closing that gap between the customer’s expectations and your goals. 

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Next month, we’ll discuss data and the four pillars of success.

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