By Chloe Banholzer
Not all marketing strategies are created equal. While some may send your sales skyrocketing, others can leave you with an empty wallet and crickets in your dealership. But how do you tell a diamond from a dud? The following are the top three marketing strategy “diamonds” that come as close to flawless as it gets, and three “duds” that are cubic zirconia at best.
Diamond: Investing in Google AdWords
If you’re like most dealers, every hour of your day is packed full. After a long day managing your employees and your business, the last thing you want to do is stress out over your digital marketing. While ranking first on Google via search engine optimization (SEO) takes time, patience and hard work, there’s a “shortcut” that helps you get to the top without all the extra steps: Google AdWords. If you’re not an expert on digital advertising, we recommend partnering with a company that will work with you. A good partner will deliver reports that show where your budget went and what effect it had on sales.
Dud: Overpaying for Yellow Pages ads
It’s 2018, and I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret: the Yellow Pages is obsolete. Yes, there is an online version (yp.com) and yes, some people do use it, but for the price you pay for exposure and the limited exposure that you actually get, there are far better alternatives. Unless you track all your marketing initiatives and know for a fact that Yellow Pages ads pay off for your dealership, we recommend ditching this outdated (and often budget-draining channel) and switching to one that delivers better results for less money. Need a hint? The diamonds above and below this dud are great places to start!
Diamond: Boosting posts on Facebook
If you followed along with July’s OPE magazine article “Social Media’s New Rules: Pay to Play,” then you already know all about how your Facebook posts are practically meaningless without a little money behind them. However, this doesn’t mean that your efforts on Facebook are moot. By “boosting” a post or creating an ad, your post can reach thousands of more people, usually for less than $20. Facebook ads are relatively easy to get started with, and something you can do quickly and effectively in house. Got a sale coming up and want your followers to know about it? Make a post and boost it! Got a dealership event or demonstration that people should hear about? Choose your target market and create an ad! Plus, Facebook offers free insights and analytics to help you see how your ad performed.
Dud: Spending A LOT of time on social media
Social Media is worth your time, but it’s not worth ALL your time. As an OPE dealer, Facebook may offer some great benefits, but Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter might not pull in the sales. It’s excellent if you have these channels set up, and even better if you have the time to keep them updated regularly; but small businesses have to be careful where they spend their time, and ensure their time is well spent. Unless Instagram leads are pouring in, you and your fellow employees should not be spending more than an hour a week on your social media efforts.
Diamond: Keeping your website and directory listings up to date
Customers visit your website to find information (usually information about a product they need). If you have the product in stock but not listed on your site, chances are they’ll assume you don’t have it, hit the back button, and see if your competitor has what they need. Avoid this by setting time aside at least once a week to update your online inventory (we recommend on a Thursday or Friday to prepare for the weekend rush).
Don’t forget, your website isn’t the only place where customers are looking for you online. Whether it’s on Google, Yelp or any other online directory, it’s critical your business information is up to date. Imagine that a customer finds your listing and tries to give you a call, but your phone number has changed. Then they try to visit your website and the link is wrong. Do you smell that? It’s a recipe for disaster! Browse these major directories and do a quick Google search for your business to ensure all the information is current and accurate. Something as simple as a typo made by a past employee could cost you sales and lifetime customers. In other words, keeping these listings up to date is worth the time, and definitely pays off for your dealership.
Dud: Neglecting your online presence and reputation
If you don’t know where your business’s information is showing up or what people are saying about your business, you’re leaving your business’s online reputation to chance. Not only is it likely that you’re missing out on sales based on outdated information, but you could also be suffering from review neglect. Review neglect happens when a business does not encourage positive customer reviews, and, as a result, nearly all of their online reputation is comprised of negative reviews. In a world where more than 90 percent of customers read online reviews (BrightLocal), this is not only a poor marketing strategy, it’s a poor business practice.
When customers search for your business, they need to know:
- What your business does
- What products you carry
- What services you offer
- How to contact or locate you
- Whether you’re worth their time
Think of your online reputation as the gatekeeper to your business. If a customer finds your business online and sees a 1-star rating, they’re likely to immediately pass you up for your 5-star competition. Combat this by setting up and monitoring your Google My Business (it’s FREE!), and encouraging online reviews from happy customers.
Just like employees, there are good and bad marketing methods. Ensure you’re letting go of the ones that don’t pull their weight. Invest in the ones that exceed expectations and deliver on their promises. But remember, every dealership is different; and what works for some may not work for all. If you consistently make sales that come from Yellow Pages ads, power to you. And although we consider Google AdWords a diamond, even the best diamonds require appraisal. Keep your eye on the strategies that work, and ensure they continue to do so.
Chloe Banholzer serves as marketing coordinator at ARI Network Services. She’s helped thousands of dealers across the country with their digital marketing through her HelpForce webinars, which cover a broad range of topics including search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising, e-mail marketing, and online presence optimization. She’s dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 26,000 dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”