If there is one universal truth about the world, it's that things are always changing. What used to work 20, 10, or even 5 years ago may no longer be an effective strategy, and could even be hurting your business in this modern retail automotive environment. This is especially true when it comes to your marketing strategy. Utilizing a poorly thought out marketing tactic not only hurts the appearance of your dealership, but can be an expensive hit to your bottom line.
Most dealers continue to utilize the same types of marketing they always have. TV, radio, print, and maybe a few third-party companies thrown in for good measure. Many have jumped on the Facebook train, but are still not taking advantage of social media the way other industries have. This is a HUGE mistake. Possessing a great social presence gives your business a valuable sales tool, a customer service support channel, and a wonderful (read: inexpensive) advertising platform. Even if you are not the most up-to-date on your social posts, or don’t have the staff capacity to take on these channels, there is still a marketing tactic you should explore—employing a brand ambassador.
Brand ambassadors & influencers
Brand ambassadors or social media “influencers” might be a foreign concept to you, and that is okay. Influencers, as the industry calls them, are social media users who are incredibly popular in comparison to other social media users. These people (or brands) generate a lot of attention on the platform and thus are very influential to their peers. It is because of this popularity that businesses have begun to work with influencers to promote products, brand campaigns, and everything in between. You have probably noticed these people on social media or even follow a few yourself.
How can my dealership benefit?
Influencers can help your business in a variety of ways. They can bring a lot of additional exposure of your store to users who may not have heard of you before. Other social media users who see an influencer at your dealership, especially if they have a positive experience, will begin to think of your store as friendly, trustworthy, and best of all, a great place to purchase or service a car.
Here are some great examples of what an influencer could post about your store:
- They could take a picture of their car in your service drive and talk about how great and fast your service department was.
- You could host an exclusive media day for a newly released model coming to your showroom where you invite all the local photographers, news channels, and social media influencers to help promote the car and provide them with some exclusive content to share with their followers.
- If the influencer is an overall car enthusiast, they can post pictures of popular used cars on your lot.
- You could search out a local female who has a large following in your area for fashion or home décor and pay her for a post on a new SUV purchase.
The ideas are endless! This is a huge opportunity for car dealers and a great approach to increasing market share for your dealership. Yes, this is outside-the-box thinking for car dealers. But it’s also a great marketing opportunity that is working across the country.
How do I find an influencer to represent my store?
There are multiple ways to do this, and it will require a bit of legwork on your end. One approach is to simply start searching hashtags yourself and find people who you feel would represent you well. You want to focus on users who are local, to make it easy for them to visit your dealership. Compile a list of their names, the channels they use, and their follower counts. This will help you keep track of top candidates and help you negotiate later.
Next, you might be wondering how to pay a person like this to be an ambassador for your store. There are endless ways to do this, but the most common approach is to pay by the number of followers an influencer has. Be sure to think about what it currently costs you to advertise, and make sure you are prepared with a number you feel comfortable spending. I would highly suggest you also offer them discounts or free services at your dealership instead of just cutting them a check. Every time they are in your store getting service completed, it is another opportunity for the influencer to talk about their experience at your dealership. You may even get a few free posts out of the deal!
Learn more from Andrea and the other NCM moderators, consultants, and instructors through 20 Groups, in-dealership consulting, and automotive management training.