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Auto Dealership Marketing: A BDC Manager’s Guide to Sales During COVID-19

auto dealership marketing

The pandemic has changed the auto industry as we know it. That means it’s time for a new approach to auto dealership marketing to generate more sales.

When COVID-19 first hit, it took most businesses a few months to figure out how to stay successful during nationwide shut-downs and economic upheaval. As the summer wore on and we learned more, the world stabilized a little, which helped some struggling businesses get back on track, but it wasn’t enough. Shifting a business model to increase sales is one thing. However, without refining auto dealership marketing strategies, you likely still aren’t selling as much as you could otherwise.

Historically, car-buying was almost exclusively an in-person experience. When COVID-19 hit, one of the only ways for car sellers to succeed was to embrace digital sales. Doing so, however, also requires a digital-first approach to auto dealership marketing.

Fortunately, it’s not too late to shift, nor is it too late to adjust your approach if you’ve already shifted. Here are some tips on fully leveraging your auto dealership marketing and churning out the sales you and your team are capable of.

5 Ways your auto dealership marketing can use technology to pave a new road to more sales

1. Enhance social media presence

We’ve known for years that social media marketing is a significant player in connecting brands with their customers. In a pandemic world, however, social media advertising and outreach are even more critical. Why? Because in an industry like auto sales, social media is one of the closest things you can get to in-person interactions. It’s not a perfect replacement, for sure. Still, social channels have proven a reasonable substitute while the traditional way of doing things is on hold, especially in auto dealership marketing.

Using popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram allows you to connect and interact with customers without anyone needing to meet face-to-face. You can showcase your inventory and answer questions, not to mention that getting involved in people’s social feeds can give you a lot of information about your audiences. If this sounds suspect to you, consider this: 82% of dealers expect to rely heavily on these social platforms at least for the remainder of 2020, if not beyond. (By contrast, only 33% expect to use traditional broadcast advertising.)

2. Selling more than cars

While not explicitly related to digital, it’s more important now than ever to remember that you’re not just selling cars. You’re selling an experience. You’re selling safety. When you look at your auto dealership marketing strategy, does it involve promoting the safety measures your business is taking? It should. After all, people will readily understand that you sell cars if they don’t know you already. What people want today are assurances—or the best we can give—that they’ll be as safe as possible when they engage with you. Advertise what you’re doing to keep your cars clean. Tell people about all the contactless services you offer. Elaborate on how you’re keeping your own employees safe. The safer someone feels, the more likely they’ll become a customer at some point. (Also worth noting: If you’re a BDC manager, more than cars, your selling meetings with sales managers. Get that foot in the door, and you’ve surmounted the most challenging obstacle already.)

3. Leverage technology and data

One of the first elements of digital auto dealership marketing that wowed businesses was the ability to track and analyze data. With a platform like AutoRaptor, you can measure how successful your campaigns are, what’s working and what isn’t, and then shift your strategy depending on the results. Maybe Instagram isn’t the best platform for your dealership? Or perhaps some content worked better in one place than it did in another? Accurate data can tell many useful stories for selling during the pandemic. However, you’ll still need to do the heavy lifting of running reports and understanding the narratives that the data show.

4. Expand your markets

One of the benefits of the forced-digital approach to car sales is that there’s less incentive to focus only on your local market. Create an auto dealership marketing plan that stretches beyond the geographic boundaries of the in-person world. As long as you can get the vehicle to the buyer, there’s no geographic limit to your reach, which significantly expands your potential customer base.

5. Follow-up is not optional

Finally, boost your follow-up efforts, even if they were pretty good before. Use email and text technology to connect and interact with customers. Now more than ever, you want customers to remember you—you want to be the first dealer to come to mind when they have a need. When you implement your new bulletproof auto dealership marketing strategy, getting the word out can only do so much; interaction is ultimately what will lead to a sale.

Your auto dealership marketing is in new territory, but that means everyone is on the same page. When you start taking advantage of technology, you have a chance to be the most-preferred dealer around.

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Ty W.
Ty W.

Ty was born and raised in the automotive world. He's an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content about cars, automotive sales, and dealership best practices. When not writing for AutoRaptor, you'll find Ty on the golf course.