Le Etta Pearce, sales and operations director at Manheim Retail Services, believes you cannot rely on traditional marketing tactics alone.
“Dealers are already doing a lot right when it comes to digital marketing, but it is important that they continue to use all of the channels available to them to retail cars more quickly,” she said.
“This can include social media to broadcast special events, keeping the website up-to-date with the newest stock and email marketing.”
She said understanding when customers are most likely to be online – for example, lunchtimes and evenings – can help content be targeted at them when they are most receptive.
Kirk Franks, sales manager at Alphera Financial Services UK, also believes there’s still a place for local marketing tactics.
“I was speaking to a dealer recently who had a customer walk in and ask for a car off the back of an ad in their paper,” he said.
“However, there’s a strong opportunity for motor retailers to take even greater advantage of more sophisticated online channels to generate engagement and enquiries. The combination of website, text messages, social media and so on can prove incredibly fruitful, but it’s important not to forget to maintain traditional marketing alongside it.”
Richard Roberts, MD of Trident Garages, has two Honda franchises in Surrey. He said tactical marketing was all about the internet and mining the dealerships’ databases. “We start by putting together a short email promoting the cars, event and opportunity, then either individually target groups of customers if there are specific models, or more generally push out the note to everyone,” he said. At the same time, a news piece goes on the website, with details of each car added to the clearance section, as well as promotional links on Facebook and Twitter.
“I brief the team, produce in-house clearance brochures with the stock included and lastly, for old times’ sake, we will put up our sale flags and headboards to make it clear when customers arrive on site that something is happening,” said Roberts.
He isn’t the only one to still use old-school eye-catching techniques. Neil Holborn is general manager at Dees Ford Wimbledon, part of the Cambria Automobiles group, and he said he will “very occasionally” use balloons in the showroom. “This is more to amplify an event, so the balloons will reflect the offer with details on them,” he said.
Holborn said in the past many businesses had taken a ‘scatter-gun’ approach to marketing, sending out all types of promotional material in the hope that some of it may make an impact.
“Now with the technology afforded by email, text and social media, we are able to apply a more specific offering to our guests, which avoids the need for these blanket mailings. We find a more tailored offering, with a VIP-style enticement that considers a smaller number of people but with a more personal offer, has a better effect for all parties.”