Auto dealers are seeing record profits from car sales and service this year. Despite vehicle inventory challenges due to the semiconductor chip shortage, dealers should be riding out this perfect storm of profitability by doubling down on brand equity, according to Bob Lanham, the head of automotive retail at Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Lanham joined Digital Air Strike recently for a Facebook Live event.
“Spend money when you have it, so when you do have more inventory, your dealership should be top of mind,” Lanham said. “That’s called brand equity, which equals market share. There is no better time to fix your roof than when the sun is out. Don’t wait until it’s raining.”
There’s also no better time than now to learn Facebook advertising for dealers, marketing, and media options and understand their impact on your store. What you do today affects tomorrow. Now is the time to double your visibility, he said.
“The car is no longer the star. The customer experience is now the star,” Lanham said. “Pay attention to the customer experience. Figure out your brand, your value proposition, and make sure your reputation is the strongest it can be online and offline.”
Combining survey and review technology with online reputation management will help dealers look better online and conquer their competition. Digital Air Strike helps dealers get nine times more positive reviews through its online reputation management technology and solutions.
Stores should concentrate on their Facebook advertising and social media marketing presence to expand their brand equity. Lanham suggests talking more about the stellar customer experience at your store, the various nonprofit and community work your dealership is involved with, and any discounts you provide for groups like first responders and veterans.
“Dealers have been pillars in their communities, especially with a family name on the dealer building,” he said. “I think Covid has truly brought back community and played a bigger role. Look at your business holistically. It’s a new way of looking at things.”
Brand advertising is more important than advertising a vehicle right now, Lanham said.
“We have seen some businesses get 94% more conversions by doing brand advertising,” he said. “Tell your customers why they should click. Build trust. Go after the experience first. Don’t worry about the car.”
The best avenue for your dealership is to work with a partner like Digital Air Strike who manages social media marketing for thousands of dealerships. It’s also essential to have someone in your store knowledgeable about social media marketing and your brand to work with that trusted and experienced partner.
Want to find more money for social media marketing and other digital marketing strategies for your dealership, without spending more money? Take a close look at your vendors to determine if you’re doubling up on the same services or getting the results and ROI you expect. Digital Air Strike’s free Cost Savings Analysis is a great place to start. We’ll serve as an independent consultant, review your vendors, and find places where you can save money.
One significant change to Facebook is the company has discontinued the distribution of automated inventory category listings on Facebook Marketplace. This means that dealers will no longer be able to bulk-upload their used inventory to Facebook Marketplace. This change took effect on Sept. 13, 2021. Dealers now can only list their vehicles manually by using Facebook’s listing tool, Lanham said. Depending on the number of cars you have on your lot, this can be a tedious process.
Digital Air Strike has teamed with Google to allow dealers to highlight their inventory to active car shoppers on their Google My Business profile. People searching for a dealer by name will be able to see vehicle availability, pricing, and critical information about the available new and used cars for sale directly on Google.
Dealers can also showcase their inventory on YouTube, the second largest search engine, to drive interest to available vehicles. With Digital Air Strike’s technology, every car in a dealer’s inventory will have a video automatically created and posted on the dealer’s YouTube channel. The inventory make, model, year, description, and hashtags are optimized for search results across YouTube, Google, and the Web.
“Dealers need to really learn media and consumer behavior,” Lanham said. “You need to know what you’re spending on advertising and marketing and make sure the customer experience is top of mind.”
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