As a dealership, your goal is pretty simple: to sell more cars. Your staff is divided into teams and departments, each playing a role in order to accomplish this goal. The marketing team attracts people to your dealership, the BDC guides them down the funnel, the sales team meets with them to close the sale, and the F&I department works out all of the details. While the structure and process might differ from dealership to dealership, the objective is the same: use all of your resources to sell your inventory.
With this lofty goal in mind, it can be difficult for a marketing team to decide what is the most worthwhile use of their limited time and resources. Between radio, television, and print ads; social media; PPC advertising; content marketing; lead gen campaigns and tools; and more, dealership marketing has become a lot more vast and potentially overwhelming than ever before. Whenever considering a marketing tactic, the question the members of the team ask themselves (or, perhaps, get asked by their GM) is: how is this selling more cars?
While some marketing activities might more directly lead to a sale, others have different outcomes. Maintaining a blog on your dealership website does not necessarily drive a customer straight to your store like a print ad about a new offer would, but it is monumentally important nonetheless.
The Value of Content Marketing
First, SEO. We don’t need to tell you that in today’s day and age, being found is half the battle. Dealerships find themselves at the mercy of Google’s algorithm, and hope to appear towards the top of search results. To do so, their websites need to be filled with helpful content. Blog posts, videos, podcasts, and more can do just that. Your site becomes visible to the right people. Your customers will find you, and begin interacting with your dealership.
Beyond getting found, your dealership also gains credibility and trust. If a car shopper reads a blog post on your site about keeping their car safe in a big storm, or one that compares two similar models that they’re interested in, they begin to view you as their local car expert. The trust they gain can then translate into a call to your dealership, which, down the line, might end in a sale.
That’s the important thing to remember when thinking about a dealership blog: the point isn’t to sell a car right now from your content. You want to give people free resources now, so that they will pay you for them later, in the form of a new vehicle. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint: position yourselves as the people who inform instead of sell. Give people the opportunity to find you, instead of seeking them out. You’re helping them, in their own time, instead of forcing a possibly poorly timed or irrelevant ad into their living room.
With all of this in mind, there are certain characteristics that every blog post, podcast, or other piece of content should have. We like to call them the 4 U’s:
Your dealership has a niche: there are things that distinguish you from the rest of the dealership world in the minds of your audience. Tap into these things every time you create a piece of content. Maybe you have a salesman who is particularly well-versed in a new technology– conduct an interview with him or her about it. Other pieces of content can be tailored to your audience and their community. By publishing things that relate to your neighborhood, you demonstrate your expertise not only in cars but also in your customers and their lives. Try to create a lasting impression on shoppers by being their go-to source of everything auto-related.
It’s easy to be tempted to publish content just for the sake of having an active blog. There is no content writer in the world who hasn’t felt this way. A blog that doesn’t actually add value to a shopper’s life is unlikely to entice them, though. At least every other piece of content that you publish should contain advice and tips, that tell a reader or viewer something they didn’t know before, but are interested in. Try to make content as helpful as possible. After all, people will come back and reach out if they feel like they’re getting something out of their “relationship” with your dealership. The relationship may be built off of reading content, but it can be the start of something much bigger.
The process of writing or creating a piece of content should always start in the same way: ask yourself, who is my audience and what are their problems? How can we help them solve these problems? Not only will the actually content of the piece be highly-tailored to your shoppers’ needs and interests, your tone will also be understanding and sympathetic. Think about what they need help with or are missing, and try to address it. Put yourself in their shoes to truly grasp their pain point, even if that is something as simple as not knowing about snow tires, and speak to them in their language.
You’re a car dealership– stick with the content that you know and are comfortable with. While content about local news and happenings do help your customers relate to you, it also might come across as strange if you almost exclusively post about topics completely unrelated to auto. You don’t want to confuse customers– they expect to get certain news and information from you, and might be turned off by too much off-topic content. Before creating a piece of content, ask yourself: is this piece going to instill trust, and draw people to my dealership?
Your content might not directly sell cars, but it does build relationships. It allows shoppers to gain a level of trust with your dealership and staff. As we know, customers are spending even more time online before visiting just 1-2 dealerships. If, during this research stage, your dealership becomes a source of information for them, it might also be chosen as the dealership the shopper decides to visit. The buying process is just that: a process. Position your dealership for success by optimizing every stage of that process, beginning with your content.