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Essential Marketing Principles for Buy-Here-Pay-Here Dealerships, Part I

Visiting car dealership. Cropped image of sales manager giving a key to beautiful client and shaking her hand

The used car industry has done well in recent years – but like all markets, the space is open to disruption. How can you make sure your business will maximize its potential to grow in the face of competition from other dealerships and external challengers?

Given the current state of the market, it’s clear that buy-here-pay-here dealerships have significant opportunity to distinguish themselves by focusing their efforts on a handful of key tactics. Chief among them, your marketing will set you apart. Whether it’s done right or wrong, few things a dealership does can have more impact on the public perception of that business than its marketing.

In order to position your buy-here-pay-here dealership to thrive, you will need to immediately begin taking steps to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing. There are 4 essential car dealer marketing principles that your buy-here-pay-here dealership can follow to do just that, and in part one of our conversation, today we’ll be discussing the first two.

#1 – Understand Buy-Here-Pay-Here Car Buyers

The number one most important principle in marketing – whether you’re a car dealer or otherwise – is to know your customer. Without knowledge of who your customer is or what they care about, your message is doomed to fall on deaf ears – that is, if you can successfully deliver it to your audience at all.

So what are the important attributes of the Buy-Here-Pay-Here (BHPH) audience specifically?

  1. They skew female: 58% of BHPH buyers are female. By contrast, the traditional car-buying demographic tends to be about 50% female.
  2. They tend to be younger: On average, BHPH buyers are 39 years old. By contrast, traditional buyers are 47 years old on average.
  3. They make less money: BHPH buyers average less than $50,000 in annual household income. By contrast, traditional buyers average more than $50,000.
  4. They’re less likely to be part of a traditional family unit: BHPH buyers are less likely to be married (whether divorced or never married). 44% of BHPH buyers are married, versus 60% traditional car-buyers.
  5. They have poor credit: This one’s obvious. Generally speaking, if someone is buying from a BHPH, it’s because their credit isn’t stellar. Simple as that.

#2 – Focus Your Car Dealer Marketing on Approval

Once you understand your audience, the next step is to craft a car dealer marketing message that will motivate buyers to visit your dealership.

Stating the obvious, but given what we know about BHPH car buyers, their number one concern is going to be around getting approved for a purchase. In fact, 59% of BHPH shoppers determine dealership financing as the first step in the car-buying process, with only 36% of traditional buyers doing the same.  Towards that end, don’t offer approval. Ensure approval.
Remember, to your customers, approval isn’t what they want, it’s the annoyance that they have to deal with, the fear that hangs over them. What they want, is a car. What you’re selling is a unique solution, a car and financing all in one.

As such, your dealership should focus on guaranteed approval as its number one marketing message.

So how exactly do you go about doing this?

  1. Make sure your homepage features this message in an area that all website visitors will see. Make sure the message is delivered in simple, clear, and easy-to-understand copy. We’d recommend doing this on the hero section of your homepage.
  2. Make sure your website is structured to easily allow shoppers to find the cars they can afford and be approved for. Keep your navigation simple, and be sure to segment your inventory according to price and special offers. Remember, you’re offering approval but your customers are shopping for cars.
  3. Include shopping tools that make it easy for shoppers to find a car that has what they want and they can afford. We highly recommend Google-style free-text search bars to accomplish this.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our series tomorrow, where we’ll discuss the final two keys to marketing success for your buy-here-pay-here dealership, and to find out how our customer centric websites can put you on a level playing field with the titans in your industry, request a demo and make sure to come visit us at the NIADA Convention & Expo, Booth #1220 in Las Vegas, June 12-15th.

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