When it comes to advertising, it can be hard to consistently come up with something that is both fresh and compelling, so you see a lot of the same thing from dealership to dealership. But when sales are sluggish, it becomes a bit more difficult to go with the same old campaigns and procedures. That’s why we’ve put together a list of car dealership advertising ideas that will break you out of the same-olds and drive up your sales just when you need it.
One of the best ways you can advertise your business is to partner up with a non-competing business that is closely connected to the people you want to reach. Having another company promote your dealership to their customers is a simple way to reach an audience via a company they are already doing business with. What is the benefit of their already doing business with this other company? Well, it means they probably trust that business, they are most likely good customers, and they have been somewhat pre-qualified by their interaction with your partner business. We all know that word of mouth is extremely powerful, but also impossible to force and hard to encourage. Partnering with another business can help you cultivate, if not totally informal word of mouth, then at least something that is equally useful. A minor caveat to this car dealership advertising idea: This strategy, if implemented, should be carefully measured to make sure that your dealership is getting a reasonable amount of business for what you provide to the partner business.
Shoppers expect certain things from dealerships, and not everything they expect is good. Whether we like it or not, dealerships have a few negative stereotypes that are hard to shake. Dishonest prices, pushy salespeople, high-pressure decisions, etc. Now, we’re sorry for bringing up those hurtful stereotypes, but there is a reason. Almost all dealerships suffer from these shameful stereotypes, regardless of the truth. That is the nature of stereotypes. The solution? Advertise yourself as a dealership that defies those stereotypes. Promote your dealership as honest, straightforward, and low-pressure. The minor catch? If you pick this car dealership advertising idea, you have to make sure that your dealership isn’t accidentally fitting a stereotype. With that taken care of, you can launch your new advertising campaign and watch the relieved and excited shoppers roll in.
We’ve already remarked on the power of word of mouth, so we won’t waste any time getting to our point. Customer testimonials are a major source of credibility, and they aren’t hard to get. All you have to do is ask. A happy customer is a resource in and of themselves, and getting their comments on the buying process can be done in a couple of different ways. You can ask the customer to fill out a CSI survey or to write a review online at the end of the sales process. Before they leave the lot, you can ask for their impressions of the dealership, salespeople, website, etc. You can also add QR codes to parts and service department counters that mobile customers can scan to leave a review. Training staff to mention to customers that they take great pride in their work and would appreciate any feedback can encourage these happy testimonials. Dealers can also ask for these opinions in a follow-up call, during which you can inquire if everything remains satisfactory, and inform the happy customer of your referral program and the benefits they can reap. Once you have these testimonials, you can post them on social media, your website, or use them in your dealership marketing materials. Customers love to buy from establishments with positive reviews, so positive CSI scores, testimonials, and reviews are a great way to encourage car shoppers to choose your dealership over your competitors’.
Dealers aren’t great at social media. At least, the majority could certainly use some help. There is a tendency towards tackiness and spamming that turns off social-media goers. The vast majority of shoppers who pay attention to dealership social media don’t want to see every car the dealer has available 10 times a day with links to their dealership website. Nor do they want information about an upcoming sale thrown into their newsfeed every 15 posts. On the other hand, social media that is too social can be awkward too. People don’t follow a dealership to get posts like: “DID ANYONE ELSE SEE THE COWBOYS GAME THIS WEEKEND?!” We’re not saying you have to keep your social media posts strictly formal, but at least keep it dealership related (and not in all-caps). Posting about things other than sales isn’t a bad idea, but try to combine it with some community engagement. Example: “Congrats to the Smalltown Stringrays Baseball Team in their match against neighboring Littleville! Post-game champagne courtesy of Smalltown Motors!” Posts like this offer more than the typical sad attempts at conversation with an uninterested audience. Funny yet tactful videos can also gain the attention of social media shoppers. A good post shows the strength of the dealer-community connection while still posting about something other than your new cars.
The classic idea is to host a free car wash and get people to bring their cars in, at which point you can offer a trade-in. This is a great idea. Community engagement, help, and the opportunity to bring in sales at the same time. Unfortunately, it is also October, and October is not an ideal car-wash month. But there are other ways to bring cars to your lot. Try free winter-weather inspections, post disaster safety checks, charity drives such as drive-thru Christmas carols, drive-thru cookies and hot chocolate, and sponsorship of community events such as a free concert in the parking lot. Bringing people to your dealership with a no-stakes invitation means you are bringing dozens of potential trade-in sales to your lot. A heads up with this idea: If you are going to pitch trade-ins to people you have lured to your dealership, the pitch needs to be as no-pressure as possible.
So there you have it. These are some of the best car dealership advertising ideas we can recommend to you. As much as we all wish everything to do with advertising was like Mad Men (big, awesome ideas followed by alcohol), we, and dealers, know that on the ground those big, awesome ideas are followed by hard work, not necessarily hard alcohol. But thankfully we’re in the car business, and we know that big, awesome ideas + hard work = lots of profit.