Things are changing so quickly these days, it’s almost impossible for marketers working with used car dealers and sales people to know what to say that will resonate with prospective buyers.
Changes in the pre-owned vehicle marketplace.
Marketing and selling preowned vehicles has been pretty standard and consistent for years and even decades. It was critical to build trust with consumers and communicate a few points of differentiation. This included messaging about things like providing a higher level of service, specializing in a particular type of vehicle or being committed to the local community.
All that’s changed since the pandemic hit. More and more people are considering used cars for new reasons.
- They’re concerned about using public transportation and are looking for an affordable alternative to get around.
- They may be dealing with job uncertainty, need a new ride and can no longer afford a new car, so they’re interested in buying a preowned one for the first time.
- Others have a desire for a new ride, but are worried about spending money during these challenging times.
And pretty much everyone is worried about shopping for a high touch item during a pandemic.
In the current environment, if you say the right things, you make a sale. Say the wrong ones and you turn off potential buyers and lose the chance to close a deal.
Improving your dealership messaging.
So, what can you do to identify messages that resonate and avoid ones that alienate?
You could go the standard route and work with an agency to conduct focus groups, do market testing or set up surveys to learn how people in your target market respond to different messages.
The issue: These methods take time. In most cases, they don’t provide results quickly enough for dealerships to be responsive to marketplace changes in today’s fast-paced times. They are also too costly for many dealers, especially in the current economic climate. On top of these things, the results may not be accurate because they’re generated in artificial environments instead of real world situations.
Introducing a better testing alternative.
A better option is to test new and current marketing and sales messages in social media and through paid search advertising. Both of these provide actual world results quickly and inexpensively. In most cases, you could get a solid read in a few days or weeks for a few hundred dollars or less, depending on how much testing you do. If you set up social campaigns correctly, you may also be able to generate information about how certain messages perform when paired with images. This is important for used car dealers because they depend on pictures to get people excited about making a purchase.
The first place most people look for used car information is online. They also pay attention to content distributed through social media. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are top information sources when it comes to learning about used cars and where to buy them.
In both search and social media, people act in a few seconds or less. They decide quickly whether something is interesting, appealing and worth clicking on. If not, they move on.
When people are put into a situation where they’re forced to act fast, they’re more likely to respond honestly. Compare this with other testing options. In many situations, subjects may be given too much time to think about what the “right” answer is in a survey or what a focus group facilitator wants to hear. This often leads to inaccurate or meaningless results.
The insights you gain from search and social media testing can inform the messaging you use in other early funnel marketing executions. This could include posters, print, email, digital display and web content. You can also use them in developing sales pitches. You may even generate some new leads and buyers through the testing program, making it even more efficient and valuable.
How to test your messages in search and social.
Are you interested in learning how this type of testing works? It’s simple.
Think about all the things you could say about your dealership, the service you provide and the cars you sell. They should be messages that people in your target market could find appealing. Feed them into your search and social campaigns as you set them up. Then you simply let Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms figure it out for you.
They’ll do all the work to determine which messages perform best. They do this based on the logic built into their systems and extensive knowledge about their users. You’ll even gain insights about what performed well within different sub groups. The truth is, the back end systems of these companies are all-powerful. They’ve been developed to get results and provide satisfying user experiences. Why not take advantage of them to learn about your consumer base?
Analyze and leverage your social and search data.
You can do much of the analysis on your own using the data supplied by the platforms. Or you could leverage third party software such as Hubspot. If you want to learn more, you can hire a data pro to help out. Many are available to provide part time or on-demand support through services like Fiverr or Upwork.
Did you know: You may have a lot of data available to you that you’re not taking advantage of? If you’re running campaigns now, or did so in the past, you’ve probably paid attention to what was working and ignored the rest. It could be worth taking a fresh look at all your available metrics. You may find that certain messages that came in second or third overall actually topped the list for certain prospective buyer segments.
What are you waiting for? Isn’t it time for you to start testing new messaging in search and social campaigns? Every day you wait could be costing you business and limiting your potential success in these fast changing times.