The market for auto dealerships is incredibly competitive. In many areas of Portland, people in the market for a new car can often find another dealership just a few miles down the road from yours. As a result, you must market your dealership in a unique way that can help you grow your market share. With the right advertising approach, you can expand your reach, increase your ability to engage prospective customers, and ensure that you stand out from the other dealerships. With a customized advertising approach, you are increasing your chances of consumers visiting your dealership when it comes time to purchase a car or come in for a service.
Study Your Competition
In order to get a better idea of your market share and how your marketing efforts impact it, study your competition. Take note of what they're doing. How are they marketing their dealership? Who are they marketing to? How are those marketing efforts working for them?
Then, analyze their offers. Consider how they are similar to yours and how they are different. Take particular note of patterns in offers or new offers that they provide in response to current market conditions. For example, as many people struggled with job loss during the pandemic, many auto dealers offered lower-interest deals that lasted for a longer period of time or delayed payments for several months to aid consumers who might need a reliable vehicle, but who lacked a reliable source of income while waiting for businesses to reopen.
You should also consider what your competitors sell the most. Compare those sales to their marketing. What demographic do your competitors speak to? What types of vehicles do they offer? Where do their sales increase most? Use all of the information you gather from analyzing your competition to better target your audience.
Provide Unique Offers
In order to stand out and entice a consumer to choose your dealership over another, you want to offer something that other dealerships aren't. Ideally, you want to provide an offer that will let consumers know you prioritize their needs and their experience with your brand. You might:
- Offer a free oil change for the first six months
- Offer to pick up and drop off the car for service while the consumer stays at home
- Offer a free oil change for a customer review
- Offer a free gas gift card when a customer’s referral purchases a vehicle
- Take care of routine maintenance on the vehicle for the first several months or the first set number of miles
Consider what you can offer your customers, then create a promotion or offer that presents it to them. Highlight the specific benefits to the customer so they have a reason to visit your dealership and feel more inclined to purchase from you knowing that you will take good care of them after the purchase is made.
Set Up A Referral Program
Offer a referral program for your customers to encourage them to refer your dealership to future car buyers. For example, if a customer tells a friend to buy a car from you, and that friend comes in and gives the original customer's name, the previous customer might get a freebie from the business. For example, you could offer a free service or oil change, a gift card, or a discount on the existing customer’s next car purchase.
Consumers trust personal recommendations from those in their close circle. When your existing customers offer those recommendations, it helps raise brand awareness by using someone that the prospective consumers already trust. This, in turn, increases the odds that they will come to check out what your dealership has to offer.
Optimize Your Website
Your website is one of your most important marketing tools. Make sure it's optimized so that you appear in searches for car dealerships in the area, specific cars, or anything that your competition might be searching for. Providing the right content to coincide with your dealership, creating tags for your photos and listings, and paying attention to current car buying trends and needs can all keep you at the top of those search results.
Another best practice is to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile and has a fast loading time. A lot of consumers search from their mobile phones and if they aren’t able to view the content they desire and quickly, they can get frustrated and leave the website. To ensure that you are able to capture their attention, optimize your website for fast loading times and mobile viewing.
Stay Connected with Your Customers
Engage with your target audience on social media consistently. Encourage your audience to engage with your content regularly. Send out emails asking customers how they like their new car or how it performs for them. By sending emails or calling to check in with customers who have just purchased a new vehicle or come in for a major service, you are creating another touchpoint with your customers. Not only will these efforts let you know whether your customers are satisfied with their purchases, but that information will also help you guide future customers through more effective buying decisions.
You can also keep up with your customers via newsletter. Let them know about upcoming sales, deals on services, or items that come in stock that you know remain highly sought-after. Keep customers engaged with your brand so that when they next have a need for a new vehicle, they come to you.
Advertise Consistently & Adjust Accordingly
In order to maintain and increase your market share, you should advertise consistently. Consistent advertising both keeps up momentum and builds brand awareness. People buy cars at many different times. Some of those purchases are planned, while others occur without warning due to mechanical failures, accidents, or a sudden need for a new vehicle based on changing circumstances. Keeping up with your advertising momentum can help keep you in front of those customers and ensure that your dealership remains top-of-mind.
While you want to advertise consistently and remain top-of-mind, your frequency and what platforms you advertise on can adjust based on the market and current promotions. You may, for example, put out more frequent ads around the holidays or as you prepare to offer a sale or promotion.
As an auto dealer, it’s important to remain highly competitive. Consistent advertising, regular market research, and remaining connected to your customers can all help. Working with a media partner can also help you come up with creative ads and promotions that will allow you to increase your market share and improve your connection to your target audience.