MarketingBest Practices

Marketing
marketing strategies
How to Set Up Google My Business (GMB) Nested Department Listings for Car Dealerships

By

Leveraging the power of Google My Business can place your store before the right customers, increase your sales potential and grow your dealership revenues. Most dealerships structures are broken down into departments, and it might be beneficial to increase the visibility of the service, parts, etc. departments of the dealership. That is where Google My Business Departmental listing can help in nesting them. To create nested departments for your dealership, you first need an optimized main Google My Business profile page for your parent store. Before we dig deeper, let’s first have an overview of Google My Business for those that are not familiar. Google My Business Overview: What is it and what are its benefits? It’s a Google service, which allows dealerships and other businesses to manage their online presence.   With My Business, you can: Manage your dealership contact information on Google Maps. Get directions to your store and share it with others. Share updates about your business and connect with customers via social media. See insights such as when you receive calls and when the store is busy.  Before you set up nested departments for your business, you should ensure you have optimized the appearance of your main Google My Business profile page for your business. Besides the obvious of having name and address correctly completed, here are some tips:  1. Complete the description field of your profile The description field is often overlooked but it is where you can describe your store offerings and what makes you different. This is also an area that you can use to highlight the brands that you sell. 2. Upload photos of your dealership’s exterior and interior in the "Photos" section of profile Posting photos of the store in the Places section will help prospective customers to see what the store looks like prior to visiting. It helps them feel more comfortable when they arrive. Customers like images of people smiling and dealership personnel. It humanizes the store and also puts customers more at ease prior to their visit. However, be aware that Google users can also upload images to the page, so you need to closely monitor the page.  If the store fails to add photos, Google places a Google Maps image that is not very attractive. Adding photos also help customers see how popular your dealership is by viewing the number of reviews and photos other users have uploaded. 3. Add a Virtual Tour if you have one. Upload a 3D virtual tour of your dealership to showcase vehicles and the customer experience 3D virtual tours are becoming more and more popular with dealers and are a great way to showcase your business, employees, products, and services in an innovative way. 4. Ensure all contact information is correct and up-to-date, including phone number  Google has now become the phone book of the world. It is critical that the phone number you use for the store is local and that it is the same phone number listed throughout the main other online directories. Do not use different phone numbers for Bing, Facebook or other sites for tracking purposes as it will reduce the Google rank for the store. If you want to check how your listings look across the website I suggest the use of Moz.com or BrightLocal citation checkers.  Once you have the Google My Business listing up to date here is how to create the nested departmental listings: Step 1: Create a new Google My Business listing and assign it a different number and category other than that of your dealership. For instance, “Mercedes-Benz Beaverton Parts Center”. It will require you to verify the listing which can take some time if you have to complete it by mail. If you already have department listings you can skip this step.  Step 2: Once verified, as a Google User, search in Google Maps for the newly created Google My Business page created in step 1 above and click “Suggest and Edit”. This cannot currently be done by the GMB Owner of the dealership page. It must be done in Google Maps as a Google User. Step 3: Select or choose “Change name or other details”, once on the change page, navigate to “Located within” and type in the name of your primary business where you would like to nest the department. Step 5: Your department page should now display on the primary dealership’s GMB page as “Located In”. Although your department page displays “Located In” Google will take a few days to review your submission then it will be live on Google under the main business Google My Business page profile. So, be patient. That’s how simple it is to create Google My Business department listings for your dealership. Feel free to reach out to me if you get stuck and need a hand. 
cookieless future
Combat Your Cookieless Future by Creating Your Own First-Party

By

You’ve seen it and have read the headlines circulating your feeds and emails. The topic about a cookieless future. And while yes this can be jarring and you may be wondering, where do I go from here, it’s important to understand a few things. There currently are 7 types of cookies that are trackable on your website, depending on your website’s makeup and functionality. Out of those 7, your first-party cookies and third-party cookies are going to be the most beneficial to you as a marketer. However, Google announced at the beginning of this year that third-party cookies would be going away. This diminishes your ability to have your products shown to consumers across different websites and platforms after they leave yours. Without looking at this change as a huge negative impact on your marketing efforts, the time has come to rethink and reengage. Rethink What does your consumer mean to you? This should be displayed in your marketing to them. Not all your shoppers are low funnel shoppers, therefore not all your consumers should see the same type of campaign. Facebook Advertising has a unique approach in which you can create more of an intent to “shop” with you. Because remember, the folks seeing your ads across Facebook and Instagram can be those who don’t know who you are, have already begun their shoppers’ journey with you, and/or have already converted. You need to be precise in the messages you’re sending to the proper audiences so that you can reengage. Reengage Within the Facebook business suite, you can create audiences out of those who are engaging with your name. You have a pixel code unique to your business manager that when implemented properly on your website can track events or actions that shoppers are taking on your website. These shoppers would be considered more into the low funnel category with the way they’re engaging with you. Within the audience building in Facebook, you can create new shoppers to take more in-depth actionable steps on your website. What I’m saying is, is that yes you indeed can create your own first-party within Facebook Business Manager.  My Top 3 Audience Builders in Facebook Business Manager 1. Lead Form Audiences Lead Forms and I have had a back-and-forth relationship on Facebook. There have been times where I’ve found that the leads generating through these campaigns were not of the most quality. Where I got the best quality leads was from creating campaigns that were geared toward more high funnel shoppers, that created an intent to do business with the dealership. Lead Forms on Facebook should not just be used for sales. You have a unique opportunity to create campaigns and use the lead form for contests, new subscribers, and shoppers that would be interested in new model releases to re-engage audiences. Once you start operating in this way and run a campaign you then can create audiences out of people who’ve engaged with your lead form. As you can see in the image, you have three options of audiences.  2. Facebook Engagement A fully optimized and active Facebook page can lead to a world of audience creation. You should start to see your businesses’ Facebook page as a micro-website and a hub of information about you. Just as Google My Business is your #1 source of free organic traffic, your business's Facebook page can serve the same purpose. Are your hours of operation up to date? Is your recent post most relevant to who you are as a company? Do you have inventory listed in the proper section on the page? And of course, please check that your CTA is UTM tagged so you can track who’s coming from your Facebook page. All these steps will help you attract shoppers to your Facebook page, and in return, you can create audiences.  3. Video Views A Video Marketing strategy is so important to the success of your brand. Video is engaging, it’s fun, and you can display a good amount of information and your creative side all in a matter of 15 seconds. Your goal with any video you’re creating and displaying is to catch the consumers' attention within the first 3 seconds so that they stop scrolling and watch/engage with your video. Facebook audience builder gives you a lot of options with how to create audiences out of those who’ve watched your video, and in return, you can create audiences to either reengage or serve up the proper campaign as to where this audience is in their buyer’s journey.  There are more audiences that can be created within Facebook Business Manager, and I suggest you go in and peek at all your options. Your goal? To create a bank within Facebook of all your own first-party data to combat a cookieless future. 
auto inventory in lot
Dealership Inventory Crisis: Marketing Lessons From the COVID-19 Crisis

By

It’s obvious that fluctuations in inventory are going to dominate the automotive narrative for the rest of 2021. And while it seems like we’ve just overcome the challenges that COVID-19 brought to the automotive industry, we’re slapped in the face with another big one: the infamous inventory shortage. So let’s not forget some of the lessons we learned as an industry when it comes to marketing during a crisis so that your dealership can stay resilient during this crisis as well.  Stay flexible  When COVID-19 first hit and the government shutdown orders went into effect, it took time for most dealerships to update their marketing messaging across all channels. For some dealerships, “Come on in for a test drive” was still their main message on their websites and in their ads, making it completely irrelevant to shoppers at the time.  Dealerships that had the infrastructure to be flexible and dynamic in their marketing strategy during the pandemic were not only able to turn around their messaging quickly, but they were successful in seeing results - even during a crisis - since they didn’t rigidly define things like messaging and budget. Dealerships that pre-allocated budget to Facebook and to Google were less resilient during COVID-19 because it took them longer to realize the shift in consumer behavior from search to social while at home. Dealers that had automated marketing budgets-- fluid budgets that self-allocate based on where the best opportunities are in real-time - were seeing much better results since the learning curve was faster and more efficient.  When we think about this as it applies to the inventory shortage, it’s important to understand that the market is unpredictable, but one thing is certain: dealerships need to be where their shoppers are in order to not miss an opportunity. Even during this tumultuous time, shoppers are still looking for their next car, and most likely at a higher gross, so make sure your marketing strategy is flexible to change in real-time and react fast. As soon as inventory turns, or comes in, your dealership’s marketing strategy should be ready to go and in sync with your dealership’s goals.   Reassess marketing (don’t pause)  While our gut instinct may be to pause marketing spend during any crisis, we learned during COVID that there are long-term risks to this . Firstly, you want to keep your brand awareness high. Even during tough times, people need to service their cars and renew their leases, so making sure those shoppers choose your store over a competitor is crucial. Dealers should be focused on gaining and retaining customers for life; cutting all marketing spend will restrict your dealership from doing this successfully.  That being said, difficult times present an opportunity to really assess ROI and productivity. So while pausing may put your dealership at a disadvantage, this is the perfect time to do a deep dive on your data and make sure your marketing ROI is high, so that you can still be the dealership of choice for shoppers during any crisis.  Do whatever it takes to bring shoppers to your dealership  During COVID-19, dealerships scrambled to implement a digital retail solution in order to stay relevant for their customers. Even if most consumers weren’t actually transacting 100% online, the software gave shoppers the opportunity to cut time in store and start the process online. This was a way for dealers to attract customers and stay relevant during the pandemic.  Similarly now, dealerships still need to do whatever it takes to get shoppers into their doors. So even with low inventory levels, dealerships should consider advertising inventory that’s on backorder and not yet in stock. This helps your dealership gain customers for life before they go to competitors. Focusing on trade-in acquisition campaigns or investing in a strategy to move more stuck/aged vehicles can also help your dealership market to customers while aligning with business goals to get more inventory and sell lot rot at the highest potential gross.  Do whatever it takes to bring people to your dealership during this time, no matter what the crisis. And usually, this involves a pretty efficient marketing strategy. 
puzzle pieces
3 Pieces of Content Your Car Dealership Needs Today

By

Let me ask you this: What content is your dealership creating every day? More often than not when I ask that question I get pulled into conversations about which social media platform is best, which distribution method dealerships should be using to spread the word about themselves, or even whether video, photos, or written content does a better job stopping the scroll. What happens much less often is that I get to have a conversation about the message. What’s the story they want to tell? Facebook & TikTok. Email & YouTube. Radio & TV. Blog posts & matchbook covers.  Nothing wrong with any of them. Use ‘em all, but they’re all just tools to get your message on the inside of your customers’ heads. How the message gets there isn’t anywhere near as important as what that message is. The message is what matters. If you want to create better, more engaging, conversation-starting content, you have to tell a better story. Telling a better story starts with deciding what story you want to tell, then creating more content that spreads that message regardless of format or delivery platform.  A great story can be told in many ways, in many formats, on many platforms. A great story transcends. Community The greatest stories that your dealership can tell,  The stories that will resonate best with your target market , The stories that will bring you the most likes, clicks, shares, smiley face emojis, actual real live conversations with real live people, and yes, more sales, In those stories, you’re not the hero; you’re the sidekick. You’re not Batman; you’re Robin. Look for opportunities to create content that shines a light on other people in your community. “Look for your people, and lift them up,” says business strategist Sherman Mohr. For years, I’ve been encouraging salespeople and managers to attend Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie training to improve their communication skills. In How To Win Friends and Influence People, Carnegie says we can make it easy for other people to like us when we go out of our way to make them feel important. Create more content that does that! Full profiles of your employees , not just the sales department. Spotlights about your customers’ businesses.   Features about local sports teams from sandlot baseball to the major leagues.  Active participation in community events. The next time someone comes in asking you to donate $500 to some local charitable, civic, or sports organization, don’t just write the check. Show up and help. Use your dealership’s digital footprint to help them spread the word. Get your team out in the community belly-to-belly with the people and then Tell That Story. Use Video and pictures to put more faces on Facebook.  Write a blog post for your website to boost your SEO.  Share it on your Google My Business page.   In his book Marketing Revolution , Mark Schaeffer says that in today’s media-saturated market with today’s media-savvy consumers, the businesses that present the most human messages and stories will be the businesses that thrive. Be more human. Commerce Rule #1 is “It Ain’t About You!” It’s about them, and specifically, it’s about how you can help them. The single greatest thing about the car business is that almost every single human being you’ve ever met has, wants, or needs a car. They’ve got 99 problems and their car is definitely one! Create content that tells the story of how you can help solve their car problems. The best way to do that is to show how you’ve solved other people’s car problems. Post Videos of happy customers saying how you went out of your way to find them the perfect car. Post photographs from the service department showing your new Express and after-hours lanes. And get more written reviews from customers, sales customers, service customers, stopped-by-on-my-way-home-to-get-a-free-ice-cream-cone customers. Customer reviews are the gold medal, brass ring, heavyweight champion of the content marketing world. You can tell your story all day long, but when your customers start singing the same song that’s when a story becomes a brand. Ask And You Get; Don’t and You Won’t. It’s the first thing they tell you in Sales 101; you have to ask for the order. Your dealership is in business to generate business. Create revenue. Nothing says commitment like money changing hands. If you’re not even asking for the money, less of it is going to change hands. In the official social media official playbook Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook! , Gary Vaynerchuk likens your social media calendar is like a prizefight with friendly, entertaining, community based or other ostensibly non-commercial content serving as the left jabs that lower defenses and leave an opening for the knock out punch. Asking for the order. Making it easy for them to take action. Making them an offer they can’t refuse. Promising them a car buying experience they’ll never forget. Everybody loves a deal. Create more content that gives them a deal. Then look them dead in the eye and ask for the order - call, click or come on down.
Four Ways to Create a Fire Hose of Branded Content

By

I've been working with tech companies in automotive public relations for more than two decades and in that time have watched communication styles change from the importance of your website to the importance of your blog, to now, the importance of social media.  While traditional articles and speaking applications will always carry an air of credibility, some exciting new messaging opportunities are currently in the mix and, if carried out correctly, can bring a lot of visibility to your brand.  Below I detail four ways you can use new communication methods to take a fire hose approach to your brand content:  Podcasts  I am a huge believer in podcasts, both as a guest on dozens and as a creator of one myself. I began my podcast, Carearing, a little over a year ago now and have seen it explode in engagement. When I began, I was looking at it as a way to connect with other working women who loved their careers. But it has done so much more. It's allowed me to champion female leadership, hold women up to be celebrated, and has led to some pretty spectacular guest spots, articles, and speaking engagements for me around female leaders in automotive.  Making it work for you:  You don't have to create a podcast to get this right. Just look for podcast hosts who already have shows focused on your expertise. Follow hashtags for #podcast on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, look into Mastermind groups focused on your expertise area, or there are even podcast booking services now that match guests with hosts.   Clubhouse  Clubhouse jumped on the scene late last year and in my opinion had one of the best roll-outs ever. You had to be invited to join and in early January of this year, an invite to Clubhouse was like a ticket to the cool kid's lunch table. While the hype on this has died down considerably, it is still solid gold when it comes to creating interest around hot topics.   Making it work for you:  While you can create a room, in my experience, the best way to currently use this channel is to guest spot in already established rooms. And while the overall PR benefits of Clubhouse remain to be seen, the opportunity to put the rooms you are a guest in on LinkedIn drives huge engagement on that platform. The best way to get invited as a contributor is to attend some rooms that seem interesting and when you're ready, raise your hand and contribute to the main stage. (Just a note, at the time of this writing, Clubhouse is open to users of Apple products only.) Influencer Threads  Influencer threads are an easy way to widen your influence and strengthen relationships. Jump on any of your favorite platforms, mine is LinkedIn, and find people you admire who are raising interesting questions, addressing topics you relate to, and generally posting things you care about and begin to engage with them. A note here, you need to truly want to add value to the discussion. Influencers can smell false engagement a mile away.  Making it work for you:  Curate a list of people you admire on the major social media threads, follow their content, and begin to reply. DO NOT post information about your product or service. People want to interact with people, not be sold something. If you take the time to establish relationships with these influencers and regularly engage on their posts, they will be willing to find out more about you and your company on their own.  LinkedIn  Here's where the rubber meets the road. Take all of the above content, guest spots, Clubhouse rooms and internet discussions and post, post, post it on LinkedIn or Facebook. Social media feeds are today's form of traditional publications and just like a press release, you should be using them to distribute information about your brand.  Making it work for you : Were you a guest in a Clubhouse room? Promote it on LinkedIn. Have a guest podcast clip to share? LinkedIn. Invited to speak at a conference? Post and tag that puppy. LinkedIn and other social media platforms are the conveyer belt for all of the content you are creating – use them accordingly! Today public relations is all about creating and distributing content across channels where it will have the best chance of engaging an audience. By following the four methods above, you'll create a groundswell of content that can be used in multiple ways to increase your brand value online. You've got this! 
Dealerships, do you even CPO? A Simple & Beneficial Approach

By

One of my favorite calls receive are from former customers or friends who know I am in the car business. They call asking me how they should buy their next vehicle. I no longer work at the dealership, but it is so much fun for me to help my family, friends, and former customers to purchase a vehicle as an independent third-party voice.   Recently, a friend of mind that was looking for a new truck called and asked if I could help. As we talked about some of the features he wanted, I started thinking that taking advantage of a manufacture or dealer certified pre-owned vehicle might be a great way for him to buy his next truck. The certified pre-owned programs that he could take advantage of would allow him to get a better interest rate, more vehicle warranty, and an overall lower payment than buying a new truck.   After discussing his options, I started researching the best truck to meet his needs. However, I was 400 miles away and could not physically be there in person. Therefore, all of the leg work had to be done on the computer. This created a major hurdle for us finding a certified pre-owned vehicle that was a good fit for my friend. If I had been closer, I could have gone in person to dealerships and looked at trucks. I would have been able to see the point of purchase materials that are often displayed by the dealer to show off the certified pre-owned vehicle on the lot. In fact, most OEMs have stringent requirements for signs, stickers and decals that must be placed on a vehicle on the lot if it is certified.   My first couple of searches on third-party sites was very frustrating. I was able to enable the certified pre-owned search filter; however, I noticed that some dealers were not even correctly classifying their certified vehicles. I could find a truck that would likely work for my friend, but I could not tell if the unit had any OEM or Dealer certified programs attached to it.   I began to think how unfortunate the situation was for the dealership. Dealerships are spending thousands of dollars in additional money for the certified program on their vehicle and no one can see it online. Dealer expenses that include: more reconditioning of the unit, additional time with paperwork and merchandising, and additional cost of the warranty coverage.    Luxury vehicle lines like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lincoln all have certified pre-owned programs, which can cost the store over $1,000 just for the certified warranty. This does not include all the additional money that has to be spent to bring all maintenance up to date and additional higher level recondition requirement costs. In some instances, the vehicle could have incurred the dealership an additional $3,000 or more to certified than a non-certified competing unit.  After a long exhausting search that spanned over the course of two weeks, I was finally able to find a dealer that had the right truck for my friend. How did I find it? Firstly, the vehicle had an image overlay on the truck with the dealer information, and most importantly, the certified pre-owned logo. Secondly, the vehicle was correctly listed in the certified pre-owned listings category of the third-party listing site. Lastly, the description of the vehicle clearly identified the unit as a certified pre-owned vehicle with the benefits of the program.  If you are reading this thinking that your certified pre-owned cars could use a facelift, the good news is that most of the merchandising can be automated through your vehicle export providers. It just takes a little bit of work and time to get it going. Here are the items that I recommend every dealer do to help bring their offline message to their online shoppers.  Properly classify your units as certified in your vehicle inventory tool. This helps to identify the units on the dealer website as well as third-party listing sites.  Get a professionally designed image overlay with the dealer logo and certified pre-owned logos. Do not try to make one yourself unless you are graphic artists. Too many times I see terrible overlays that were designed with a pour image editor and the dealership's credibility immediacy is negatively affected. Add a placeholder image in the vehicle picture set that clearly outlines the advantages of the certified pre-owned program for the consumer. This slide is imperative as consumers often cross shop your certified unit versus a non-certified unit.   Lastly, Add the certified pre-owned benefits to the top of the vehicle description. It is crucial that this information goes right on the top as most consumers will spend little time viewing all the descriptions. This should be automated or templated in your export tool to make sure that it is attached to every certified unit every time. Here are some examples of good certified pre-owned merchandising: Vehicle Overlay Vehicle Placeholder A little bit of effort can go a long way in bringing the same offline experience to your online shopper. The great news is that most of this is easy to setup and automate.