Terry Lancaster

Terry Lancaster is a copywriter, marketing strategist, and storyteller. I’ve helped thousands of dealerships sell millions of cars by putting the right words in the right order to tell the right story. How can I help you tell yours? I write blog posts, websites, radio & TV commercials, video scripts, Tedx talks, #1 best-selling books, and the occasional dirty limerick slash bathroom stall graffiti:

For a good time call 615-804-0311.

Or visit TerryLancaster.com.

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.
Why Your Dealership Needs To Actually Use Your Blog

By

If you want to keep a secret, secret... If you'd rather not air your dirty laundry in public... If you don't want anyone ever to find out what you did that one time in college... Here's the best place to hide that information from the world.... Page two of Google search results. Searchers are 10x more likely to click on the first result than on the 7th-10 listed website, according to a recent analysis of over 5 million searches. The news gets worse from there. Less than 1% of searchers will click on anything at all on page two of the search results. A lot less than 1% to be exact - 0.78%. If you want to depress yourself, head on over to Google and do a quick search for your best selling model: Ford F150 Toyota RAV4 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. The odds are pretty good your dealership's not going to show up on page 1. Page 2 either, for that matter. It gets a little better if you add "city name" or "for sale" to the search, but not much really. You pay MILLION$ to the factory for the right to promote and sell their products, but you're nowhere to be found when people are looking for them. Do you know who you will find on page one of the search results, though? Third-party lead providers. Every time. All Day Long. Twice on Sunday.  Your customers were looking for you when they found them. They want to buy what you're selling, but first, you've got to pay the tax. Pay the gatekeepers. It's like they stole your watch, and they're charging you thousands a month to let you know what time it is. Well, it's time for a change, that's what time it is. Do you know why the lead providers and aggregators DOMINATE page one of the search results and you're stuck back in the boondocks on page 3?  It's simple really — three little words. Content. Content. Content! They've cracked the code, and they understand that Google and other search engines (but seriously, Google) will reward them for creating a steady stream of fresh content. It's a you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours kind of deal. Google is in the business of taking all of the content on the web, mashing it up, running it through its algorithm robots, and putting it in front of the right eyeballs at the right time to maximize advertising revenue. Google needs more content to attract more eyeballs and more dollars. If you give it what it needs, it will reward you with what you want - a higher search ranking. The lead providers know this, so they spend millions churn blog posts and reviews and top ten lists about anything and everything. Meanwhile, most dealerships don't even have the blog function on their website activated and if they do, the most recent post is about getting your car ready for summer vacation from the summer of 2017. It's hard for them to see the forest for the trees. Blogs are rarely high traffic pages, and they don't actually sell anything, so why bother? But Charlie Watson, Marketing Director for the Mark Williams Auto Group in Cincinnati, uses his dealerships' main websites' blog feature to boost SEO and drive traffic, not to the blog post themselves, but to the home and VDP pages. "You can't really do it for instant gratification because you're never going to get it," he says. "So we just trust in the process and work that." In addition to the SEO boost Watson gets by keeping Google fed with fresh content, he sees an added benefit from regularly blogging and sharing those posts on social media, email, and across the web. "Of course, we do a lot of video work, but our blogs allow us to reach a different audience," he says. "Don't forget about people who like to read." Here are a couple of tips to get you started: Keep it local Car shopping may begin online, but it still when they drive off of your lot. Retail is local, and the web hasn't changed that. Location. Location. Location. Being there on that high traffic street corner is half the battle, so make sure your blog is continually mentioning local events, local celebrities, and local attractions for your town and all the little hometowns surrounding your store. Keep it personal Your people are your superpower - employees, customers, neighbors, local vendors. The only thing that differentiates your dealership from every other dealership is your people, so shine a light on them. Use your blog to tell about your people, and best of all what they're doing in the local community... with other people! Keep it fresh Of the over 200 factors that Google uses to determine where your web page shows up in the search results, high-quality content is by far the most influential.  If your last blog post is from three years ago, odds are the contents aren't very useful to readers, but a post about local activities going on in your town THIS month - that's relevant. That's useful. That's quality. And Google will help you spread the word if you write about stuff like that often enough.
Your Dealership's Not So Secret Marketing Weapon

By

If you own, say, a Ford store, the new Fords you sell are exactly the same as every new Ford sold by every other Ford dealer. The manufacturers come in every few years and force, coerce, and cajole their dealers into spending millions on building shiny new facilities on a standard platform, so your dealership even looks like every other dealership. Internet shopping, stairstep incentives, and the suggested retail pricing structure have universally compressed margins, so there's not a whole heck of a lot of difference in the prices dealers charge. And through those same incentives, co-op money, and holdbacks, the factories now exert greater control over your dealership's advertising than ever before. There are thousands of other dealerships selling exactly the same vehicles you sell for exactly the same price out of buildings that look exactly the same using advertising that says exactly the same thing. That's the definition of a commodity. It's like you're selling salt, and the only way to make more money selling salt is to sell it in ever-increasing volume for ever-decreasing prices. That's the race to the bottom. But here's the thing, you're not selling salt. You have a secret weapon in your store now that can help your dealership stand out in a sea of sameness, help you sell more cars for more money, and help your customers have a more enjoyable buying experience. Your employees. People connect with people. They want to do business with people. They can put their trust in people. Nine out of 10 consumers trust recommendations and reviews from the people in their lives more than the information they receive from any form of communication from your dealership. More than they trust your social media. Overwhelmingly more than they trust your advertising. You've been told for years that content is king, but that's no longer true. Content is necessary. Connection is king. The engagement your connections create is the holy grail. Car buyers are eight times more likely to engage with content shared by people they already know, like, and trust than with content posted directly by the store. The people on your team and the connections they already have are the only things you have left to differentiate yourself from every other store. Do the math. The average dealership has just north of sixty employees. Sixty employees with roughly 20,000 social connections (300 ish each) who will buy roughly 400 vehicles this month. That's your natural market, low hanging fruit that your store can start picking today by encouraging, incentivizing, and enabling your people to help tell your dealership's story. "It's one thing when you see brands brag about themselves. It's another thing when employees share genuine pride in the place where they work. When you see a post from a company, it feels like a logo talking to you. But when you see a post from a friend or a colleague, you're looking at it as a human being who is sharing their thoughts and feelings. It has a different vibe. It has credibility," says Kirt Simmer, Senior Manager of Social Media Marketing at staffing firm Robert Half. Happy employees create happy customers. Do first things first; make sure you have an engaged, happy, excited team. Create a culture that they want to share with their friends. If you want your people to talk about you, you have to give them a work experience worth talking about. You can't spend 73 minutes screaming at your employees or boring them to tears at the weekly half-hour-long mandatory meeting and expect them to log on to social media and talk about how amazing your dealership is. Culture always starts at the top. The body follows where the head goes. That means you and your management team have to lead the way by telling the story that you want them to tell. Creating content for them to share. Rewarding them for sharing it, engaging their personal network, and spreading the love about your dealership. "I take lots of photos and videos that include our employees. We don't use outside sources for any of our social media platforms. So what content we share, it's us," says Cathy Nesbit, social media director for Harry Robinson Buick GMC in St. Smith, AR. "Then, I tag the employees in those posts." By tagging the employee, they're sure to see the post and be more likely to engage with it. Many of their friends will see the post and be more likely to engage with it. Engagement leads to conversations. Conversations lead to sales. Ding. Ding. Ding. The dealership shares major company news via departmental GroupMe Groups and asks the team to share it on their personal social media. Managers will issue challenges to share certain promotions or vehicles and reward employees with cash on the barrelhead for those who actively engage real customers. Of course, you want your salespeople active on social media, but the people in parts, service, the back office, the body shop, they all have people in their lives too. Make it easy for them to show pride in their place of work, and put a friendly human face on your store's marketing and social media efforts.
They Called it Facebook for a Reason

By

A phone rings in the middle of the night, startling a grumpy middle-aged college dean back into consciousness. The computer servers at Harvard are crashing. A sophomore student named Mark Zuckerberg has hacked together a little program called Facemash that allows students campus-wide to vote on which undergraduate's pictures are hotter. Harvard's limited computing infrastructure can't handle the load. That's how the scene goes in the movie, and it's not too far removed from the truth. Facemash got shut down in a matter of days, but Zuckerberg went on to create TheFacebook, which soon became just Facebook; and the rest is history.  Facebook wasn't the first social network, but it soon became the ultimate social network . At the most basic level, Zuckerberg simply took the actual Face Books from Harvard and translated them from paper and ink to pixels. Harvard printed directories of students, including pictures and bios, so students from far-flung locations and backgrounds could identify each other and, more importantly, identify with each other.  They printed the books to help lonely, socially awkward students make friends faster. Facebook began as a program to share pictures and help people make friends. Once interactivity got added to the mix, the world was never the same. You will notice, however, that the computers at Harvard didn't come crashing down because people were arguing over political conspiracies to help/hurt the president by exaggerating/downplaying the effect of a worldwide pandemic/nasty little flu bug. The servers didn't fail because students were sharing memes or pictures of what they had for dinner.  They certainly didn't grind to a halt because some enterprising young students had a brand spanking new 2020 Nissan Rogues, for the incredibly low price of $349 a month with easy down payments and financing for everyone regardless of their credit history. The servers crashed because the students were sharing and interacting with pictures. Facebook became a cultural phenomenon because people engaged with each other through pictures . I now spend most of my waking hours helping salespeople sell more cars and make more money using social selling tools like Facebook, and the hardest part of that job is convincing them that they don't have to try so hard. Mike Correra from DealerBuilt is an automotive social media pioneer. He was selling cars on LinkedIn and Facebook when most salespeople were still scoffing at the idea. Mike says the true key to success for salespeople on social media is to simply be more sociable. If you're using social media primarily to sell to strangers, you need to grab a dictionary and look up the word social . Facebook, and the entire concept of social media is about making friends, and engaging with friends. In short, it's about being friendly. Treating your friends' timelines like billboard space for cars you're trying to sell isn't friendly. Of course, you have to try to sell cars; no one's saying you shouldn't, but if that's the only thing you're doing on social media, you're doing it wrong. Your friends will unfriend you, they'll ignore what you post, and eventually, Facebook's algorithms will get the hint and stop showing your cheesy ads to your friends altogether. So let's do this, for the next seven days, instead of trying to get as many cars as we can on Facebook, let's try to get as many faces as we can on Facebook. That's why they called it Facebook after all. Get your smiling face on there. Get your family and friends on Facebook. Get your happy customers on Facebook.  The old rule of thumb is every time you introduce a customer to another human being in the service department, you double the odds of that customer turning into a repeat customer . Guess what. You can introduce people to your service department (and the parts department, and the title office) to your customers on Facebook every day. Find a local business person or community volunteer that's doing something interesting in the community and put their face on your Facebook profile. Help support the people who support you. Dave Clayton at Tidelands Ford on Pawleys Island, SC sells 40 to 50 cars a month by making friends for life with customers and engaging with everyone on a personal level... online and in real life. He routinely finds people and events worth celebrating in his local community and uses his social media presence to lift them up and honor them; from the local ice cream shop to local artisans. His Facebook wall is a steady stream of happy faces. See how many faces you can post on Facebook this week. Make sure you tag them so their friends can see the great things going on in their lives. And make sure that every human being you know, on Facebook and in real life, knows what you do for a living so that when they are in the market for a new or used car, they know they've got a friend in the car business. Everyone's a buyer. Everyone.
How To Sell More Cars Working From Home In Your Underwear

By

"Just get 'em in the door" isn't good enough anymore. ​ And in a lot of places right now, it's against the law. Many salespeople are furloughed, working limited hours, or staring out at empty showrooms during the Great Quarantine. You can't do business the old way and still maintain social distance. But fortunately you don't have to. While many dealers are doing whatever it takes to convince customers that the dealership is a safe and sanitary place to conduct business, others have realized that if the customer won't or can't come to the store, it's time to take the store to the customer. For the last several years Carvana has been the darling of Wall Street by doing just exactly that. Combining digital retailing, online ordering, and home delivery, Carvana somehow convinced a bunch of hedge fund managers that it was something other than a group of car dealerships. But that's all it ever was, and that's all it still is. Any car dealership in North America could offer the exact same car buying experience that Carvana advertises. (OK… maybe not the vending machine schtick.) IF they decided remote selling, online purchasing, and front door delivery were worthwhile enough to get over the " that's not the way we do things around here " hurdle. This last month, that idea went from important to essential. After the initial shock of the lockdown, Mark Dodge in Lake Charles, LA quickly got into the swing of things selling cars at a healthy clip even though the salespeople were working from home, by appointment only and offering vehicle clean up, pick up, and front door delivery. Which honestly, other than the working-from-home part, is not much different from what they were doing before the crisis. "We've been doing so much remotely anyway," says sales manager Marsh Buice, "because that's just the way the business has changed." And the customers dig it. Why wouldn't they? William Easterly had been looking for a new F-150 before the world went haywire, and had planned on putting it off until things settled down until he saw a banner on the Krause Family Ford website promoting home delivery. At 9:30 on a Monday night, well after the dealership had closed, he sent in a message asking about the truck he was interested in. Salesman Gregg Potts, working from home, late into the night, messaged him back within minutes, and less than 24 hours later Gregg was standing on the customer's front porch signing papers and dropping off his new truck. The customer never set foot in the dealership, and the salesman never set foot within 6 feet of the customer. The coronavirus lockdown is causing many dealerships to make significant changes in the way they do business, but what Gregg sees is opportunity. "I could see this becoming a little niche," says Gregg. "More common in the car business." With family and friends scattered across the country, Gregg now has the option of offering white-glove personal service and front door delivery to a much larger group of potential buyers, connecting with customers wherever they are, however they prefer, whenever they're ready before, during and after the sale. All great change happens imperceptibly slowly and then, as if by magic, all at once. What happened all at once in March, was the severing of the car business from the brick and mortar physical location. Your dealership is now wherever the customer wants it to be, or at least it better be. Once customers get used to the idea that they can buy cars at their kitchen table, that's where cars will be bought.
Kissing Babies & Shaking Hands: Reality of Social Sales

By

Ali Reda sells more cars each year than any other human being on the face of the earth, and whenever he gets ready to leave a local restaurant, his wife and kids know it's going to take them a good twenty minutes to make it to the exit while Ali is shaking hands, working the room and making friends all the way to the door.  Getting to know people. Letting them get to know him. "I don't think there's a single business in my community that I don't know the owner or the manager, " Ali says. And here's the great thing about the car business, virtually every person in that restaurant drove a car to get there. In fact, almost every person you've ever met knows someone who's going to be shopping for a car in the near future. The outside world is a target-rich environment. And virtually every person who is shopping for a car says they would prefer to know their salesperson before they ever set foot in the dealership. People prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust. The math is pretty simple if you want to sell more cars, make yourself known to a lot more people. Make more friends; sell more cars Everybody is telling you you have to get more involved on social media, you have to promote yourself, you have to build a brand, but social sales started long before social media became a thing. We just used to call it building relationships. Sales trainer Fran Taylor says he figured out early on that there are a lot more people out in the real world than there will ever be in the dealership even on your busiest sales days. All you have to do is get out there and talk to them. "Talk to 15 people a day outside the dealership for 30 days and see what happens, he says. "It's like taking candy from a baby." Customers who walk in the door looking for YOU, their friend in the car business, instead of preparing to go into battle with an unknown automotive assailant are more likely to make a purchase, decide to buy faster, close with higher grosses, give better CSI scores, leave more glowing reviews, are more likely refer their friends and family to you and, course there's a greater chance of them returning for another purchase from YOU, their friend in the car business. So why in the name of Benedict Cumberbatch do salespeople spend all of their spare time waiting around for the up bus and arguing over who gets the good leads? The good leads are out in the real world. Get out there and get you some. Unfortunately, when I'm in dealerships training sales teams and I ask salespeople what they do out in the real world, who they hang out with, the most common answer I get is... crickets.  Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. If that sounds like your team, then please read this next line very carefully: If the human beings on your sales team do no have an active, engaged SOCIAL life with other human beings in your community that's an enormous BUSINESS problem for your dealership. Your people and their relationships are the ONLY things in the world that differentiate you from every other dealership in the world. You don't just need to allow your people the time and freedom to be involved and make friends in the community; you need to require it. So here are 3 quick ways to start talking to strangers away from the dealership and turning them into friends and customers. SMILE If you want to make new friends, you need to look more friendly. You can't walk around looking like the dog just took a whiz in your cornflakes and expect strangers to talk to you. JOIN A NETWORKING GROUP Nathan Hays at Jefferson City Autoplex in Missouri says he got into the car business when he noticed that every networking meeting he went to had dozens of real estate agents, insurance agents, and mortgage brokers, but not one car salesman. He discovered an untapped, captive market. Every day in your town there are breakfast groups, lunch groups, after-work groups, every person there is expecting you to put a business card in their hand, and every single one of them drove a car to get there. WEAR YOUR WORK Wear a shirt or jacket with the dealership logo on it. Wear a name badge. Go all in and wrap your car... whatever it takes to let all those potential new friends and car buyers out there in the real world know where you work and that you're proud of it. Let the logo start the conversations for you. It's your job to keep them going.