Humans are born to compete. As far back as ancient times, when we competed over every available resource as a matter of life and death, the idea that survival and prosperity are born from struggle seems to be woven into our DNA.
The same concept applies in the business world, and certainly in the automotive retailing industry. The fact is a finite number of potential customers exist, meaning your dealership is in constant competition to earn those buying dollars.
This all might sound a bit brutal and off-putting to those without a competitive nature. But, time and time again, systems that allow for healthy and fair competition have produced the best results for both the consumer and the business with the best idea, or the business willing to work the hardest.
So, you’re in a constant struggle to grow your base. That means two things: conquesting new customers and retaining existing ones.
It sounds simple, perhaps, but there is a natural tension between those two concepts we shouldn’t overlook. The need to capture new business can come at the expense of your existing customers defecting to your opposition. Plus, conquesting in and of itself is quite tricky for most marketing methods to pull off.
How do you become a conqueror without hemorrhaging pre-existing revenue sources? It comes down to a strategy that balances capturing new customers while retaining existing ones.
Understand Your Battlefield
Having a nuanced understanding of your entire potential customer base is critical.
Start by surveying your current territory for areas of opportunity and weakness. I recommend targeting your marketing by zip code rather than radius. Depending on your market, your customers may not be coming from the nearest zip codes, but from miles away. Within each zip code, you’ll have three smaller targets and strategies:
- Retention: Area you have already won but have to work to keep.
- Conquest: Area controlled by a competitor that you need to win.
- Battleground: Area occupied by multiple competitors but dominated by no one.
With a deeper analysis of your market, you can determine the best customers to target, how to win each area, and where you’re in danger of losing ground to the opposition.
Let’s focus for a moment on the types of marketing best-suited to conquesting. You can use digital advertising, email and direct mail, newsletters, and social media to promote sales and service specials, dealership differentiators, OEM campaigns, and more. As you successfully convert customers to sales or service, you adjust your strategy to target other segments.
Acquiring new customers also means you need to shift your communications to keep your dealership top of mind when they need a new vehicle, emergency service, or regular maintenance. Each customer is unique, and it’s incumbent on you to demonstrate through targeted messaging why they should buy from you over the competition.
That means catering to what matters to each individual. Whether it’s lower prices, quicker processes in sales or service, aftersales benefits, incentives, or other factors, customers look for the dealerships offering convenience, a perceived fair price, and an overall better experience.
1 Automotive Brand Retention and Defection Report – Naked Lime Marketing4
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