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16 Jun Using LinkedIn Effectively to Sell More Cars

 

bloggraphic5BlogLaunched in 2003, LinkedIn now has more than 400 million members in 200 countries and territories around the globe. Amazingly, that is less than half of Facebook’s daily users, but LinkedIn is generally considered the professional alternative.

The statistics are compelling (data from LinkedIn’s site):

  • Sales professionals who use LinkedIn for social selling are 51% more likely to exceed their sales quota than sales professionals who don’t use LinkedIn for social selling.
  • Sales professionals that use LinkedIn for social selling are 3X more likely to crush their sales quota for the year than any other sales rep.
  • Directors that use LinkedIn for social selling get promoted 1.6X faster to VP.

STEP 1: JUMP IN

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one. First, create your personal page. If you are a dealership owner, wait the appropriate length of time as prescribed by LinkedIn (7 days) and create a page for your business.

People buy from people they like and trust. Today, your online reputation is as important as the impression you make in person. Wouldn’t you rather be transparent and upfront online in order for more people to find you and refer you? Having no presence online does not fall into the “no news is good news” category; it makes you and your business appear to be out of touch or worse, untrustworthy.

“LinkedIn not only allows you to showcase your professional achievements, but it also acts as a perceived independent third-party advisory to your character. If you are open and honest online, it lends to the belief you are the same in real life, say in a negotiation situation, for example. Having a profile shows a customer you are accessible, accountable, and most importantly, trustworthy,” says National Digital Strategy Manager Robert Karbaum.

STEP 2: ENGAGE

Add a LinkedIn icon to your dealership site. Now tell your customers about your profile, and ask them to connect to you. Start connecting to your friends and business contacts, and LinkedIn will provide connections for you to link organically based on your contact list.

Once you start sharing content, your connections will see them in their news feed.

STEP 3: BE A RESOURCE

Stay on top of the news in your industry – there are plenty of options to curate content, starting with something as basic as a Google alert. Post information your customer base wants to know, from new innovations in the car market to recalls to auto show recaps.

Work with your internal team to like each other’s posts and generate more online buzz.

ONE MORE THING TO CONSIDER: SALES NAVIGATOR

LinkedIn bills their Sales Navigator as a tool to allow sales professionals to tap into the power of LinkedIn efficiently and improves social selling. When you first launch the tool, a wizard guides you through setup. Based on your existing network, you can pick which organizations are current opportunities. If you use SalesForce, you can import your contacts into Sales Navigator to see LinkedIn activity for your accounts.

From a reviewer at Forbes.com:

“Sales Navigator goes beyond a passive system. Based on the contacts you have selected, Sales Navigator suggests potential organizations that fit a similar profile. You can also define your territory so that suggestions are limited to your area. When I test-drove the system, Sales Navigator suggested several opportunities that I had not previously thought about. Surprisingly, some were great suggestions and worth my time to consider.”

 

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07 Jun Now More Than Ever, Content Reigns Supreme

bloggraphic5FacebookThe need for compelling content and social media has been more vital for the success of your business. If you still haven’t gotten on board, I have two questions for you: Why haven’t you yet? And more to the point, how are you reading this?

In order to stand out from the crowd you should be generating original content and promoting it. Here at The Automotive Advertising Agency we extol the virtues of cohesive branding because all of your messaging should be consistent in targeting your clearly defined audience. The same principles should guide the content you produce.

Here are three reasons why you need to have powerful content.

1 – It builds credibility. Building a reputation as a thought leader can earn credibility even in the most crowded of spaces. Start a blog that shares your opinion on trends you think the consumer should know about. Or share a couple of case studies. Create a following and mine that following for topics they’d like to hear about. Maintaining a steady flow of content that is informative and not pushy on selling, will build the trust you need to get recommendations to boost your business profile.

2 – Search engines will love you. While your credibility starts to build and your reputation as a thought leader begins to spread, your SEO will begin to trend upwards as well. Google’s site ranking rewards those businesses with up to date content, even more so if that content is getting passed around. With just a few months of blogging you’ll see that consumers are landing on your page because you are not spamming them with out-of-date offers and deals. Instead of keyword stuffing, you’re providing fresh, relevant content.

3 – It will grow and target your audience. Thanks to powerful analytic tools, all of your hard work making content and building your reputation will unlock insights into your audience you never had before. By closely monitoring likes, shares, comments, and other actions you can learn more about your connection to current and future consumers. Likewise, some of these consumers can become a volunteer brand evangelist spreading the word of your services and further strengthening your presence online and in real life.

In a world that moves at the speed of a like on Facebook, a tweet, a snap, a pin, or any other type of social share, it’s abundantly clear that you need to be generating great content. Rest assured that if you’re not doing it, your competitors certainly are.

 

 

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18 May Can Your Dealership Sell Cars Via Instagram? Yes.

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A picture is worth a thousand words. And thousands of dollars, if you use it effectively.

Using Instagram, for example, is a great way to share photos of happy customers and their cars and feature inventory. Are you inspired to buy a car from a glossy stock photo? Perhaps not. But if you were following a car dealer on Instagram and saw a great photo of a car that caught your interest, and it’s near where you live, the option is tantalizingly closer than the one in that catalog from the manufacturer.

Here are the basic steps to post successful content, once you establish an Instagram account:

1)  Take a picture. Make sure the light is not in front of you, which places the car in the shadows. Angle your photo so that the light is shining on the subject and not in the lens of your phone or camera.

2)  Label it. Make, model, and year, of course, but think of descriptive words that are like eye candy for a buyer. Is the color called “Deep Persian Blue”? List it. Think about the potential demographic for that type of car and tell that audience what they want to know. Is it a sports car? Talk horsepower and torque. Is it a minivan? Use words like “comfortable” and “drop-down screens” and “plenty of cargo space”.

3)  Hashtag it.  Integrating common hashtags works like keyword placement on an Instagram post, and others looking for photos of cars will find you. Tags like #cars or #car have millions of similar pieces of content and will drive casual browsers to your account. Using your city hashtag earns bonus points for more pinpointed relevance.

4)  Interact. When someone starts a conversation with you, talk back to them. That means use the @ sign and their handle to tag them and respond. It builds your brand and gets followers to come back.

Experiment with posting times; there is not one formula that works best for everyone, but there are definite times particular buyers may be scrolling through Instagram. Nine-to-five office workers may be active at lunch, or in the late afternoon. College students and self-employed entrepreneurs and parents may be more active at night.

Don’t forget to promote your specials! For every new promotion, run a few Instagram posts to tell your followers about it.

Lastly, make sure your customers know that you have an Instagram account. Post the icon and link to your web site, and add it to your email signature. Send out a message to your customer database and ask them to follow you – you might even consider a contest for the first 100 followers or so and offer a prize to get it kicked off. Many of your customers will be visually driven and when they see your account scroll by, they’ll stop and look, and hopefully, buy from you again.

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11 May Can Social Media help me sell cars?

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I can’t find time for social media, you say. Who needs it? It’s a waste of time. And by the way, isn’t a handle something people used in the ‘70s on CB radios?

What we would tell you is that utilizing social media to sell more cars is not only beneficial, but critical to your success in 2016 and beyond.

Let’s compare two fictional, but entirely possible, sales representatives for a car dealership.

Joe hates all things social media. His wife uses it and seems to enjoy it, but Joe doesn’t want any part of it. He wants to keep selling the way he has sold cars for 30 years. It works, so why change it? Joe meets his quota every year.

Michael uses Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to connect to everyone he knows. When a friend buys a new car from him, he asks to take a photo of him or her with their new car. When Michael posts it, he tags his friend, which essentially invites others outside of his immediate sphere to notice that their mutual friend has a new car. And hey, isn’t that a great car? I wonder if Michael could sell me a car just like that? Michael’s sales numbers are increasing, and he exceeds his goals.

A real-life example: in Bozeman, Montana, saleswoman Laura Madison turned the sales process upside down – she went so far as to create her own website, had her personal car wrapped in marketing messages featuring that site, and regularly uses Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to create conversations. Her results have been stellar; in 2014, she sold about 20 cars a month, up from 12 when she started in 2012, and her boss predicted she would be top 30 a month before the end of that year.

“Various estimates from Gartner, Harvard Business Review, Sirius Decisions, and others confirms that today’s buyer begins the process without the involvement of sales 60-80% of the time. Cold calling and spam emails have diminished in effectiveness, with some 92% of buyers saying they merely ‘hit delete’ when the email or call comes in from someone they don’t know,” says Jim Keenan of A Sales Guy Consulting. He says that using social media will usher salespeople from the old world to the social world. In fact, he conducted a survey of 500+ sources to determine the scope of the impact.

He discovered in 2012 that 78.6% of sales people using social media to sell outperformed those who weren’t using social media; Keenan wasn’t expecting a number that high. Then, he found that when it came to exceeding sales quota by more than 10%, social media users were 23% more successful than their non-social media peers. According to his survey, no matter how you sliced the data, social media users came out on top.

Social selling isn’t the end-all, be-all magic dust that replaces everything else. It’s an enhancement to what you’re already doing. And who couldn’t use a little help? Social media can positively affect your business via relationship building.

Today, potential buyers expect a business to have a presence online. It’s not necessary to flood the field with all of the channels; pick the ones that interest you most and establish a handle.

Take a look at your buyer demographics: who are you reaching? Then formulate a strategy based on the missing pieces.

Sources: The Impact of Social Media on Sales Quota and Corporate Revenue here 

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25 Apr How to successfully leverage Instagram with the help of employees.

While many brands and businesses are trying to figure out how to successfully leverage every single social media platform available in order to increase sales and awareness, Instagram remains untapped by many dealerships.

There is no such thing as a one-size fits-all social media strategy and often, cross platform promotion is not the best approach. Nevertheless, creating a simple Instagram presence involving a dealership’s employees, can result in a surprising ROI.

Let’s start from the beginning. As a dealership, the first step to take is to get employees actively involved.  Help them become familiar with how the social media tool works, and the creative ways they can help the business increase awareness starting with their own communities.

The following infographic illustrates how to get started with Instagram and some fun, creative ways to encourage employees to become active on the platform.

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If some employees have not joined Instagram yet it is usually because they don’t have the time or they don’t know how to use it. Try to show them how easy and fun it is, rather than bore them with uninteresting reasons! Encourage any employees who are already Instagram savy to help get things started and, of course, get employees to follow the company page.

Talk about moments they can share such as a group lunch, a funny anecdote during work, a great deal they want to share because they see the value in it, an “Employee of the Month” celebration, or any other moment they feel connects the dealership to potential customers. Remember to mention the company using the “@” symbol so the social media manager can enter the conversation on behalf of the company’s IG account.

One of the first things to do is to start following other similar pages and profiles. But there is a limit, the focus should be on following whoever follows you first. You may follow other pages that relate to the industry as a way to connect, but always expect to be followed back.

Instagram is all about moments. For example, when you go on a trip with your family, instead of collapsing images of the trip and the family all in one picture, you can focus on the moment when Uncle Rob fell off the fishing boat, or post the photo of the sunny morning while having breakfast. It’s the captioning of simple moments that makes for the most engaging posts.

Instagram is meant to be a fun social tool, and keeping the conversation going is part of the fun. Make sure your employees remember that “social” means interaction is vital, so try to keep your followers active by responding to comments and tagging other people on their posts.

Teaching the importance of  social media  to  dealership employees adds value to the workforce, increases the positive atmosphere in the workplace, and allows the company to connect to the community though their employees, because in the end, they are part of that community which your business is trying to capture.

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09 Nov Automotive News: Dealership ad agencies find creative ways into NFL advertising game

There’s plenty of NFL to go around.

While Hyundai’s big-ticket league sponsorship commands the biggest stage, dealers are creatively using the National Football League as a springboard for campaigns at the Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels — even if they don’t have massive ad budgets.

For example, ad agency Tier10, which devises campaigns for the Northern Ohio Honda Dealers Association, is tapping into the passionate fan base of the Cleveland Browns to push the Honda HR-V small crossover.

Tier10 released an HR-V ad in October pitching the crossover as the “perfect chariot” for game days. The spot, running on TV and online, follows a Browns fan who touts the features of the HR-V as he heads to FirstEnergy Stadium, the team’s home field.

The ad capitalizes on Cleveland’s football culture without Tier10 or the dealers having to pay the costly fees of a Browns sponsorship. The spot also appears on YouTube as a preroll ad for those in the Cleveland area who are searching for the Browns and other NFL video content.

“It’s really not about aligning ourselves with the NFL. It’s about aligning ourselves with the people in the market,” said Scott Fletcher, co-founder of Tier10.

Once fans get to the stadium to tailgate and watch the games, Tier10 makes sure Honda advertising tags along.

The agency uses Facebook’s hyperlocal targeting to place the ad on the newsfeeds of those who check in at the stadium. Tier10 uses this hyperlocal strategy on Facebook across all of its accounts for every NFL game.

There’s a conquesting component to this approach, too. While Ford has a sponsorship deal locked in with the Browns, Fletcher said, Honda can maneuver its way into the prime seats with its mobile efforts.

“We’ve got offers in the palm of their hands that are clickable to get to our mobile website,” Fletcher said. “And we’re doing that for $50 a game.”

The Automotive Advertising Agency — with a list of clients including Ford, Toyota, Lexus and Acura dealerships — posts on social media platforms in real-time during games and targets its TV ads by “cable zones” where its clients operate.

When the Houston Texans or Dallas Cowboys score a touchdown or make a great play, for example, the agency creates posts for its dealer clients that mention the highlight, said Marco Camacho, principal of The Automotive Advertising Agency, which is based in Austin, Texas, but has offices in Los Angeles and New York.andnbsp;

The agency has a trick for getting to viewers who catch up on a game they recorded on their DVRs, even if they’re zooming past the commercials.andnbsp;

Camacho says his agency places the logos of the dealer or dealer group and manufacturer along with a Web address on the upper third of the screen, choosing that spot because the bottom of the screen often is blocked during fast forwarding.andnbsp;

Camacho said his agency often incorporates football themes in its commercials. In one, the staff of a dealership goes to battle in a football game of their own. Camacho said the ads avoid using any NFL logos, but they often include cues that viewers can latch onto.andnbsp;

“You have to be creative,” Camacho said. “Depending on the market, you can incorporate similar colors, maybe some of the local sayings or things of that nature. The creativity part is also the fun part of it. What’ll happen is, when the consumer sees it, they’ll have that association already.”

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02 Nov Selling Cars Through Social Media

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There is no doubt the digital age has forever changed consumer behavior. The decision to make a purchase is preceded by time spent online reading product and company reviews, or asking friends and family about products via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

In the world of automotive sales, understanding this type of behavior can help dealers if they take the more proactive approach. The key is to integrate the dealer’s website with display ads and social media engagement in order to maintain the same cohesive quality of content across all channels. In doing so, dealers can create a stronger customer loyalty base that can grow into a voice for brand advocacy.

Results from a recent study conducted by Twitter and Datalogix, were paired with comprehensive automotive data provided by Polk. Some of the intriguing findings include:

  • Households with Twitter users were 2x as likely to purchase a new car as the average U.S. Household.1
  • Households with Twitter users who engaged with promoted tweets from auto advertisers were 32% more likely to purchase a new vehicle than the average Twitter user.2
  • Auto brand Twitter followers were nearly 3x as likely to purchase a new car.3

But exactly how does using Twitter contribute to an increase in auto sales? This is where the website/social media/display ad integration comes into play. A separate survey revealed that 80 percent of Twitter users will mention a brand in their tweet.4 Another 54 percent said they pursued an action when a brand was mentioned, whether that meant visiting a brand’s website, searching for their Twitter profile, or even trying the brand for the first time.5

Traditional and digital media have their place in automotive advertising however, social media engagement extends beyond ads. A recent Google survey found that, on average, car buyers research 24 factors during the buying process, including search engines, OEM sites, and third party sites. The survey also concluded that more than half of auto shoppers watch 30 minutes or more of online videos, while 47% of auto shoppers heard about a car or truck from watching online videos. Finally, 65% were able to narrow down their search after watching a video.6

Think of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as virtual showrooms and car lots. When customers search for your dealership online, they want to get a feel for the kind of dealership they’re working with, including the people, the purchasing process, and the quality of available inventory. And above all, they want the process, from start to finish, to be seamless and easy.

If done correctly, creating continuity between an auto dealership’s website, social media sites, and digital ads builds a cohesive branding message for the consumer every step of their journey to the purchase decision.

1, 2, 3, Source: Twitter Blog, New Offline Sales Impact Offering: Measure Vehicle Sales From Promoted Tweets (2014)

4, 5 Source: CBT News, Why Everyone at Your Dealership Should Be Engaged with Social Media (2015)

6 Source: Google, Digital Drives Auto Shopping (2013)

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