Question: How do you know if your marketing is working?

June 2nd, 2015 | Written By: Jennifer Barber

Marketing AnalyticsAnswer: Analytics.  

Marketing analytics measure marketing performance so that you get the best return on your marketing spend.

Why? Because knowledge is power. Understanding the results you are getting makes you better able to move in the right direction, and away from what isn’t working. Automotive dealerships that keep a close eye on their marketing return on investment (ROI) are more likely to make the right decisions to grow their business.

Are you getting more than your fair share of the market?

How do you know?

How effective is your dealership at measuring the results of your marketing?

If your answers to the three questions above are not what you want them to be, take a look at the answers we have to help you. At Traffic Builders, we can provide marketing analytics on every database campaign we run for you with our FUEL™ software and you can access your information easily and in real-time with our myDrive solution.

Are you getting your fair share–let’s take a look at our Case Studies showing what others have achieved and how they did it. We’ll help you analyze what can be applied to your dealership’s situation.

How do you know what your share is—our “Opportunities Report” looks at your database to show you what results you could be achieving by implementing different strategies.

How effectively can you measure ROI—with REV Live reporting, via our myDrive program, our dealers know exactly what is working and what’s not. This allows for modifications to be made to marketing campaigns, in real-time.

We understand the need to focus on returns because marketing dollars are being stretched more than ever. Targeting your customers correctly by using sophisticated data software and personalized designs, gives you a smarter way to accelerate.

You expect your marketing dollars to contribute to your success; analytics is an essential part of knowing that it’s working.

New Year, New Focus

January 13th, 2015 | Written By: Jennifer Barber

This is the year of opportunity and we have been preparing for it for three years.  A growth market for service departments depends on certain market conditions coming into alignment.  Two of those key ingredients which are trending up are the number of new units in operation and a better economy which allows consumers to spend money to take care of their vehicle.

We have been preparing our tools and strategies for exactly this point in time.  How about you?  Every dealer is different and so is every service manager or general manager, but proper planning applies to all…

Who said the following?

“Our goal can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act.  There is no other route to success.”

“The more time you spend contemplating what you should [do]… [the more] you lose valuable time planning what you can and will do.”

The first quote is by Pablo Picasso and the second is by Lil Wayne (famous rapper for those not up on current events).  The point is success demands a plan.  And planning applies to your service marketing no matter who you are or which company you use.

Ask yourself three simple questions to prepare for this year’s service success…

If you did three things right last year, what were they?

Looking back, what should you have done that you did not?

Name three things you must accomplish to have a great 2015?

After answering these questions, here are some strong first steps to take when preparing for the year ahead.  Getting out of the blocks quickly might give you the edge you need for 2015.

Set a goal and commit to a plan in writing.  Most dealers make the mistake of not preparing and having a written plan to lead their staff.  If you commit to your plan by writing it down, it is much more likely to get done.  This should be the least overwhelming step because your goals should be simple and limited.  Only write down the things you MUST do.

Do something. The riskiest thing to do is nothing.  Service marketing decisions are now more than ever involving general managers and dealer principals. Everyone is playing an active role in running the service departments.  That can be good and bad, but you can count on the fact that service failure will still fall on your shoulders.  Setting up a good plan puts you in a position of strong leadership, which is what all teams need.

Change something and keep something.  If you write down the good and the bad you will be more likely to be able to keep doing what you have done well in the past, and change what hasn’t worked for you.  If you are working with Traffic Builders, we will help you with this free of charge.  We put numbers together that help you formulate ideas and back up that plan.

Traffic Builders encourages planning in November because procrastination typically costs you progress in January and February.  This only leaves you 80% of your year to catch up.  But it is never too late to start a plan.

Recovery is at the end of every recession and I believe strongly that the tipping point will happen this year and next.  Dealers who are prepared will start to see consistent double-digit gains once again.  As the owners of this business, with over 20 years of automotive service marketing experience, Tricia and I would be happy to talk with you about creating your plan.  Our job is to make you look good through the power of success.

Have a great 2015!

Has slingshot marketing replaced shotgun marketing?

December 15th, 2014 | Written By: Jennifer Barber

Slingshot-MII believe that the automotive industry has always been quick to respond to challenges.  It does a good job at adapting, but at times it has a tendency to overcorrect as well.  The term “shotgun marketing” has long been used to describe a blanketed marketing strategy that has little targeting.  It’s an overly simplified message aimed at a very general audience with a very general message.

Three key technologies have significantly impacted and altered the shotgun strategy.

First, databases are becoming more complex and we are gaining the ability to mine them for customers with like behaviors

Second, communication platforms are allowing for unique targeting to smaller segments

Third, digital communications are much more prevalent

By combining these technologies you can, in theory, more effectively reach your customers with a more targeted and compelling offer.  But, you can also over-correct with this technology by decreasing your reach and frequency and ultimately not communicating enough to convey your message.  This is called slingshot marketing and many dealer strategies are falling into this category. Here is a list of technology pitfalls to avoid…

  1. Relying on email as the main method of communication—It is true that email is cheaper… but it could cost you a fortune in lost revenue. With a 25% open rate and a 5% click through rate, email is not truly reaching enough customers to be a stand-alone business to consumer option.  You would fire any agency that neglected more than 70% of your customers.
  2. Making a drastic change in direction rather than a smooth transition.  The adoption of new technology does not come overnight to your customers, so your communication method shouldn’t change overnight either.  Typically those who are the quickest to adopt new technology, our children, do not actually buy or service cars with the dealership.  The sweet spot is typically behind the front of the curve.  Too many dealers adopt certain technologies because they want them to work, rather than because they actually do.
  3. Basing all your marketing on “the right time” model—only 27% of customers get their vehicle serviced within a 60-day window of when it is recommended.   Marketing has proven that consumers need repeat message and impressions to build trust in making a buying decision.  Trying to send one communication at the precise moment in time when they will respond means that you are actually ignoring that customer if you miss the exact window.
  4. Forgetting the art of marketing – The science of targeting causes many to forget they are selling themselves and the value of “Why to choose you”.  Timing the message doesn’t take the place of selling the value of your people, your warranties, your services, etc.  These are the reasons your customers choose you.  Be sure to sell that.
  5. Lumping in non-marketing technologies as part of the marketing—some manufacturers and marketing companies are lumping in technologies with their programs in an effort to close the deal.  It sounds good because you are getting “more for your money”.  Just understand, things like schedulers and dashboards don’t actually drive traffic.  They can be very valuable to your process, but don’t look for them to drive traffic.
  6. Putting all your eggs in one basket – Investment brokers will always tell you to diversify your portfolio to protect yourself from risk.  Partnering with the right marketing company for each particular program is a similar way of protecting yourself.  All companies specialize in limited fields so they will be great at certain skills, but below average at others.

Technology is providing exciting new opportunities for those who learn to master it.  Your marketability and success as a general manager or service manager will depend on your mastery of it.  But, don’t lose sight of the most basic and important goal… It needs to work!

Your Message in Stereo

October 29th, 2014 | Written By: Jennifer Barber

yourmessageinstereoI’ve read several articles lately about email being a dinosaur and direct mail actually increasing in effectiveness.  There are also plenty of articles out there on the power of push notifications.

In a time when we are all being asked to do more with less, the question of how to improve ROI becomes that much more important.

So which marketing method should you use?

“All of the above” is the answer in this case because all three channels are important in their own way.   Each has a time when it is the best method, and a time when it is not.

If you use a variety of channels, such as, direct mail, email, mobile app push messages, etc., you can achieve the perfect blend of direct & digital marketing and get your message heard in a way that positively affects your bottom line.

We recommend using multiple channels in an integrated way because email and app notifications support other channels of communication better than they replace them. Consumers respond to a website, for example, better if they receive direct mail first: 16% more site visits; 22% more page views; and 15% more time on site. *

Need another reason to use a mix?  With email you could be missing up to 79% of your customer base.  Cost is always a factor, and emailing can save you money on the front end.  However, if you don’t have email addresses that your customers actually receive and read, you aren’t reaching your intended audience.

On average, our dealership clients have a valid email address for only 21% of their customers.  When tested over time, the core group of loyal “clickers” represented only 1% of all the customers that received the emails.

But emails can fit the needs of a time-sensitive or urgent situation.  If the offer is strong and the sense of urgency high the response to an email campaign can be what helps to save a slow month.

We’ve helped our clients achieve an average increase in repair order dollars of 29% when we’ve added an email component to a direct mail campaign.  Our case studies have determined that the use of email with direct mail is a more profitable tactic than just using mail alone.

Using push notifications is a very effective way to reach your customers that have downloaded your app and opted-in.  Push messaging campaigns can result in open rates averaging 7%.  But again, that’s a targeted segment of your overall client base and leaves many of your customers unreached.

Direct mail, although it has been around a long time, and is sometime thought of as past its prime, has proven staying power. Campaigns can be highly targeted, personalized to the customer and branded to your dealership.  Mail makes it easier to absorb the message and is more likely to grab the reader’s attention and elicit a response.

Very generally, an investment of $1 in direct marketing returns, on average, $12.18 in incremental revenue across all industries. In comparison, non-DM ROI returns, on average $5.26. Overall, direct mail offers response rates of 1.1 to 1.4% versus 0.03% for email and targeted directed mail boasts a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s rate of 0.12%.

So my advice, integrate your efforts and send your message in stereo to improve ROI and build traffic.

This brand is your brand…this brand is my brand

September 23rd, 2014 | Written By: cpatton

Customers needing their car serviced may call your dealership and ask… “Why should I bring my car to you instead of somewhere else?”  Honestly, do you or your service writers know the answer?  Simply put, why are you better than the competition?

BrandChalkboard-MI1Most customers know when they need to get their car serviced, but the more important questions are, “where to service their vehicles and why.”   Many consumers go to a dealership just because it is the dealership, but many consumers avoid you for exactly that same reason.  Manufacturers allocate time and resources to market their car line to current and prospective clients.  They also provide you with a program that helps you market to those same customers.   The best part about these programs is that they are put together for you and paid for, or partially paid for.  But is that enough?

You know the market leaders in your city, district, or region.  More than likely, they have a strong reputation and consumers know it.  What you might not see is their commitment to manage and market their unique, local value above all other choices. Market leaders focus on, and heavily sell, themselves.  They put their brand above the national brand to establish and keep a lead in their markets.  Whether you have another dealership in your immediate market or you are competing with the aftermarket, taking your brand into your own hands is essential for high-level success.  A manufacturer’s program provides a base, but the icing is what makes the cake attractive.  That brand is your brand.  Notice the differences:

Manufacturer’s brand (their brand)

  1. • Warranty on parts and labor for a certain period of time
  2. • Certified and factory-trained technicians
  3. • Genuine factory parts
  4. • Dealer knows their vehicles best
  5. • Free maintenance plans

Dealer brand (your brand)

  1. More convenient and complete service offerings – Extended hours or weekend hours, complimentary shuttle service, convenient location, online appointment scheduling, rental vehicles available with service, collision center on-site, one-stop shopping convenience
  2. Better value – Value pricing, full inspection with complete vehicle records, loaner cars, high-mileage programs, complimentary car wash with service, no-cost tire repairs, meet or beat any valid dealership coupon
  3. More personal service – A dedicated and experienced team, mobile app, service rewards program, dealership customer satisfaction award/service award, family-owned and operated, community involvement, unique promotions like ladies day, service clinics, etc.
  4. Better facility – More service bays, comfortable waiting lounge, Wi-Fi or workstations, complimentary coffee/snacks, children’s play area, state-of-the-art equipment

After looking over this list of ways to establish your brand, what do you have and what is missing? Ultimately, only you and your customers know your brand.  Dealers who learn to maximize that brand in their market are the market leaders.  Whether you are an athlete, scholar, parent, service manager or general manager, the race leaders are the people who take their destiny into their own hands. They value their influence and brand and don’t accept the norm. Is that you?

What makes YOU, YOUnique?

August 21st, 2014 | Written By: cpatton

For the 20 years we have been involved in automotive marketing, we have been lucky enough to work with highly successful dealers. They lead their region and the country in retention, sales numbers, sales growth, and customer service scores.

youniqueOne
If I were asked, “What is the common characteristic of these successful dealers?” I would answer, “They know why they are unique in the marketplace and they brand, market and sell their unique strengths. They aren’t satisfied with being average or following manufacturers’ guidelines; instead, they work hard at offering unique value to their customers by embracing their YOUnique visions.”

Yes, I am spelling “unique” as “YOUnique” because I want to emphasize an idea that can help you grow your service center to match the leading dealers in the U.S.

Let’s start with a simple question: Why are you a better choice for your customers than your competitor? I know that I don’t have to tell you that the competition is fierce. There are over 23,000 Fast-Lube or Oil Change-Plus facilities and over 17,000 new car dealerships in the U.S. I’m sure there are several dealerships right around the corner from your location. What separates your service from theirs and persuades customers to choose you? Now, look at your answer. Do you like it? Is it persuasive? Is your answer the same as every other dealer or option in the market?What, then, makes you, YOUnique?

Generally, when I consult with dealers on this subject, the next question I ask is, “How do you brand your dealership so that you are marketing that uniqueness?” Manufacturers do a great job of knowing their customers and creating a brand image that speaks to them, but their message is all about their brand and not necessarily yours. Most dealer principals believe their dealership is so much more than the franchise brand they represent. Many, however, don’t market that way.

Are you family-owned?
Do you have staff members who have worked at your dealership for many years?
Do you offer special benefits such as manicures, massages or car washes?
Do you support your community or charities?
Do you have a rewards program?
Do you have a loaner program, new facility, more service bays, Wi-Fi, kids’ area, coffee bar or theater setting?

The aftermarket doesn’t. We firmly believe that the decision to choose your dealership over the competition is 99 parts why to choose you and only one part when to use you. The decision on where to service is not a simple algorithm based on when the customer’s vehicle is due for service. It is based on the YOUnique advantages you offer over the competition. So what are you doing to sell your very own brand of YOUnique?

Every dealer has a YOUnique story to tell. Let us help you tell yours.

“Smarter” Marketing

July 23rd, 2014 | Written By: cpatton

ChalkboardSmart is a relative term, isn’t it? As a child, Albert Einstein was considered slow because he could not speak until he was four, and today he is considered one of the most brilliant minds ever. At the same time, this Nobel Peace Prize winner married his first cousin.

Successful service departments are always looking for ways to be smarter with the way they approach all aspects of their business. Technology is affording us the opportunity to do more with less these days, and service marketing is no exception. But there are ways you can overcorrect the direction you take in the name of being “smarter” that end up not being very smart at all. Here are some major mistakes you can avoid so that the choices you make truly are “smarter.”

Mistake #1: “Let’s replace mail with email because it’s cheaper.”

Remember: Let’s be smarter. ROI needs to be a major part of any marketing decision, not just cost. When operating a multimillion-dollar business within your service department, what you have to lose or gain in profit is a much higher value than what you can save in cost. Overall, an average of 27% of service emails sent out are opened by the recipients and only 6% have a unique click-through. Of the 6% that do click through, almost 2% are clicking to unsubscribe. If you ran a direct mail campaign and 73% of your mailers were thrown away, you would never do business with that company again. Yet some dealers are moving more of their marketing campaigns to email, even though they know emails are not getting opened. Emails can serve a great purpose in the correct setting, but too many dealers live in hope that they will work for service marketing, even when the numbers say otherwise.

Mistake #2: “I can do more by communicating less.”

How many of your customers service their vehicles with you on time? Our REV reporting suggests it is about 21%. Some customers delay, while others don’t service with you or go to another dealer, altogether. It would be great if marketing success was just a simple algorithm, but it’s not. Success in service marketing is about WHY a consumer should choose you, and not just WHEN they need to use you. If it were only about when, your entire budget would be spent on the sticker in the corner of the windshield. Being in front of the customer, selling your message, is vital. If you aren’t, it will only be beneficial for your competitors.

Mistake #3: “I want to put something into place and never touch it again.”

Most service managers are not classically trained in advertising and marketing. Automation can be as bad for your store as it is good. First and foremost, you need to be sure that if something isn’t working, it can be stopped. Most dealers we work with do not have high levels of success with canned products that do not adapt to their market.

Mistake #4: “Customer prospecting is the same as customer processing.”

There are many new software options for service departments these days that can really help business. They are valuable because they save time, offer your customers more benefits, and decrease your costs, among other things. Dealers make the mistake of investing money normally spent on driving in traffic on software tools that have nothing to do with marketing. If you choose to spend money on software instead of marketing, that is one thing. Many dealers, however, are doing less to market their store without realizing it. They see less traffic and realize, after the fact, that they have not been reaching out to their customers nearly enough.

Set your objectives effectively with this test: Is it Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely? Focusing on the traditional formula for SMARTer marketing, instead of changing direction based on trends, really is a smarter way to go. We’d love to talk with you about smarter marketing for your service marketing.

Value is the key to gaining an edge on the competition

May 28th, 2014 | Written By: cpatton

ScrabbleTilesCustomer-MI.134519Some days it feels like the competition in on the attack – especially on price. There is no doubt that price is important to your customer base. However, value is the real deciding factor for your customers. To accurately show the value you offer, it is essential to identify, embrace, and market your strengths – quality, expertise, and experience – if you want to retain and gain market share in the face of fierce competition.

Customer service must remain the cornerstone of your automotive service. In service businesses such as automotive maintenance, HVAC, building, landscaping, and computer networking, the value of the investment is heavily related to the level of expertise and customer service the customer receives. The better the quality and value, the more successful the business. Establishing and maintaining a reputation for integrity and excellence is paramount in the service industry to be successful.

Consider these findings:

• Quality and trust trump price – 81% of drivers agree that quality service is more important than price – Sterling Driver Insights Study
• 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated – McKinsey
• 55% of customers would pay extra to guarantee a better service – Defaqto research
• Price is not the main reason for customer churn; it is actually due to the overall poor quality of customer service – Accenture global customer satisfaction report
• A customer is 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related vs. price or product related – Bain & Co.

In the automotive service industry, the “buying experience” encompasses everything from the branding and reputation of the dealership to the interaction with writers, trained technicians, cashiers and facilities. Using your marketing to set the expectation is part of what wins over the customer. Better service is at the core of the value that you are selling, and your marketing needs to show that you have more to offer than what the aftermarket has to offer.

Below are several examples of how you can visually market your strengths – expertise, quality, and dealer experience.

thankyou.114256Expertise –

Your customers put their trust in your people. They want to know who is working on their vehicle and to feel confident in their choice of dealership for service needs.

Quality –

Market your complimentary inspection because this tells customers you have a thorough process that focuses on their vehicle safety and performance. Let them know they are getting more than the minimum from your team.

The experience –

The environment you have created at your dealership is a big investment and creates a more positive experience for your customers than that created by the competition. Show your customers you know them by highlighting that what you have to offer is what they want and need.

We use our FUEL™ software to identify when to market and to whom. It is a science. However, selling your customers on WHY to choose you is an art. Marketing the dealership needs to be a perfect mix of science and art. Our strategy is to offer a portfolio of customized and personalized personal-touch direct mail solutions that integrate with our digital Drive™ packages to ensure your messages are sent in stereo.

All of our products, solutions, and strategies work together to sell the Expertise of your staff, the Quality of your service, and the Experience your customers will receive when coming into your store instead of any other option in your market. This value is vastly undersold in most dealerships’ marketing, and it is the very reason your customers choose to do business with you. Your competitors might out-price you, but you should never be out-serviced!

Strengthening Your Relationship Marketing

April 24th, 2014 | Written By: cpatton

We all know that people buy from people and that good marketing always begins and ends with the customer. Relationship marketing takes these ideas one step further by focusing on forming long-term, mutually beneficial customer-dealer interactions that increase retention.

The benefits of customer retention for your dealership are many:

podcast.141407According to entrepreneur magazine, repeat customers spend 67 percent more than new customers, on average.
Repeat customers are also the most profitable customers because studies show that the cost of keeping an existing customer is around 10 percent of the cost of acquiring a new one.
Continuing customers are more likely to refer you to a friend and to buy additional services or products from you.
If you are keeping people loyal and satisfied, you are also creating increased job satisfaction for your advisors and technicians. Working with customers who trust and respect your assessments and recommendations makes the atmosphere so much more satisfying. We’ve all witnessed interactions where the customer is skeptical and suspicious of the information they are receiving – they can become antagonistic or even confrontational.

Q: So what makes your customers more loyal?

A: Good Communication:

Communication is a vital part of keeping your customers satisfied and it’s a two-way street that involves equal parts listening and informing. What are you hearing in your service drive? How are you responding to your critics? Zig Ziglar once said, “Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.”

Allen-Valley-Notification-Screen2.093747Using modern methods like a customized dealership mobile app allows you to speak directly to your customers about their vehicles. Does your custom dealership mobile app give customers the ability to tailor and control the information they receive from you about their vehicles?
Using your email, direct mail, and mobile app push notifications to regularly send informative messages can help you strengthen relationships with your contacts, building trust in your expertise. Using those channels to communicate, even when the message isn’t pretty – such as, informing your customers of recalls and vehicle-specific alerts and service needs – also creates trust.

Keep your communications consistent. Your message should be the same message but in stereo so that your customers actually hear and absorb your message. Do your offers conflict? Do you emphasize your strengths in all your methods of communication so that your customers really know why to choose you over the competition?
Communicate often enough to educate your customers and keep you top-of-mind. Then, when they’re ready to use what you have to offer, they’ll be more likely to think of you.

Show them you know them—Personalization is the primary marketing tool to building relationships

March 18th, 2014 | Written By: cpatton

Personal Touch Direct MailDo you have a favorite restaurant, bar, or coffee place where the employees know you? Do you have a vacation place, club, or hobby where you are regularly recognized and made to feel like you belong? Does your dealership provoke those same feelings for your customers?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes when they receive a marketing communication from your store. It could be a reminder letter, postcard, email, etc. Are they thinking about whether they need service, who they service with, or both? Our marketing strategy is unique because we put a strong emphasis on the dealership and the customer’s decision about WHO they choose for service and not just WHEN they need service. The goal in marketing is to connect with your customers. Sixty-six percent of marketers list improved business performance and customer experience as the main driver for 1-to-1 personalization. Set the scene by making your customers feel the way you do when you go to your favorite place where everyone knows you.

How do you give your marketing a personal touch?

Who you send it to – If you can make the message relevant to the client, your responses go up. Make the message relevant to the person and not the vehicle. For example, Traffic Builders divides your customers into six unique lifecycle triggers to match the message to the customer need. In a recent survey by Monetate Infographics, when asked if they valued privacy or relevancy, 64% of the consumers surveyed “believe it’s more important that companies present them with relevant offers [than offer privacy by not tracking browsing and buying activity].” Seventy-five percent of those asked also said they “prefer that retailers use personal information to improve the shopping experience.”

What to say – Since each segment is unique, each message should be personalized to achieve this “show them you know them” marketing approach. From “Thank you” and “Where have you been?” to “We want you back,” each message should be specifically tailored to where customers are in their service lifecycle. By doing this, you are showing them that you care about each customer uniquely. “True personalization puts the customer in the lens, and allows marketers to present relevant offers and messages that develop a relationship throughout the customer lifecycle,” reports Monetate.
What you offer – When I say what you offer, you probably think of pure cost, don’t you? An offer. A discount. Well, you will get what you ask for if your “offer” is only about price. In reality, your dealership offers so much more than the aftermarket and possibly even more than what your competitors offer. How much advertising space do you occupy to tell customers how your dealership provides unmatched service?
Customers do business with people they know and like. Most dealers are interested in customers doing business with their dealership and not just the manufacturer. If you can make them feel wanted and appreciated in the dealership, you will get more response and, therefore, more retention, more sales, and more traffic. Giving customers that personal touch doesn’t just happen when you are face-to-face with them. You must engage customers with an effective marketing strategy, as well.

Much has changed about how we service and market to our clients. But to be truly successful, you must also understand what never changes. Showing your customers you know them and that you value their business is essential to driving traffic.