According to a Polk study released in June 2011, other than the Internet, a referral from friends & family is the most influential source when car shoppers are deciding to purchase their next vehicle. They spend 11 hours online researching: visiting the manufacturer’s website for specs, poking around your dealership’s website to look at inventory and they search 3rd party sites like Social networks to talk about it with their friends & family. Social Media IS word-of-mouth. It’s where buying decisions happen.
Social Media is word-of-mouth…digitized. Technology has created the speedy delivery of referring buyers to your store. Your Social Media marketing strategies create buzz about your store and just like all social situations, people start talking. They gossip, they share, they vent. People talk and Social Media platforms amplify the talk digitally everywhere. Are you participating in those conversations?
In traditional marketing, dealers broadcast messages saying, “We’re the best place to buy!” But now, dealers better deliver on everything their marketing materials promise. Claims of “Biggest” and “Best” mean nothing when your customers have friends telling them otherwise. There’s a new trend in the decision-to-purchase arena and it’s called alignment. It’s shared values and perspectives between buyer and seller.
Today’s customer doesn’t just buy what you sell…they buy WHO YOU ARE.
Social Media has allowed us to communicate information from person to person with blazing speed. Your customers are looking for good, trustworthy information and feedback. They turn to their trusted networks and if your store’s message gives them quality information, YOU are who they’ll interact with. Your potential customer is looking for your right now. Have you started building your Social Store where people will go to find the trusted information they’re looking for?
Of that 11 hours, car shoppers spend the most time on 3rd party sites (approx 3.25 hours). Social Media and online ratings sites make up the bulk of that. Do you have specific marketing strategies in place to attract these buyers? Do you have an established process inside your store to manage online ratings? These foundational components allow you to communicate your message to your biggest audience–the online community.
I was just reading a post by Ralph Paglia referring to a study where 50% of auto dealer respondents said the marketing tool they could not live without was word-of-mouth. Surprisingly though, only 4% said the same about Social Media. There is a huge disconnect here because Social Media is word-of-mouth. Sure, it doesn’t come in the same package, but that’s what they said about the telephone. People talked face-to-face before the telephone was invented. That’s the kind of transition we’re in folks and I predict Social Media will become as much a part of our culture as the telephone has.
It’s a digital revolution and some dealers are moving at evolution’s pace. Wake up to your Social community, create your Social Store. People are just waiting to tell their friends & family about it.