Great brands differentiate themselves through storytelling. Not the “once upon a time” kind, but rather the kind that gives consumers an inside view of what the brands are really all about. Instead of simply telling shoppers what they do or what they sell, the secret behind their successful brand strategies lies in telling their stories—who they are, why they are, what they are—in a way that resonates and is meaningful to consumers. When you take the time to get to know your audience, find out what clicks with them, and how they want to connect with you, you’ll be able to tell great brand stories that hit home with your shoppers. The WAY you tell your story will stick with people and determine the success of your dealership. It’s up to you, and it’s all about the story you tell.
There is a Native American proverb that states, “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” This rings true in business, especially as the marketplace becomes more crowded with businesses working to be seen by consumers. Consider the fact that most dealerships offer the same products and services as many of their competitors. So with everything else being equal, what’s left to make them stand out from the crowd?
Stories define your dealership.
Stories form the backbone of your business, and best of all, they are unique to you. You offer a wide range of products, services, and capabilities; and by weaving experiences together into a brand story, you create relationships with customers and earn their trust. Rather than simply selling, you are building a brand presence and connecting with customers.
What’s in a Story?
If you’re wondering how to go about the actual storytelling, think back to the stories that have stuck with you over time. You want your brand story to be as riveting as your all-time favorite—the story you never got tired of hearing. And the great stories all have a few things in common: they have a hero, plenty of excitement, and they capture the audience’s attention. For your dealership, it’s all about sharing meaningful moments in a way that resonates with consumers and makes them want to choose you. When you think about how you’ll tell your story, keep in mind the things you most want your customers to know.
Show them how you are unique. What does your dealership do that makes it stand out in the community? Do you support local high school teams? Do you regularly hold events like car-care clinics to educate shoppers? Are you active with a local pet adoption program? Share the things that make you an original and be sure to invite your customers to join in when you host events. Your story is unique, so let it shine!
Use social media to broadcast your story. Most of your customers are probably active on social platforms, so if you want your story to be heard, you’ll need to meet them where they are. Hone your brand voice and take to your online forums—because that’s where your audience is hanging out. Start with Facebook and Twitter and be sure to change things up and offer a variety of content to keep everyone interested. You’ll boost interaction and gain recognition as you consistently interact.
Inspire customers with your culture. When customers walk into a business that has a great culture, they know it. How? Because they can feel it. They are immediately greeted by engaged employees who are happy to be doing their jobs, and instead of walking into a dealership where everyone is simply going through the motions, they walk into a car-buying experience. When the foundation of your dealership is a culture of excellence and engagement, it’s evident to everyone who walks through the doors. This is part of your story, and it’s told by the people who show up to work every day.
Share your dealership’s history. Is your dealership family-owned? Does it come from a long line of hard-working local men and women? Whatever the history of your dealership, be proud to share it with your customers. They will find a bond with the feeling of family and the reminder that you are a part of the hometown history they share.
Be ready with solutions. Customers appreciate it when you lend an understanding ear, and often, they just want to know they’re heard when they have feedback for your dealership. You become a part of their story when you empathize and understand where they’re coming from. So whether they’re dealing with repairs, maintenance, financing, or other dealership details, you’ll forge a positive piece of your own story when you’re there to offer support and solutions.
Stand for something. What does your dealership stand for? Do you unequivocally offer the fastest tire rotations in town? Then stand for that! Does your service department have early hours for the rush-hour crowd? The best wi-fi and workstations for customers who are waiting? If your dealership offers a customer experience that is out-of-this-world, then stand for that. Whatever it is, make it known. The thing you stand for should be woven into every aspect of your dealership; it’s your story, so talk about it.
Tell it here, tell it there, tell it everywhere. Your story is something you are proud of; in fact everyone in your dealership should be proud of it. It should be shared with everyone who sets foot in the dealership, and every employee should be encouraged to shout it from the mountaintops—or at least on Facebook and Twitter. Your employees have a MUCH greater online reach than your dealership alone, so encourage them to spread your story and be proud of the dealership where they work. After all, it’s not just a dealership; it’s a story.
Remember, your brand is your story—and for a story to be interesting and engaging, there are important elements to consider. Don’t forget the details and don’t forget your brand’s unique personality. Remember to surround your customers with the experiences and culture of your dealership, and you’ll be giving them a way to emotionally connect. When you tell an epic story, your dealership will be unforgettable!
Author: Joey Little
Joey Little serves as Director of Digital and Social Engagement for AutoAlert. An expert in customer experience management, he educates automotive professionals at speaking engagements across the country. With results-driven advice and proven industry knowledge, he assists dealerships in reaching their audiences and increasing business via their social platforms.