At the 14th Digital Dealer Conference in Orlando, I noted that auto dealers are being out-marketed by locksmiths — on the topic of used autos, no less. I shared a story of a locksmith who had created an infographic on how to buy a used car, which illustrates how someone outside the auto business can do a better job of capturing the attention of social media users and potential car buyers.
Consumers value (and share) utility, a principle embodied by new marketing from Fowler Holding Company, a group of seven auto dealerships in Oklahoma and Colorado, seizing an opportunity to turn the tables.
Fowler commissioned their own infographic, working with Fluxx Marketing in Norman, Oklahoma. But they didn’t just start designing. Together, they interviewed service managers and technicians from across the Fowler dealership network, sought input from local locksmiths, and researched auto theft statistics from the FBI and beyond.
The resulting infographic shows what anyone can do if locked out of their vehicle, and was posted on the social outposts of each Fowler dealership, as well as the personal social outposts of key employees.
Social media and content marketing have traditionally been seen by auto dealers as another avenue to sell a product. Fowler took a different approach, providing meaningful information that anyone can access at any time. Each connection would be another person to remember Fowler when the time came to look for a vehicle.
Today’s hyper-competitive environment clearly makes marketing more challenging than ever before, forcing businesses to compete for attention – not just against other businesses – but against everyone and everything.
To break through, business must now transcend the transactional, and focus on delivering useful resources and information to their customers and prospects.
A study by the Wharton School of Business of 7,000 New York Times articles over a six-month period found that useful articles were 30 percent more likely to be on the “most emailed” list.
This new strategy is to create marketing so imminently useful that people would pay for it if asked, and requires businesses to help, not hype. At their best, these programs connect consumers to resources that are related to the products and services sold by the business, rather than directly about those services. An infographic about used car buying advice from a locksmith, for instance.
Companies need to challenge themselves to make the story bigger, and engage in conversations about topics that are tangential, yet still relevant.
Columbia Sportswear, a Portland, Oregon–based manufacturer and retailer of outdoor wear and gear, makes the story bigger with their useful free app called “What Knot to Do in the Greater Outdoors”, providing detailed instructions on how to tie dozens of knots, including which to use when. The app has 48 five-star reviews out of 53 total reviews in the Apple iTunes Store. With little marketing support, it’s been downloaded 351,000 times in about 20 months.
The company’s research found outdoor enthusiasts commonly carry smartphones on excursions, regularly using the camera, GPS and music features of their devices while in the field, paving the way for a helpful app that could engage customers while planning (and taking) their outdoor adventures.
Columbia doesn’t sell rope. Fowler doesn’t offer locksmith services. But both organizations are creating and providing truly useful resources that engage their core customers. Your business can do the same, and the results may surprise you.