First, a couple of thoughts:
- If you don’t have a ‘brand’, you are just a retailer of a commodity.
- If you don’t have a brand, you have absolutely no marketplace distinction other than price.
- If you don’t have a brand, your only ‘blue sky’ is your real estate and assets.
- Almost every dealership has ‘brand value’ but too many dealerships fail to identify, promote and market the perception of that brand.
I’ve always believed that I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world because, not only do I love what I do, but I have been so fortunate and blessed to work with some of the greatest retail ‘brands’ in the automobile business over the years. Dealerships that dominate their marketplace and generate substantial profit regardless of what the market is doing. Dealerships that have a strong, identifiable BRAND.
Last month I shared thoughts on ‘brand share of mind.’ Basically, you are either building your brand for share-of-mind dominance, or you are headed out to pasture. But let me put it in more selfish terms for the dealer principal. Building your brand is building your multiple potential when you sell and/or build your leverage for future growth. If all you do is spend money to sell metal for the factory, you’re on the treadmill that eventually slows down.
In last month’s Dealer article, I shared some thoughts on actually figuring out what your brand is. You can read that article here. Now let’s talk about the best way to convey that brand perception to the marketplace:
First, memorialize what your brand is. Make sure every person on your team knows it by heart. Boil it down to one paragraph. Boil it down further to just a single sentence. Every person on your team should be able to verbalize what your brand value is.
Second, make sure every bit of your marketing, advertising and promotional material reflects the basic tenants of your brand. This is your STORY. This is who you are. Why you are in business. What you stand for.
The best tool to tell your story is a well written/produced video. A video then can be multi-purposed for infomercials, in-store digital signage, emails, and commercial messages for television and the internet.
Interview. Rather than trying to write a script, let those who know you best tell your story. Start by interviewing on camera the dealership owners, including previous generations that started the dealership. Interview key personnel, especially long-term team members. Interview customers, especially those who have purchased multiple vehicles over the year and those customers that have referred others. Interview vendors and suppliers. Interview community leaders. If someone wants to say good things about the dealership but doesn’t want to be on video, consider using still pictures of that person with their audio. It’s especially helpful with time-stressed individuals.
Ask the same questions. Try to ask the same questions in the same order…
- “When you hear the name ‘(dealership),’ what do you think of?”
- “What do you think makes ‘(dealership)’ different from others?”
- “Beyond selling vehicles what has ‘(dealership)’ done for/meant to the community?”
- “When someone asks you about ‘(dealership),’ what do you tell them?”
- Write your narration of the story around responses, using multiple responses to convey realism.
(narrator) “The Jones dealerships have been a part of his community for 73 years…and for some it has been a lifetime of relationships.”
(older customer) “I think my dad bought his first car here in 1953 and our family has been coming here ever since.”
(technician) “I started working here when I was 17 and now I have six grandchildren…so I would say I’m a lifer with Jones!”
(dealer) “My grandfather used to tell us stories about how much he loved the car business and how he hoped we would all stay involved. I’m really proud to be a third-generation Jones dealer.”
Use professional videographers. At one time, filming/videotaping was an expensive proposition. Today, there are a number of qualified pros who can do a good job in capturing video and sound at a reasonable cost. You don’t need massive production costs, however proper lighting, some makeup and good sound are critical to your success. Additionally, even though you can upload a camera phone video to your social page, if you’re using television, the quality of the video becomes more critical.
It’s all in the editing. Once you have captured the interviews and appropriate ‘cover’ of the dealership, a good editor can make magic happen. With enough material, you can use the same footage for long-form infomercials that can be aired on television. It’s a lot more affordable than you might think. Ask local stations what a half-hour program goes for on a Sunday afternoon or late night. Edit several five-minute videos than can be shown in rotation on digital signage in the showroom and service area. “Why I bought here” videos that help confirm a visiting customers’ good judgement that they have come to the right place to buy a vehicle.
The future bodes well for strong brands. Research has shown that while the ‘millennials’ and even younger future customers have less loyalty to brands, those segments place high value on a brand that can be trusted for more than just a low price. This correlates with the research showing younger buyers are more focused on streamlining the buying process.
If you’d like a step-by-step worksheet for conducting video interviews, email me.
Author: Jim Boldebook
JIM BOLDEBOOK is Founder of CBC Automotive Marketing, an advertising/marketing agency working with some of America’s most successful dealerships. He has been in the broadcasting, advertising and marketing fields for almost 50 years. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org