Marketing 101 - Let's Get Started!

We've got the database program, our outline of most of the pieces of the marketing puzzle. So where and how do we start?

You might be a one person show as a fleet/commercial manager. You are the department. Or maybe you have a team and you are the leader. You also might think these are two different points of view and would call for different strategies. I think that if you are to be successful quickly and for the long term, the only difference would be the volume of things that you would do, but the strategy; the plan would be the same.

If you follow the list I gave in the last installment, I think it will serve you well. Number one is purchase and install the database. There are quite a number of places to buy a list. There is Avention, Dun & Bradstreet, R L Polk, just to name a few. My first list came from Dun & Bradstreet and I maintained a 10,000 name database of commercial prospects and owners in a six-county area surrounding the dealership, but many have been using Avention successfully. I recommend you get a good list and get it in a way that you can download it into your contact software so you can clean it up and polish it off as you go along. The list is just a place to start.

Next was word-of-mouth. Get a number of your cards out to everyone you know. If they are friends, they will want to help you. Get people talking you up, your team up, etc. This is a very fast way to start spreading the word.

If you have been at the dealership for a time, you already have your own list of customers. Seek your customers for referrals and get them telling their friends and so on. I know this sound simple so far, and of course, it is. It's okay for some of it to be easy. . .

Next is website. In today's world, a website is likened to owning a telephone in 1950, or a cell phone 15 years ago. Now we take those things for granted. You need a website for your commercial operation. Chances are it is not being done by the dealership through their normal channels. If it can be done there, great. If that is slow and not forthcoming, you have options. Get someone to build you a separate site (with approval of course). It will be different in the way it is used than what the dealership uses now. It will also be much more effective. We want it for a sales tool and to help close sales.

The commercial market is a regional market. Your customers can come from a very wide area. The website is going to be a link for you to communicate with a large audience in a way that will help you grow your commercial business. You will want to have every commercial vehicle with several photos of each on the site. It must be updated daily. I do not necessarily recommend putting pricing (although, depending on how that is done, it could be a good strategy for you), but you need some specifications, some effective descriptions of each unique vehicle, and good photographs. You will want all of this along with information about your store, your team, you, your service department, etc. It will be a fully functional website with links to various helpful sites. It will also link to your main dealership site. You might be surprised how reasonable the cost of this can be, especially if you compare it to a month's worth of media advertising. Commercial: Upward Trend is a company who has a good deal of experience in this market and can do this for you very reasonably.

The key is the updating. If it is out of date, it is ineffective. What good is a knife if it has no edge? You might as well use it as a spatula. Make sure that you stay on top of keeping one of your best tools sharp.

You may add a blog to the site to present good information in an interesting way. This blog is an example, but you might put consumer information, product thoughts, new uses for bodies, etc. If you would like more detail on the website/blog strategy, please feel free to contact me directly.

Here is the first week or so of operation and it is a powerful week. You are building a foundation to build a skyscraper on. We've just gone through the first four items. More coming soon.

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