Friday, November 7, 2008

More Meaningful Marketing, Part 5

Now we are on to the next topic in this series: Internet marketing.

Because building websites and online newsletters for dealerships and other businesses is one of the things we do, we have had the opportunity and interest in looking at hundreds of websites. There is a lot of fancy graphics, flash and show on many but hardly anything of substance toward making sales. It is rare to find a dealer site that has any photographs of any of the people that work there. It is still a people business after all. This is especially true of commercial truck websites at dealerships. This makes no sense to me. Tens of thousands of dollars later, the website has not helped move the dealership forward. That is a shame. It can be an awesome communication tool to lead people to communicate directly with your people.

So, for Internet marketing, the very first thing is to create an effective website that shows personnel, has phone numbers, email addresses, cell phone numbers, the works. Show pictures of vehicles you actually have instead of mirroring what the manufacturer does. Sell your dealership, your people, your services. Get your team involved with training and input. Create a site that adds to your business in dollars and numbers of sales. Get some online sales happening even.

Start thinking of your website as a valuable revenue stream instead of a manufacturers informational site. Let them go to the manufacturer's site for the info and to your site for the sales. Get service up in lights. Post photos of your service writers, manager, etc. Put their direct lines, cell phones, get the calls coming in. List your services, include some service special coupons. Get parts involved. There is so much that can be done. Most the the sites we see are fancy and nice, but ask yourself: Why would I buy from this dealership? Why would I even go in there? Because they have the make I want and they are in my town? Put lots of testimonials. Let your satisfied customers tell prospects why they should come in. Let them say why you should be trusted. Put information that is of interest to the people coming to the site, but make it about YOU and your store. Promote the phone to ring off the hook. Make your site VALUABLE. This also means that it must be updated almost daily! It is a tool, it is not a pre-recorded message or like your on-hold music system. It is not something to build that you can cross off your list. It is a work in progress--always a work in progress. You guys are in sales, right? There, I said it. Deal with it.

If you could create an additional revenue stream for very little investment, why would you not do that? Why are you not selling parts and vehicles online? Do you realize how many vehicles have been sold on eBay alone? It is in the millions. Yes, millions. That is one avenue, but there are many. Why not have an E-Commerce website linked to your website where you actually do sell things online. A few new marketing ideas could make a huge difference to your bottom line. What if it made a little difference, but it was steady? There are lots of opportunities here.

More Internet marketing: Email HTML newsletters and other promotional pieces to your prospects and customers. Give a little interesting info, do a little selling, give a little interesting info, do a little more selling. It's a great tool and very easy and very inexpensive. It is so inexpensive that you will laugh at how cheap it is. Create another revenue stream.

Blogs. This is a tool we use a lot and is extremely effective. It is a great way to share information and have links and photos and advertising and help get you found on the Internet. This blog is one of them. We are giving away extremely valuable information at no charge to whomever wants to view it. We are creating value--in what we do and how we do it. We are creating additional links to the various search engines which helps direct people to our websites. We do these same things for our clients that want them. The more prospects that look at you, the better, right? So we give away some good information at no charge. It will come back to us and it will for you as well.

Many dealerships have an Internet department, but they aren't used effectively. Much of what they do is respond to quote requests from places where the dealership pays for the leads. There is so much more that can be done to create your own leads in addition to or instead of paying the others for them.

These are just a few of the important and powerful things that you can do on the Internet. Seek to understand just a portion of the real value the Internet holds for your business. Create some more meaningful marketing for your business today.

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