Since mid-March, the automotive world has been operating at a much difference pace than we are used to due to the Coronavirus. While things are not 100% back to normal, there definitely is a “new normal”. These times of uncertainty have been a learning experience for dealerships and their agencies, making us more prepared to handle those constant changes in dealers’ advertising. How did your agency handle your messages and advertising during these times? Do you think they could have been more proactive?
We are still unsure if the situation will progressively get better, or if it could potentially backpedal. With that being said, we have compiled the top items of what is critical to address immediately during an experience like this – after all, it is 2020 and anything can happen!
1. Are Your Customers Easily Informed?
One of the first things a customer will look at when they want to find out information is your website and/or Google Business page. If you want to get a message across, your website should have a bold banner at the very top of the site, or a pop-up banner, with the most important information they will need.
For example, some of the pressing questions were: Is your sales or service department closed? Have your hours changed? Do they need to make an appointment to come into the dealership? It is always better to be extra informative than not giving enough information. Some website providers even rolled out new features to their sites, such as alert banners at the top of the dealer’s website.
On Google My Business, they currently have an option to include a “COVID-19 Update”. This makes it even easier to let your customers know if there is any important information they need to know, specifically COVID related. However, even pre-COVID, you were able to post an update on your Google My Business page – so this feature is here to stay.
2. Do You Need to Make Budget & Creative Adjustments to Your Advertisements?
It is essential that your advertisements match what you are showing on your website – especially if there is an important message to a customer. For example, the first big change for dealerships was that they were forced to close their sales departments. However, they were able to keep their service departments operating. Because of this, the creative was switched from new and used car advertising to service offers. Messaging in ads also included things like “curbside drop-off” and “vehicle disinfected after service” to correspond with the times and what was being shown on the dealer’s site. And with that came the budget adjustments and/or cuts. Since dealerships only had their service departments open, the funds were immediately shifted over to service and were cut down significantly.
Over the past few months, restrictions were lifted. Sales departments were able to open remotely and shortly after, in-store sales also became allowed. In both cases, the creative in the advertising and on the website were consistently updated to match what the new guidelines were. The messages then revolved around “at home delivery available” and “our showroom is open”. Since some of the restrictions began to be lifted, the budgets, again, were also shifted.
During these times, automotive marketing agencies had to give their dealers suggestions on where to move the funds and how much to spend, all during an unpredictable market. And, of course, consistently update the creative on the dealer’s websites and in their ads.
3. Do You Have Showroom Signage?
As the world slowly began to open back up, businesses had to adjust to the guidelines and restrictions that were (and are) still in place. New investments included signage about social distancing & masks being required, plexiglass and extra disinfectant supplies. How does your dealership compare to the other businesses when it comes to adhering to these guidelines? Does your showroom door have signs reminding customers what is required of them before they come inside?
Aside from the messages that are on your website and in the digital realm, your showroom should also include these same messages. You want your customers to feel comfortable to come inside and they also want to know that the staff and other customers visiting are adhering to the “new normal”.
The biggest takeaway we as an automotive digital marketing agency have gathered from these past few months is that it’s crucial to be on top of the ever-changing market and everything else going on in the world that affects your business – big or small. And most importantly, your agency should be there to help you navigate through this.
Sarah is a well-seasoned marketing professional who kicked off her career soon after graduating Kutztown University. Starting right out of the gate in automotive marketing, she has spent the past four years excelling as an account manager, recently advancing to the senior position at D2D. She is an expert when it comes to juggling, organizing and following through with the day-to-day tasks that come along with the position. Having worked with most vehicle manufacturer brands, she has an expansive knowledge of co-op, creative requirements, and everything in-between.
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