Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Grill up Some Dealership Marketing Success

Grilled steak
The weather is starting to cool off, meaning that if your grill isn't reserved for football game tailgates, it's likely already in storage for the winter. But down here in Texas, it's almost always grilling season, and it's hard to beat a big, juicy grilled steak.

As easy as grilling the perfect steak might sound, steak is fickle and can become tough if you're not careful. Likewise, when your dealership is trying to create a rich marketing campaign, it's just as easy for things to go bad quickly.

If you're craving a delectable steak and want to make your dealership's marketing campaigns as enticing as a filet mignon from a high-end steakhouse, here are some tips for you.

Don't Overcook It

How you like you steak prepared — whether it's rare, medium or well done — is entirely up to you. While some of us might prefer a medium-rare steak, even a well-done steak can be tasty. But no matter how you like it, you usually cut into it to make sure it's not too dry.

Marketing campaigns can end up dry too. If you let a campaign run too long, it can start looking tired and overused to your potential customers. You need to make sure the campaign is producing your desired results. If it is, great job! If not, put it on pause and take it back to make it perfect. Be sure you have a way to measure marketing impact so you know when a campaign isn't generating leads anymore.

Know When to Keep It Simple

The temperature of your cooked steak can dictate flavor, but seasoning and marinades can play big roles as well. While complex marinades are perfectly acceptable, you should consider using a basic seasoning if you want the meat to speak for itself. Sauces and marinades can complement a prime cut of beef, but a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper will allow the steak's natural flavor to shine.

The steak, which is the focus of the flavor, is a bit like the message you want to convey in your marketing campaigns. Marinades, sauces and seasonings are like the ways you try to draw attention to your campaigns. It's easy to let the bells and whistles — such as a script-heavy website or a big PR stunt — take precedence over the message. Use only as many attention-grabbing techniques as you need, because using too many can smother your original message, leaving prospects wondering what you're even selling.

Occasionally Go Against the Grain

There are many cuts of steak to choose from when you want to grill some meat, but most are pretty similar in thickness and shape. If you want to try something really different, look at a "cowboy cut" rib eye — just make sure you grill it right. Since it's a thick, bone-in cut, the cowboy cut can't just be thrown on the grill for a few minutes. It takes longer to cook over low heat and must be flipped frequently. That time investment can create a dinner that's a little different and delicious.

It might take more time to see success when you stray from your traditional approach, but a new approach can be worth the wait if it's done right. Much like how you don't want to overextend your traditional campaigns or use too many bells and whistles, a new approach should follow the same pattern. Just be sure you take the time to make it right, because even a minor mistake can be expensive and damage your dealership's brand.

So how do you like your marketing campaigns prepared? Do you like to keep them simple and on-message, or do you go the extra mile to make them stand out? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Data-Backed Decisions Can Take Your Sales to Stellar Heights

Children pretend to be astronauts
Do you think the engineers planning the Mars missions haphazardly lob rockets into space hoping they make it to Mars? When billions of dollars of infrastructure and hardware are at risk, a ton of data collection and research go into every little decision.

Collecting and using data to make marketing, sales and training decisions can set you apart from your competitors, but ignoring the information available to you can send your dealership toward disaster. Here's how you can use the right data to your advantage.

Improve the Sales Process

Data collection needs to be a priority for your company so you can more efficiently direct your marketing and training efforts. Surveys after a sale can give you information on why customers picked a particular vehicle, why they picked your dealership and how they felt about the sales process. Recording and monitoring calls can also give you insight into how reps are performing.

For long-term improvement of your sales process, you're going to need more than just accurate contact data. Detailed demographics of your customers can reveal what kind of features they're looking for, how they feel about one brand over another and even where your sales process might be faltering.

Know What the Customer Wants

If you knew a customer were shopping for a certain type of car with certain features, wouldn't it benefit you to put a targeted ad in front of their eyes before they visited one of your competitors? Wouldn't you like to know some key pain points that might make them change their preferred make or model? Knowing what a customer is looking for before your competitor does gives you the perfect opportunity to strike while the iron is hot.

Data also gives you insight into which advertising methods are working and which ones aren't. Paying for ineffective advertising doesn't do anybody any good. Tracking lead sources, whether through phone calls, clicks or search terms will allow you to focus your efforts on the more successful sources.

Meeting Customers' Expectations

Dealerships are frequently happy to let sales figures do the talking. After all, if a rep isn't make sales, there must be a problem. Having access to performance data and being able to see where that sales rep is falling short can give you insight into how to improve their training. Don't buy into the myth that training should have a one-size-fits-all approach. Everybody has a different way of learning.

Meeting customers' expectations and providing stellar service can be the difference between them sticking with you or leaving for your competitor. Most Americans have given up on a transaction at some point because of a poor service experience, and the majority of those who have done so likely won't consider you again once they leave. Improved data analysis leads to better training and happier customers.

The next time you want to make decisions on the fly, take a moment to realize how much you can learn from the data. Otherwise, "Houston, we have a problem," because dealership margins are too slim for dealers to be making haphazard and unguided decisions.

Monday, October 10, 2016

[INFOGRAPHIC] Customer Service: The Forgotten Marketing Channel

How does your customer service look? If you've been neglecting training your staff, you might be suffering consequences you don't even know about. For example, did you know that 89 percent of consumers stopped doing business with a company after a poor experience?

Check out the infographic below for more shocking customer service statistics.

Infographic - Customer Service: The Forgotten Marketing Channel

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

(Snack) Attack Your Marketing and Sales

An assortment of snack foods
One of the most relevant subjects to the human race is food.

Brace yourselves (and maybe grab a snack); a lot of food talk follows.

We absolutely love food. And rightfully so — it’s delicious. Most of us consume it at least three times a day to keep our bodies going from sun up to sun down. We prepare it ourselves. We pay restaurant chefs to make it. We wait in lines of vehicles to take it on the go. The list goes on and on.

But perhaps the most underrated food form is the good ol’ afternoon snack. So grab your favorite tasty treat and nibble on these marketing and sales tips.

Take Advantage of Chip... Er, Cheap But Effective Options

A bag of tortilla chips paired with a nice big bowl of zesty salsa is a cheap but effective way to fill you up. Can a snack get any better than that? If you said no, you’re wrong. That might sound harsh, but we’re serious about our chips and dip here. The only downfall to this tasty snack is that some chips are going to break off into the salsa, leaving you half-chipless and completely dipless. It’s a sad but inevitable truth. But don’t fret, because your next dipped chip will return the savory goodness back to your eager taste buds.

Similarly, starting a new social media campaign is a low-budget way to upgrade your marketing. Posting on social media sites costs you nothing (except for a small portion of your time), but it can increase the reach of your marketing activities significantly. Unfortunately, new content is posted so often that some posts tend to get lost in the salsa that is social media. On the bright side, the accelerated content turnover allows you to post as frequently as you desire, so you can make up for any posts that get swallowed up.

Create the Perfect Mix 

Trail mix is quite possibly the most diverse (and deliciously nutritious) snack on the shelves. What makes trail mix so great? Every single ingredient is essential to perfecting the overall concoction. Each has an individual purpose. Without the nuts, you wouldn’t have the salty component. Without the M&Ms, you wouldn’t have the sweetness. Without the raisins… well, you get the picture. With every ingredient you add, the trail mix continues to improve.

With that in mind, implementing an advertising campaign with diverse components is an effective way to boost your marketing. Using a variety of platforms like social media, direct mail, mobile marketing and traditional media can increase your ROI by 24 percent. Each platform gives your company a better chance of reaching your target market, so add some new marketing channels into the mix for your next campaign.

Get It While It’s Hot!

Whether you prefer your popcorn buttered, salted, caramelized, or heck, even kettled, we can all agree that it's best when it's fresh and hot. Some like to savor the flavor and take time eating it, even setting it aside to save for later. We don't judge these outcasts, but we do have some advice: Don’t wait too long to eat it, or it’ll get cold and stale.

Leads are the same way — you need to capture them while they’re still hot. When new leads pop up, it’s crucial that your sales team take action immediately before the leads turn cold and stale. In fact, 35-50 percent of sales go to the sales team that contacts customers first. Responding with urgency so you’re the first to contact a lead can make a huge difference in your business’s conversions.

Want to chip in some of your own marketing and sales tips? Dip into the comments below to let us know.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How Mario Can Help You Save Customer Calls

The classic Mario games presented a way for people of all ages — adults included — to have some video game fun. Whether you prefer to play the games on a Nintendo 64, GameCube or Wii, you’re bound to have a good time.
Animated video game landscape
You can learn a lot from these games, like how to dodge a Koopa shell, or how to strategically maneuver around other characters. Even better, you can learn how to up your game with customer interactions. Wait, what? That’s right; Mario can help your business. Let a couple of our favorite Mario games teach you how.

Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. provides endless hours of obstacles and levels. Each world and villain creates a new way to challenge your gaming skills while helping Mario rescue Princess Toadstool from the evil Bowser.

Your company may have some Princess Toadstools that need to be saved too. The challenges you face when contacting customers probably aren’t turtle shells or fire-spewing plants, but poor call etiquette could be just as hefty a barrier blocking you from business prospects. Have no fear, there's a way you can rescue some of those mishandled calls.

Monitor your sales reps’ conversations when they’re talking to customers on the phone. By sitting in on calls or reviewing call recordings, you’ll be able to pinpoint what led to a lost customer and tailor employee training to limit that risk. As an alternative, you could outsource the call monitoring and have call evaluation professionals notify you of missed sales opportunities.

Mario Kart

Similar to Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart allows you to use devices such as banana peels, ink blots and Koopa shells to deter competing carts in the race. Mario Kart also has several racetracks with various hurdles such as icy roads and sand. Your business is also competing in a race. But instead of competing in a video game race, you’re seeing who can get to a potential customer the fastest. 

In Mario Kart it’s not unheard of to distract and sabotage competitors, but if you focus on boosting your speed and enhancing your abilities, you’re more likely get to the finish line the fastest. The same idea applies to your business. Instead of focusing on how to divert competitors, focus on how to reach customers the fastest. Since you’re 21 times more likely to qualify a lead by contacting them within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes, it’s imperative to increase your response time. To do so, dedicate an employee to lead response or invest in a tool that'll notify you of online leads. By increasing your response time, you’ll better your odds of winning the race to the customer.

What's your favorite Mario Game? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Improve Your ROI and Customer Service by Digging in to ‘Jurassic World’

Jurassic World movie poster
Image courtesy IMDb
“Jurassic World” was one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2015, and with roughly $1.67 billion in box office sales, it clearly didn’t disappoint. The fourth film in a series of entertaining attempts at recreating dinosaurs dug up roughly two decades worth of nostalgia fossilized in its fans.

The first anniversary of the flick got us thinking of a few takeaways that you could use to improve your business activities.

Aside from the obvious recommendation to never recreate dinosaurs, we found that “Jurassic World” also provides some helpful hints to increase your ROI and enhance your customer service.

Know What Your Assets Are Made Of

One important factor that contributed to the downfall of the Jurassic World theme park was the ignorance of what the terrorizing creature known as Indominus Rex — or “the asset” as it’s casually called in the film — actually was. Apparently a 40-foot killing machine (a T. Rex) wasn’t entertaining enough, so the park scientists decided to make a dinosaur that would be more exciting for the public. The result? A cocktail of classified creatures’ genes, making Indominus Rex the first genetically modified hybrid dinosaur ever created. There’s no way that could ever go wrong.

Since the park crew was unaware of the hybrid’s genetic characteristics, they failed miserably in their attempts to corral Indominus Rex once she broke loose from her enclosure. Had they known what the dinosaur was capable of, we imagine their approach would have changed significantly.

Likewise, knowing the characteristics of your target audience typically gives you a better idea of how to market to them. So how do you improve your knowledge of prospective customers?

By using a call tracking software, you can generate call reports that may provide information like callers’ zip codes, age groups and average income so you know exactly who’s in your market. This information enables you to adjust each marketing campaign to best fit customers within certain demographics. If you want to round up a lot of leads, we suggest acquiring as much information as possible on your target market.

Have Professionals Ready to Step In

If a giant, dangerous dinosaur gets loose, the last thing you want is for it to reach people. You need to do whatever it takes to regain control. In the movie, the park managers opt to send in an "expert" team to take down Indominus Rex, equipping them with glorified stun guns. By the time they elected to employ the abilities of Owen Grady, an expert dinosaur trainer — yes, dinosaur trainer — it was far too late.

Like in the movie, if an asset (client) gets away, you don’t want them reaching competitors. If a dinosaur trainer is unavailable to retrieve your lost leads, we recommend engaging the expertise of call monitoring professionals. The professionals will listen to your recorded calls to identify any missed sales opportunities. They'll alert you if a lead needs to be recovered, and you can either rectify the situation personally or assign it to a sales rep. While you could listen to every call on your own to find these escaped leads, they'll likely be long gone by the time you uncover them.

Tracking Solutions Are Ultimate Resources

You didn’t think a single human could take down a colossal dinosaur, did you? Even a dinosaur trainer as remarkable as Grady needed the help of his team of Velociraptors. Despite the glaring concerns of releasing a group of known killers (reference any of the first three films), the raptors complete the mission by using their exceptional tracking skills to find Indominus Rex and eventually bring her down.

Create your own tracking team that’s as relentless as the Velociraptors. If your business is struggling to take down the competitor, put together a group of call tracking solutions to boost your business’ ROI. Inbound lead tracking helps determine your most effective marketing campaigns so your business can focus on the advertisements generating optimal returns. Outbound lead tracking monitors and tracks your employees’ calls, which increases accountability among staff and encourages elite performance. With a team of tracking solutions, your company has the resources to take down its competition.

Love business tips from featured films? Check out these dealership marketing tips from the Griswolds.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How Lessons from 'Sixteen Candles' Can Help Your Dealership Court the Right Customers

Sixteen Candles stars Samantha and Jake sit by a birthday cake
Image courtesy Universal Pictures
Since we've been in the mood for classic '80s movies lately, we followed "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" with another John Hughes film, "Sixteen Candles." It tells the story of a budding high school romance thrown into chaos by a number of outside influences, which overwhelms the lead character, Samantha Baker, as she tries to make a connection with her crush, Jake Ryan.

When you're trying to connect with your crush — we mean your dealership's customers — it's easy for things to spiral out of control due to unexpected circumstances. Maybe you're wasting time and money on a campaign your potential customers have already forgotten, or perhaps you're sending mixed messages to your audience, confusing them and sending them to other dealerships.

If you're struggling to find that special marketing spark with your customers, here are three marketing lessons we can learn from "Sixteen Candles."

Remember the Important Things

The movie starts out with Samantha waking up on her 16th birthday — a day everyone looks forward to. But to her dismay, her family forgets all about her birthday!

It might surprise you to learn that, like Samantha's birthday, some of your marketing campaigns are being forgotten and ignored by your potential customers. Likewise, you might be forgetting some of your better campaigns if you're focusing your time and money on weaker campaigns. Be sure you know how your campaigns are performing so you can get the most out of your marketing budget.

Since many consider phone calls the best lead source, applying unique toll-free numbers to your marketing campaigns and tracking the resulting calls can help you pinpoint which campaigns are working and which ones aren't. That way, you're not forgetting anything.

Send a Clear Message

Samantha doesn't just feel forgotten by her family but also by her big crush, Jake. In fact, Jake doesn't seem to know Samantha even exists before she accidentally drops a piece of paper on which she had written her true feelings. Jake becomes interested in Samantha after finding the paper, but keeps hitting a wall when he wants to contact her. He tries calling her house, but her grandparents pick up the phone and promptly turn him away. Uh-oh! Then he tries going to her house in person, but, due to a miscommunication, he believes Samantha is getting married, when her sister is actually the one planning a wedding. Even bigger uh-oh!

If your marketing campaigns aren't sending a consistent message, it can confuse your customers and cost you sales, just as a miscommunication causes Jake to think his chances with Samantha are over. Be sure your marketing messages are consistent across all outlets — from traditional advertising to social media to your website. Customers will turn the other way if you can't back up something that was promised in one campaign and not another.

Pursue the Right Relationships

As if Samantha doesn't have enough going on, she also has to deal with Ted, a geeky freshman who badgers Samantha for attention just to win a bet with some friends. It all begins when he moves to Samantha's seat on the bus. Ted tries to make conversation, but Samantha isn't having any of it. His annoying advances continue for much of the movie.

Don't let your dealership be a Ted to your customers. Some people simply don't want to receive unsolicited calls, which is why they sign up for do-not-call (DNC) lists. If you're placing calls to numbers on the federal DNC registry, you could face large fines and a damaged reputation. To protect yourself, use a call tracking software that flags numbers on the DNC registry and keeps you in compliance.

Jake, Samantha and Ted aren't the only lovable movie characters we can learn about marketing from. Check out some of the lessons we took from Forrest Gump.