How to Adapt Your Car Dealership Marketing to Consumer Buying Trends

For the past several years, automakers have experienced record sales growth fueled by discounts, rebates, and attractive financing terms. Consumers who have held off on buying a new vehicle during the recession—the average vehicle on American roads is 12 years old—may be motivated to help dealers continue the trend of sales growth in 2017.

Along with rollbacks in regulations, a cut in corporate taxes, and new investments in infrastructure, the auto industry could be poised to reap the benefits of an improving economy. This is not to suggest that dealerships can relax, however. Continuing the trend of sales growth will require savvy marketing to stay competitive.

We say “may” and “could” because more than ever, consumers have access to a tremendous amount of information and knowledge. It’s essential that your car dealership marketing taps into this information flow. You need to produce relevant and useful content you need to consistently connect with consumers to increase awareness, create desire, and influence purchase decisions through convenience and offers.

Direct Mail

Even in the age of digital marketing, direct mail remains a powerful way to influence consumers. Direct mail pieces that use rich images are more likely to attract your customer’s attention. Additionally, consumers are more likely to respond to direct mail advertising that includes information on options, financing, and leasing information, as well as special offers.

Use direct mail to send current offers to surrounding neighborhoods or target car owners of vehicles that are over 5 years old. With direct mail, you can promote special offers inside a mailer like the Valpak Blue Envelope®, on an oversized postcard, or even in a circular that displays severals models in your inventory.

Online Reviews

Don’t underestimate the importance of online reviews. Millennials, in particular, rely on reviews from their peers when making purchase decisions. It’s important to monitor your dealership’s reviews on Facebook, Google, and other platforms, as well as to follow up with replies. Good reviews are valuable. Use them as testimonials on your website, on social media, and in your advertising materials.

Video Marketing

Video has become a powerful marketing tool. Consumers are increasingly turning to video for information on brands and products. Develop a video marketing plan to use on your website and on social media. Your dealership marketing video doesn’t have to involve a professional videographer. Consider taking a video that tours a new automobile model from the buyer’s view, pointing out unique aspects of the vehicle.

Website Development

Online car shopping is more prevalent than ever. With competitors like, Carmax, Autotrader, and other surfacing online sites, it’s imperative that your dealership website is constantly updated to reflect actual inventory, current prices and offers, financing options, live chat, home delivery options, and more, in order to compete with the changing terrain.

Finally, keep in mind that consumers want a smooth, easy experience when purchasing a car. Use technology to streamline and improve the finance and insurance process. Your marketing materials should emphasize your dealership’s easy car buying process and provide some specifics on how you’ve implemented new strategies to get customers in and out of the dealership quickly.

By leveraging new technologies, as well as more traditional marketing methods, dealerships can stay competitive and be well positioned to compete in a market that may experience a decline in sales following eight consecutive years of growth. Today’s car buying consumer maintains high expectations for connection, response, trust, and reliability. You can help meet that need through timely and effective marketing.

Hustle and negotiation will remain a critical element of growth, but effective marketing will enable dealerships to leverage an improving economy and the easing of regulations to continue the positive sales trends of recent years.

Get started today:

  • Research the ways in which your customer is accessing information and develop a plan for increasing your dealership’s visibility on these platforms.
  • Develop a content marketing plan for your website and social media, offering relevant information that consumers will find useful to help keep your brand top of mind and build trust.
  • Review your direct mail materials and revise as needed to ensure that you’re using rich images and providing the kind of information that will motivate consumers to purchase.
  • Develop a plan for monitoring and responding to online reviews. Have a strategy for handling negative reviews and make use of good reviews by using them as testimonials.
  • Brainstorm ideas for video content, such as a behind-the-scenes look at your dealership, an in-depth review of new features (particularly technology that allows drivers to stay connected), or an interview with one of your mechanics or a finance person. Use videos on your website and on social media.
  • Develop a plan for streamlining the car-buying process. Once you’ve implemented an improved process, promote it in your marketing materials to let people know that your dealership values their time and will do everything possible to make their car-buying experience a pleasant one.

Need help developing an effective marketing plan for your automotive dealership? Contact your local Valpak marketing coach to find out how our marketing solutions can help drive your automotive sales.