Make an Effort, Not an Excuse – How to Merchandise Your Inventory Effectively

How to Merchandise Your Inventory Effectively
Dilbert’s friend Wally, the perpetual voice of reason.

Last week, we hosted a webinar to discuss How to Merchandise Your Inventory Effectively. In this webinar, we talked about the fundamentals of e-commerce websites, different variations of structuring your inventory listings, and Strathcom’s four best practices for well-merchandised inventory. But rather than put the cart before the horse, we want to make sure we share this important public service announcement:

If you’re in the business of selling vehicles, you need to put your inventory on your website.

You were probably told this a few years ago, and we’re still telling you this now because it often doesn’t happen. The reasoning is pretty simple, too: if you can’t be bothered to put in the effort required to show a customer why they should do business with you, they won’t be bothered to put in the effort to go looking for it.

Think of it this way: buying a home is the largest purchase the average person will make in their lifetime. If you were selling your house, and your realtor didn’t put a listing of your house on MLS online, you’d probably be pretty upset, right? Chances are good that potential buyers wouldn’t even know your house was for sale unless they happened to drive by and see the sign on the lawn. And even then, they wouldn’t be able to go online and find the listing to learn about how many bedrooms or bathrooms it has, peruse the square footage or other house specifications, or look at pictures of how the house looks inside. Those potential buyers would probably have a greater chance of finding other homes, listed by other realtors, who did the best job possible of showcasing the house in that online listing so that the potential buyers would want to book a viewing and hopefully make an offer.

A vehicle is the second largest purchase that the average person will make in their lifetime. Why would your dealership want to do things any differently?


To learn more about how to best structure your online inventory for your customers, plus our Big Four Best Practices, be sure to check out the recording for “How to Merchandise Your Inventory Effectively”.

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Boosted Posts are Bullshit.

There is no mincing words here: boosted posts are bullshit.

It’s definitely an enticing idea, sure – you get that notification that gives you a little digital pat on the back that the Facebook post you made earlier is performing better than 75% of the posts on that Page, and you can boost it for $X and reach up to blank-thousand more people.

And that’s when you mark the notification as read, and step away from the computer. Don’t click on it, don’t pick a number of days to boost it for, and don’t plug your credit card in.

We can give you any number of answers as to why it’s a bad idea, but here’s the only one that matters:

Boosting that post is not going to be the difference between selling another car or booking another service appointment, and is therefore not going to affect your bottom line.

I repeat: Stop wasting your money on things that don’t affect your bottom line.

frustrated marketing agency
This is the face I make when I see a business has been boosting the same post for any extended period of time.

Boosting posts is intended to increase the number of people who see, like, comment on or share a post on your page. Its sole purpose is to increase engagement for small businesses (which car dealerships aren’t), and the reason to want to increase engagement is to build a community that will regularly want to interact with you and purchase from you on the same regular basis. Boosting posts isn’t Facebook advertising – it’s paying to stroke your own ego.

The average Canadian purchases a new vehicle every 2 years†. With car dealerships, maintaining a regular organic (as in, not paid) social media presence is a key part of long-term customer retention and building brand, but it is not a definitive call-to-action to make a customer decide to purchase a car from you today. And I promise you – the boosted picture of a smiling customer standing next to their new car at delivery (that they then shared with their friends, and you received the residual likes and other engagement metric bump up from) is also not that call-to-action.

If you missed out on the webinar we hosted with Facebook last month, Nimalan Bala, the Client Solutions Manager at Facebook’s Automotive Dealer Solutions, echoed the same sentiment.

“The vast majority of your marketing dollars should be spent on your business’ objectives for building lead ads and driving traffic to your website, because again – your website is a great property. You spend a ton of money building ads and building your website, and there is no other competition on your website. There is only you. And how are you using that data, how are you using the website? Focus more on that.”

Your dealership should have a clear set of marketing objectives, and your money should be spent strategically to help accomplish those objectives. If you’re looking at paid social media (which is a great option), Facebook offers a multitude of ad types that can generate leads directly for your dealership so that you can sell cars, target customers nearby to come into the store to take advantage of service or parts promotions at your dealership, or view your dealership’s inventory directly from the comfort of the app they’re spending the most time in. Our team can show you any number of options or ideas that might fit your budget (and with Facebook advertising, it doesn’t need to be a huge one). But if you want to advertise on Facebook, it makes the most sense to do it in a way that you can measure, manage, and monetize. “Likes do not pay the bills – sales do”. (Noah Kagan)

†http://canada.autonews.com/article/20170406/CANADA/170409873/survey-finds-62-of-canadians-in-mood-to-buy-a-new-vehicle

Reputation Management & How Dealers Can Use It To Make More Money

2016 was the beginning of the big push toward establishing your dealership’s brand and ‘brand management’, and it has only continued in 2017. What most dealerships seem to miss is the difference between their brand and their reputation (or that there is a difference in the first place).

Your brand creates an impression that makes a customer think or feel something when they think of your dealership. Your reputation is what gives your customers an expectation of your future behavior based on past experiences – either their own, or from other customers who have dealt with you.

Young Businessman using Tablet device in a car dealershipCustomers aren’t going to love your brand – they’re going to love you, and your reputation because that’s what’s tangible to them. The two pieces absolutely go hand-in-hand, but brand recognition alone is not going to spontaneously generate engagement; there has to be a reason why the consumer should pick you over your competitor.

You’ve probably heard before that the three major differences between businesses are product, price, and perceived value. Especially with new vehicles, you don’t have a better product than the next guy selling the exact same vehicle. Those identical vehicles cost the same amount from the factory, so if you want to differentiate yourself by price, you’re going to be giving up profit (and that’s clearly not a sustainable plan if you want to make money). That leaves only one option – perceived value.

Over and above an extra set of weather tech floor mats, or priority service appointment bookings, most customers just want to know that they’re going to be treated fairly.

86% of customers will pay more for a better experience

This is where your reputation comes in. When 84% of consumers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation, reputation is the clear call-to-action for your dealership over the next one. If you’re spending any amount of money on a brand awareness campaign (print, radio, outdoor, television, branded PPC ads, and so on), why wouldn’t you care about what happens once the customer remembers who you are and decides to look you up?Businessman hand giving five star rating

And this is where we come in. Register for our Reputation Management webinar with Melina Beeston, our Manager of Dealer Development, to learn about how you can leverage your dealership’s reputation to make more money.

Tuesday, April 25 at 10:30AM MST

And remember, for every Strathcom Media webinar you attend, you will be entered into a draw for a signed McDavid jersey!