Perception Is Reality

DM News recently published an article titled “Intelligent automotive marketing: It’s not an oxymoron”. It was a very good read, but caused me to mull over the reason they would use such a title. Sure, it’s a catchy phrase and is intended to be a humorous play on words, but there is truth behind it. It’s no secret; many people’s perception of the automotive industry and car dealerships is negative. This title is a perfect example. It implies that the industry as a whole is perceived as being unintelligent. And judging by many polls, the majority of consumers feel the same way.

A recent poll conducted by KRC Research shows that 53% believe the automotive industry has a poor public image. In addition, 33% believe the automotive industry, in general, is not innovative enough. Whether their answers were based on actual experiences or hearsay is irrelevant. In this industry, perception is reality. People are still wary of engaging in conversations with Sales People when stopping by the dealership just to kick the tires.

This brings us two difficult challenges. First, how can you create a positive and trustworthy image of your dealership? And second, how can you create the most comfortable environment for your prospects. Conveying a strong, coherent and engaging message is the way to build trust with your prospect and customers. No matter what type of marketing you use, don’t bombard them with a ton of useless information in hopes of selling a car. Like I mentioned before, deliver a specific message personalized just for them. Not only is it the best way to spend the money, but it is also the most effective way to get your message across. Make them feel comfortable before the visit. The more comfortable they are, the better your chances of selling them a car.

If your customers have a specific reason for visiting your dealership, your Sales Person’s job will be significantly easier. As Alec Baldwin’s character in the movie Glenngary Glen Ross said, “A guy doesn’t walk on the lot, lest he wants to buy!” Your prospects visit the dealership for a reason. Your job is to make sure they have a clear vision and defined reason for being there. If they already have something to discuss…whether it be a specific mail piece, or a phone call they received on behalf of your dealership…the comfort level and likelihood of buying increases.

Delivering a message that resonates with your customers and giving them the best possible experience will help change a perception, realistic or not, that is already ingrained into the mindsets of many.

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