Archive for November, 2010

Direct Marketing Campaigns: It’s the Little Things That Matter

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

When it comes to direct marketing campaigns, it’s human nature to think big.  Whether it’s rolling out an email blast for an upcoming customer appreciation day or sending out a holiday themed Sales or Service postcard, we all have a tendency to want to “wow” the recipient with bright colors, killer graphics and an awesome call to action.Missy Jensen - DMEautomotive

In reality, you’re re-inventing the wheel and over-thinking the whole initiative.

It’s always a good time to remind yourself that the mantra of “Keep It Simple, Stupid” is still a best practice in your direct marketing campaigns.

While keeping that in mind, it should also be noted to remember these other simple aspects when brainstorming for that upcoming program.

Grab their attention. Let’s face it:  your mailbox – and email box – is filled with quite a bit of sales collateral, ranging from discounted lawn service to an incentive to change your high-speed wireless plans.  In order to cut through that clutter, compose an appealing headline (direct mail) or captivating subject line (direct e-mail) to grab their attention.  Furthermore, these headlines are the first step in a process that creates initial contact with your prospects and can lead to a call to action.

Keep your eye on the ball. Putting together a strategy involves knowing who you’re targeting.  By utilizing an updated and accurate marketing database as well as a good social media-monitoring program, you should have a pretty solid idea of what your target is looking for, whether it is a vehicle or service.

The devil is in the details. When putting together the copy for your promotional mailer, give the consumer all the details to assist them in making a decision.  The more details you can give them – features, benefits, you name it – the more improved your chances of getting customers into your doors.   However, it’s critical to balance it with a clear call to action.  Do you want your customers to call you to schedule a Service appointment?  Do you want them to visit your showroom?  Whatever it is you want from them, tell them!

Emails are meant to brief. In sending out your direct mailers, you have a bit of extra time to capture your recipient’s attention.  However, with your direct emails you have a few scant moments to entice them.  How scant?  One study puts the timeframe at less than 7 seconds.  Compose great teaser copy in your subject line and direct them with links to garner more information about your product/service.

By keeping things simple and remembering the “little things” in putting together your direct marketing strategies, you’re not re-inventing the wheel… you’re giving it traction.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Bio:
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com and check her out on LinkedIn.

Up For Review: Driving Dealership Reviews for Your Store

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Buying a car has never been easier: pick a car that fits your price range, check out a few reliability rating sites on your selection, go to the dealership for a test drive and – should everything fall into place – you’ll drive off the lot with a new vehicle purchase.

For car dealerships and their direct marketing strategies, it’s only half the battle. Missy Jensen - DMEautomotive

In the online age, there are numerous pipelines for potential car buyers and automotive service customers to obtain reviews of dealerships.  Such sites as DealerRater.com offer prospects a one-stop shop for anything and everything related to a dealership: customer service, quality of work, friendliness, overall experience and price of the vehicles in their inventory.

So what can you do to get your automotive customers to share their experiences?  Try one or two of the following to get started!

Happiness is a warm review. Get your satisfied customers to spread the word that their dealership experience was a great one.  Word of mouth marketing – either by verbal or non-verbal forms – is an important way to influence others in their vehicle purchasing decisions.  Dealers should give their raving customers referral bonuses for helping to drive traffic into their dealership.

Launch a social media strategy. By installing a social media strategy for your dealership, you’ll put yourself in the driver’s seat.  It’ll give you all the tools needed to monitor conversations about your dealership and provide a chance to perform some reputation management should a negative review come careening your way.

Give incentives. It’s never easy to get your customers to offer a review of your sales or service process.  Often times, a person who buys a vehicle just wants to hit the streets and show their purchases off to their friends.  Grab their attention by offering incentives like a discounted service visit or an automotive detailing package for their vehicle.  Giving them a financial incentive should help get those reviews flowing.

As easy as it is for prospective automotive buyers to buy a new vehicle, it’s just as easy for someone to go online and offer an opinion on their car buying or automotive service experience.  By placing a priority on netting positive reviews for your dealership, it serves as a better opportunity to land more people into your showroom and make those sales doors swing.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Bio:
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com and check her out on LinkedIn.

Going Mobile: Messaging Can Take Sales to Another Level

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

As more and more consumers use smart phones and iPods® for both business and personal use, technology – yet again – has offered both automotive direct and customer retention marketing managers yet another avenue to reach consumers:  mobile marketing.

At the recent 9th Digital Dealers Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada last month, one of the hottest topics was how can automotive dealerships effectively utilize mobile marketing in their strategic initiatives.Missy Jensen - DMEautomotive

So what can dealers do to get more engagement and land an even healthier ROI with a mobile marketing campaign? Here are some ideas to consider when putting together a mobile strategy.

  • Make It Easy to Do Business. By instituting an opt-in mobile campaign for your Service department, you can make it easier for your targeted consumers to confirm or change their set appointments.  Many text and email communication programs send customers to your website and offer a log-in page.  In fact, a presentation given at the conference noted that those who have utilized phone or email appointment reminders have shown a 21 percent show rate than not doing anything at all.  Targeted direct marketing, on the other hand, has a show rate of an astounding 85 percent!   This arrangement offers not only traffic to your site but also effectively tracks how successful your marketing efforts have paid off.
  • Keep it Real. Have you ever walked into a computer store or an airport and notice those big, bright plasmas/LCDs listing customer queues and times of their appointments?   By employing digital signage as part of your customer service department’s mobile strategy, it makes the customer experience that much more personal.  It gives your customer all the relevant information and ensures that your dealership staff will see them for their appointment.  Besides, everyone likes to see their name up in lights, right?
  • Drive The Social Media Bus. When engaging with a customer via social media, you’re viewing your target as a person rather than a transaction.  Social media is a relationship-based customer retention-marketing vehicle that – while collaborative in nature – puts the customer in control.  When people are deciding on where to take their vehicles for service or repair, they often imitate the behavior of others.  Additionally, a social media strategy can also serve as a great reputation management-marketing plan.

Due in large part to the advancement of mobile technologies, automotive direct marketers and customer-retention marketers alike should begin to fully embrace mobile marketing as an effective strategy.  By incorporating some of the suggested methods and strategies in your campaigns, your dealership’s return on investment and retention should begin to creep upward.

Go mobile – or get left behind.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Bio:
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com and check her out on LinkedIn.

Direct and to the Point: How to be Proactive in your Automotive Marketing

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Recently, we delved into the topic of reputation management and how online communities have impacted automotive sales and marketing efforts.  In that posting, we highlighted two tenets that are front and center in those strategies – reactive and proactive marketing.

We noted that proactive marketing acts as a guide that sets the course of your direct automotive marketing Missy Jensen - DMEautomotivecampaigns.  In that same breath, we noted it provides direct marketing professionals an active role in continuing to inform customers on products and services.  Being proactive also has been known to impact and drive positive results to your dealership’s bottom line.

What we didn’t cover – however – is how an automotive dealership or direct marketer can effectively utilize their arsenal (digital, social and traditional media) in being proactive for their reputation management plans.  The following provides a brief snapshot on how to effectively put together a proactive campaign.

Mission: Control. Above all, the main advantage to being proactive in your automotive marketing campaigns is the ability to control the message through your varying marketing vehicles.  In setting up a good and controlled strategy, you’ll be able to keep your spending in check, monitor your efforts and effectively measure your initiative’s return value.

Active Listening. Simply put, active listening requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they hear.  By doing so, customer relationship management can help improve through reducing conflicts, cultivating understanding and improving cooperation.  Making use of online tools like HootSuite and Addictomatic can help serve as a launching point in trying to determine what consumers – both current and prospective – are saying about your product or service.  Once that information is compiled, a framework for a proactive campaign can be constructed.

Engagements That Ring. A proactive direct marketing campaign – email, print or social media – requires some level of engagement.  Engagement allows for the fostering of relationships with your clients and helps in getting a read on their reactions, both positive and negative.  Specifically, loyalty-based and seasonal-based programs are two tried-and-true avenues explored in proactive marketing plans.

Stay on Track. With your customer databases and past budgets in hand, you can track the patterns you used in your initiatives to influence a message.  This allows you to target your prospective or current customers to get results and thus, nurture customer loyalty.

When putting together a proactive marketing strategy, keeping these four points in mind as a base will help give your automotive marketing plans a firm footing.  Being able to control your message, actively listen to your consumers, engage and by staying on message with your campaigns will go a long way into creating a successful initiative that will deliver results.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Bio:
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com and check her out on LinkedIn.

Progress as Promised: Customer Service at the Dealership

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

In the past, a visit to a car dealership’s customer service department was much like a visit to the dentist: an appointment filled with long wait times and much trepidation about the results.

While there still may be some trepidation on the sticker shock of your vehicle’s maintenance bill, automotive customerMissy Jensen - DMEautomotive service and customer service retention has been much improved thanks to progressive practices and technology.

The Goodwill Dealership Ambassador. At higher-volume dealerships that require a bit of a ‘traffic cop’ to direct customers to varying departments, a greeter has come to serve as not only a dealership ambassador but also as a key part in a dealership’s customer service plan.  A greeter’s role also expands beyond the typical greetings to an incoming customer: they serve as a multi-functional customer service representative who can handle the setting of service of appointments, sales or service calls that require a return message and notifying the appropriate personnel that you’ve arrived for your sales or service appointment.

Online, All the Time. Thanks to the emergence and improvements of the Internet over the better part of the last two decades, automotive dealerships have come to utilize the dealership’s public face – the website – for more intuitive customer service.  By implementing a simple submission or request form on their website (where such information as model, mileage and needs is requested), a customer now has 24/7 access to their dealership’s service department.  The submission form can also serve another purpose as the information can then be submitted into a database for the dealership’s marketing efforts, including direct mail pieces for upcoming Sales events and Service specials.

The Reach of Text. In concert with having a direct email marketing campaign, short message service (SMS) – the text component of your wireless or web communications device – serves as yet another element in the evolution of automotive customer service programs.  SMS can serve a dealership in a number of ways: it offers customers an ‘opt in’ to get up-to-the-minute information regarding the service status of their vehicle, the latest sales promotions and coupons.

As time marches on, car dealership marketing and other automotive customer retention

Initiatives will continue to improve.  The continued progressive practices and the institution and utilization of technology has helped relieve that trepidation and made a visit to a car dealership a pleasant one.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Bio:
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com and check her out on LinkedIn.

Bring in the Hook, Bring in the Pain: How To Get Your Customers in the Door

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

In my last blog, we discussed how themed products could impact your target direct marketing (TDM) campaigns.  We emphasized how formulating a strategy and creating a theme for your TDM initiatives can get your target’s attention and get them in your automotive dealership’s doors.

Recently, we have also pondered so the question: “How many times does your door swing and your cash register ring?”Paul Ryan, DMEautomotive

Now we’ll tackle the biggest facet of making your door swing and grabbing your customer’s attention to visit your dealership …CREATE PAIN!  Simply put, creating “pain” is giving your customers reason to visit your dealership and create sales traffic.

So what would quickly create “pain”? People are always willing to discuss the features and benefits of a current product or promotion; you’re planting a seed in their minds that something else might be a better option.

More importantly, what is this pain they incur by not purchasing and can they live without it?  Furthering that, would your customers be losing money if they do not conduct business with you today, this week or even next month?

To get their attention, always describe and expose the pain of not purchasing today.  In other words, show your customers what they lose by not buying today and would could the consequences be should they pass on their decision.

That’s where the “Hook/Pain” strategy comes into play.

So what price do you set to “hook” this product onto a consumer where they still feel good after the purchase?

One “hook” to use would be to find the value of a product, expose it and give it a new, unbelievable Price Tag.  The price tag sets the bar for perceived value and needs to be an identifiable value that would noticeably lost if not owned-type of value.

A hook is supposed to make the pain feel good.  If someone’s in the market for brakes, you want them to feel like they shouldn’t miss the latest brake special; if they’re in the market for a new car, the customer should have the perception that they cannot afford to miss the opportunity to buy a new car.  In offering a price tag that’s so ridiculously affordable, it’s an offer that’s too good to refuse and therefore, you’re always promoting a “hook” for the “pain”.

The key to the automotive direct marketing campaign is simple: create a theme that offers to relieve the recognized “pain” by offering a “hook” as a call to action to get the customer to immediately visit the dealership to act on the “hook”.

In my next blog item, we’ll attack the strategies involved in how to determine the “Message” for your TDM.

Happy planning…

~ Paul Ryan, Field Account Manager @ DMEautomotive

Bio: Paul Ryan brings over 25 years of experience in sales, sales management, marketing, and client services. He joined DMEautomotive in February of 2008, as a Regional Territory Manager. With proven success as an inside sales representative selling the FullCircle Solutions’ Bullseye program, he was recognized frequently as Sales Person of the Month and received the highest honor of Sales Person of the Year for 2008. In August of 2009, Paul managed, “Direct-To-Dealer” – Mail Division, responsible for overseeing the sales for the “Direct-To-Dealer” Mail Division. Currently he is traveling in the Midwest as Field Account Manager. Paul graduated with a B.B.A, in Business Administration from Iowa State University in 1982.