Remember, it’s all about “Location, Location, Location”

Foursquare.  Yelp.  Facebook Places.  Gowalla.  Loopt.  Brightkite.  Some of these you may have heard of…while you may accuse me of making some of them up on the spot.  The truth is that they are geolocation applications (often synonymous with geosocial) that are increasing in popularity and should become a part of your automotive marketing mix to drive traffic to your dealership.

Geo What?

I’ll try not to get all technical on you but a definition may help.  “Geolocation” means that, thanks to your smart phone or other mobile device, your current (as in relative to time) physical location is identified.  “Geosocial”, on the other hand, is the publication of such information on various social channels that allows and encourages interaction with other people. Cliff Notes version: these applications allow you use your mobile device to check-in at businesses and other places of interest, while simultaneously notifying your friends and other social connections where you are and what you’re doing through a social network.

While many dealerships have jumped on the social media bandwagon by participating on sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, few have incorporated geolocation apps and geosocial networking into their marketing efforts. However, automotive marketing professionals should strongly consider including them…because, as we know, people are influenced by the behaviors, choices and purchases of their friends.  And a growing broadcast tool for such information is the geolocation app.

Using Geolocation Apps at Your Dealership

How can your car dealership use geolocation applications? Many brick-and-mortar companies are incentivizing people to ‘check-in’ to their venue; car dealerships should be no different.  This is because geolocation apps provide your dealership with a real opportunity to affect Sales and Service revenue.  Here are a few thoughts and suggestions for your dealership to include geolocation apps into your marketing:

1. Give a little.

According to a Razorfish study, one of the reasons that people follow brands on social sites is fairly obvious: Access to promotions, exclusive deals and discounts.  Having said that, many geolocation services provide you with the opportunity to reward your dealership’s customers for check-ins.  This functionality allows your dealership to encourage customer loyalty in a new and tech-savvy manner.  How you ask?

Your dealership can provide “rewards” to those individuals who are loyal customers by motivating and incentivizing them through the social web.  Perhaps they’ve stopped by your dealership to have an oil change performed, or maybe even something a lot more expensive was done to their vehicle, or possibly they were visiting your lot a few days later to peruse the new models.  Either way, geolocation applications allow and encourage the customer to check into your dealership to receive not only recognition for being a loyal customer, but also a reward.

Using Foursquare’s badge system, you can reward someone the first time or each time they check in…and provide a much bigger special for the individual who becomes the ‘Mayor’.  Your reward can be as simple as a free upgraded car detail with service.  Some dealerships have devised a system that rewards a customer with a free service after ‘x’ number of visits.  The possibilities are endless!

2. Hey You…Over There…Yeah, I’m Talking to You!

One of the biggest benefits of geolocation apps is the ability to alert individuals of a special when they are within the vicinity of your dealership and check into a nearby business.  So, when Joe or Jane Smith is visiting the breakfast restaurant just around the corner from your dealership, their location triggers the application to notify them of specials in the area.  How great is that?!

Your dealership can offer a special, whether it is a small percentage or dollar amount off (i.e., 10% or $10 off, whichever is greater) to the individuals who bring their vehicle in for an oil change (or whatever service you wish) during select hours.  Hey, the person is literally around the corner…it’s quite possible you could strike them at just the right time…and with the right incentive…to have them swing by your dealership for some service.  Talk about direct automotive dealership marketing potential.

However, geolocation-related offers don’t have to be exclusive for your service department.  Some OEMs (Mazda, Mercedes to name a few) have used Foursquare to offer financial incentives in the sales department as well.  Regardless of sales or service, your dealership can conduct some serious automotive marketing endeavors through these services.

3.  All Hands…Ears and Eyes…on Deck!

Just like many of the other social networking services, your dealership is able to learn from and interact with customers via geolocation apps.  On some sites, Foursquare as an example, your customers are given the ability to leave feedback and make comments.  As part of an online reputation management regiment, your dealership must take the time to review the feedback and learn from it.  Certainly it’s also imperative that you take the time to interact with the customers.  Since many applications allow you to contact and converse with the individuals who checked in, why not ask them how their experience was or if they would recommend it to their friends.  Seriously, make conversation with your customers on these social sites, as it will go a long way in building a relationship.

Frankly, there is a lot more to be discussed with regards to geolocation apps as we’ve just touched on the tip of the iceberg here.  If there is one point I’d like to leave you with, it’s this:  as a business, you must provide a clear and tangible incentive for your dealership’s customers to interact with your brand online and for them to share their personal information (whether physical or behavioral) with you.

Are you using geolocation apps at your dealership?  What’s been your experience thus far?

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

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 and check her out on LinkedIn.

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