Building Deeper Customer Relationships in the World of Automobiles
The ultimate goal of automobile marketing and advertising agencies is to create compelling advertising and marketing messages that drives sales or at least keeps a brand front of mind during the purchase decision. Advertising and marketing strategies are tailored accordingly, to highlight the USP or Unique Selling Proposition of a car/brand for a specific target market – or group they feel would most likely buy that brand.
Identifying specific needs can be a challenging task for auto marketers. Prospective car buyers often don’t have just one need – they have many. Failing to address genuine concerns can be a fatal mistake that a car salesperson can make. Focusing instead on what makes the car special doesn’t help a prospective buyer. An Audi is all about luxury and performance, but it would only be natural for a first-time Audi buyer to enquire about after-sales support, or roadside assistance if he/she needs that peace of mind while on a long road trip. Instead of offering a guided tour of the service centre, where a customer will eventually spend time and money, a salesperson may only offer words of assurance.
78% of consumers are spending more than 3 hours researching vehicles online.
In today’s connected age, consumers can take a great deal of time learning not just about what an automobile offers but instead put focus on what the brand and business offer as well. This kind of behavior can cause potential customers to put off their purchases as they focus efforts on online research, where they can read reviews look at options, price upgrades, downgrades, other models, work out operating costs and more. There is such a wealth of information available online, including customised answers by car experts/enthusiasts in response to any query that may not have been shared by the dealership. The result is that someone who was interested in buying a car may make drastic decisions that take them to a very different decision outcome. In fact, according to an annual report by ACA Research, 78% of consumers are spending more than 3 hours researching vehicles online.
The report goes on to share that the dealership is however, still a very important part of the automotive customer journey for the majority of car buyers with 76% of consumers visiting at least two different dealerships, including 37% that visited at least four. Furthermore the automotive customer will spend nearly 2.5 hours at the dealership where they purchase the vehicle across at least two visits.
Enhancing the Automotive Customer Experience
The solution is not to ignore the power of the Internet, but rather to work with it to refine the various channels that automotive customers experience your brand through. This requires sales as well as service re-training to treat the customer as king. Often, salespeople today are less about how a particular car model can address the specific requirements of a potential customer and more about creating a need (‘Be part of something exclusive by buying our brand’) that may not exist in the first place. Dealerships and brands have now entered the sharing economy and an era of unprecedented social connectivity and must now market accordingly. Every interaction channel matters if you’re to develop a deeper more meaningful relationship with a prospective customer.