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The Inbound Difference: How to Market When Your Price is Not the Lowest


It’s just not apples-to-apples any more. 

While you might sell the same shiny new F-150 as the joint down the street, yours comes with a different maintenance plan, financing options, chrome package, floor mats, or other more trivial add-ons.

While it’s relatively easy to advertise what you’re selling, it’s important to consider why a person might actually pay more for the same vehicle at your dealership. That’s where a solid reputation, intelligent inbound marketing and efficient marketing automation can help you stand out ahead of your competition.

The Sticker Shock Isn’t Real

Being expensive can be painful. Having high prices certainly can deter a select type of lead, but it doesn’t have to always be a bad thing. In fact, according to a recent study by Autotrader, the dealership experience presents more value than the actual price to most consumers.

While price is important to consumers, the dealership experience can trump lowest price: 54 percent say that they would buy from a dealership that offered their preferred experience over lowest price. Additionally, 73 percent report that they are willing to drive farther for a great salesperson, versus 65 percent who are willing to drive to get the lowest price.

So, when your F-150 is $2,000 more expensive, stop feeling so self-conscious and shed some light on the value your location, your brand, your policies and your staff have to offer. When you wince at seeing your truck towards the bottom of the list on a third-party shopping site, the pain isn’t real. The opportunity is, however, very real.

1. Show dynamic, educational content.

In the digital world, we’re helping dealerships with a relatively new practice called inbound marketing. We get in front of people in the right places – let’s say Google, Facebook and Twitter. Then we learn what these people like and keep them engaged by sending them the content which interests them the most. Think of it as a value prop on steroids. You’re not only differentiating yourself, you’re also relating that difference – your value prop – to the shopper’s specific interests.

While most dealerships jump right to the offer (as evidenced in “shouty” TV ads and mindlessly erratic email blasts), our clients prefer to nurture relationships respectfully over time. In fact, some of our clients’ leads might stick around for up to 2 years before finally making a deal. That may seem like an unusually long time considering that the average buying cycle is now less than a month, but it’s all about relevance. As JD Rucker of DealerAuthority.com says: You have to fight with relevant messaging.

So how can your dealership be dynamic in its messaging? If someone is has expressed interest in an F-150, don’t just tell them about your huge inventory and low prices. Chances are that you can see who is looking at trucks – why not show them relevant messaging in your banners, sliders or retargeting ads? Use marketing automation (CRM data combined with behavioral analytics) to tell them about your experience with the truck, what your other truck customers are saying about you and, most importantly, the unique things that only your store can offer with a truck. This messaging can manifest in the form of targeted emails, smart calls-to-action (also known as conditional buttons or modules), homepage sliders and retargeting banners. And, more importantly, this approach brings your higher price out of the equation.

Even your PPC ads (think Google, Bing or Facebook) can adapt to a shopper’s intent. For example, when someone searches “new Ford Focus in Sioux Falls” they’re probably at a different point in the buying cycle than if they had searched “best small sedans.” These two examples are at very different places in the sales funnel, and one will care about your pricing much more than the other – for now. The point here is that, before someone passes on your dealership because your F-150 is $2000 more than the one down the street, they should be informed enough to look past the sticker price.

2. Serve up specifics about your truck (or SUV, or car).

Even if your truck is the exact same color, trim and package as the truck down the street, you have the opportunity to provide peace-of-mind by spelling out the details first. Since shoppers are generally willing to look past your price and right at your store’s value, they need to know exactly what they’re getting into – literally and figuratively.

Consider the shopper’s journey. For example, if someone is searching for “new F-150s in Sioux Falls” and stumbles upon your listings alongside those of your competitors. How will they know the real difference your store offers?

It’s all in the relevant details, which need to be placed squarely in front of visitors who are likely to care. And although it takes some extra legwork to have your ads, web pages and listings all optimized with the appropriate details, it’s going to differentiate you from the schlubs down the street.

Looking ahead, messaging ahead.

If you know what makes your store different, and if you really know your products inside and out, you’re in a great position to get ahead of your competition online.

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