Is Your OEM Going Electric? Two EV Marketing Tips for Your Dealership
Tesla has it easy. Not only did they get an early start on the electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, but they also basically jump-started the surprisingly old EV market. If someone is driving an EV in your neighborhood, it’s probably a Tesla.
Whether or not you personally believe in the hype, EVs are going to be significantly more mainstream in the near future. Your dealership is going to have to adapt.
Those EV early adopters who have purchased Teslas in the past five or six years have had very limited options compared to what will be coming in the next few years. In fact, the global EV market is expected to rev up from 4,093,000 units in 2021 to 34,756,000 units before 2030.
Setting the course with the GMC Hummer EV and the new Chevy Bolt, General Motors is aiming for an all-electric lineup by 2035. With a flash of Lightning, Ford is countering GM by investing $28 Billion in EVs before 2025.
Prepare Your Dealership to Ride the Upcoming EV Wave
There’s no doubt that OEMs will have plenty of co-op support for EV marketing. Up there at the Tier 1 level, the marketing landscape is shifting. In the decade before 2020, there were only three total Super Bowl ads for EVs. But in the 2020 Super Bowl alone, four of the eight OEM ads were for EVs. In 2021, GM alone dedicated two Super Bowl spots to EVs. (They were actually the only two, but it was an odd year to say the least.)
The governmental pressure that American automakers are getting is eventually going to trickle down through Tier 2 and onto your desk. It’s up to you how to use that energy (no pun intended) to your advantage.
Once the OEM convinces an American that they need an EV, it’s your job to tell them why your dealership is the best place to get it.
How do local OEM dealerships connect with the rest of the would-be Tesla drivers out there who haven’t yet made the jump to an EV?
Despite the concern and challenges with fixed ops, dealers need astute marketing strategies to compete against one another in this accelerated EV landscape.
Here’s how you can keep an edge over the other dealers (or — in the case of Tesla — other brands without dealerships) who are selling EVs in your area.
1. Really Know Your OEM’s EVs (And Train Your Staff)
EVs seem to be a polarizing issue even though they currently comprise only about 3% of U.S. auto sales. But as demand rises, so should your expertise on both the EV product and the people who are interested in it.
On one end of the spectrum, you have the early adopters who have already hopped into their Teslas or some other form of alternative fuel vehicles (or maybe even O.G. Nissan Leafs).
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll have people who have already sworn off any form of alternative fuel. I won’t elaborate on this type — you likely know exactly who I’m talking about. These people have already dug in their heels, so don’t bother spending your dealership’s precious marketing money in a futile effort to pull them over to the green side.
Your ideal audience for EV marketing is somewhere in the middle. And, in the coming years, it will be majority first-time EV buyers.
People considering EVs need solid answers. Not only should you train your staff on common EV FAQs, you should also post these in a Q&A on a special EV hub page on your website.
- How can an EV handle the climate here?
- What is the maintenance schedule for an EV?
- What are the tax incentives in your state?
- How do I charge?
- Where do I charge?
- How long does it take to charge?
- How far can the EV go on one charge?
- What makes your dealership’s EV better than a Tesla?
This research, along with training support from your OEM, will help your staff and your customers feel more confident in the EV market — making it less of a new-fangled oddity and more of a new way of life in your market.
Ford plans to be 40% electric by 2030, and GM plans to be all-EV by 2035, which is overwhelming. However, this climb is going to be more of a grassy hill than a rocky cliff.
After all, the auto industry is adept at change. Think about how different your OEM’s 2021 lineup is compared to 2011 or 2006. Even the fuel tank isn’t immune to this sort of gradual change, and your new vehicle market will stay healthy as long as you can stay prepared to help it online.
As with any models in your lineup, research and training will prepare your staff to put the lead at ease and ultimately convert more EV sales.
2. Don’t Pick a Fight You Can’t Win (With Marketing Budget)
Bob Dylan upset his fans when he and his band suddenly played electric instruments. Many of those fans were even more upset because they thought he would never play acoustic again. He eventually did.
Learn from Dylan’s mistake. Electric just isn’t for everyone.
It’s not as if EVs are going to suddenly take off overnight, so don’t expect a digital marketing strategy to suddenly change the hearts and minds of your entire audience.
When it comes to sifting out the EV leads from your visitors and database, you’re inevitably going to face plenty of skeptics. Instead of spending precious time and marketing dollars on convincing people that EVs are a valid choice, seek first to find the people who need less persuading and more informing on their options.
On Facebook, for example, your dealership can easily target an audience interested in alternative fuel, green initiatives, technology and the like. If those interests aren’t enough, you can expand your Facebook ad reach by using Special Ads Audiences based on your current EV leads and customers, or website visitors who are looking at EV pages.
As with any model in your OEM’s lineup, it’s best to send the marketing emails tactfully. For example, if someone is interested in a Silverado 3500, they’re likely not a good candidate for your next Bolt blast. Instead of pounding everybody’s inboxes with your EV model, send the email to previous EV or Hybrid leads. If you want to dip into your CRM even further, you could consider starting with people who previously purchased the gas version of the same body style or model as your EV.
The key here is relevance. If you’re talking to everyone about the new EV in your lineup, you’ll risk alienating your gas-loving subset. As I noted earlier, EVs can be polarizing, so instead of forcing the issue with everyone, encourage your most likely leads (or ad audiences) to check out the EVs your dealership has to offer.
This relevance also involves a keen sense of timing. Any form of digital lead tracking will help you know exactly where your EV leads are at in the funnel and also when to send them the right information about your EVs.
Your OEM’s Tier 1 marketing system will make your market well aware of the new EVs and why they should buy those EVs, and your region at Tier 2 will tell them when it’s a good time to get one. Therefore, it’s your job down at Tier 3 to convince interested parties that your dealership is the best place to get those EVs. The operating word there is interested, so do your part to clean your EV email list, target your EV ads thoughtfully, and make beautiful EV web pages to help attract and qualify your audience over time.
EVs are relatively new to the scene, and when you think of all the problems we’ve solved with combustion engines throughout the past 150 years (electronic fuel injection, anyone?), it’s exciting to think of how we can accelerate the growth of EVs in an even shorter timeframe.
Hone Your Dealership’s EV Marketing With a Partner
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