Every person and their brother are standing atop their soapboxes and preaching the importance of dealership involvement in social marketing. The reason to be active within these sites is very much the same for being online – to be where your customers are.Since there are many ways to approach this medium in the wrong way, I thought I would share just one small tactic of using it correctly. Here is a quick, best-practices tutorial on how to create and utilize just one form of social networking to better the retention of your dealership’s customers.I believe there are limited ways to be successful when creating your own social site so here are a few simple tasks you must complete when diving into this platform.
1) Understand your primary goals for creating your own site – have an objective.
2)Put someone in charge that wants to be active in following up with customers and is willing to update and manage the network regularly.Consistency is imperative.
3)Create a site on www.ning.com and create a color theme that represents your dealership and brand.
4)Upload pics of staff, logos, and any and all videos and commercials you can gather from your own dealer, the OEM, or third-party sites.
5)Have every sales person and service writer create a profile on the site and share a few family photos.Encourage your staff to show their personalities on the site.
6)Train all sales associates to invite their sold customers to the network as they wait for the business office – and help them sign up.This keeps the customer busy while waiting and gets them as a community member immediately.
a) By signing up, tell the customers they will receive service updates and specials as well as the current financing incentives and new model rollout information.
b) If the customer contacts you through this site for information regarding the purchase of any future vehicle, a social discount will be given above and beyond internet pricing.Let them know of the specific benefits for signing up. It must do something for them.
c) Explain the wide demographic of your customer base and encourage them to promote themselves and their own businesses through your site as well.
7)As the customer is leaving, take their picture in front of their new vehicle (or film a customer testimonial), and immediately upload it to the site.Alert your customers that they will be prominently featured.(This will prompt a customer to go online and actually see themselves as stars.)
8)Continue to maintain the site and add as much sticky content (media, pictures) as possible and alert them of every special event, sale, or community activity you involve yourself with.
This will not change the culture of a dealership. It will not solve all of your problems. To do it right takes significant dedication and creativity when it comes to content deployment. You are creating your own mini ad agency, but reaching your own customers only. However, with this medium, the customers are one step removed from a dealership’s online presence where, opposed to your website (which is to appease everyone), you have the ability to target specific people with targeted messages. It will take time to catch on and will initially drive more service traffic than sales.It is, though, the only way to effectively create and utilize your own social networking site. You’ll only get out of it what you put into it.The best part?All it costs is time and effort. That’s right.Everything I mentioned is free.Since it is a format that your customers are likely used to anyway, showing them that you are a part of the same online community (and leading the way) will only help you endear yourself to your customers. Use this task list only if you are interested in keeping customers the old-fashioned way…by making them feel special and continuing the relationship after the sale.