Step right up, step right up. You want to win a prize, you have to play.
At carnivals and fairs around the nation, there are those whose sole purpose is to get you to walk a little closer to their booths and maybe even spend a dollar or two in hopes of getting something special. These people are known as Circus Barkers and they are extremely important to the profitability of the carnival.
The automotive industry has Circus Barkers as well, but we don’t use them often enough. You’re spending countless dollars in advertising – online AND traditional – directing people to either you website, showroom, or phone. Your staff can be their own Circus Barkers when a customer initiates contact by phone or walk-in, but what about your website?
In my opinion, the closest things we have to Circus Barkers are lead generation tools. We need to be employing these resources on our websites in hopes to bring the customer a little further down the road to engagement or information capture. Some solid lead gen tools that you should be employing are a Trade Evaluator, Live Chat, a 30-Sec Credit App, and one quick click to Specials Tabs (among others).
Trade Evaluators seem to be the no-brainer that many dealers take advantage of, but not all do. Heck, GM and Cobalt give their dealers Blackbook Online for free, yet how few dealers make BBO their own special tab? Not a lot. Do they expect its power to be felt when it pops up every 11 slides in their OEM-required slideshow. That’s a freebie you have no excuse not to take advantage of. (Same goes for a hot button link to your specials.)
Live chat is becoming more prominent and widely accepted by consumers as well. If you have the staff to handle this yourself, you should exhaust every effort doing so as it turns your team into their very own Call-to-Actions. Many times these Live chat companies even have the icon graphic moving with a a text phrase enticing the website visitor to interact right there. (Exactly what a Circus Barker is!).
Even vendors are jumping aboard the Circus Barker bandwagon. They are offering products to their clients that help convert visitors to leads (or lead capture) with tools such as AutoTrader’s Trade-in Marketplace and vAuto’s Real Deal Pricing hot buttons.
Let me just say, though, that those virtual people that show up on your website’s homepage and just start talking to the customer is NOT a Circus Barker. They are Walmart greeters and serve very little purpose and give very little push for further interaction. Circus Barkers on your website don’t actually have to make noise (have you not heard audio is a no-no), but they do need to be engaging, interesting, and a one-click away answer to your customers’ questions.
Take a quick look at your website and let me know what Circus Barkers you have. It can’t just be links to inventory and New Car Builds. That is not enough to attract customers to submit their info. They would have already been coming to the site for that purpose so that shouldn’t be considered an “attraction”. I’m speaking of innovative, successful, one-click to lead capture tools.
Take a moment and tell us what Circus Barkers work for you. The good, the bad, and the gaudy.