Improve Automotive Dealer Marketing by Thinking Like a Customer

By: Felicia Savage

In the simplest of terms, a car dealership wants to sell cars. But what you want isn’t important to your potential customers. To achieve your goals, you need to know what shoppers want, and that means you need to think like a customer.


For a few hours, forget everything you know about the business of selling cars and try to view your dealership from a shopper’s perspective. Here’s how to improve automotive dealer marketing by thinking like a customer:


Read what shoppers read.


You may already know that 88 percent of shoppers do online research before buying a car. They’re not just looking for information about vehicles, though. They’re searching for tips about the process of buying a car.


Shoppers want to know how to get the best price on a car and how to determine what they can afford, and you’ll find a lot of information online about those and other financial topics.


For example, financial information site NerdWallet tells readers how to request a quote online, what the quote should include and how to avoid paying miscellaneous dealer fees.


A shopper who reads that article is going to have certain expectations when interacting with you. When you read what shoppers are reading, you’ll be better prepared to meet their expectations.


Look at your website.

Even if you have a professionally designed website that aligns with your automotive dealer marketing goals, it may not necessarily be providing the experience customers want. Take a look at your website.


If you were a shopper, would you be able to easily search for vehicles by specific feature, like mileage, body type, brand and model year?


Would you be able to schedule a test drive, check the trade-in value of your current car or get a price quote that includes fees and taxes? If not, then you may need to retool your website.


Build trust.


Consumers are leery of car dealerships. In a 2012 Gallup poll that asked respondents to rate the honesty and ethical standards of 22 professions, car salespeople were at the bottom of the list. One easy way to begin building trust is to be transparent about vehicle histories. Offer shoppers instant online access to either Carfax of Autocheck vehicle reports for your used cars.


Building trust takes time, and it requires you to pay attention to shoppers throughout their buying journey. From the first point of contact, you must treat a shopper as an individual, making an effort to understand their preferences and concerns.


And if that shopper becomes a buyer, that’s not the end of your relationship – continue making periodic contact, and offering relevant news or special offers. Customers want to know they’re appreciated, and when they are, they’re more likely to trust you and recommend you to friends.


Get in the habit of thinking like a customer. When you understand what they want, you’ll be better positioned to achieve your goals.