15 Car Dealer Marketing Ideas You Can Easily Apply To Your Business


Automotive industry consumers are increasingly involved and engaged in the car buying process. New car buyers and used car buyers are searching the internet, utilising online resources, looking at reviews and recommendations and even taking time out to organise multiple test drives before they make their purchase. Car dealer marketing has never been so important.

All this means it’s increasingly vital for you to plan and carry out an effective automotive marketing strategy to optimise buyer potential. It’s also important to recognise although the internet gives you access to a national market, research shows most people in the market for a new or used car initially search nationally but tend to buy more locally to their own geographical area.

So local marketing ideas and local search engine optimisation as part of your digital marketing strategies are also important considerations for car dealerships. In addition, there’s also a requirement for more traditional marketing assets such as banners, door drops, giveaways, and even vehicle wraps to promote the business.

Benefits of undertaking car dealer marketing

Planning and executing a professional marketing strategy for your business will reap benefits in terms of increased customer engagement, a growing number of inquiries from car buyers, and subsequent revenue increases.

  • Build your business and increase overall revenue
  • Reach out to a wider audience, both locally and nationally
  • Encourage customer engagement and bring more customers into your dealership
  • Build awareness of your brand and exactly what you have to offer
  • Create an atmosphere of trust and professionalism

#1 Attention-grabbing billboards for special offers

How many people drive past your car dealership every day? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to tell them exactly what you do and promote any special offers you may be running.

How? Consider billboard advertising, posters, flags, and banners. Remember to change them frequently to optimise the potential – people stop seeing advertising messages when they remain the same for long periods of time. Enlist the help of a good local printer with a design studio to make the most of every opportunity!

#2 Vehicle wraps on courtesy cars

Don’t waste the potential of your courtesy cars and other dealership vehicles, where appropriate. A vehicle wrap is essentially a moving advertisement out on the roads, seen by hundreds and even thousands of people every day.

Car graphics example
Image courtesy of County Signs Cornwall

They’re eye-catching and effective, and they provide you with a unique opportunity to advertise your car dealership. Why not cover individual messages like the availability of test drives, your current finance options or even advertise the latest models before they arrive?

#3 Collect customer reviews and reply professionally to any negative reviews

Encourage independent online reviews, they’re really important. Ask your customers to leave reviews, and even offer incentives for them to do so.

Positive customer reviews are important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s vital to know how your business is performing in the eyes of your customers. This will help you to evaluate and develop your communications, customer engagement, and sales strategies, as well as the customer journey, going forward.

You may receive really useful suggestions on how to improve your business strategies, and your customers will appreciate your focus on engagement. It can only enhance your business reputation. You’ll also learn more about your customer profile, which will help with your marketing plans and initiatives.

Remember the ‘bird in the hand’ approach too – have a customer feedback form as part of your sales process so you capture the feedback and can act on it.

Finally, if you do receive a negative review, respond to it in a professional manner. Try to find out exactly what has prompted the review, ask for additional feedback and try to rectify any problems which may have arisen.

#4 Provide clear pricing and financing options and explain how these work

We’re bombarded with acronyms, different pricing options, and lots of small print by car dealers in the car buying process. Many people really don’t understand the difference between finance options, leasing, HP, PCP, and so forth! Consider having something in a printed form explaining clearly what each option involves and what the customer can expect from each deal.

Good training for your sales team is really important here, too, so you provide a clear, professional, and accurate picture to your customer.

#5 Engage past customers with an email campaign

Keep an accurate database of customers and have a plan for regular communications relating to the vehicle they have purchased. Servicing and MOT reminders are important messages to communicate, with special offers to encourage the customer to come back to you for after-sales actions.

After an appropriate period of time, remind your customers about newer models with newer features and functions, and invite them to the dealership for a no-obligation test drive.

#6 Ensure the contact forms work on your website

There’s nothing more annoying than a non-functioning or broken link. Many people searching for cars and deals will be doing so out of hours, in their own time. Ensure every mechanism on your website for contacting you is operational to make things easy and straightforward for potential customers – take the time to test them all and always monitor your contact emails.

#7 Ensure your Google Business Profile is fully completed

This has largely been covered in our dedicated post about how to get your business noticed locally. In summary, don’t do this half-heartedly. Provide as much information as possible, when are you open, what facilities you have, add both internal and external imagery, and don’t leave any empty fields. This will help Google to automatically market your business locally when you’re not even at work.

#8 Leverage local search engine optimisation

A large part of local search engine marketing involves keeping your Google Business listing up to date but that isn’t all you can do. While not as popular as Google there are other search engines and directories available where you can list your business to help build links and citations to your website. These include Yell, Yelp, Bing, Apple, and the likes of Trip Advisor.

You can submit your company’s business details yourself to general and directories specific to car dealership marketing or you could use a citation builder service. A few popular submission services include Brightlocal, The Hoth, and Local Citation Services the latter is one of the cheaper offerings. These will help you find those niche-specific directories like Cars UK.

Don’t forget there are also other search engines out there. Bing for example is the default search engine on PCs that has Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Edge browsers installed. If you want to be seen by those internet users be sure to submit your business details.

The key to a good local SEO campaign is consistency. You must ensure the details submitted to the various directories are exactly the same. This builds up a picture of your company across the web.

#9 Advertise on local radio

Local radio advertising is cheap and effective as part of your marketing strategies. If you’ve got something important to say – special offers, a business anniversary, moving to newer, bigger premises, contact your local radio station(s) and look into running a radio campaign. They’re the experts who’ll help you develop an ad with impact and appeal. The likes of Arnold Clark already do this to great effect.

#10 Use platforms such as Autotrader

It’s been about forever, it’s a trusted vehicle marketing platform and it’s definitely built into the consciousness of the car buyer, both new and used! The cost of the Autotrader platform is high for car dealerships, but the reach and potential are significant in terms of automotive marketing campaigns and potential car buyers.

#11 Introduce blog posts to your website to build authority

We’re not talking about formal SEO here, but more about creating a platform for talking about aspects of the business that might be helpful to your customers. What do they want and need to know?

If you’re often asked the same questions by your customers, then consider writing a blog explaining the ins and outs of these issues. By doing this, and doing it well, you position yourself as an authority on the subject and build the reputation of your business in a positive manner.

#12 Consider offering car detailing

Car detailing is big business today, and offers you another avenue to generate business, and boost sales and cash flow, of particular value in leaner times! What’s more, it provides you with a new audience for your marketing activities and generates future car sales. You also have a captive audience to market your car detailing service in the shape of your existing customers. Kickstart it with a leaflet door drop, local advertising, banners, and posters!

#13 Improve the kerbside appeal of your forecourt

Take a critical look at your forecourt and premises every day as part of your marketing efforts. Buying a car is a high-value proposition, and your customers want to know you take pride in how you present yourself. If your business signage is tatty with dropped letters people will walk on by.

Your premises need to look clean and tidy, and you need to have good facilities for existing and potential customers, with clear signposting so they know exactly where to go when they visit for sales and servicing. Provide a friendly welcome and don’t keep people waiting! Satisfied customers are the key to growing your business.

#14 Use mobile messaging for marketing or sales follow up

We’re all accustomed to getting reminders and messages on our phones. SMS text messaging is an inspired method of communication and is easy to set up. Make use of it to message about upcoming servicing, MOTs, new stock, or financing offers.

It’s a two-way conversation and it’s really effective as part of car dealership marketing strategies – research shows 90% of text messages are opened and read within three minutes – astonishingly fast communication potential!

#15 Custom backdrops for virtual garage meetings

Particularly for the new car market, an increasingly significant percentage of car buying is now undertaken virtually. If your facilities are limited and you work from a small office or even a cabin, make use of marketing materials such as pop-up stands and backgrounds featuring your branding to create a more professional impression.

Stand out from the crowd!

It’s never been more important to stand out from the competition, and making the most of your automotive marketing strategy and professional marketing materials plays a vital role in this.

Talk to Smart Printing Company about what you want to achieve with your car dealer marketing, we can help you make the most of your marketing budget. You can call us today on 01274 741404.

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