by Darlene Peer, Demand Media

The rise of the Internet has meant a shift in marketing cars. Now, customers walk through the door of a dealership knowing how the cars inside stack up against competitors and have an idea of a reasonable price range. The challenge is to show the customer how a certain vehicle fits into their lifestyle. Savvy marketing can help a small dealership reach those potential customers before they even walk through the door.

Video Walk Around

A video walk around is an inexpensive way to showcase your vehicles. All you need is a webcam or video recorder and a salesperson who knows the vehicle’s statistics and is comfortable in front of the camera. Potential buyers watch the video to see the car while the salesperson builds an opportunity to gain customers. Rotate your salespeople doing the walk around to give them an equal opportunity to build their sales and to see who has the best statistics of converting a viewer into a customer. Post the video on your dealership’s website, on social networking websites and on YouTube. Post how-to videos as well, such as winter driving skills or changing your own oil, to draw in more viewers.



Social Media

Social media provides a way to connect with potential customers and form a relationship. An active Twitter feed or Facebook page alerts followers to new stock, providing incentive to visit the car lot. A blog is another good way to form a relationship with customers. Chatty blog posts let the reader get a clearer picture of who they’ll be dealing with, helping to build trust. Social networking offers a chance to answer questions without the buyer feeling obligated. The salesman is marketing his own personality and credibility online and, if successful, will drive customers into the dealership to meet him and see the cars in person.


Expand Your Sales Team

A referral program is an excellent way to draw in more customers. Contact reputable mechanics, tow truck drivers and other related businesses and enter into a referral program agreement with each. Design special business cards that these people can give to their customers, along with a verbal recommendation. Each time a referred person buys a car, pay a cash reward to the person doing the referring.



The promise of free merchandise draws more people in for test drives. Offer coupons for a free wash and wax at a local car wash after a test drive. Also think about gifts that may convert browsers into buyers. An expensive emergency auto kit or a pay-as-you go phone with each sale boosts revenue. Another way to boost sales for a limited time is to offer a contest. Enter the name of each person who has bought a vehicle and reward the winner with a cash rebate. This also provides good publicity for your company’s blog and social networking sites.


Convert Repairs into Sales

Dealerships that offer repairs and maintenance have a unique opportunity to connect with customers and the potential to turn costly repairs into new car sales. Offer customers a discount on a new or used car that is equivalent to what it would cost to repair their old vehicle if they’ve brought it in for an expensive repair. Once a month, search your repair database and make offers of discounts on new cars to customers who own very old or maintenance-riddled vehicles. Draw former customers back to the lot with free offers, such as replacement windshield wipers or a lube, oil and filter special. Try to target older sales, where the customer may be ready to browse the lot for a newer model.