by Alistair Jeff

You have to enjoy an upbeat ‘tub-thumping’ NADA call-to-action workshop, and this session on dealer marketing, most notably digital, did just that.

Speaker Andrew Diffenderfer grabbed people’s attention by calling out that 2022 and 2023 “hold millions of opportunities for dealerships.” Recognising that he was referring to the larger US market, his observations were, nevertheless, pertinent to all markets. At a time of continuing change, there are always opportunities. Two of those called out by Andrew were:

  • Service sweet spot: 1 in 3 cars will be in the sweet spot for major fixed-op repairs. The sweet spot referred to older used cars, notably the 6-12 age range vehicles. Still, as a principle, it highlighted an opportunity in older used car servicing that may be under-served by the franchised dealer sector in the UK.
  • The unprecedented launch of new models, primarily EVs. Andrew Diffenderfer referred to over 200 launches in the US over the next three years.

In both cases, Andrew encouraged dealers to consider how their digital strategies are set up to engage people. Certainly, there was a call for sales and pricing information, but above that, they need to inform, engage and build trust online.

  • How can dealers address potentially expensive aftersales pricing perceptions?
  • How can dealers go beyond new model product information and position themselves as a font of knowledge on all things EV?

I was an early EV adopter, but I recall vividly being ‘consciously incompetent’ about issues such as charging; a stark contrast to my ‘unconscious competence’ as to how to fill my car with petrol/diesel.

Build in this competency support and I’m sure reputation and sales will follow.

In one way, the session was not rocket science; however, it provided some nuggets to encourage dealers to think beyond price and product when it comes to digital engagement, notably in their outreach.

In SEO and content, being current and relevant is about adapting to the current consumer situations. The economic backdrop may see customers holding on to their cars for longer; others seek insight about running an EV, not just the car itself.

The challenge thrown out was clear. Are we reacting to consumer demand for help, guidance and insight that makes car buying more enjoyable?