In a highly competitive market, the struggle for exposure can be difficult and expensive, and sometimes your own resources aren’t available for a costly campaign blitz. This is why commercial dealership success requires a nimble-minded ability to think outside the box and develop advertising solutions that don’t break the bank. In other words, commercial dealers need to learn how to be scrappy in marketing without spending a dime — or at least, spending very few dimes!
It’s important to keep in mind that being scrappy with resources doesn’t mean a dealership’s marketing strategies should suffer. Even on a tight budget, commercial dealers can maximize exposure, cultivate a sterling reputation, develop a leading voice, and become a powerhouse in sales. In Part 2 of our Scrappy Marketing on a Budget series, we’re discussing how that success can be achieved when dealers Grow Social Media Influence!!
Previously we’ve discussed:
In this article:
- Benefits of Social Media
- Social Media Channels
- Engaging Via Social Media
Benefits of Social Media: Social media outlets provide an invaluable avenue for you to reach consumers right where they are (here’s a hint: they’re on their phones!). Connecting with your customers in such a direct way has some major benefits for the reputation, growth, and profits of your business:
Build & Maintain Awareness: Having social media accounts gives you a chance to make yourself known to potential buyers who otherwise would not have known you existed. Growing your customer base is a major advantage of growing your online presence. And there’s always the chance that one of your more inventive posts goes “viral,” exposing you to hundreds or thousands more people. Even if you don’t go viral, staying active on those accounts also helps your business remain at the forefront of your followers’ minds when they think about buying or renting commercial vehicles. When they see your name a few times a week, you’ll be the first name that pops in their head when they start contemplating a purchase.
Develop Reputation & Relationships: When your social media activity is authentic and transparent, offering your personal perspective or giving a behind-the-scenes look at your business, those accounts serve to humanize your dealership brand. Coming across as relevant and personable gives the impression that you are a dealer that buyers can trust. Your unique perspective, experience, and industry insight also means your social media accounts can showcase how your dealership is a leading voice in the industry. As followers engage those posts, you have the opportunity to develop personal and productive relationships, further bolstering their perceptions of you and strengthening their connection with your dealership.
Grow Your Business: While the word “social” is in the name, social networks should also serve as business networks for your dealership, actively contributing to moving potential buyers down a specific sales path. Your accounts give you the opportunity to share and promote provoking content, as well as directly advertising your for-sale inventory (content posts are a great counterbalance to inventory posts, ensuring your page doesn’t look like it will spam followers with sales ads). Ultimately, social media accounts are phenomenally effective tools for generating website traffic, connections, leads, and sales.
Listen & Respond: Social media isn’t just about speaking; it’s also about listening. Browsing your personal social media might distract from real work, but browsing your professional accounts is smart business, as it allows you to learn more about your customers, monitor conversations about your products, business, or industry, keep an eye on your competition, and keep up with industry news. Armed with such knowledge you can tap into trending topics, remain relevant and competitive, and continue to manage your reputation by engaging in responsible customer service and support (you’ll be surprised how many followers will reach out to your via social media with customer service concerns). Social media accounts also provide a rapid response tool for crisis communication if a major recall or other emergency announcement is required.
Advanced Advertising & Reporting: Finally, social media also comes with a number of pretty advanced tools and strategies for dealers to utilize. Posting for-sale inventory to be seen by your followers is one thing, creating an actual ad that targets specific audiences is another. Extended advertising and retargeting campaigns are the bread and butter of social media sites, because they work. You can start with a scrappy, small-dollar amount, and see if it’s worth expanding that spend amount when your budget isn’t quite as tight. Social media accounts also allow for relatively in-depth reporting, helping dealers keep statistical track of how accounts — and ads — are performing.
Social Media Channels: The plethora of social media channels allows you to select the ones that are most relevant to your audience when sharing content. Maybe all your consumers are on Facebook, and that’s the only platform you need. Maybe you’ve got a mix between casual users on Twitter and professional contacts on LinkedIn. According to a 2018 report from Edison Research & Triton Digital, the most-used social media accounts among all Americans are:
- Facebook 62%
- Instagram 36%
- Snapchat 31%
- Pinterest 31%
- LinkedIn 22%
- Twitter 21%
Engaging Via Social Media: Whatever the platform may be, find out where your audience is and then make a splash on that platform. The two main things to keep in mind are what to post, and when to post:
What to Post: There is much you can post that may make a helpful impact among your followers, starting with the provoking content you have to offer. Content marketing gets 3X more leads than paid search advertising, so share that creative and interesting content from your blogpost, podcast, or website. Perhaps you could also create a video tutorial, hold a contest, or publish a poll to get your followers engaged and involved. Increasing your exposure is the goal here, so humor is great for being shared and potentially going viral (just be careful to not be inappropriate or inconsistent with your professional brand), and relevance is important for maintaining attention. Be willing to try new things, find what works for you, then set up a robust posting routine.
When to Post: Consistency in posting is your biggest tool in maintaining a reliable online presence that keeps you at top-of-mind for your followers. You should post at least a few times per week, if not every day. Setting up a monthly calendar should help your dealership strategically plan out posts, including appropriate posts for national holidays, industry events, dealership promotions, along with regular sharing of inventory, content, and humorous posts. Some social media outlets will even allow you to schedule posts ahead of time. It’s also important to keep in mind that social media users are interacting in real time, meaning that to most dynamically engage them, some posts should be impromptuly. Each day you should check what is trending on social media, both nationally as well as in your local region, and look out for commonly recurring trends (such as holiday posts, popular hashtags like #MotivationMonday, etc.).
Well there you have it. When the marketing budget is tight, and the money just isn’t there for an expensive advertising campaign, growing social media influence is a great way to successfully maximize exposure and grow sales. And if you’re looking for more ways to pursue Scrappy Marketing on a Budget, future posts in this series will discuss referrals programs, local partnerships, email campaigns, and community service. Stay tuned!!
About the Author
Ethan is a Content Curator for Trader Interactive, serving the commercial brands Commercial Truck Trader, Commercial Web Services, and Equipment Trader. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to commercial dealers and their buyers.