Estimated car sales in 2018 put the total number of vehicles sold at over 17 million. Automotive experts, including those at Edmunds.com, don’t think sales will do as well in 2019. marketing is going to mean everything if you want to sell cars. Lower federal income tax refunds are one of the key reasons it’s believed sales will plummet. Plus, manufacturers are shifting from smaller, affordable cars to larger trucks and SUVs. Those on a budget will be forced to shop for used cars as a result.

Auto dealers and manufacturers need to draw clients. Today’s consumers don’t want information thrown at them. They want to be part of the entire experience. That’s where experiential marketing comes in. By involving consumers every step of the way, you gain trust and sales.

What Is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing is all about the consumer experience. It’s about giving consumers an experience that appeals to their emotions and drives sales for that reason. You’re creating a personalized experience that they won’t forget using key steps. Those steps are:

  • Propose something the consumer cannot ignore.
  • Use the rules of marketing to heighten interaction between your product or service and the consumer.
  • Address the consumers on a personal level.
  • Bring online and offline interactions together to create a rounded experience.

Differing opinions exist on the best marketing approach. You have the 7Cs, 7Ps, 4Ps, etc. What works best for you is often based on the service, product, or business you represent. Generally, you must focus on the product or service, pricing, placement, and promotional techniques and keep the consumer’s ideal experience in the front of your mind when coming up with the best strategies. Never be afraid to try something else if consumer feedback says you’re not sending the right message.

An experiential marketing plan includes a number of strategies customized to the specific business. A restaurant will want heavy social media marketing with daily specials, photos, and reviews. Things like online reservations and online takeout ordering are always ideal. That’s a restaurant. Now, think about what you’d want if you were buying a new car.

What Do Consumers Want From Auto Sales?

Edmunds looked at dozens of the feedback they received from consumers about their car buying experience. Several items appeared regularly in 5-star reviews. Those items were:

  • I didn’t feel rushed or pressured into a decision.
  • I felt like the salesperson really listened to me and understood my needs.
  • The final price was the same as I’d negotiated without any surprise fees.
  • The sales paperwork was hassle-free.
  • I didn’t feel like I was being conned or toyed with.

If you think about the typical experience when car shopping, you look at cars online, go to test drive a car, negotiate a price, wait for a credit report for a financing offer, negotiate financing, complete paperwork, and take possession of the car. It’s time-consuming and can be frustrating to the consumer.

Dealers are starting to realize that. Many now do paperwork online and deliver the car right to the buyer. They’re listening to customers on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. They’re getting information out about new cars that have just been delivered to the lot. The best auto dealers respond immediately to feedback in a polite, friendly manner, even if it’s negative. Those marketing practices are driving sales.

Don’t All Dealers Know This Already?

You might think your dealership is doing everything right, but are you really listening to the consumer? Take a look at one dealership’s strategy. This Vermont dealer’s motto is one simple word: “Easy.” It sounds promising.

A Vermont college student went in to buy her first car after landing an internship in her final semester. She had enough saved to pay for a $5,000 car in cash. She’d found two trade-ins she really liked on a dealership’s website that were in her budget. After her mom looked them over, she printed the pages before going to the dealer that says “easy.”

When he was free, she talked about her budget and showed him the printouts of the two cars she was interested in test driving. He was polite and said he would be back in a few minutes. When he returned, he had the key to an $8,000 car that was out of her price range. He told her it was no problem; she’d qualify for a loan with her income. She explained again that she only had an internship and not a permanent job, but he said financing would be simple even with an internship.

She test drove that car and didn’t love it. She asked if she could see the other two, but he pressured her by saying the other two had higher mileage and this car was better for a college student. He kept insisting this expensive car was the better deal. She felt ignored and walked out.

Thinking about the ideal experience. This dealership did well with a website, but the salesperson never listened. He thought of this car that would bring him a higher commission. He wasted everyone’s time by not listening. That young woman left feedback on social media and never heard a response. The company simply didn’t seem to care and failed at the experiential marketing they were trying to achieve. The lost a sale.

Do You Listen?

How well do you listen to your consumers? Social media sites, blogs, podcasts, and email lists are good ways to start communicating with your target audience. Use them to your advantage. Most importantly, make sure you’re listening.

Are you stuck? Not sure why your marketing campaign isn’t leading to auto sales? Factory 360 is experienced in all aspects of experiential marketing.

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