Top 5 marketing tips for local dealerships

Mar 3, 2022

There are a myriad of tools that can help dealerships succeed. From augmented reality showrooms to virtual test drives, tech has surely done some amazing things within the auto industry. Without proper promotion, though, these resources are meaningless. This is why utilizing effective car dealership marketing is essential.  

Unfortunately, the old way of advertising simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Radio ads and billboards once worked wonders for everything from selling cars to inventory acquisition, but things have changed as consumers have evolved. Luckily, the same fundamentals still apply.  

Each of the following strategies takes these fundamentals into account to make marketing your business a simpler task.  

1. Create an engaging website with solid content 

Car manufacturers have long recognized the importance of an online presence. If you run a small local dealership, though, you may not think there’s a necessity. This couldn’t be more wrong. In recent years, one-third of auto sales have taken place online. Even if you can’t sell online yet, customers are visiting your website before choosing to buy.  

This means you must provide easily navigable pages with engaging content that offers value. This can include images of your inventory, 360-degree virtual walkarounds, a step-by-step trade-in process with Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer, how-to maintenance videos and more.  

This car dealership marketing tip will do more than just bring folks to your website. You’ll also rank higher on Google when people spend more time on your page. Your website should also have the following:  

  • What makes your dealership unique (e.g., locally owned)  
  • Contact information  
  • Customer testimonials and other third-party validation  
  • Calls to action (e.g., “Visit today for our best deals…”)  
  • Current special offers  
  • Guidance on your processes

Each of these falls under the umbrella of essential car dealership marketing tips. The final listed point, however, is particularly important. People think buying a vehicle is complicated, so you need to make it as easy as possible for them. Offer step-by-step guidance on what someone can expect when they visit your dealership. This is important whether you’re trying to sell a vehicle or buy one to improve inventory acquisition. 

You can also provide tools that simplify these processes. For instance, featuring the Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer tool on your website can prove invaluable. It walks consumers through the process of getting a trade-in offer — sometimes before they even know which car they want to buy. Simplifying the lives of consumers is the best car dealership marketing tip out there. 

2. Run social media campaigns  

Although having a great website is an essential task, it cannot be your only online presence. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have also become increasingly important. Many guides on car dealership marketing tips focus entirely on social media promotion. This isn’t surprising, since over 3.6 billion people use such platforms.  

Unfortunately, this isn’t “set it and forget it” marketing. You can’t simply create a page on a social platform and just leave it to sit. If someone comes across your social media pages and there are no recent updates, they may very well believe you’re no longer in business. This can negatively affect your fixed costs, new car sales and ability to acquire new inventory.  

Keeping these pages up to date is one of the best car dealership marketing tips we can offer. What should you post? The following content types consistently prove effective for auto dealers:  

  • Photos of employees with introductions  
  • Images and videos of current inventory  
  • Links to your latest blog posts  
  • Any deals and promotions currently offered  
  • How-to videos for common issues (e.g., changing a tire)  
  • Event announcements  
  • Customer testimonials  
  • Customer appreciation posts 

These car dealership marketing tips for social platforms are essential, but this list is far from exhaustive. The right posts could also vary based on what you’re trying to accomplish. During a supply crunch, for instance, it’s smart to create a customer appreciation post for someone who traded in a nice vehicle. This lets you celebrate your clients and provides an opportunity to discuss how easy the process is with Instant Cash Offer.  

Your goal should be to take the basics and apply them to your unique situation. As a local dealer, you will face different challenges than other dealerships, but if you stick with the fundamentals, you’ll succeed.  

3. Don’t overlook paid media 

If you keep looking online for car dealership marketing tips — or tips in really any industry — you’ll repeatedly come across the term organic marketing. This form of promotion includes strategies where you’re not paying to have content seen. This is a great approach, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking paid media can’t be beneficial.  

Paid media is a form of marketing that involves paying to promote content. This can include social media ads, branded content, sponsored placement on Google and a variety of other approaches. Yes, consumers would be able to find your business easily in a perfect world. In some situations, though, it’s necessary to give your brand a boost.  

There is one significant benefit to this approach: it saves time. While many of the best car dealership marketing tips will build brand awareness over time, a paid ad can immediately put your local car lot in front of consumers online and on other platforms.  

4. Send out email blasts  

As technology progresses, many marketing tools get left behind. While strategies like newspaper ads and billboards are certainly still in use, there’s no denying that they’re less effective than in the past. Some people believe email has already gone in this direction, but in reality, it’s still one of the best car dealership marketing tips we can offer.  

You still check your email every single day, right? We know that because almost everyone does. You can also bet your bottom dollar that folks researching cars online are keeping track of their inbox. This makes sending out email blasts a necessary step in promoting your local dealership. This is the case even if you think you don’t have anything to say.  

For instance, consider the vehicle shortage during the pandemic. If you don’t have any vehicles on the lot, any recommendation to send out a “Come buy a car” email would be a less than ideal car dealership marketing tip. Of course, sending out a trade-in promotion or an offer to buy a customer’s car via email would make sense from an inventory acquisition standpoint.  

If you’re going this route, make sure to check out Kelley Blue Book’s Inventory Acquisition Resources.  

5. Automate every car dealership marketing tip 

One of the most common excuses for not marketing a car dealership is “I’m too busy.” You’ll hear this excuse across many industries. There’s no denying that effectively promoting a local dealership — especially if you’re up against international brands — requires a time commitment on your part. Fortunately, you can automate many of the tools you need.  

For instance, remember how important we made email sound as a car dealership marketing tip? Several online resources allow you to automate these and schedule them far in advance. Mailchimp, Autopilot, SendinBlue and HubSpot are just a few of the most popular options. Here are some non-email tools that automate other marketing processes:  

  • HootSuite  
  • CoSchedule  
  • Leadfeeder 
  • AdRoll  
  • Revealbot  
  • Referral Rock

If you’ve ever thought implementing car dealership marketing tips would take up too much time, these tools may be the answer to your concerns. The best part is that many of these resources offer free versions of their services. This means even small local dealerships can get started on improving their marketing strategy. 

And, if the point comes when you need a paid version of these programs, it simply means your success has outgrown your expectations. That’s a good problem to have! 

Take these car dealership marketing tips seriously! 

Effectively marketing a car dealership takes commitment, but it doesn’t have to be all-consuming. The strategies discussed in this guide are meant to simplify the process. While there are countless other resources and strategies available, these will give you the biggest results for the effort expended. Having the right tools on your side can do wonders.  

Providing those tools is what we’re committed to at Kelley Blue Book. In addition to offering car dealership marketing tips and other promotional resources, we also supply an array of products geared toward increasing profit. Whether your goal is to improve sales, fixed costs or inventory acquisition, you’ll find everything you need with Kelley Blue Book.