As international efforts to flatten the novel coronavirus curve increase, so has the volume of emails we’re getting. We touched on the topic of whether your dealership should join the bandwagon of companies shifting to crisis messaging mode in the story of how one dealer has been able to generate leads amid COVID19, coming to the conclusion that ignoring the situation in your overall marketing strategy is what NOT to do.
Read below for a few DOs (and some DON’Ts!) we’ve found that works when addressing the virus to your customers and how it might affect your business.
We recommend that you DO release a statement of how your dealership staff and customers are being impacted. Include the measures put in place by local and national governments, how you are responding, and highlight any adjustments you’ve made in your operations to accommodate the continuation of sales and service. DO put this front and center across your communications channels so it's easy to find, not buried among a string of rotating banners on your website for instance.
DON'T get us wrong, we aren't suggesting you put a out a statement just for the heck of it. Be intentional and be authentic. Your customers will be anxious and seeking important information at this time, so things that add to the clutter without adding value won't stand a chance.
To expand on the last thought, DO outline information your customer needs in order to contact you with specifics on how they are able to work with you during this time. These might be things like an update on cleaning protocols, changes in hours of operation, limited staff and if you are able to make deliveries or at-home service calls.
Again, keep this information front and center and remember to update each customer-facing marketing channel. Simply be as clear as possible with the steps you are taking and what that means for the customer and try NOT to be unclear or offer empty promises or reassurances.
If you are reading this and you still don’t have a response statement released, then congratulations for reading this far - it’s honestly better than rushing things. Customers are now looking for concrete solutions and help.
A staggering number of people coming out of lease in the next 60 days as outlined in the letter from NADA, ATD, NAMAD, AIADA, and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation sent to President Trump last week
Adapt to things like selling cars online and with curbside delivery
Help customers take advantage of deep OEM incentives
BE YOUR OWN CONSUMER
DO be sensitive and compassionate. The pandemic has proven to be much more than an inconvenience or setback to our financial goals. It’s literally changing the way consumers behave on a daily basis and will drastically change the way the world (and automotive!) does business and operates in the future. Make sure your messaging respects the situation. But DON’T use this as an opportunity to otherwise push the hard sell in the name of the novel coronavirus. Your dealership truly DOES offer so much value to your customers as leaders in the community and keepers of some unique ways to help.
Do that. Be helpful.
KEEP WHAT’S WORKING
There’s no need to recreate the wheel here. We’ve been here before and while COVID-19 brings new challenges, some authorities are hopeful that the forecast appears to shaping up a little less gloomy than recessions we’ve weathered in the past. To this end, we simply just don't know. But we DO believe that now is not the time to try to rebrand or stop doing what you know works. We DO believe that now is the time to take a step back and evaluate marketing efforts that are working and vendors that are adjusting, and take note to work even more closely with that. DON’T make rash decisions. DO make informed decisions based on facts and data - preferably your own data.
DO send out updates! And boy are things changing fast. So when something changes that affects or helps your consumers...make sure they know you’ve got their backs and steer them in the right direction with an update with a consistent message across your digital channels. If multiple updates can be bundled together, consider sending a newsletter. This is not only informative to your readers but also helps you gauge interest and intent. Leading us to suggest that you DO add tips, best practices, advice, stay-home recipes, and other lifestyle information.
DON’T HIT SEND...YET
Our final advice would be this: DON’T feel pressured into just any COVID-19 messaging on any (and certainly not all) marketing channels. But DON’T get left behind. Take pause long enough to make sure your message matches your new objectives. Think about what you want to achieve in the now, and how this helps you build and rebuild.
Now you’re ready. Can we guarantee you’ll receive the great reception we’ve been seeing other dealers get? We can guarantee that taking these steps will help decrease the risk of getting a negative one.