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Demand generation is both the art and science of creating demand or an interest in doing business with your dealership. Some people will look at demand generation as being the same thing as lead generation, and while they are tied to each other, demand generation comes BEFORE lead generation. Think about it, there must be a reason why you are getting a particular lead. Something had to bring them to a particular lead form, whether it's on your website, Facebook or any other number of places.
So, how do you create that demand? First, you must have a plan of action. You know how the old saying goes, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail." It's true for a lot of things but even more so when it comes to demand generation. There are many different aspects of demand generation, parts of which most dealerships are using, but not in a harmonious way.
For example, most dealerships are doing some kind of SEO (search engine optimization) or PPC (pay-per-click), social media marketing or reputation management but it's so fragmented that each part of the whole (demand generation) isn't doing it's part to create the demand that will ultimately turn into a lead.
So, take a close look at your online marketing efforts and ask yourself if they all have the same feel, if each part is connected to the other parts... cohesively. In order to generate demand both sales AND marketing need to work together. By sales I am referring to both the sale of vehicles and fixed-ops.
There are many different parts to demand generation and while this post isn't meant to be an all exhaustive tomb on the generation of demand, I plan on covering the most important parts.
The term brand came from the word brandingthat started out as a way to tell one persons cattle from the next using a hot iron stamp. Of course, there is more to a brand than just it's logo so take a real close look at your dealerships brand. It's important to note that when taking a close look at your brand that you poll your customers. After all, what you think your brand is does not necessarily match up with what your customers think your brand is. Ask yourself this, what hot iron stamp do you have on your backside that allows your customers to tell you apart from your competitors?
It's the brand that people will ultimately feel a connection with, it's your brand that will generate demand. Having a well defined brand is important before doing ANY kind of marketing. True, marketing will help to define your brand but you must first know who you want to be before your marketing can help promote it.
Search Engine Optimization
If you have a bad reputation and spend a ridiculous amount of money getting to the top of the search engines then it will all be for naught. The reason is simple, marketing can't overcome the failures of doing bad business. When hiring out an Automotive SEO Company it's important that you have them optimize more than just your inventory pages. Also have them optimize the social good you're doing for the community. That way when your name is Googled the results seen in the SERPS (search engine results page) will help to create demand for wanting to do business with you. Imagine doing a commercial on TV or a Radio that says, "Have you Googled ABC Motors lately?"
Social Media Marketing
Many dealerships think that in order to profit from the use of social marketing that they have to engage around the dealership and/or the vehicles they sell. The fact of the matter is that people know you sell automobiles and service, so instead you should use social networks how your customers use social networks and that is to engage surrounding the topics that they are most interested in.
Remember earlier when I said that it's important that you poll your customers when trying to find out what your brand really means? Well, that's all about your reputation. Your reputation may define who you are but your reputation isn't owned by you, it's owned in the hearts and minds of the consumer and is defined by their perception of you, good or bad.
It's important that you are actively listening to what people are saying about your dealership on the social web. That way you can respond and hopefully turn what could possibly be a painful situation into something good. The flip side of that is you want to influence as many of your customers to say positive things about you on both review sites and in videos.
What kind of processes do you have in place to gather as many reviews as possible?
As you noticed in the previous section, demand generation is not a single tactic but a holistic strategy that spans the entire life of both the buying cycle AND the ownership cycle, from the top of the marketing funnel to the bottom and then back up to the top. It truly is a never ending cycle. It's a false assumption that demand generation ends at the sale because it doesn't. In fact you must continue to work, after the sell, to create the type of demand that leads to customer loyalty.
#1 Educating The Consumer
You must provide the right info at the right time to help create demand. This information can be brochures and other point of sale material but also includes what you're doing in the local community. In a study done by the Edelman PR it was found that 80% of consumers believe it is important for brands to make them aware of their efforts to address societal issues.
From the same study:
What are you doing to educate your customers?
#2 Relationship Nurturing
It's important to note that the way people buy cars has changed so you must also change the way you sell them. Also, work to build relationships between the people of the dealership and the customers of the dealership. That is the true power of social media.
#3 Marketing & Sales Optimization
When taking a look at the sales potential of any marketing that you are doing, both online and off, make sure that demand is being generated. What good is marketing if it's not selling cars or service? No good at all! That's why it's so important that sales and marketing be on the same page. It's no good if you are using social to push community involvement if non of your salespeople are participating or at the very least know about it and believe in it.