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The challenge many businesses face is personalizing themselves to their customers. Businesses try and accomplish this through many methods. They create unique commercials, ad campaigns and other marketing. They can hire a public relations firm to assist them in gaining exposure via various methods. They can also employ many services that help them better connect with their customers and make it easier for their customers to connect with them. Many businesses, however, neglect to utilize one of the most important things they could be doing: community involvement.


Community involvement can help separate you from your competition. People appreciate and notice when businesses integrate themselves into the community. There are many ways to accomplish this ranging from self-initiated and administered charitable activities to small things that appeal to wide audiences. The people in your community are the exact people you want paying attention to you. If that attention is based on your involvement and efforts towards a cause they love, they will return the favor by patronizing your dealership.


Here are a few ways that you can involve yourself in your community that are effective, and some may even drive traffic to your dealership.


  1. Have a Test-Drive-athon: Offer to donate $25 to a charity for every test drive that a customer takes. Movie tickets and gift cards work great but they won’t engender the widespread good feelings you’ll receive from your community, especially if the charity you choose is local. You’ll benefit not only by increased traffic – hold it over a weekend – but also from people in the community who hear about the promotion. Planned correctly, most charities will even assist you in promoting the event.
  2. Sponsor animals at your local shelter: There’s nobody more passionate than animal lovers. In many cases, pets become an extension of family and are treated like children… and there are a lot of animal lovers out there. Arrange with your local shelter to cover the adoption fees of a few animals per month. The animal shelter will appreciate it as most employees are also animal lovers and nobody wants to euthanize animals. Chances are they’ll also promote the sponsorship via social media and in their normal marketing. Locals will come out of nowhere to thank you on your social media accounts. I’ve seen brand new Facebook pages literally acquire hundreds of new fans in the space of a week from this activity. People left comments such as “I’m definitely buying my next vehicle there.” And “I will refer everyone I know to your dealership. You are doing a great thing. Thank you.” This cost the dealership about $100 per month and they didn’t have to do anything. Of course this also makes great marketing, social media and customer communication content for your dealership to use as well.
  3. Get involved in local events: Find out what’s going on in your community and make sure to get involved. It doesn’t matter what the event is… car show, craft fair or farmer’s market. Don’t be there to sell, however. Just be there. Hand out balloons and popcorn to kids or free water to attendees. Maybe there’s a parade going on. Offer to drive some vehicles in the parade. Contact your local high school and get involved in their homecoming games driving their royal prospects around the track. There are infinite possibilities to gain exposure through goodwill. You just have to look for them.
  4. Sponsor local little league teams or school clubs: There are so many different children organizations that need your help staying afloat. High school clubs need funding to survive, which is why fundraising is extremely important. Let them hold a car wash on your property or just offer to sponsor an event for them. Their parents and the school will be appreciative and think of you when it comes time to buy a vehicle. Little league baseball teams are also a great way to gain goodwill and exposure. Many leagues will even imprint your logo on their jerseys. Another great organization to consider would be your local Boy or Girl Scout troops.


These are just a few of many ways that you can integrate yourself into your community. You’ll gain exposure for the dealership, increased opportunities to meet people and network, referrals from people that appreciate the support and business from people sympathetic to the cause you assisted.  You can also feel good about giving back to your community and doing something worthwhile.


In most of these examples, you’ll also have the charity organization itself promoting your dealership. You’ll have great content for marketing, provide valuable content for press releases and generate buzz around your dealership. You’ll also gain a community full of appreciative people.


You know the old saying “People buy from people they like.” Become the business that people like and you’ll be that much closer to increasing sales.

Views: 305

Tags: automotive, community, content, dealership, exposure, integration, involvement, sales


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Comment by Alexander Lau on November 4, 2013 at 10:33am

That ping pong ball concept has been overused and abused. However, hey it works, go for it.

What you're explaining in terms of community action is partly the way dealerships should act via their Social Media channels. This is no secret.

Paraphrased and bastardized from a post in mid-2012:

If there’s a local or community event important to the dealership, focus on it. That’s a major part of social media strategy. Dealership don’t need to remind their social followers that they have cars for sale, they already know that.  When choosing what to post, realize that you shouldn’t act like a dealership, but still remember that you are a dealership.  Don’t be pitchy. Don’t feed into stereotypes.  Don’t be too “sales-oriented.”  Instead, be brand, community, fun, and familial in orientation.

Truth is, to be successful on social media as a dealership, you have to stop thinking about yourself as a dealership, but instead, think of yourself as a company that helps out the local community. Giving people a social media smorgasbord of posts to review makes you more well-rounded.  Like any delectable sampling of food does.

(In no particular order)

  • Philanthropy and Charitable involvements
  • Photos of new customers with their vehicles
  • “Caption This” pictures
  • Video customer testimonials
  • Random pics of humor, quotes, or thought-provoking imagery
  • Questions to engage (think Trivial Pursuit, 1st date-style questions, Family Feud, or hypothetical in orientation)
  • Reviews/Ratings from happy customers
  • Service Discounts, Coupons – Not ‘sales-related’ content. (No “3.9% on Chevy’s until month’s end”- style posts)
  • Upcoming community events (and their involvement in them)
  • Nearby school events (and a mention of current employees from there)
  • Good staff bios
  • Job openings
  • Very odd vehicles taken in on trade  (a 2006 Chevy Malibu isn’t a worthy vehicle to share on your wall regardless of the “low miles”, but a DeLorean would be).
  • Interesting facts based on that date in history
  • Service How-To Videos
  • Very high profile OEM/Dealership updates that are actually in the news (with your dealership’s response to it)



Comment by sara callahan on November 4, 2013 at 6:30am

What a fabulous idea! Thanks for sharing... It's great to see dealers get creative

Comment by Ken Lees on November 4, 2013 at 4:59am

Sara, nice post!  Dealers getting involved in the community reminded of a Dealer in Virginia, the Southern Auto Group, who filled up a KIA full of Ping Pong balls, asked customers to visit showroom, guess # of balls and win a new ping pong table --- all for raising money for mental health and brain fitness -- after all, playing Table Tennis regularly is proving to be one of best therapeutic activities for the mind!

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