Is your marketing driving away customers?

Marketing is a wonderfully useful tool that is absolutely necessary in today’s business world. But when used wrong, marketing messages alienate customers and motivate them to go elsewhere next time. I’m sure this is true in nearly any industry, but I’ll stick with what I know and explain what I mean in the context of a new car dealer service department.

The “right” way to use marketing.

When you go to NADA or any other automotive convention there will be aisles upon aisles of booths filled with marketing companies telling you that your customer email list is an untapped goldmine. These are all people that you know need exactly what your service department offers. If they bought a car from your sales team, you know they will need maintenance or repairs or even aftermarket upgrades. If they bought parts you can bet they are going on a car you are equipped and trained to service. And if they previously came in for a service visit, no doubt they will need service again in the future. There is basically no segment of the existing customer list that wouldn’t benefit from special offers from the service department. This is where the art and science of marketing show its true beauty–by getting customers to make a commitment to get work done at your shop. By converting them to “active customers”.

The “right” way to not use marketing.

Once you have that appointment or someone drives up with a mailer coupon they are no longer a prospect that needs to be convinced or incentivized to visit your service department. They have become active customers and their service experience begins now.

Your concern now is making sure they have the best experience possible–which is another topic entirely. There should be an immediate shift in how you communicate with active customers. You need to build trust and rapport, be honest and sincere, and prove that you will take the best possible care of their vehicle.

The “wrong” way to use marketing.

Sending slick, polished messages that are perceived as advertising to active customers you break away some of the trust you worked so hard to build. Appointment reminders that have banners and graphics and long winded “thank you for choosing XYZ dealer” messages feel forced and robotic rather than inviting. Service follow-up messages that include coupons make active customers feel like you are not satisfied with the business they just gave you. The message they are receiving is that you are already looking for the next buck you can get out of their pocket.

The bottom line.

When a someone has already made the choice to do business with you, they are not a prospect anymore, they have become an active customer. You need to be aware of that change in the relationship and adjust your message to drop the marketing-speak and become the trusted advisor they expect you to be.

I have heard many many dealers frustrated when customers complain they send out too many communications. The ones that have been bold enough to change their approach for messaging active customers have seen huge rewards.

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