How To Draw Vehicle Shoppers Across State Lines: Tips From Dealer Magazine’s Interview With BMW of Spokane
Last month, Dealer Magazine’s cover story interviewed Mel Watson, General Manager of BMW of Spokane. Their dealership just received DealerRater’s 2017 Consumer Satisfaction Award and “offers an award winning lineup of new and used cars” despite battling a location that’s off-the-beaten-path. In the article, Mel Watson states their online marketing and strong community relationships are what brings vehicle shoppers as far as 600 miles to their store, but what can you learn from BMW of Spokane to generate more dealership floor traffic at YOUR store?
BMW of Spokane Estimates That 80% of Their Sales Start Out As Internet Leads
Since BMW of Spokane is located in a part of Washington where a mere 20 cars typically drive down their street each day, they’ve had to develop a different way to generate more dealership floor traffic.
They maintain a state-of-the-art website and use other third-party advertisers to drive bigger volumes of shoppers to their VDPs: Facebook Advertising, Autotrader, and Craigslist for used inventory.
Here’s some tips to help your store:
Using Facebook To Increase Your Dealership’s Reach and Build Your Brand Across State Lines:
While widening your fan base helps build your brand, did you know that only 2% of your Facebook Likes actually see the organic content you post?
That’s why dealers like Mel Watson are putting an ad spend behind their content to increase dealership internet leads.
To use Facebook to build your brand across state lines, first consider the markets you want to advertise in. Avoid running ads out in larger nearby markets if you know that people won’t actually drive to you, or if there are a lot of other dealerships around the other larger markets who will be bidding against your ads.
For your ad objective, choose “Raise Local Awareness” instead of “Brand Awareness” to add a CTA like Get Directions or Call Now to help people not living in your immediate area find you.
Then, use relevant copy like “Calling all truck lovers in the tri-state area!” to appeal to your audience. (TRUST ME – it works! Read: [CASE STUDY] How Dealers United Gained 222 New Sign Ups in 31 Days With A Single Facebook Campaign)
According to BMW of Spokane’s interview, “We’re out in the middle of the country, and a long way from any big hubs. We have people come in from Montana, Idaho, and all over Washington state for their service.” To tempt shoppers to go out of their way, offer them larger incentives like $100 VISA, gas cards, or even a free hotel stay. But here’s the kicker—ONLY advertise these incentives to users living in distant markets. (Talk to your Facebook provider about Exclusion Audiences.)
Lastly, remember: your dealership’s testimonials, reviews, and accolades are KEY.
Since shoppers are only visiting 1-2 dealerships in their buyer journey, they’ll make the drive to the 4.8 star dealership that’s 50 miles away instead of the 3 star dealership next door every time. Proactively advertise your ratings, testimonials and more to In-Market shoppers in a radius around your store.
Generate More Dealership Floor Traffic Via Craigslist
Craigslist benefits by being geared toward “local.” But before you post your pre-owned inventory on Craigslist, you need to decide which markets you want to dominate in. If you’re like BMW of Spokane and are a little “out-in-the-woods,” consider listing your inventory in nearby markets that boast larger populations.
For example, a dealership in Sarasota might also list a portion of its pre-owned in the closest metros, like Tampa or even Fort Myers.
Next, make sure you’re aware of how the new Craigslist works. Your vehicle listing can jump to the top of the Craigslist SRP regardless of your dealership’s geographic competition, so long as you’ve optimized your vehicle listing to outsmart the new search algorithm.
Using Community and Customer Service as A Secret Weapon To Drive More Local Engagement and Non-Local Investment
BMW of Spokane’s motto is: “Where first-class customer service comes standard with every package.”
Create stronger relationships by advertising service coupons to your CRM lists, or showcase a rental offer to vacationers in your area who are in need of an off-roading or winter-ready vehicle.
Furthermore, BMW of Spokane is involved with The Girl’s and Boy’s Club, the Children’s Miracle Network, and multiple local events including the Lilac Festival in Washington. “We’re a major sponsor for that and provide the cars for the parade. It’s a big deal here. It’s like a 100-year-old-parade,” said Watson in the Dealer magazine interview.
If your dealership supports or participates in any local causes, tell your story! Use Facebook Advertising to Raise Event Attendance and position your store as a respected member of your community.
Since nonprofits don’t have a lot of funds, your local dealership can easily connect with them to raise awareness. Your store will reap the benefits of extra traffic driven to your store and have your dealership top of mind next time anyone in your community is looking to buy a vehicle.
Think about which organizations hold events in your community. You could choose one a month and use your dealership’s own digital marketing efforts to bring awareness both to that non-profit and to your dealership.
Is your dealership battling a rural location, or do you have a strategy that brings shoppers in from distant markets? Share your successes below!
Enjoy this article? Subscribe to our blog to receive our latest articles, tips for your dealership, and more.