The automotive industry historically considers their marketing efforts to be localized to promotional messages to their customer base. More often than not those promotional messages are not specifically targeted to customers who are actually interested in the offer.

Why is that? We recognize that customers are at the center of our profits, but we don’t think a CSI survey conducted through our BDC is a marketing tool. We don’t consider wishing our customers a happy birthday as marketing, unless of course we’re also sending them a coupon.

At what point do we recognize that any communication we have with a customer is a marketing message of some ilk, whether it is relational marketing, promotional marketing, performance marketing or customer service marketing?

If a chat agent informs your customers about fuel economy on a particular make and model, are they not ultimately attempting to help sell the automobile? If an existing customer receives a birthday postcard, aren’t we keeping in touch so that customer will come back in for service or to purchase another vehicle? Does it not make sense to ensure a customer who just bought a vehicle doesn’t get a communiqué from both their salesperson and a service advisor within the same week?

Regardless of the medium, any contact you have with a current or potential customer is a type of marketing message. Each point of customer contact, either sales or service, is important to the bottom line of any dealership.

Think of marketing with yourself in mind. You are a consumer of many different products and services. Are you more likely to do business with a company that caters to your informational needs or wants? If so, are those promotional marketing messages?

When planning a marketing technique, considers all facets of contacts, from sales follow-up processes to service marketing platforms. Experiment with a turnover process from sales to service that goes all the way through equity marketing and back to sales. Ask a marketing professional how many points of contact – and in what format – are appropriate for each piece of the puzzle.

-Lyn Adkinson