Consistency is Key – Your online message should be reflected in-store

How does what your potential customers see online about your store, its culture, its environment, its products and staff reflect what they can expect to see, hear and experience when they walk into your store?

Your store should have a robust online presence that crosses over and dovetails precisely with the actual experience you’re offering customers, old and new. This consistency will pack a marketing punch, by seamlessly reinforcing all the good promises and promotion that you’ve worked so hard to present online.

So when customers walk into your store, your message should be broadcast in every part of it. That message needs to be delivered uniformly, from what your staff are saying, to your POP materials internally and externally, to what your value proposition is.

Position your vehicles

How can you do that? First of all, your merchandise should looks its best, and your staff should be well trained in how to present it. The manner in which your vehicles are positioned is very important. A study done at a marketing conference earlier this year featured a simulated showroom, with a variety of models of vehicles, from SUVs to compacts. There was also a booth manned by the surveyors, and a variety of advertising materials – both traditional and digital – such as brochures, signage, and commercials. As participants walked around the showroom, they wore devices that tracked where they paid the most attention. Can you guess the results?

Naturally, the most attention was paid to the vehicles themselves, with participants spending more time with the SUV than the compact.  A lot of time was spent checking out the driver’s side door, but participants spent up to 70 percent of the time looking at the gearshift, centre console, and instrument panel.

So that study tells us the best way to position your vehicles is to ensure the driver’s side door and front console are easily accessible. Interestingly, the study points out that almost no one paid any attention to the hood of the car or what was underneath it. How times have changed!

Proper positioning

In terms of advertising material, interactive pieces like a touchscreen tv, and displays, next to the vehicles engaged participants, but so did a centrally placed “safety presentation” that featured messages related to the cars’ safety.

What does that mean? Your materials and message don’t have to be high tech to be engaging, either online or in-store. They just have to be positioned properly in your showroom, and feature a message that’s relevant to your demographic.

One dealer uses “props” to demonstrate a vehicle’s practicality and how it can fit into anyone’s life. He’ll have a set of golf clubs, hockey bag, even a four by eight foot sheet of plywood handy, to show how neatly it can be stowed in a vehicle. Not only does a prop like this reinforce an important element like cargo capacity, it gets a conversation going with the customer, opening them up.

It’s worth investing in some digital stands, like a tablet stand, where you can play OEM videos about the vehicles in your showroom. With various editing software, you can even stitch a few of these videos together. Customers enjoy the experience of interacting with video on a tablet. They learn more about your products, it’s easy, intuitive, and makes them feel clever!

Build and price

You can also incorporate the “build and price” feature from your website, as well as promote other features and accessories for your vehicles on the touchscreen. Of course, anything that appears on your website, or in other marketing materials, should be exactly the same as what is being displayed. A more advanced dealer can even put their own conversion tools on any in-store touchscreens.

It can’t be said enough that consistency is crucial, building familiarity, and reinforcing your store’s message. Repetition is a huge part of branding, and by repeating your message over and over again through different media, you’ll build up your message more and more, stronger and stronger.

Seeing is believing

Your POP should reflect the lifestyle of the vehicles, and how they fit into your target demographic. For example, if you’re selling family type vehicles, your POP should show family scenarios like road trips, driving to hockey or soccer games, picnics, and other outings. And if your vehicles appeal to weekend warriors, have POP of rugged outdoor adventures like mountain climbing, trail biking, or rally racing. “What will life be like after I buy this car?” The customer should see it, hear it, experience it right in front of their eyes!

Armed with tablets

And give your PAs those tablets to do vehicles walkarounds. Studies have shown it boosts customer confidence, since questions can be addressed immediately in a number of ways. Seeing is believing, and a picture is worth a thousand words. That holds true for your service department as well, since a digital interface can help customers understand vehicle health and upcoming services that will be needed.

But the key is to ensure that from one medium to another, traditional to digital, outside your showroom to inside your showroom, the message is the same. The graphics, your logo, the colours, the feel of everything you’re doing to promote and market your store, must be identical, to build on your theme and make sure the customer can easily and comfortably recognize your message and your brand.

Article originally published in Canadian AutoJournal, November 2017.

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