While national brands do little for creating local brand loyalty, having a strategy for creating brand loyalty at the store level is a must. Most consumer targeting correspondences have long been based on a sense of urgency, such as “sale ends today!” or “hurry, only a few left!” That strategy may work if you are closing your business, but is not the most effective messaging for an ongoing dealership.
For example, even when the customer is in the dealership, everything is about the “big sale” and the urgency of buying now or losing the deal. How can we forget the infamous Seinfeld line, “what can we do to put you in this car today”?
These messages are becoming obsolete
Consumers have become numb to the advertisement of sales. The simple reason being that they don’t buy into importance of them. Customers expect a big sale, or a big semi-yearly event, and fully anticipate that if they visit the store another time, there will still be a promotion with a good deal to be had. They have all the information needed through internet resources.
How does this relate to creating local brand loyalty?
First, by continuously sending sale related messages, you destroy the credibility you may have built with your customers. Rightly or wrongly, consumers become jaded by dealerships. They visit the store, only to be met with high-pressuring salespeople, extolling that the dealership can only earn their business right now, not in the future, and not for life.
By beginning the customer relationship with the impression of, “this is your one and only chance,” you send a message contrary to the one your dealership is trying to relay.
Tap your brand into your consumers’ emotions
An important layer of customer loyalty is emotion. Think of the last commercial you saw that brought tears to your eyes, or the one that always delivers excellent customer service and fulfills its brand promise? Those are the businesses that build loyalty organically, and enjoy a stable base of customers, built on a strong foundation.
On a local level, the national ads with people singing and dancing through the showroom do nothing to help a stores local brand. Instead, customers invest money in brands or businesses that make them feel appreciated. Those brands don’t focus on immediacy, or messages of “right now”. Rather, their message is concentrated on long-term customer relationships by catering to emotional needs.
The Big Picture
The next time your dealership is tempted to push a customer into deciding “right now,” consider how that will affect the long-term relationship. If lifetime customer value means anything to your business, and you are eager for revenue to flow into your dealership from repeat service and referral business, then reconsider your tactics. Customers don’t like to be pressured, they’d rather be valued.