Thursday, November 03, 2011

Frank Sinatra on Buying Cars

How do people buy cars?

Just like Frank Sinatra sang:  "I did it my way".  

A couple of days ago I posted some thoughts on search behavior and content marketing, this takes it a bit further in one industry.   We recently attended a round-table in the automotive industry where Google presented the following facts on how search has changed consumer behavior: 
  • 75% of car buyers are in the market for over a month, with the average in the 4-6 month time frame 
  • 61% will watch a video before going to dealership
  • 54% say that the Internet lead them to the dealer
  • 49% search the internet to find best deals
  • 44% use mobile device for comparison on the lot
  • 35% of the time customer is searching when dealership is closed
  • 32% use their Smartphone to find a dealership
  • 25% percent change brands based on information on the internet they research
On average, they use 18+ different sources of information (ZMOT).   And over 40% of the referral traffic to an OEM site comes from search engines; 6% from FB and 8% from Edmunds. 

The lesson learned is there are only two rules any more: #1 “the consumer is absolutely in control” and #2, “see the first rule”. 

So, if I were the marketing director for an automobile manufacturer – or an entrepreneur starting a business in this sector, here is what I’d do to improve the customer experience.
  1. Find a point of differentiation (uniqueness) that allows emotional and communal content to augment the promotional, informational content that the dealer already provides.  Too often search is dry.
  2. Make it easy to remember what cars consumers look at after leaving the lot. I’d create a custom content that integrated emotional and informational content; this would be done by creating a custom brochure using either QR or NFC technology
  3. Link buyers/browsers together as they traverse the buying cycle to share and get a sense of community and or winning.  See Nissan's roadtrip for Versa. 
These are brand, ie national ideas, not something sold dealer to dealer because the consumer isn't loyal at the location level.    We should be facilitating choice by focusing on emotional and communal content, not only offering promotional and informational content to make a sale. 

All these innovative solutions require the blending of marketing and technology, no wonder firms are creating a ‘Chief Marketing Technologist’ and yes, there is a blog for that. Scott Brinker's presentation at the Adobe event is worth watching or reading.

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