The last few weeks of Coronavirus has been a whirlwind. And now it’s just a fact. Social distancing has become a real thing, and car dealerships are experiencing the impact. Many consumers are delaying car purchases right now. What about website traffic? Are shoppers researching dealership sites? Recent reports from Google Trends show that search volume on Google is down from shoppers actively searching for terms like “dealer near me” and “used car.” However, the positive news is that people are spending more time online, browsing social media to get their latest news updates, and connecting with friends and family.

Gain Attention With The Right Messaging

As demand and sales decline, automotive companies are finding new ways to survive. This means thinking outside the box with how to reach their audience. Car dealers are in a quandary right now. Should you stick with the empathetic approach to keep your image intact during the pandemic? Do you go back to a hard-sell approach to try to gain market share while sales are continuing to decline? Or do you search for a happy medium?

Shoppers ARE online. However, their focus has shifted from “buy, buy, buy” to researching for ways their community is keeping them safe. This includes how businesses will support them. Consider turning your messaging from “take a test drive!” to “here’s how we can help if you need an oil change.”

Differentiate Your Dealership from Competitors

In marketing, we refer to the process of moving leads through the different sales stages as a sales funnel. While there are three distinct levels of the sales funnel – Top, Middle, and Bottom – the area dealerships need to focus on right now has shifted. The bottom of the funnel is the place where leads know everything about their problem and are ready to select the right provider to fix it. Historically speaking, this is where the majority of automotive dealerships have focused their energy – how to get more leads and close them.

Times have changed! What dealers should focus on now is HOW they can stand out from their competitors in a saturated market where messages are all starting to sound the same. Think about the last several weeks of TV or radio commercials you’ve heard. Nearly every one of them includes the words “these are unprecedented times” or “with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19…” Some of the ways you can differentiate your dealership from your competitors include:

  • Be specific with your audience. Tell shoppers what your dealership is doing to keep them safe. In fact, SHOW them! Use the power of technology to use your phone and harness social media to upload a video of your sales and service staff cleaning the showroom, sanitizing the cars, and wearing masks. This quickly paints a real picture for consumers as to the approach your dealership is taking to keep your staff and your customers safe.
  • Communicate that your sales and service lanes are not only open, but you have adapted pick-up and delivery for service to keep customers and employees safe.
  • Remind your customers there are multiple ways for them to communicate with you! Whether it’s a phone call, email, text, or web chat, you will respond to their needs. If they need a part, you will deliver it. If they need service, you will pick up their car and deliver it when done. If they want to buy a car, you can offer remote presentations, walkthroughs and provide electronic paperwork options for financing and signings.
  • Support another local business! Consider supporting a local restaurant that’s in a similar position as you and hard hit by restrictions. You could help the restaurant by purchasing lunch for your staff one day and leaving the restaurant a 5-star Google review.

Take this time to refocus and think about your dealership’s messaging. When you’ve determined the goal of your messaging, stay focused, and consistent in how you’re communicating it. While there can be a happy medium between soft and hard automotive sales, the focus of your marketing should shift from loud offer ads to acknowledging people’s fears and how you’re dealership is listening and reducing any potential risk. If you would like to learn more about how you can get help creating brand messaging, contact us 561-745-6207 or email us at