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Going Electric: What This Means for Dealers in 2023

Blue smart car charging at an electric charging station.
Article Highlights:

  • Be innovative. Customers want change, and quite frankly, they expect it.
  • EV demand requires dealers to reevaluate traditional marketing efforts.

Like every other business, dealerships are trying to stay on top of the ‘next best thing’. Sometimes, this means adding a new kiosk in the lobby or upgrading to a sophisticated messaging tool on your website, but for many dealers, the newest ‘thing’ is determining how to incorporate electric vehicle options into their marketing and sales process. And for good reason too—a recent survey of 33,000 U.S. drivers found that 22.9% would consider buying a new or used electric vehicle, while 65% agreed that EVs “are the future of the auto industry.”

For the first time since the dawn of the 20th century, internal combustion engines are being challenged. According to Automotive News, around 20 OEMs will launch 65 EVs between now and 2024. JD Power’s EVX study (Electric Vehicle Experience) notes as many as 16,000,000 EVs could be sold over the next four years too. What this means is that there’s a huge opportunity for dealership growth in going electric.

In order to optimize this opportunity, it’s important for your dealership to not only understand why customers want EVs, but what customers want in EVs—and what this can mean for your dealership’s marketing efforts.

What Potential Changes Could This Bring?

From single rooftop stores to large dealer chains, the growing market for EVs will likely mean that dealerships need to develop new employee training (or at least adjust their current training program). In many cases, this will also mean investing in new infrastructures capable of servicing, selling, and charging electric vehicles. Of course, you’ll want to make sure those investments will pay off.

Additionally, new sales processes are being explored, including selling new vehicles largely (if not fully) online. While intriguing, we are seeing a vast majority of consumers wanting to come to the dealership at some point, especially when purchasing brand new technology.  That means  retailers  need to have infrastructures and tools that support customers both in person and online, across all segments of the ownership cycle (financing, purchasing, servicing, etc.).

The accelerating EV market also means having a marketing strategy in place to influence and acquire EV shoppers is going to be a vital piece to future-proofing your dealership.

Make Your Marketing Electric–

Electric vehicles, led by consumer and political demands, require dealers to reevaluate their traditional marketing methods. The popularity of a new type of vehicle means a new approach to your marketing efforts. EVs have become a part of the buying process, and EV shoppers have a larger consideration set than the average new car buyer. Take advantage of the ample opportunities to shape your customer’s journey.

  • Tip #1: Know the Facts – As with any product, it’s important to know what you’re selling before you actually try to sell it. Your customers are going to have questions (and a lot of them). Having the answers to many of the common questions or concerns your customers may have is a good place to start. Even better, try to provide valuable resources that your customers can gather insight from. This could be a downloadable infographic on an EV buyer’s checklist, dynamic test drive videos, or maybe even an eNewsletter showcasing the most popular types and models of EVs.  Offering these resources to your customers creates a win-win situation—you establish relationships that ultimately turn a profit, and your customers get the information they need to confidently purchase whatever kind of car it is that they’ll love (EV or otherwise).
  • Tip #2: Find Your Buyer – Buyer personas are a semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research. They’re typically comprised of demographic information, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
  • If you’re not sure where to start in finding the right kind of buyer for your dealership, these personas can be a great tool. How? Let’s use a quick example– environmentalists may be health conscious and grow some of their own produce, recycle often, or buy products with eco-friendly packaging. When Randy engages with Facebook posts about one of these three topics, you know that he may align with this persona. Buyer personas help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better. Randy isn’t as concerned about saving gas money, but he is concerned about saving gas. This makes it easier for you to find your buyers and tailor your content and messaging to them.
  • Tip #3Target Effectively –There are millions of potential EV buyers, however not all of them are your customers. The key to effective targeted marketing is clean, relevant data. Using demographic, behavioral, industry, and market data allows your dealership to communicate to the right customers, prospects, and conquest opportunities.
  • Good data gives you a variety of targeting approaches too. For example, your dealership doesn’t have to rely on a single indicator like equity or age of vehicle to try to find potential buyers.  You can use a broad collection of data points to find people with a high propensity to buy today. In the case of electric cars, maybe this means targeting individuals who have recently moved to an area with a high number of EV registrations and share demographic markers with others who have purchased EVs from you.

Bonus Tip: Be innovative. Customers want positive change, and quite frankly, they expect it. So why should your marketing be any different? In promoting any vehicle, your dealership can utilize unique social media features like Instagram Reels and Facebook Live, or even boost exposure with a series of interactive filters on stories. Whatever you choose, keep thinking outside that box!

 

When it comes to the growing interest (and pressure) to make the switch to electric vehicles, your customers are working to find information from sources they can trust. Electric is an opportunity for your dealership in multiple ways, and you can capitalize on it if you effectively position yourself as a resource to consumers (both in person and through your online marketing efforts). Whatever the case may be, we believe that you can truly electrify your marketing now and in the future, if you have the right help.

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Anna Perry is a marketing communications professional at Reynolds and Reynolds. She is an expert on Reynolds’ suite of cutting-edge marketing products, their functionalities, and how they can be utilized to improve dealership success. Anna received her Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Marketing from Miami University, as well as her Associate’s Degree in Business Management Technology with a concentration in global and social computing.

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