3 Alternative Video Strategies for Retailers to Engage Customers Online

Over the last month as automotive retailers have faced unprecedented challenges, we are learning about ‘meeting the customer where they are’ in a whole new way. From actual public health concerns related to COVID-19, to restrictions and limitations on meeting customers in showrooms, how we interact with customers has changed, to say the least.

Naturally, the use of video has become essential, if not critical. Video has always been a highly effective tool for connecting with customers without having to be face-to-face. But now, dealers have no choice but to utilize video to some degree.

Just ask Tim James, COO of Flick Fusion, a video hosting and distribution platform and sponsor, who recently published, What Do You Do When Car Buyers Aren’t Coming Into Your Showroom, states in his article that, “in order to be really effective your video communication platform should integrate New Model Test Drive videos, Inventory Videos, Video Calling, and Real-Time Notifications.”

For car sales, the use of video and online tools isn’t so much about facilitating a purchase transaction, but rather providing research information. The ability to learn about a specific vehicle and get that ‘walk-around’ experience through a dealership website or  mobile app.

This came up recently in a conversation with Lyamen Savy from 321 Ignition on the Mobility Tech & Connectivity Show, where Savy states that, “Millennial and Gen-Z consumers are the most skeptical generations in history. They grew up with the Internet – the most powerful research tool in the world. They like to do their own research.”

Video for Comfort and Peace of Mind, Not Sales

But video content isn’t only about sales. Focusing on other important elements can build a library of valuable content that informs and empowers customers will build the trust and relationship you’re looking for.

Herb Anderson, creator and host of the Dealer Talk podcast, has made a name for himself helping dealers build their brand without compromising their values. Herb knows not every retailer wants to develop an On-camera Persona. In fact, it’s not even necessary, he says in this conversation on YouTube, since in auto sales it’s all about making the car the star.

In terms of overall efficacy, Herb says there are three elements retailers should keep in mind when creating content:

  • What to Expect Videos – This includes things like bringing a car in for a recall, scheduling routine maintenance, having their car appraised or applying for financing for a car. These videos give customers a chance to see what to expect in any given process and learn about the people behind various departments within the dealership. The goal with this element is to humanize the dealership and create a personal connection with customers.
  • Behind the Scenes Videos – Showing people what happens literally behind the scenes at a dealership. How are service calls handled?  How does the finance department evaluate applicants? The goal with this element is to provide transparency to how the dealership works in order to build trust with customers.
  • How To Videos – This element is all about empowering customers. Cover simple things like how to replace a rear light bulb, handle routine maintenance and even how to improve and maintain good credit. Any topic that empowers customers when it comes to vehicle ownership will create a bond between you and the customers.

Creating videos, even ones that don’t focus directly on sales, can go a long way in forming a bond that transfers into a meaningful commercial transactional relationship.

According to one study Herb mentions, 60% of the customers that watched a video actually went to the dealership. So no matter what kind of topics you’re covering, as long as you’re providing value, you’re building that all-important relationship.

“That’s the goal here,” Herb says, “We want to build so much value that when the customer thinks about servicing their vehicle or purchasing a car they have no choice but to choose us.”

When customers can’t simply walk into a dealership to do their research, a fading practice in its own right, shopping online is their only option. And when today’s customers are shopping, you can move around quickly. You need a way to grab their attention.

Transparency and convenience set retailers apart from one another in a time when profit margins are razor thin and consumers aren’t necessarily swayed by small fluctuations in price.

Providing quality video content on the cars you have for sale is one thing. Providing quality video content that empowers and informs customers about your dealership and what they can expect is an entirely other approach.

Customers expect to be bombarded by dealers with deals and special offers. It’s been the de facto approach for decades. And right now, a pattern interrupt can make all the difference.

About the Author

Ryan Gerardi
Creative, resourceful, and resilient B2B sales and marketing technologist who works with people and businesses on a variety of levels to help elevate their game, their brand, and their businesses.
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