Not to oversimplify marketing communications, but it’s all about engagement. This has not changed in the past 10 years and will continue to be relevant. Whether it’s social, digital or traditional marketing, your marketing message should encourage customers to learn about your dealership, to consider your products/services for purchase, or to take action before, during or after the sale. This is true for print ads, tradeshows, direct mail pieces, in-store signage, emails, banner ads, Facebook posts and more.

To make your marketing engaging, focus on these core elements:

  • Audience: Who are you trying to reach? Are you trying to reach new prospects who need to be introduced to your dealership or are you connecting with current customers? Customize your message so it’s relevant to each audience.
  • Message: What is the message that you are trying to deliver to each audience? Focus on what sets you apart from your competition. Showcase this and promote it; but make it relevant to the customer segment you are trying to engage.
  • Timing: When will the message be most engaging? This can be timed to the seasonality of your product/service offerings, but also when users are being exposed to the media delivering the message. For instance, if you are trying to reach the segment of customers who commute to the city, leverage radio ads during heavy commute times.
  • Delivery platform: What is the best platform to reach them with the message? Multiple research studies continue to show that consumption of print media is still strong among farmers and ranchers, but digital usage is definitely on the rise.

What do the next 10 years hold for marketing? I’m not an expert at predicting the future, but the latest technologies and media platforms that connect you with customers and prospects continue to evolve at a rapid pace. And, I don’t see this trend slowing anytime soon.

Consider the evolution of mobile phone usage in the past 10 years. According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, during the third quarter of 2015, roughly 75% of all phones sold were smartphones. And mobile data traffic is estimated to increase tenfold, with video constituting 70% of all mobile data traffic by 2021.

While these are global figures, mobile usage within the rural and farm segments is also strong. The 2015 AgWeb Mobile Research Study reports that 69% of farmers use a smartphone (up from 14% in 2009) and 88% use their phone hourly or multiple times daily. I’m not sure if this is surprising or not. How many of us rely on our phones for information multiple times a day? Your customers are no different and your messages will need to increasingly engage with the audiences on these devices.

Where are consumers spending their time online? According to e-Marketer, U.S. adults spend nearly 2 hours each day consuming digital video (up from 40 minutes in 2011). And time spent on social networks is right behind video consumption.

Video can be one of the most effective mediums for delivering an informative or engaging experience to the targeted audience. Studies have shown that video attracts more visitors and engagement on a site; extends the reach of the message through sharing of the content, and drives increased revenue growth. And with today’s technologies, gathering video content for your social media or website presence can be cost effective.

Consider leveraging video content to help take the anxiety out of your customer’s buying experience. Product usage videos, how-to videos for machine set-up, operation and/or maintenance and safety tips are all great content to share with customers. Your videos can be hosted on your social media network and embedded on your website to increase views and connection with your audience.

While these digital and social media platforms continue to increase in importance, don’t lose sight that you, the dealer, continue to be a key influencer in your customers’ purchase decisions. According to Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s 2016 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook Report, dealers say more than 82% of the time, customers accept their recommendations either most of the time or almost always.

You are the expert and are the best person to help your customers make their final purchase decisions. Continue embracing new and evolving marketing channels to engage your customers for years to come.

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