I mentioned before that the Internet has almost completely replaced print media and airwave (Radio & TV) advertising. It’s true. Most newspapers that have folded (sorry) or gone to electronic –only versions put their position squarely on the Internet.
We talked previously about Facebook. My mistake, I got this out of order. Too many dealers don’t even respect the Internet first. Many dealers out there began selling cars before the internet existed, but that was long ago. Most people research or look for cars online, not the local newspapers. Even Auto Trader turned its’ weekly paper magazines into one of the largest auto sales websites in the world.
When people want to buy something, especially large purchases, they go look for it online first, and sometimes, only online. Your print media ad is increasingly not being seen. In these days of satellite radio or direct connect MP3 players being played in cars, your radio ad is also being lost into nearly empty air. We have DVRs that let us skip the television commercials. But people will watch a YouTube video of a car we are interested in. More people in the last week saw a Craigslist or Backpage ad instead of a newspaper ad for a car.
If you did not understand much of the last paragraph, that is okay, but it is time to consider hiring someone who does. Almost every retail outfit in today’s world needs an Internet Specialist who knows these websites, can follow them, and knows how to manipulate the ads shown on them. This specialist can also get you on Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, and will embrace whatever the next Social Media phenomenon that arises.
The other part of this is the expense. You will spend less in a whole year specializing in Internet advertising than some dealerships spend in a quarter on television, radio, and print. You will also inarguably reach a larger, wider audience. Think of it this way: the non-Internet media is limited to your local area, and can take days for the ad to even be seen or heard. The Internet is global, and works at light speed. Dealers have reported selling cars to buyers thousands of miles away within an hour of posting an online ad.
Over eighty percent of people will research the purchase online. Almost a third of car buyers would prefer to handle the entire purchase electronically. The so-called “Millennial generation,” those born in the 1980’s or later, is increasingly becoming a very large portion of car buyers. These people grew up on connected computing, and most of them rely on it exclusively. The first of this generation are now in their thirties and the number of the rest who are of car-buying age grows each year, as the number of pre-internet car buyers drops. Even people born in the 1960’s to 1970’s grow more and more connected to technology. More than 90% of that generation has internet. Smart phones and wireless portable devices such as tablets or small laptops put the Internet in their hands anytime, anywhere.
The light-speed velocity of the Internet also has an effect you have to be aware of that we discussed previously: The ease and speed at which people can talk about your business. Before Internet, people would tell an average of ten to twenty people about their bad experience, and that process took weeks. Now, one single Social Media post can reach thousands of people in minutes. Keep in mind that the Good News travels just as fast, and reaches just as many people. What you have to manage is the response. What I think businesses miss is the opportunity to simply thank people for good reviews. It conveys the message of your awareness, appreciation, and responsiveness. Prospective Buyers will notice that just as much as your response to bad reviews. Here’s more good news: the internet society actually pays attention to personal reviews, and uses them as much or more than advertising claims to make purchasing decisions.