Dealership in-store digital video is nothing new. But what’s new about the recent announcement from General Motors is the potential for a large group of GM auto retailers to offer narrow-casting content to an audience already stationed at the dealership that isn’t exclusively the same ole “price and item” strategy retailers seem to crave. I say “potential”, because the question/challenge will be if the OEMs, digital vendors and dealers can work together to get beyond the existing mindset of generating content of raw promotion. Instead, in addition to the traditional “transactional” messaging, include a mix of compelling creative that brings the in-store viewer and dealer closer together emotionally.

In-Store Marketing

If you sit in the waiting areas of most dealerships, you will see a mishmash of content going in no particular direction, but tending to still be skewed toward “selling stuff”. It doesn’t have to be that way. Since the OEMs are increasingly preaching “memorable experiences” in order to increase “retention” (that might very well equal future sales), there is a golden opportunity for retailers to focus more strategically on what, for the most part, has been an afterthought in the past.

For example, producing video that delivers a 1-2-minute message about a customer’s “memorable experience” involving the dealership. And I’m not speaking of your traditional dealer video testimonials where the customer stands by the just-bought vehicle while being asked “how was your experience today?”. I’m speaking about video that showcases the reasons “why” the new car customer found the experience great. Reasons that will resonate with potential in-store sales prospects, like a more streamlined showroom process, less pressure environment, etc. With as much money being devoted to media outside the dealership as there is currently, dealers can surely afford to switch a few of those dollars to in-store marketing guaranteed to reach their audience.

Which Department Should Get the Most Strategic Focus?

But there is a second key to the success of the digital signage efforts that is just as critical as producing the right mix of “promotional” and “emotional” content—which department to place the most strategic focus. Increasingly, the dealership department with the most potential for success with digital signage usually gets the least of the marketing focus. It’s the store “service center”, and I spoke of that “potential” in a recent CX Cafe post titled “Changing The CX Auto Sales Environment“.

We’re not just talking about using the signage to sell more service products and services. The service center is a natural environment, a loyalty-loop if you will, to cultivate a strong vehicle owner relationship that can lead to service retention and the “next vehicle sale”. However, dealer service center’s potential as a sales point is still being ignored by many OEMs and retailers. It’s a department where:

  • A good number of customers are in a “window to buy their next vehicle”
  • Customers have a totally different set of expectations
  • Customers are already physically at the dealership
  • Showroomfear, anxiety, and perhaps mistrust most often does not exist
  • In many cases, dealership loyalty has already been positively cultivated
  • Cost of acquisition is “0” dollars
  • There’s a rare opportunity to deliver a unique CX experience

Concentrate Your Digital Signage Efforts in the “Second Showroom”

There’s a saying in the dealer service center that “sales sells the first vehicle and service sells the rest”. OEM’s like General Motors and their dealers should increasingly focus their attention on the possibilities that the next vehicle sale might very well come from some place other than the showroom. I spoke of this opportunity in a LinkedIn blog post.

This will require a change in thinking at the dealership leadership level, which, in most cases, has always had the mindset that “sales is sales” and “service is service”. For example, here is an article from Automotive News detailing how the Managing Partner at a large Honda dealership came to believe that the service department really is the “second showroom”.

One Caveat for Success

The recent commitment from General Motors formalizing digital signage has the potential to enhance the CX at every GM dealership in the country, especially in the service center. But if the content continues to skew exclusively towards blatantly peddling more dealer products and services, the customer will only see it as an intrusion and over-sell.