Video - Connected Podcast - Henning

Greg Uland: Hello, I'm Greg Uland, marketing director at Reynolds and Reynolds, and this is Connected, the podcast with best practices and ideas to help navigate what is happening in the automotive retail industry and the world today. As the COVID-19 virus continues to change our world and how we live and work daily, this podcast discusses ways continue operating in today's unprecedented social environment. In today's episode we have Steve Henning. Steve is the director of operations at Naked Lime Marketing. Steve, thanks so much for joining.

Steve Henning: You're welcome, Greg. Appreciate you asking me to join you today.

GU: Yep, absolutely. So Steve, hoping to talk today a little bit about content marketing. It's something that's often rolled up and kind of bucketed under SEO, but now probably more than ever, it can have a lot bigger impact than just SEO value. So I guess I want to start with what role can content marketing play today as consumers are sort of pushing off vehicle purchases?

SH: Yeah, that's a great question. I think it's really, probably three roles, Greg. First would be communicating. So if we think about the basics, right. Consumers really want to know right now what's happening at your dealership. Are you open? Are the hours the same as they used to be? If not, how have they changed? What can you tell me about that? Do you offer things like vehicle delivery? Do you drive it out to someone's residence or conversely, when we talk about service, might they go out and pick a vehicle up? Do they have touchless service drive operations, those kind of things? All of that is really what consumers want to know. So I think that's probably first and foremost where we start. With the basics. Then beyond that, I would say it's connecting. If we think about the fact that virtually everybody in the country right now is working remotely, right. So everybody feels a little bit disconnected. It's pretty challenging to stay connected without physically being in the same room as somebody. So a good opportunity for us as a business is to stay connected with your customers. And a consideration that you might think about as well is from that connection perspective, offering maybe something that's a little bit different. So right now, everybody is getting just a barrage of messages about COVID-19. A way to stand out might be to offer a little bit of a different message, maybe something that provides a little different insight or doesn't even touch on COVID-19. Just a bit of a reprieve, if you will. And then I think, you know, as you do that, you kind of leverage your web site, you leverage your other channels, your social channels, your email, etc. and highlight that content that you have, the written content, the video content, and so forth. That third role, I believe, would be more education or educating people. And what I mean by that is this. You know, most consumers right now have said, "I'm going to postpone my vehicle purchase." So they've effectively moved backwards in that funnel. Kind of moved back to more of the research phase. So if you as a dealer can help educate people, maybe provide some additional information about potential vehicles, things they want to know about, help them with that research phase. As we come out the other side of this, naturally, they're going to be inclined to say, "I want to do business with that particular dealership because they provided some of that content and some of that education."

GU: That makes sense. So, Steve, for folks that maybe haven't focused on this type of stuff in the past, at least as their top priority, what are the most effective ways to making sure that their customers see this content that they're putting out there and they can leverage it?

SH: Yeah. Good question, as well. So obviously step one is creating the content. Step two is how do you make sure that people see it? That's a bit of a different animal or different initiative, but it doesn't need to be overly complicated. Quite frankly, social media channels, again, very, very effective way to share that content and particular video content, if we really think about it. Those are good channels for that. Another channel that's really quite effective that many people sometime maybe don't think as much about is email marketing, right. So if we're providing content, let's say we have a various set of content and we want to roll some of that up into an email to provide more bite-sized, if you will, information for people. And then we point them back to a web site or wherever that content is hosted. That's a great way to get that message out in front of those people and make sure that the content you've worked so hard to create is actually seen as well.

GU:  Yes. Very good. And with email, you know, a lot of times we view it as something that we do out of the CRM or view it as a way to get offers in front of customers and promotional things like that. Is there a way, I guess, to shift that focus or maybe to meld the two together, where you're looking at rolling up content and then also kind of having some promotional stuff, as well?

SH: Yeah, absolutely, right. So today, especially, right? We're experiencing consumers that are probably not terribly interested in buying a vehicle. It's much more common right now that people need to service a vehicle. So if we use, again, an email channel, for example, to highlight some of that content, we also add specials, offers and so forth, that will resonate with some people. So if we think about marketing essentially in two buckets: so proactive and reactive. On the proactive side, it's really outreach to generate demand. So traditionally we might think of a direct mail campaign, an email campaign or something like that. And then reactive would be more along the lines of capturing existing demand, i.e. paid search. Well, right now we can highlight offers in email and use that content, essentially leveraging a channel that's traditionally generating the demand-type content, but to help with the other side of that as well of capturing that existing demand. And then we have those offers available to people via an email channel. So that when they're ready, they need to take advantage of a service offer perhaps or even, you know, they're certainly going to be some people that have a need to purchase a vehicle, those offers are right there, ready for them to click on and take them to the web site or wherever that might be.

GU:  Very good. Okay, great. Well Steve, I definitely appreciate you taking some time to share some things today. While we have the audience and before we hop off, is there anything else you want to touch on or that you'd like to share?

SH:  I appreciate that opportunity, Greg. I'd say maybe a couple of just follow up or some culmination type points. And first and foremost, when we talk about content, especially with all that's going on in the world right now, here's my advice: make sure that your content is helpful, that it's relevant, and that it's interesting to people, but also that it's authentic. The last thing you want to do is alienate anybody -- your customers, prospects, etc. right now. That's not the time for it. So as I talked about a little bit earlier, if we have some kind of content that might be beneficial to people, that's not necessarily automotive related, there might be a really good opportunity for a dealership to stand out with that. So what I mean by that is this, probably most parents right now are fulfilling the role of a teacher. And most parents, unless they're in the education industry, don't understand how to do that. So if we can maybe point them to some places of here's some, for example, some channels out on the web that are very educational-related and might help with your young students, most people would appreciate that. Or maybe it's just a list of here's, you know, top 10 things you can do with your kids at home. I think everybody's going a little stir crazy experiencing cabin fever right now. Or maybe something even a little more, you know, beyond that, a top 10 list of movies or books, et cetera, et cetera. So if a dealership, let's say, has a newsletter or those social channels, maybe get some of that content out there, people would probably appreciate that. And likely they'll remember that as they get further through all this. And then, you know, clearly the other part of that is, is making sure you target the right audience, right. So again, if we go back to email specifically, think about who might be interested in a particular piece of content, if you have somebody that's got a vehicle of a certain age, they're probably looking to get that vehicle serviced. So target that audience. Be smart about it, and utilize the tools you have at your disposal to do that. And then I would, I guess, would wrap it up with this, Greg. And that is, you know, I encourage everybody, be as safe as they can right now and be vigilant in what you're doing, and follow and heed the advice of our medical professionals and those sorts of officials. Because even though we're all operating independently at our home offices and so forth right now, quite frankly, we're all in it together. And that's how we're going to get through all of this.

GU:  Very good, very good. Appreciate it, Steve. Thank you again for taking the time. I do appreciate it.

SH:  You're welcome, Greg. Thank you.

GU:  This has been Connected. Stay safe and we'll see you on the next episode.