Whilst speaking to many dealers recently, both franchised and independent, it is interesting the way in which the marketing of cars is constantly evolving.
For example we are encountering many dealers who are becoming increasingly unhappy with the price hikes being introduced by Autotrader. Many are choosing to either limit the kind of cars they put on there or invest more money in their own websites, SEO and pay per click.
One dealer we spoke to told us that having tracked where most of his footfall came from over the last 3 months it was noticeable that, as his dealership sold predominantly newer cars, the money he was paying to Autotrader to advertise these cars was simply not generating the enquiries and the older stuff was selling locally without the need for advertising in the classifieds.
He worked out that it was costing him in some cases £300 per sale because of the lack of enquiries coming through Autotrader despite being paid for upfront and by cancelling his account he reckons it will save him around £1,500 a month.
A brave decision you may think given the sheer volume of search traffic currently enjoyed by Autotrader, which is the Google of the used car trade. But by increasing their prices Autotrader could well force dealers, who may currently choose to market their whole stock of used cars on Autotrader.co.uk, to be somewhat more selective on exactly what and how many cars they choose to advertise. This in turn may lead these same dealers to be smarter with how they market their cars elsewhere.
Interestingly many dealers are also telling us that trying to compete on price and being on the first few pages may sometimes be productive where there is a wide selection of similar models and age of car, but it may well be a losing battle in the long run. A lot of car dealers believe strongly that whilst many car buyers may search the web to research and compare or give themselves an idea of what they might have to pay for the car they are interested in, they invariably end up buying locally.
Car dealers who are not selling the volumes they were because of the economy have to recognise that, in order to hit targets, they will need to ensure that what cars they do sell have to be more profitable to make up for the shortfall. By competing purely on price they will be unlikely to achieve this and if car buyers are not prepared to travel long distances in order to save money then dealers have an opportunity to build value in their products and their business whilst providing a great experience so that even in these austere times they can trade profitably by being smarter than the rest.
A catch all approach to marketing their cars by simply throwing them up on Autotrader because “that’s what we’ve always done” may be a thing of the past.