Another NADA has come to pass and thus marks a new start in the automotive world.  It is noted for the closing of accounts over the last year and how the market has evolved to bring us more goodies from those oh so nice vendors we have grown to loveWhat is Zero Moment of Truth Marketing? - NADA Recap [Part 1]and….well for some……maybe loath.  Every year there seems to be new buzz word seeping into everyone’s conversations. This year the word was ZMOT. Also known as Zero Moment Of Truth. Although its sounds like it belongs more in a war movie starring Jason Statham, it actually has major relevance in the dealer world. The meaning of ZMOT is essentially the marketing tools being used to control consumer behavior at the point of sale. This has to do with several things, such as in-store music and marketing, digital point of sale, or really just keeping the customers informed and entertained.  Lastly what I noticed from this years NADA was the extreme lack of mobile marketing done by dealerships. It seems that they have given up on this given the new laws in place about unauthorized contact to their customers but I am here to show you a few ways to help with that. But lets put that on the back burner for now and we’ll address that a bit later on.

I want to start by going over the importance this new and powerful tool of ZMOT. As of right now very few dealerships are even thinking about this concept let alone using it effectively. Which as it seems to me (and I mean this in the best way possible) is a bit silly. I say this not out of disrespect (because we all certainly know how hard it can be to bare the burden of a dealership in this economy) but out of friendly advice. Dealers spend millions to get customers to pick them in a highly competitive market and the OEM spends even more to feed the masses information to drive them to stores. So why stop there? I mean yes, you have them in the store but that is not enough anymore. You have to keep your customer engaged by any means necessary. Whether its audio marketing, digital point of sale, etc.  Nothing is to be taken for granted in this world and foot traffic least of all. So unless you really believe that all those customers are going to be coming back on the be-back-bus you need to keep your guests informed at the zero moment of truth. Which from what I could tell very little if any dealers are really doing this.

A great way to keep your guests informed is the use of audio marketing. This is when the customer comes into the showroom they are being given information over the loudspeaker. This helps to guide them to where you want them looking. Whether it’s to your service lane, the old 13’s you need to move, or your great used selection.  Either way you are branding yourself at the ZMOT and giving them a chance to take advantage of the offers that you have. Should you expect them to remember the deals that you advertised the week before while they were hammering potato chips and glazing over on Jeopardy? If you answered anything but no, you should stop reading this blog right now. If you are still reading then you know that you need something else in place and audio marketing is a great way to start. Spoon-feed them the information, don’t make them work for it.

The next idea for helping with ZMOT is digital point of sale. This was another lacking area but some seemed to grasp the exceedingly clever concept. The idea is this, the T.V.’s you spent good money on can be used to give you the advantage you need. They can be turned into your own little billboards inside the showroom. Imagine this if you would, your customer walks in and is greeted by a T.V. welcoming them to the store and giving them the deals that are going on right now. Along with this friendly little arrows to guide them to where they need to go to achieve what they came for. As the move threw the dealerships there are more T.V.’s boasting the same ads and arrows to keep their feet moving.  But the real advantage is when they make their way back to the service lounge. T.V.’s set up to show where their car is in progress, the E.T.A. on the vehicles return, and you can run ads and weather updates in the side bars. You can even sell ad space (like the audio marketing) to cover the costs of this service. You can even set up fun games and T.V. programs to keep the kids involved while you and the customer get some much need one-on-one time. As we all know nothing kills a sale quicker than restless kids. So keep them entertained and leave the rest to your sales staff.

Lastly I want to hit on the most under utilized tool in the industry, mobile marketing. I know…. I said it and it seems like today it has been made into to curse word, when it can actually be your greatest ally. Mobile marketing has so much to offer and can keep your guests engaged better than anything else. It’s as simple as offering a promotion, like $10 off an oil change or a free car wash. They can also be prompted to give input on their visit experience and can fill out a survey on their phone that will then notify a store manager about that guest’s experience in real-time. This is called Reputation Protection and can save you on some pretty Dealer Rater reviews. Running loyality or VIP programs is another great way to build quality permission based leads.

It would sound something like: Text “VIP” to 48696 to be entered in to our VIP program and earn points toward free merchandise or services!

This way they get something in return and it makes it worth while on both sides. Then you can always give them dealer news and updates about sales to drive them back into your store. You can even (and this parts my personal favorite) have them schedule service appointments and when they get there you can have an automated text sent to their phone thanking them for coming in. Even some mobile marketing solutions offer options like instant message to immediately give your guest’s the option to use live chat to have a 1:1 communication with a store rep right then and there. Now that’s zero moment of truth marketing.

If you haven’t been putting the dots together don’t feel bad most didn’t even know there were dots to connect in the first place. What I’m talking about is rolling all three of these things together to maintain the ultimate ZMOT. That’s right I’m talking about the full court press on controlling internal environment. Think about the possibilities of being able to have your customers see custom ads linked up with audio reinforcements while receiving welcome back texts and promotions……and they are only five feet inside the door. A symphony of useful information commanding the senses to whisk your customers and guests away to places you want them the most. With all the marketing wrapping them like a warm blanket on a cold winters night they will not be able to help but to remember your name and most of all your brand. That is all I have for you this time I appreciate your attention and may your metal always be moving.