Next to buying a house, a car – whether it’s new or used – is one of the biggest purchases a consumer will make in their lifetime. An automobile is a major investment, not only in terms of dollars but in terms of trust. Anybody who spends thousands of dollars on a vehicle has a reasonable expectation that the car they buy will be safe to drive. They want it to be reliable – and they may also attach at least some of their self-esteem to the car they drive. What that means is that marketing and branding are exceptionally important for any company in the car industry.
What Do People Want from a Car Company?
When people are in the market for an automobile, what are the things they look for? Any company that sells cars – or car parts, for that matter – must take care to address the primary concerns of car owners and buyers if they want to succeed. The logo you choose for your company can play a significant role in the public’s perception of both you and the cars you sell.
The logos used by car manufacturers send important messages with colors and shapes. Red is a common color because it conveys masculinity, strength, and speed. Blue makes frequent appearances as well – it sends a message of reliability and efficiency. Green is popular for hybrid cars because of its link to nature and the environment — and it also represents balance.
The fonts and shapes that appear in car logos also send a message. Most modern car logos have a sleek and stylized appearance that can work with the chosen colors to give consumers an accurate picture of the brand. This logo that we designed combines blue and red with an image of a classic car. The overall picture is of a company that sells classic cars and understands the people who drive or collect them.
You can see why this logo would be appealing to people who love classic cars. It has a slightly retro feel but the use of red gives the impression that even though the cars this company sells aren’t new, they can still deliver on speed and excitement.
The logo you choose has an immediate impact on the people who see it. While they might not understand the psychological implications of colors and shapes, they feel the effects of those things. That’s just as true for car dealerships and body shops as it is for manufacturers. The right logo can help shape your brand, and your brand is what attracts customers.
How to Make Your Car Company Stand Out
One of the first things you must do to create a recognizable brand is to understand who your competition is. Automobile makers must compete with other manufacturers. Car dealers are in direct competition with other dealers in their area. However, not every dealer will be in direct competition with you. A Rolls Royce dealer probably doesn’t have to worry too much about competition from the local used car dealer, and vice versa. Ask yourself who your target customers are likely to patronize. Those companies are your competition.
The next thing to ask is what makes your brand different from the companies who are competing for the same customers as you. For example, a Rolls Royce dealer might have to compete with a Jaguar dealer in the same city. Jaguar has a brand that’s all about speed and exclusivity. Exclusivity might apply to Rolls Royce, too, but the brand is less about speed and more about reliability and elegance. The Rolls Royce dealer should focus on elegance and refinement, while the Jaguar dealer might brand itself in a way that emphasizes masculinity and speed.
Knowing who your customers are – on a deep level that includes psychological traits – is the final step to determining how to make your brand stand out from the competition. A person who cares mostly about reliability is going to have a different psychological profile from someone whose self-esteem is strongly affected by the car they drive. You should create one or more customer personas to help you determine the direction of your marketing efforts. A Volvo dealer might target practical soccer moms who want a reliable and spacious car for transporting kids and groceries. A Mustang dealer would have to take a completely different approach, choosing branding and marketing that would appeal to the men who are most likely to be their customers.
The customer persona you create is what you will use to help you come up with an effective way to market your company.
Marketing Your Car Company
When it comes to marketing your car company, you need to be both practical and strategic. You must always remember that if you want customers to spend thousands of dollars buying an automobile from you, you have to do a good job addressing their priorities and concerns.
How to Come Up with an Effective Marketing Plan
The first step is crafting a marketing plan. Your marketing plan is a blueprint of everything you will do to market your company. As such, it must include:
- Marketing goals – what do you hope to achieve with your marketing?
- Marketing strategies – what tools and platforms will you use to achieve your goals?
- Marketing tactics – how will you use your chosen tools and platforms?
It is best to start by articulating your goals and then move down the list. For example, your goal might be to increase your sales by 25% in the next six months. Your strategy might be to ramp up your social media marketing game. And finally, your tactics might include setting up a YouTube channel and creating videos to help customers learn what you have to offer.
The final step in creating your marketing plan is to come up with a budget that specifies how much you will spend on each marketing campaign.
Three Ways to Use Your Logo to Improve Brand Recognition
Whatever marketing tactics you decided to use, your logo can and should play an important role in helping build brand recognition and loyalty. Think about the logos of famous brands. You probably recognize the Jaguar logo even without any words attached to it. That’s the kind of brand recognition you want for your car company.
Some of the ways you can tie your logo to your brand include:
- Using your logo as your profile picture or cover image on social media
- Repeating the colors and shapes in your logo on your website
- Finding creative places to use your logo, such as planting flowers in the shape of your logo in front of your dealership or office
The more consistently and effectively you use your logo, the greater your brand recognition will be.
Content Marketing Ideas for Car Companies
Now let’s talk about some of the specific things you might want to consider when it comes to using content marketing to promote your brand and achieve your marketing goals.
- Start a blog. Blogging and selling cars might not seem to go together, but writing a blog is the perfect way to share valuable information with existing and potential customers. For example, you might write one post that focused on caring for a car during the winter months, and another that included tips for driving at night.
- Create videos and post them on YouTube. Having your own YouTube channel is a terrific way to connect with customers. Instead of simply posting a photograph of a new model, take a video showing the inside and outside while explaining its features. You could even do a video on the road by mounting a camera on the car or having someone ride along to film you.
- Tell a story. People who love their cars often name them and assign them human characteristics. An effective marketing campaign might have a lot of fun with this idea, telling the story of a car as if it were a person.
- Offer the people who follow you on social media an incentive to refer new customers to you. For example, you might offer a free wash and wax, or a discount on a more expensive service like tire rotation.
You should also do what you can to integrate your customer service with the marketing strategies you employ. When a customer makes a complaint or asks a question on social media, make sure they get a reply. It’s a simple thing, but it can go a long way toward building customer loyalty.
After you have launched your marketing campaigns, the only thing left to do is to fine tune them the same way you would your car.
Tracking and Testing
Anybody who knows about cars understands that new models go through high-intensity safety testing before they ever get to a dealer. If you want to market your car company effectively, you need to take the same approach to marketing. After you launch a marketing campaign, you have to take the time to see how it performs and tweak it until you are getting the return you want. This process breaks down into two basic steps.
- Track the performance of your marketing campaigns using appropriate tools. To measure the performance of your website, you can use Google Analytics. It will help you determine things like bounce rates and user behavior on your website. Facebook provides some metrics through its Facebook Insights feature that can help you figure out which content is getting the most engagement – and if you run ads on Facebook, you’ll get weekly emails outlining your ad’s performance. You may also want to use tools that track social mentions and other metrics.
- After you have reviewed your analytics, the next step is to fine tune your campaigns based on what you find. The best technique to use is called split testing. Using a site like Optimizely, you test by coming up with a hypothesis and then using software to direct half of your traffic to your existing site and half to a site with a new element. It’s important to test only one thing at a time to ensure that your results are accurate. After you test for at least a week, you can determine which option performed better and change – or not change – your campaign accordingly.
As you go through the process of testing your marketing campaigns, be patient. It’s natural to want to speed through the process, but when it comes to marketing it really is true that slow and steady wins the race.
Quality marketing campaigns are a must if you want your car company to succeed. The competition is intense and people need to feel confident that they can trust you. The right marketing strategy is one that understands your target audience’s needs and speaks to them in a way they can understand. If you accomplish those two things, the sales will follow.