The online market is saturated, and online advertising channels are overflowing with competition. Better marketing helps you get more attention and more traffic, and that traffic turns into leads and sales. Sales managers are better able to establish relationships to keep people coming back for more service and yes, even more product. Because of market saturation, the automotive industry has its own unique challenges when it comes to promoting their stores, inventory, and specials.
Connected technologies, changing trends in consumer shopping behavior, digital and mobile channels, longer vehicle lifespans, and consumer mobility behaviors are all impacting how the automotive industry must respond and effectively target newer markets. Many dealerships, and many companies, in fact, separate marketing and sales. Dynamic Beacon aims to change all of that, giving dealerships a leg to stand on in a crowded market, and helping them to reach their audiences effectively and with purpose.
Dynamic Beacon is comprised of two savvy marketers with the added benefit of automotive expertise. Justin Brun and Ben Koller saw the distinct obstacles that dealerships face when it comes to executing ideas, and from their home dealership of Acton Toyota of Littleton, Massachusetts, a true dealer-to-dealer marketing firm was born.
Digital retail has changed how consumers research and purchase goods and services, so Dynamic Beacon is bringing dealerships up to speed with the evolving landscape. Dealerships have a tendency to over solicit, or send too many emails without a purpose, so Brun and Koller focus on providing a more targeted approach, moving towards consumer personalization and relevance. Koller’s best advice is that less is more.
“As consumers, we expect marketing communications to be highly personalized and catered to us. Anything that isn’t will likely result in no business,” says Koller.
Websites are another unique challenge in the auto dealership industry. While we’ve moved towards a more mobile-centric era, websites aren’t going away—nor should they. They serve a different and evolved purpose, particularly in the social context. For dealerships, it’s much more than that, and it behooves dealerships to take a good look at what their websites are doing instead of just focusing on aesthetics. Dealership websites also miss one crucial element that could easily help sales: merchandising.
“Dealership websites have a common issue: they neglect merchandising,” says Brun. “We know dealers spend their marketing dollars on paid searches, but when it comes to inventory and merchandise, there are no seller’s notes or poor seller’s notes, photos are missing or taken outside against unfavorable backdrops. Old license plates are still on.”
This neglect of the merchandising portion of the website hurts bottom line sales by not catering to savvy consumers who are used to internet commerce and other self-service options. Think serving, less selling. The sales will follow if dealerships can cater to the market in this way.
“We also look at related marketing, and another area of neglect is fixed operations,” says Koller. “We see that as an area of opportunity for dealerships.”
This makes sense, as fixed operations account for the lion’s share of operating profits. A healthy and profitable fixed operations means a healthy dealership.
Customers want a different interaction with dealerships. They have other sources of more reliable information right in the palms of their hands, so they now expect personalization when it comes to these interactions. They want targeted promotions, and mobile and social experiences. Most of all, the modern customer wants to know that they are in control of the shopping process.
According to Koller, digital retail means consumers want to conduct a large majority of their purchases online. One of the goals at Dynamic Beacon is to help customers spend less time in the store, giving them more of the purchasing power, so that the process is seamless and more pleasant.
Overall, websites also play an important role in the consumer-dealership relationship: providing content. According to Brun, content creation is critical for the self-servicing customer. Dynamic Beacon is finding success in targeted content: coupons, service propositions, and customized service reminder emails. As a dealer-to-dealer marketing firm, Dynamic Beacon looks at all of the content to determine how to better improve open click-through and rates.
Beyond marketing, part of running a successful dealership is hiring and retaining promising talent. Dynamic Beacon takes marketing a step further by helping dealerships market to future candidates as well. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about working in a dealership that may deter good quality candidates: like long and weekend hours. Brun and Koller are finding success for their dealer clients by highlighting how dealerships respect work/life balance, and how a career in automotive can be lucrative.
Looking forward, dealership websites are part of a media mix model, so these brand websites are key. Websites anchor the brand, and their content can be used to improve search results, helping dealerships understand the context of searches. Dynamic Beacon sees itself as a hub for training staff on items such as search results, Google AdWords, and how a website’s copy can help better position dealerships in a search.
Dynamic Beacon can help dealerships better understand how those marketing dollars are spent online. “Dealers are focused on the next shining spoon and what’s the latest and greatest in automotive technology, but we really do believe it’s important to look back at the fundamentals: vehicle merchandising, photos, seller’s notes, and a market-based pricing strategy, and also training,” says Brun.
Dynamic Beacon’s mission is to help dealerships be more efficient overall in their marketing efforts, and to help dealership staff understand the modern selling architecture that exists for today’s consumer.
For dealerships, it’s about listening, adapting, and being part of the expanding e-commerce world. The customer experience that visitors receive as they engage with automotive brands will determine which vehicle and dealership they will choose.
While overseeing its digital marketing and internet sales management of Acton Toyota of Littleton (Littleton, MA), Justin Brun and Ben Koller helped the dealership build one of the most successful internet operations in the U.S. While still retaining employment at Acton, in 2011, the pair created Dynamic Beacon, a true dealer-to-dealer digital marketing agency and consultancy. This boutique operation offers web creative development, email marketing, search engine marketing, social media advertising, and more.
Both are widely sought-after for their progressive yet practical approach to automotive digital marketing and frequently speak on the subject in various publications, webinars, and conferences. In, 2013, Brun was selected by Automotive News as a 40 Under 40 honoree.