As I type this it is pouring with rain outside, and the wind is whipping through the trees. It may not be the heavy snow those ill-advised meteorologists predicted would hurry in the “coldest winter on record”, but it is definitely dark miserable winter weather through and through. And the weather, of course, is one of the main reasons that seasonal marketing is such an important phenomenon in the UK.
In the automotive market, selling cars over the November/December period is notoriously difficult. Business budgets are running out, individual consumers are feeling the pinch of Christmas shopping, and the dark nights and short days are no doubt contributing to a feeling of general miserliness. However, that doesn’t mean that we should give up on selling our vehicles – instead, it just means that we should be a little cleverer about the process.
It goes without saying that promoting convertibles in winter is a no-goer. With true British flakiness we immediately forget any sun as soon as the rain descends. The obvious key models are, therefore, the 4X4 models, those with off-road capabilities that we may never use – but which will happily get us through puddles and to work and back when it does finally snow. In the same vein, estate models are great for transporting all the family and Christmas presents from house to house, or for the Christmas tree expedition.
How do we promote seasonally appropriate models?
Firstly, winter appropriate models should generally be given a larger prominence on your website over winter, whether that’s through banners, homepage copy, or your Paid Search and display adverts' copy and content. Make sure that your offers, deals, banners and priorities fit with those of your customers.
Secondly, ask your PPC team to be on the ball with the weather in your local area – if snow is predicted at the weekend, make sure that your off-roaders are being promoted throughout that week and into the weekend – you’d be amazed how much one bad day in a slippy sliding car can send people to the computer to search for an alternative. You can even consider targeting local searchers looking for weather based keywords on Google – whilst the Click Through Rate won’t be great, it can be a clever way to get your name out there and put the idea into potential customer’s minds.
Thirdly, you need to make sure that you are in contact with your existing client base. Are there people who you can contact about getting a winter model whose currently summer-friendly car is about to need replacing?
What about seasonal digital marketing for aftersales?
Seasonal marketing isn’t only about the new and used cars, of course – a major earner that is often overlooked is winter servicing and tyres. Google have been banging on about the growth in winter tyre searches for a good few years now, and they’re right – people in the UK are thinking about winter tyres more than ever before, thanks to the chaos of the past snowy seasons. As tyres can be a great way to grow your business base, and a surprisingly effective “in” into general servicing and even car buying, you should really consider selling and supplying tyres. Even better, products and services such as this lend themselves really well to improving customer retention.
The same applies for servicing. Not only will clever SMS or email campaigns keep your existing customer base involved, but you can compete for a slice of the general winter aftersales market too. Just bear in mind that you will, as always, be up against the big price-cutting competitors – so think about ways other than price with which you can differentiate yourself online. Testimonials, reviews, great service and even extra treats for customers who choose you can all help to show buyers why you’re worth choosing.
As you can see, seasonal marketing can be clever, and can open up new areas of business which can in turn help you to sell more vehicles or servicing down the line. The dealers who are aware of this, and who embrace the opportunity, are the ones who can push forward and corner a place in a busy and exciting winter marketplace.