Successful car dealership marketing was put to the test in 2020. The auto industry was one of the industries that were hit hardest throughout 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread like wildfire across the globe. Sales of new vehicles in the United States dropped by almost 20% throughout 2020. This was due to a variety of factors, including forced dealership closures and widespread job loss and financial hardships among Americans as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Auto sales were not listed as an essential service by the U.S. federal government until mid-April—almost a month after stay-at-home orders began to spread across the United States—so car dealerships were not considered essential businesses until that time. This means that most auto dealerships lost out on a full month of sales during March and April of 2020, and many remained partially or fully closed due to lack of sales even after auto sales were deemed an essential service. 

Millions of Americans lost their jobs—either temporarily or permanently—as a result of forced shut-downs of many businesses due to stay-at-home orders and safety measures taken by the state and federal governments to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The rate of job loss and unemployment in the United States was higher in 2020 than it had been since the Great Depression in the early 20th century. A new car is a major purchase, and most Americans were not financially stable enough throughout 2020 to prioritize buying a car. 

Despite the major challenges that the auto industry faced throughout 2020, many car dealerships adapted in innovative and creative ways in order to minimize their losses and remain afloat through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep reading to learn 3 ways that successful car dealerships adapted in 2020. 

  1. Safety-Based Marketing Campaigns 

COVID-19 is scary, and many consumers began to avoid auto dealerships as the novel coronavirus pandemic spread because they were concerned about their own safety. As a result of these concerns, many successful car dealerships implemented safety-based marketing campaigns in order to restore a sense of safety to their customers who were afraid to enter their dealership facilities for fear of catching the coronavirus. These safety-based marketing campaigns primarily included information about the special measures that auto dealerships were taking in order to prioritize the safety of their customers and of their staff.

How Successful Car Dealership Marketing Adapted in 2020

How Successful Car Dealership Marketing Adapted in 2020

Key points mentioned in many of these marketing campaigns revolved around regular sanitization of dealership facilities and the enforcement of social distancing and face coverings inside these facilities. 

  1. Increased Online Services 

Almost every car dealership that successfully adapted to the unique challenges presented to the auto industry in 2020 improved their websites, enhanced their digital marketing campaigns, and increased the number of online services they offered. 

Many car dealerships began regularly updating their inventories online—with pictures and descriptions—so that customers could browse through available models from the comfort and safety of their own homes without having to actually enter a dealership facility. Many of these dealerships also added online financing and digital paperwork options in order to allow customers to complete as much of the car-buying process as possible from home to minimize the amount of time they had to spend inside the dealership. 

Some dealerships even introduced delivery services, through which they allowed customers to complete the entire car-buying process online and delivered customers’ chosen vehicle models to their driveways so that customers could buy vehicles without leaving their homes at all. 

  1. Television Advertisements 

Due to widespread job loss as a result of the novel coronavirus, many Americans had more time to sit in front of the TV during the day throughout 2020 than they did prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many successful car dealerships capitalized on this increase in television use throughout the United States by amping up their television advertising campaigns in order to get the word out about their inventories, special deals and discounts, and the safety practices they were utilizing in order to keep customers safe at their facilities. 

Although these adaptations by successful car dealerships were all direct responses to the unique challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented, many of these car dealerships plan to continue utilizing their most innovative adaptations—specifically enhanced digital platforms and increased television advertisements—throughout 2021 and beyond. 

Despite the hard hit that the auto industry took as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020, the pandemic also presented innovative car dealerships with opportunities to reinvent themselves in modern ways in order to maintain and increase their success now and into the future—even after the pandemic has passed.

Car dealership marketing companies now have an opportunity to be creative and innovative as dealers are relying on them to maintain and increase their success into the future. If you are in the dealer space and are looking for ways to increase your ROI, contact us today.

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