Dealers need to be aware of the reality that prospective customers are spending more time than ever cross-shopping vehicle makes and models.

Let me break this phenomenon down:

  • About 92% of Americans go online before they ever step foot into a dealership.
  • The average Internet prospect is a 45- to 90-day opportunity.
  • The average Internet prospect is searching five to eight dealerships and websites.
  • The average prospect spends 11 hours researching online before visiting a dealership.
  • 73% of those 11 hours is spent cross shopping auto makers.

Let’s say you have a single-point Honda dealership and have a prospect that is interested in a Honda Accord. It is very probable that they not only are researching the Accord, but also the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and maybe even the Chevrolet Malibu. 

This information is not meant to cause stress. On the contrary, this as a tremendous opportunity for strategic-minded dealers to seize the advantage and begin to conquest their competing brands.

If a dealership grasps this reality, it will stop seeing the Internet solely as a point-of-sale opportunity and start utilizing it for what it truly is: a point-of-interest opportunity.

Specifically, savvy dealers need to start to market to competing brand prospects, not just market and advertise the products they sell.

I will outline three different powerful examples of how successful dealers crush the competition using a conquesting /video search-engine optimization strategy.

The search results from Googling Toyota Corolla Torrance, CA, show first-page, first- and second-position natural (organic) Google videos from a Honda dealership.

Remember, this is Toyota’s backyard; Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. is headquartered in Torrance.

And the video states “Hey folks, I know you are looking for the Toyota Corolla… but you should consider the Honda Civic. It’s a better vehicle. Don’t take my word for it. IntelliChoice said…”

If you Google Rav4 Miami, you will see out of more than 1,500,000 results, a first-position natural video for Rick Case Honda. The video goes on to sell why the Honda CR-V is a better choice than the Toyota Rav4.

This was such a powerful example that Google itself examined it in a first-ever case study on the power of video search-engine optimization.

This strategy has given power and visibility to a showroom sales consultant. Let me repeat that: Not the dealership, not a manager, not an Internet sales department, but a sales consultant. 

Google 2013 Honda Accord Hagerstown. You will see Robert Wiesman’s video first position, natural in the search results. The video has more than 20,000 views. What is absolutely crazy about this is that Robert is not a dealer, but a sales consultant working for a single-point Hyundai dealership.

I can go on about the power of conquesting and of video SEO. But I think you get the point. Dealers have a huge opportunity to sell more cars, more profitably and more often with this strategy. 

If you are a dealership concerned about hitting the point of diminishing return, or if you are a tier-two or even a tier-three franchise frustrated that your outlets don’t get the lead volume you want and need to prosper, then stress no more.

Initiate a conquest strategy against your competing brands. You will be pleasantly surprised with the results. I would do this before your competition conquests your dealership.

Sean V. Bradley, a former dealership manager, is founder and CEO of the training firm Dealer Synergy. He is at sean@dealersynergy.com and 267-319-6776.