The buzzword of the day in marketing circles is engagement.
Businesses should engage their customers, not just sell to them. Engagement is different than selling because it's considered to be more consultative and less transaction-based. Engagement is something you do with family around Thanksgiving dinner, not something you do when someone walks onto your used car lot.
I was reading an article online recently that listed a number of strategies that bank marketers should employ to engage customers and increase their business. Beyond those ideas, there are other strategies that auto lenders could employ to engage their current customer base and also to find new business.
1. Know when to sell. And when to back off. One of my favorite plays/movies is "Glengarry Glen Ross." Anyone in sales has seen it and has loved it. Alec Baldwin makes a cameo and has a great speech that is repeated as often in sales circles as lines from "Caddyshack" are on the golf course. One of Baldwin's greatest lines in the movie is "A. B. C. Always. Be. Closing." It's a mantra that has been beaten into many salesmen and customer service professionals. But I think customers are getting smarter. When David Mamet wrote and when Alec Baldwin recited the lines in "Glengarry Glen Ross," times were different. Today's customers are savvier. Mamet didn't have to worry about people walking into a Target with a smartphone, scanning products and being told where they could find them cheaper. Customers are more sophisticated. Sales should be much more consultative than ever before.
2. Mine that data. I love data. I have made no secret of that in the past. There's gold for anyone willing to take the time to sift and dig and bore into their databases. Repeat business is in the data. Uncovering new trends is in the data. Upselling and cross-selling opportunities are in the data. The more data you have, the more opportunities you have.
3. A. B. C. This is a different A, B, C than Always Be Closing. This one stands for Always Be Communicating. If today's customers are smarter and more sophisticated than ever before, then they need more information than ever before. That information can come from you. Content is an under-utilized marketing strategy. To be effective, the content has to be relevant and well-written. A good communications strategy will turn current customers into repeat customers and turn former customers into returning customers.
4. Network. My local chamber of commerce held an event this week called Bizmania. The goal was to bring businesses in the community together to network with one another, and to promote themselves to our township. There is a great opportunity in networking with other businesses, because what's great about them is that they likely have customers that you don't. By establishing networking relationships with other businesses in your community, you can open yourself up to the best kind of prospecting: referrals.