In the first of this series, we talked about becoming a ‘destination retailer’ by providing a fantastic service-led ethos that customers can believe  - now we're going to look at your online persona!

Rather than take on the major manufacturer and retailer brands, independent dealers can compete in terms of personality and service, especially online. Yet all too often the first visit to a dealer, which will invariably for most customers will be online, can fall short in terms of; passion, authenticity and evidence. This is a big miss – to address this, it is time to start thinking about your online persona.

What is your online persona?

  • Your online persona represents your brand’s personality, based on people’s perception of your business
  • This is created through the images, words and tone you use throughout your online presence
  • A strong online persona can add to the depth of information about your business, and can tell people about your ethos and philosophy

What influences your online persona?

  1. Website presentation; is it well written and compliant, are the images of real cars and people in your showroom, do your other platforms (ie social media) send the same message?
  2. Platform unity; are you other channels such as social media and email sending the same message as your website?
  3. Tone of voice; are you speaking to the customer in friendly, approachable language that they can understand, and more importantly, can you feel the personality behind the words? This scan span across all your online communications, even email.
  4. People; show off the face behind your brand by having real stories and images of your team

From words to action

Creating an online persona is not as hard as you may think. I’m doing it now; writing in the first person with a friendly, helpful tone. Added to that I’m writing in plain English, using short sentences and paragraphs to make my messages easier to understand;

  • Bullet points can help too!

1. Images

Personally, I like to see a picture of a dealer’s premises; it gives me confidence and I know what I’m looking for when I visit the premises! Candidly, if your site is not photogenic, then your first step should be to maximise what you have. As estate agents will tell you ‘kerb appeal’ matters.

If you still aren’t convinced, then use pictures of your people and typical cars and avoid using stock images (especially of vehicles you don’t stock!).

2. Content

If you’re not a confident writer, then find a good copywriter who can paint a picture of your business. At the same time, remember it is not what you say; it is how you say it – so the tone of voice you use matters as well.

In terms of what should be written; your history, approach, people, community involvement, products, services and of course, stock, should all be covered. In creating this content, always recognise that people like to buy from passionate, committed people.

Don’t be light on content; from an SEO point of view, those Google tools love fresh content.

3. Supporting Evidence

Add case studies, pictures of happy car buyers and customer services reviews. Do include facts, such as time in business, partners; the number of cars you sell each year and details of services such as warranties. These are all about building reassurance and confidence.

So there we go, a short guide to the key information that makes your website stand out from the crowd!

By Barry McDermott


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