Not in My Backyard! How to Protect Your Turf With a Geofence

By David Metter

Most of the time the goal of a dealership's advertising is to reach car shoppers and convince them to visit your store. But what about the customers who are already in your dealership? You're probably thinking there's no need to advertise to them. If they're in your showroom, there's a pretty good chance you can close them. And you're right - unless one of your competitors makes them an offer they can't refuse, while the customer is standing right in front of you.

By now you've probably heard of geofencing as a mobile marketing strategy that can be used to lure customers out of a competitor's dealership and into your dealership. It works like this: Jane walks into Smith Chevrolet and immediately gets a push notification (or text, or email, or sees a banner ad) on her smartphone.

The notification informs Jane that Brown Chevrolet down the street has a lease special on a car she's interested in for only $159/month. Jane sees the special and is excited because that price is well below her monthly car payment budget of $200. She decides to go to Brown Chevrolet to check it out. After all, she can always come back to Smith Chevrolet later.

But of course, we know that once Jane leaves Smith Chevrolet, "later" is highly likely to turn into never.

How can you prevent this from happening? The simplest way is to create your own geofencing strategy so that when Jane arrives on your lot, she gets a push notification (or text, or email, or sees a banner ad) from your dealership.

Now, instead of seeing information about your competitor's lease special, Jane sees an offer for a $25 gift card if she takes a test drive right now at your dealership. She thinks, “Wow, how awesome is that?" Or, you send Jane a push notification of your own, informing her about a lease special or a free service maintenance contract with a purchase.

You may not get a lot of click-throughs or actions on these notifications and ads; more likely the customer will mention the offer to a salesperson. But you are making sure that when a customer is using a mobile app or browsing with their mobile device in your dealership, that your dealership brand is going to be there - and more importantly, that your competition is not going to be there.

How much is it worth to you to keep a customer in your showroom, actively engaged with a salesperson? You can bet your competitor is offering a compelling incentive along with a call-to-action. When you're protecting your turf, your ad messaging should be just as aggressive.

It's a good idea to thank your customers and let them know you appreciate their business. As a token of your appreciation, offer a gift card, freebie with purchase, or show competitive pricing information.

This strategy accomplishes two things: it prevents similar offers being shown to the customer from other dealerships, and reinforces in the customer's mind that they have made the right choice in coming to your dealership. Everybody likes to feel appreciated.

This type of geofencing strategy is also very economical. The perimeter around your store doesn't have to be large to be effective; in fact, smaller is better. Messages and ads are typically paid on a cost per thousand basis, so for a small monthly budget you can protect your turf and send your competition a message they'll hear loud and clear - they won't be poaching customers in your backyard!