It surely didn’t win an honor at the ad industry’s Clio Awards.
An Ohio car dealer used his phone to video-record an extemporaneous walkaround of a vehicle on his sales lot. He then uploaded it to YouTube.
The production value was poor. The audio was flawed by the sound of wind. “It was terrible quality,” recalls Angie Cucco, senior automotive strategist for Google, a companion company to YouTube.
Yet, despite the flaws, the dealer’s do-it-yourself video got lots of views, she adds. How is that possible?
Because “he came across as a great guy,” Cucco says during an American International Automobile Dealers Assn. webinar at which she gives pointers on how to pitch vehicles on YouTube, a site that draws millions of viewers each day.
The trick is to “develop video content that is powerful,” Cucco says. “It’s a great way to communicate with people.”
The average American daily watches seven hours of video, whether on phones, streaming TV or elsewhere, she says. “I’m not sure what that says about society that we are sitting there watching screens, but there you have it.”
Dealers can shoot their own videos of individual inventory like the Ohio auto retailer did, or they can hire production companies to do it.
Either way, Cucco offers four hints on what dealerships should (and shouldn’t) do to create YouTube videos that resonate with viewers:
1. Sell the car, not an event, the brand or the store.
Provide details on features and offerings. Concentrate on a single car. “In our studies, ads that focused just on the dealership, on sales events without specifics, or on car brands without detailed offers, are less correlated to store visits.”
If a video does center on the dealership itself, “make sure its specialness comes through.”
2. Make the message solid and differentiated.
Go beyond monthly payments, Cucco recommends, noting one dealer breaks down mentioned loan payments to a daily basis. “Seven dollars a day sounds more inviting.” Highlight vehicle features. Appeal to regional and local pride.
3. Templates provide scale for specifics.
Whether or not a dealership hires a videographer, use production templates in which photos and written content can be swapped out. That’s better than starting from scratch each time. “It doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive. Even simple templates perform well.”
4. Educate consumers.
Inform the viewer about the vehicles and its features of interest.
Many effective sellers deliver detailed messages, including competitive advantages. “Video is the perfect chance to educate your car shoppers on the specifics of the vehicles,” says Cucco. “The sight, sound and motion of video help your message resonate with consumers.”
For the DIY videos, YouTube starts charging after 30 seconds. The company offers various services for a fee. Those include:
- Brief six-second “bumper” ads that can run before, during and after a particular video that someone is watching.
- Targeted ads for in-market shoppers, based on their tracked online activity. Example: someone who has entered “Jeep Wranglers for sale” during a Google search.
“Ideally, ads reach people in the market,” Cucco says. A close runner-up: people who aren’t in the market but will be at some point.
Steve Finlay is a retired WardsAuto senior editor. He can be reached at [email protected].