Now more than ever, it’s become imperative that dealerships have a strategic digital marketing plan in place. What used to be a walk-in and immediate face-time with a potential client to get to know your business and products has quickly changed to online research and clicking through your “virtual dealership” to get a sense of whether a customer wants to do business with you. Ensuring elements like your website and overall online presence is up to par could be what sets you apart from your competitors.

Setting aside the time to draft a full marketing strategy may seem like an overwhelming task at first. Especially if you wear multiple hats at your dealership and are responsible for more than just marketing. These are ten basic steps you can take in your approach to mapping out the perfect marketing plan efficiently and stress-free.

1. Review last year's achievements

Look at the marketing activities you participated in the previous year. What were both your successes and failures? Look at what approaches brought in more business leads compared to others as well as when the largest volume of them came in. Didn’t do any marketing for your dealership last year? Then you can start with a clean approach!

2. Set specific goals

You can set general objectives for your business, but it’s important to then set specific and measurable goals. For example, a general objective could be that you want your dealership to have more presence at industry-related events. The specific goal you could then set for that to attend 5 industry-related events throughout the year. Another example could be that you want your website to place higher in Google’s search results. Then, set a specific goal of reaching the first page in a search result when someone Googles “X type of equipment” near “X location.”

3. Brainstorm creative marketing ideas

Go into this step with a clear and open mind. Without limiting yourself, brainstorm all of the fun and creative things you could do to market your dealership in an ideal world where budget and resources aren’t a factor. Have fun with it and just get all your ideas on paper. You may be surprised what ideas come as a result.

4. Narrow down the most realistic ideas

Now back to reality. Since you now have all your great ideas on paper, take a step back and look at what's the most feasible for your dealership. Does taking out an ad in the New York Times not fit your budget? Consider using smaller amounts of advertising dollars on social media. You’d be surprised how far $10 can go on Facebook!

5. Get your team on the same page

This is one of the most important steps. Make sure to sit down with your team and present your ideas to them. Get their feedback and see if they have any suggestions. Some great ideas usually come from these kinds of meetings! It’s also a great way to ensure your team is aligned with the way you want to present the dealership within the industry and that they are speaking to the business in the same way.

6. Determine a process

Once you have your team on board with your strategy, create an outline of how you're going to execute the different projects associated with the strategy. Think of elements like, what team members might you need help from and need to pull in for certain projects? What resources do you need to carry these projects through successfully?

7. Create a content calendar 

Following your process, really look at the content your dealership needs to create in order to stay on track with your goals. Be sure to include a variety of content types, such as images, video, advertisements, success stories, etc. After looking at types of content, set a specific timeline to distribute this content in order to keep yourself organized and consistent throughout the year.

8. Utilize project management techniques

To take your content calendar to the next level, make sure you know when to execute each portion of your content calendar. You can do this by setting calendar reminders for yourself detailing what needs to be done in the calendar description or use a project management tool to keep track of your tasks.

9. Launch the strategy!

Celebrate the fact you've created such a robust strategy and are working hard to bring in more business for your dealership. This celebration can be anything from a celebratory internal meeting or a big event you invite your clients to at your dealership. Just be sure to create some excitement around the start of your strategy!

10. Proactively find additional opportunities

Don't think just because you did all that work, you're set! Always keep an eye out for additional marketing opportunities. A great way to do this by signing up for industry newsletters that send out events and news relevant to your dealership! We follow Farm Equipment's E-Watch Daily to stay up-to-date on the latest Ag news.