Why Carlotfinance.com?

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Published: 17th August 2015
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An online business shares the same principles as any regular bricks and mortar business.
That is a simple statement and one that many people would do well to remember when being deterred from starting. If the basic idea is a sound one and the returns are likely to outweigh the investment, then you are on to a good idea. Nothing revolutionary in the slightest!

When we came up with the idea for Carlotfinance.com it was from personal experience and frustration. The experience came from working with hundreds of Used Car Dealers, many of which were in the form of Sub-Prime dealers. The frustration came from listening to phone calls from potential customers to these dealers and constantly hearing the same two questions:

• How much is that down?
• How much is it per month?

These two questions are very familiar to those who deal is true subprime car financing and they relate directly to Buy Here Pay Here type financing. Answering these questions results in two outcomes: 1. The customer can afford those terms and the conversation continues. Or 2. More likely, the customer cannot afford those terms and the conversation ends there.

So we knew that there was a gap in the market for a product that tackled this challenge. We needed to find a way to cut down on unwanted phone calls and deliver calls, which were better qualified. Simple. How we approached this issue was by developing a method of searching which allowed the users of the site to search for a vehicle by down payment and/or monthly payment and see a selection of vehicles which matched their financial situation. When the call was then generated the user already knew the approximate financial commitment, which would be required to get them into their new vehicle.

The challenging part of this is that we would be sitting between the user and our customer. In turn, requiring us to sell to both sides of the coin. We had to drive enough traffic to the site to ensure that the dealers, who were actually paying the bills, were generating a large enough volume of high quality phone calls to sell vehicles and justify the prices we were charging them. Further to this, we needed the two separate elements of this equation to grow in relation to each other to ensure that a balance was being achieved and both parties were kept happy.

With the existing knowledge gained from working with multiple automotive dealers, over the course of eight years, had given us a certain amount of insight as to how the more successful ones were driving traffic to their websites. Armed with this information we put together a highly detailed marketing plan that would allow us to implement their best practices and hit the ground running.

One aspect which interested me the most was the group of visitors to their site who typed in the domain name directly, or that used a search engine to find the companies website directly. To arrive at the website using either of these methods it is safe to assume that they were already aware of who the company was and exactly what do. The burning question is: How did they achieve this brand awareness? Existing customers, visited the website previously, word of mouth, drive past the dealership on a regular basis, TV advertising, Radio, magazine…and the list goes on. To begin to be able to understand any of these numbers they have to be examined in context, which meant dissecting the different advertising mediums which these dealerships currently use and plotting the information on a graph.

In truth, the next step came down to gut instinct as the number of apparent variables expanded at an alarming rate the longer my mind dwelled on the problem. I bet you are pleased I took so much time to explain something that had little or no impact on the way that we moved forward! What this process did do is manage my expectations for the first 12 months that our website was live. Taking into mind that consumers only change their vehicles every 4 years, it is unlikely that we are going to have significant return customers for some time. Our word of mouth was going to take some time to have an impact. We needed a store front for people to drive past everyday and we needed to have offline/brand awareness advertising for us to be successful.

Keeping focus and budget of a long term marketing plan as well as executing a short-term strategy has proved to be incredibly hard work. Giving up on a little of this months traffic to focus on next years traffic is critical however and as we approach the end of the first 12 months we are seeing the fruits of our labor.

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