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Dealership Marketing

3 Steps To Create Your Dealership's Unique Selling Proposition

Follow these 3 easy steps to create unique sales messaging that will set you apart from other dealerships. The best in car dealership marketing ideas!

Car dealership marketing ideas and ways to create a USP, on paper.



I was recently on Facebook and saw a question asked by a dealer in one of the automotive groups.

Jeff, a marketing director for a Toyota store, asked:

“Hey all! Quick question and I thought maybe other people might be in the same boat...  so we are currently losing sales in our own PMA to other Toyota dealers. We only have about 47% of the sales in our PMA... while all of this, our sales are great! but I hate losing sales of people in our own backyard! Wondering if anyone else is in the same boat or if anyone has any ideas to capture these sales within our own PMA?”

As I scrolled through the comments I was excited to see that many spoke to the importance of “why buy” messaging and coming up with a message that will stand out in the clutter

FlexDealer’s very own Whit Norrad left a comment for Jeff along those lines and even wrote a detailed article about why your dealership needs a better unique selling proposition (USP) to sell more cars.

Most dealers and website vendors take the cookie-cutter approach to websites, which means that most of the time, the message is very vanilla. We see things like “Welcome to ABC Motors” or “Your best choice for cars in Phoenix,” and similar messaging. While these types of direct headlines have some value when used sporadically, there needs to be more. 

We know that today’s shoppers have evolved, and with the prospect of online retailing giants like Carvana and Vroom coming into the mix, it’s more important than ever to share value messaging that helps you stand apart from the competition with unique marketing ideas. 

In past episodes of the podcast, you’ve heard me say things like “my 6-year-old knows what a car dealership does.” Yet that’s what we as professionals spend so much of our time talking about. 

I’d submit that we need to be talking more about WHY behind what we do, and WHY customers should consider buying from us. 

Periodically, for fun (because I’m a nerd), I’ll call dealerships at random and ask why I should choose to work with them versus their franchise competitor down the road or in the next town over.

The best answer I’ve heard to date went something like this:

“Because you’ll get service with a smile…”

We’ve got to do better than this. And so, while I could rant all day about how bad things are, that’s not productive. Let’s jump in and talk about some ways that we can craft sincere and authentic “why buy” messaging to display on our websites and other marketing materials. 

It’s important to note that your “why buy” messaging or unique selling propositions should be more than a slogan or some fancy words on your site. It has to be a statement about something you can actually deliver on.

When I interviewed Michelle Denogean, CMO at Roadster, she taught, “the worst thing marketers can do is put a promise out there that can’t be fulfilled.”

Once you nail down what makes your dealership different or unique, the next task will be to demonstrate that for online shoppers. But we’ll get that in a moment.

First, let’s get some action steps laid out.

Step 1: Get clear about your customer’s needs/wants/problems

You need to know what your customers want. It needs to be more than just great pricing, especially since everyone can compete on price, for the most part, these days. 

If you do a Google search for “what car shoppers want,” you’ll see loads of articles about the same blase tactics that have been spewed for years. It’s all vehicle feature-focused. 

“Customers want safety, economy, entertainment…”


Yes, those are things they want in the vehicle, but the vehicle has nothing to do with the buying experience that customers are truly after. That’s what you offer. That’s what will set you apart from the competition, and push customers to buy from your dealership over somewhere else.

Thinking about the preferred buying experience you want to deliver will help you identify a new list of wants and needs that nobody is speaking about.

Take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Title your left column: “Customer’s Preferred Experience.”

Now make a list. What do they want as part of their buying experience? Your list might include things such as no-haggle pricing, no negotiations required, drive-up services, and short wait times.

Step 2: List out what you’re good at

Title the right column: “What We’re Good At!”

Make a list of the things you’re good at. Nobody’s asking you to be perfect, but there are certain things that you care about, that you’re chipping away at each day. Often, those are the items that set one business apart from another.

For example, at Flex, we’re deeply concerned about providing the best level of customer support possible. That doesn’t mean we’re perfect at it, but it does mean we’ve become very good at monitoring our performance and making adjustments that make us better, faster, and stronger. 

You and I both know that’s not common in our industry, so while we’re not perfect, we are making an honest, proactive effort to provide the absolute best experience for our client partners.

Do you have processes that are proactive rather than reactive? Do you have 4 or 5 of your top-selling vehicles detailed and ready to go for customers who are ready to buy? Do you have reps who are both sales and finance certified who can handle the whole buying process? Are there small details you’re known for paying attention to? 

Write it all down in the right column!

Step 3: Connect the customer’s needs to the things you’re good at

I know this sounds a little like elementary school, but just go with me on this!

With your two columns on a page, draw a line to connect the problem with the solution. Doing so will help you easily see how something you’re doing well maps to solving or addressing the preferred experience of the customer. 

Those items are a great jumping off point for your USP. Magic happens when you can marry what the customers want with things that you’re already doing well. You’ll be able to authentically deliver on any promises you make to your customers both in-store and online.

Once you’re done, move on to the next step.


Step 4: Put words on paper with this simple formula

Start putting some loose words on paper by filling in the blanks. You’re going to love how easy this is!

For ____[insert customer segment]______ who? ____[insert experience they want to have or want to avoid]_____.

Here’s what that might look like:

For Car Shoppers Who Are Tired Of Long Waits

For Car Shoppers Who Don’t Want To Negotiate

For Car Shoppers Who Want To Buy Online

You can streamline the statement further by eliminating the words ‘for’ and ‘who.’

Car Repairs When You’re In a Rush
Save Space In Your Garage By Storing Your Tires in Ours
We’ve Taken the Painless Pledge 

Have fun tossing words around using this simple formula. The more you play around with it, the more messages you’ll come up with.



Magic happens when you align what customers want with the things you’re already doing well or are actively trying to improve. Try out these steps to creating your dealership’s unique sales messaging, and post yours in the comments! Need help? We're here to do just that!



Michael Cirillo      

Michael Cirillo      

Michael Cirillo is the CEO of, a leading provider of innovative inventory and marketing solutions for the retail auto industry. He is also the host of the top-rated Dealer Playbook podcast and an acclaimed author and speaker. With his passion for creative thinking and a growth mindset, Michael helps dealerships develop and achieve their digital goals.

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