Spencer Roe isn't quite a YouTube sensation, but several times a week he shows off high-end German luxury vehicles on the media platform — along with an occasional mainstream sedan or a Sprinter passenger van. The videos generate dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of views based on the model, but they start out for an audience of one.
Finding buyers far and wide via YouTube
Roe is a salesman at Prime Motor Cars Mercedes-Benz, and one of his recent video tours began like this: "Hi Todd. Spencer from Prime Mercedes in Scarborough, Maine. We spoke on the phone this morning regarding the vehicle you inquired about. And it's beside me here. It's our 2016 Mercedes GLA 250."
Also getting a personal video recently were Dante from Arizona, who was interested in the redesigned 2020 Mercedes GLE 350, and Sharon, who test drove a GLC 300 Coupe but remained on the fence. In the video to Sharon, Roe reminded her of the vehicle's strengths: "This will look familiar, but I wanted to give you just another look at it."
Several other salespeople join Roe on the Prime Motor YouTube page, including colleagues Sandy Tholl and Robert Holzhacker, projecting the reach of the dealership beyond central Maine and into the homes of potential buyers across the U.S.
Despite some skepticism in the YouTube comments, Todd and the other potential buyers are indeed real people. Their Internet inquiries generate leads for the sales department and are the impetus to create a professional video tour of the vehicle to move the sale along, said Daniel Doucette, who has been general manager of Prime Motor for a decade and recently took on the same role at Mercedes-Benz of Manchester in New Hampshire.
"It helps to put a deal together," said Doucette. "We sell cars in Seattle, in Denver, in California. We have people fly in from all over the country. We ship all over the country, and it's the videos that close the deal."
Some recent examples: A woman drove from the Hamptons to pick up a new, uniquely optioned Mercedes, passing perhaps 10 rival dealerships in the process; and a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette went to a client in Ohio after he saw a YouTube video featuring the sports car in Jetstream Blue with just 9,200 miles on the clock.
While the use of videos to sell cars is not new to auto retailers, Prime Motor Cars has gone all in. Doucette employs two full-time video-graphers, one for each store. All videos are shot with a professional camera. The presenters use a wireless mic for better sound quality, and the footage is carefully edited before being uploaded to YouTube. The interested party is sent a link.
The dealership also does generic videos on a hot new model, or one it wants to feature. One popular video on the 2019 Mercedes GLC 300 Coupe has received more than 106,000 views since it was uploaded on Sept. 3, 2018. The video also generates impressions across platforms such as Google, Yahoo and eBay.
Since the start of the Prime Motor channel in February 2014, its YouTube page has more than 2.1 million views, with an average view time of two minutes and 12 seconds, Doucette said. In a recent 28-day time period, the page generated 633,000 impressions with a 6.7 percent click-through rate, and 50,500 unique views.
Online tour guide
Prime Motor Cars creates video tours of vehicles conducted by sales staff for individual customers and places them on YouTube. The videos generate sales leads from across the country.
The videos create emotional attachment by personalizing the vehicle, open up the sales possibilities to the entire country, and create obligation, Doucette said. On that last point, he added, the dealership is less likely to get beat up on price because it is earning the sale by offering a high level of service, in part by making a personalized video.
"In summary, they are not for everyone. It requires making the investment in a full-time videographer and the proper equipment, making it part of your daily process, sharing success stories in your daily save-a-deal meeting, and to stay with it as there is a learning curve as your salespeople get used to being in front of a camera," the executive said.
Indeed, some sales representatives were apprehensive about becoming YouTube presenters. But when they saw the sales gains and earnings by colleagues who embraced the medium, most of them came around.
Doucette said he first heard about the video concept at a Mercedes-Benz meeting in 2009.
At the time, they recommended using a small video camera and sending the entire file to the client to download. That cumbersome process resulted in low view rates compared with sending a YouTube link, he said.
With four Mercedes dealerships in the Prime Motor Group, video is helping Doucette's two stores ramp up sales by reaching potential buyers far beyond their primary market.
"Scarborough historically has the highest new-car gross because we earn it," he said. "Manchester is following suit."
Prime Motor Cars Mercedes-Benz, part of the 11th-largest dealership group based in the U.S., retailed 422 new and 368 used vehicles in 2018.
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