I never understood the Where’s Waldo? books growing up. It might have been fun to pick out Waldo in his blended environment, but really, who wants to blend in? Isn’t it better to stand out? I thought that then, and when I consider business now, standing out is a must. When you are looking to sell anything (particularly cars), you need to do everything you can to reach your customers in a crowded marketplace.

The hard truth is that customers do most of their shopping and decision-making before they set foot in a dealership. So your mission should be selling your solution as early as possible!

How do you do that? Here are some simple steps you can take.

MIND YOUR MESSAGE: Take a look at the advertising your competition is putting out there. It all starts to blend together, doesn’t it? Everyone has inventory that must go. But how effective of a message is that to a customer? Do you buy groceries because a store has loaves of bread and gallons of milk that have to go? No, you buy groceries because you have a problem that needs solving (you need to eat!)

Buying a car is not different—your customers don’t buy because you have a certain number of cars on your lot. They buy because they need a nicer, newer car to make their lives better. So make sure your advertising message is speaking to that need. Not only will you connect better with your customers, your message will stand out from all the noise out there. You will have started the sales process in the minds of your potential customers.

DON’T JUST SELL, ADVOCATE: Piggybacking off the first point, you should cut through both the competitive mess in your market and the stereotypical view of car salesmen by positioning yourself as an expert in your field and a consumer advocate. Share some information about effective car care that will save local drivers time and money on repairs. I can almost guarantee that is not something your competition is even considering doing!

If your market sees you as someone looking to offer the best driving experience and not just someone selling his next car, customers are far more likely to come to you and your dealership when they need guidance and expertise. Again, you will have set yourself as someone locals look to visit when they are in the market for a new vehicle—the selling has already started.

Along these same lines, give back to your community when you can. Sponsoring local school and charitable events again demonstrates that you care about more than just making a buck, and I can promise that people remember.

Making your dealership and you stand out in a crowded market means that customers will remember you when they are ready to buy. They will not be asking “Where’s my car solution?” because they will already know the answer…