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Building an online presence
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VAN hire and purchasing is no small decision. Building trust with a prospective purchaser takes time and it’s not something you can do with a couple of Facebook advertisements.

Business owners have been warned time and time again that they should watch out for fake van leasing deals. The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association has spoken at length about the risk of scammers offering cheap rentals and rental to those who have less than perfect credit ratings.

It should be obvious that if something ‘seems too good to be true’ that is because it most likely is, but for companies that are struggling to find rentals or who are experiencing cash flow difficulties, it can be a tempting proposition to answer those ads.  Those who are more savvy, of course, lean towards being much more cautious.

If you want to build relationships with prospective customers, then you need to build trust through repeated contact. That means starting out by providing information. Educate visitors about issues – be that Clean Air Tax, or hybrid vehicles, or even different finance options.

Offer information that is of value, something that creates minimal friction for them. An email address for a whitepaper is a common starting point, and it is something that will allow you to get into the inbox of those customers. This makes it easier for you to become their ‘go to’ brand when they are ready to renew their contracts or update their fleet.

It’s important that you make things as easy as possible for prospective customers.  If your rental process requires them to take several steps such as setting up an account, downloading an app, printing and faxing documents and picking up the phone then the chances are that they will not bother to do it.

That may sound obvious however there are still many companies that do have slow and arduous purchasing pathways and that are losing customers because of this.  The fewer obstacles there are in the way of making a purchase, the better.

It’s important to put forward a professional appearance at all times. If you want to show off the options that you have for people’s fleets, for example, then do so using a professional looking online store rather than just a simple page with a list of the vehicles.

There are lots of examples of companies which use Shopify for various niches, and while a lot of them are for consumers, if you have products that you sell and you want to make it as easy as possible for people to buy them, then it makes sense to present them in a robust, secure and professional manner.

Decide who it is you want to reach, and market accordingly. If you are selling to tradespeople, that’s a different niche to delivery companies, and it’s a different niche to food companies that need large vans with refrigeration. Yes, it is possible to cater to more than one type of customer. There is, however, a right way to do it. If you try to reach too many different people you will end up watering down your brand message.

Decide whether you are aiming for ‘affordable’, or ‘high end’. Are you aiming for short term rentals, flexible terms, or major contracts?  If you want to reach multiple audiences and different kinds of business, consider having different branded websites for each one.

A major company is unlikely to use a smaller local rental firm because their purchasing managers are likely to want the perception of security that comes with dealing with a fellow ‘corporate’. In contrast, a smaller company is more likely to want to deal with a brand that pitches itself as being affordable and that has options that are within their price range.

Having different labels and different brands to suit your target audience is a common branding tactic. Just as there are different iPhones with different sub-labels to cater to those who want the highest end products and those who want the brand name without the high price, you can do that with your leases and rentals.

By focusing your message you will find that you are better able to reach each group. Put the message all under one brand, and you run the risk of driving consumers away.

An online presence is just one part of your marketing. You should consider running some ad campaigns in print media, and doing mailouts in your local area too. When it comes to B2B, offline marketing still has a good return on investment.

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