Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thinking "Off the Lot" -Creating new automotive advertising ideas

It's begun. Finally, we've been able to put 2008 to bed, and although 2009 isn't expected to save us all in its first few weeks--there are signs of better times. Edmunds is reporting a huge gain in online traffic the last week of December & our local paper here in Indy just ran a great article on a possible upcoming boom after the bailout (http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009901040321). If the media is starting to actually be positive, that has to be a good sign! Have you already sat down to lay-out your 2009 advertising plan? The dealers that have the most successful marketing & branding are those that strategize and think of their year as a whole--instead of week to week and month to month. Consistent presence in your market & within your messages is key. This year, as you meet with the experts that help you with all your advertising, why not try to come up with some new ideas? With all the price cutting & incentives out there how is your dealership going to stand out above the rest? Here are some ideas I've heard and thought about, maybe it'll spark a new event or offer at your dealership.
  • Buy one get one free-This has been done - and the media loves it! If you go this route be sure to advertise it in all your marketing and call the news and the paper to let them know-this promotion has been gaining a lot of attention. Just make sure you are doing it the right way.
  • "Closing" the dealership-I had a client run newspaper story ads in the paper saying that the dealership was 'closing' in the title. In the fine print it went on to say it was just for a day to prepare for their sale. The day the dealership "closed" he hired a security guard to walk the lot telling them they couldn't look at vehicles, they roped off the lot with police fencing, and made a big spectacle of it. It took a little planning & some creativity but they had a FANTASTIC event and you know the whole town was talking about that dealership.
  • Personalize your staff-We know for years that personal contact from your salesperson after the sale is always a great way to stay in touch with your customers. How can you use that to your advantage with new customers? Personal branding. I'll probably do an entry on this alone, but think about taking advantage of the slow talking cowboy customers seem to love, or the kind mother of 2 that people just gravitate toward. Towbin Dodge is a perfect example of this with their infomercials--who wouldn't want to work with the "Blue Genie" or "Chilly Willy?" Below is a commercial from one of my clients, Dan Porter Motors. All their TV always features the staff & are very entertaining. It seems like Dan Porter is a place you'd want to hang out. Is it possible purchasing a vehicle could be...ahem...FUN!?

  • Make your next event entertainment-I'm not talking about the Slasher showing up or Repo Joe (although those do quite well for the right market & dealer), I'm just suggesting making your events stand out. As your drive down auto row everyone is having an event. They are ballooned & bannered up with some catchy slogan. How can you stand out? In a recent brainstorming here at Tri-Auto I threw out a theme of "Kiss Your Clunker Goodbye" and said we could put huge Fathead stickers of lips on two clunkers out front. Maybe lipstick isn't your thing--but there has to be a new way of getting attention as people drive by.
  • Be Timely-All the Time!-You have to think about what is important to the public today. So many GM's and Sales Managers fall into the trap of doing what has worked in the past--gas incentives are not going to do today what they did this summer when prices are double what they are now--and what worked in February '07 is likely to not in February '09. Try to think from the consumers point of view & rely on your advertising experts for what they've seen working.

We've been working hard on getting ready for what's to come with the new President and beyond for 2009. I love brainstorming based on a specific market-please give me a call if you'd just like to talk through some ideas...direct mail or not!

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