Thursday, May 28, 2009

Future of Automotive Marketing-Make it Personal

In the five years I've been in the mail business there have been huge new opportunities when it comes to personalizing your message. Here are just a few: 1. Putting names on a saturation mailer! Yes, now you can send out your big saturation mailer but instead of it saying "current resident" or "future satisfied customer" it will have the person's name on it. 2. Adding "variable data"--even just a little. Variable Data is when you speak directly to the person, by name. You can now add "Value Variable Data" extremely inexpensively to any mailer. 3. Personal Websites. Ask the person to go to a website that has their name in the web address. Something like: For additional questions on PURLS please check out my Frequently Asked Questions post. 4. Mail to people that drive your brand...but don't buy from you! There have been exciting developments in these new lists. You can send a customized letter to homes in your market that already own your brand. Talk about gaining market share!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where is Automotive Marketing headed?

First, a note from your local newspaper...
Hi Mr. Dealer,
It's your old pal here, the local daily paper. I feel like we don't spend as much time together as we used to. In fact, I feel that way about a lot of my old friends. Many homes have cancelled their subscriptions to me in the past year or so--something about the economy and they get their news from other sources. Others still pick me up off the driveway but I lay unopened on their kitchen table until they eventually throw me away. But, as we both know, you have to advertise in the local paper-what else will help keep your name in the public eye?
Your Town Daily
Daily and Sunday Circulation Declines Percent declines in circulation by six-month period
See the complete story with this graphic here.
In all sincerity I do believe there is a place for ALL marketing-the big media stuff, the more targeted messages, online, on the air and in the mailbox...heck even to your phone. However, it's time to move past the 1980's in many cases.
Every day I talk to someone who let's me know how many years longer than me they've been in the business and how in the glory days all a successful sale needed was 100,000 newspaper inserts. They didn't even need prizes to get 1000 people to the lot. We are so far from the glory days that this type of advertising is an antique.
So where is Automotive Marketing headed? In the future it's going to be about personalized specific messages & relationships. As someone who has built a career off of saturation type-flood the market mail-it's a weird thing to say but it's the truth.
Over the next few days I'll be going through a few of these new ideas & technologies. Some, I hope you will have at least heard of--maybe you're already using them, and hopefully there will be one or new idea for you to check out.
In the meantime...
What is one change you've made this year with your marketing that has increased your response?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Does it Pay to Advertise in a Down Economy?

This was just released today from Ad-Ology: Does it really pay to advertise during a recession? Historical data says yes, but times and perceptions change, so what do TODAY'S consumers think?
"More than 48% of U.S. adults believe that a lack of advertising by a retail store, bank or auto dealership during a recession indicates the business must be struggling."
Ad-ology Research surveyed consumers in late April 2009 about their perceptions of advertising in this economy. The report, Advertising's Impact in a Soft Economy, shows just how crucial advertising is right now for success today and in the future. Regardless of how you spend your ad budget, I hope you are still keeping your name out in your community and letting your past and future customers know that you are still here and plan to be for a long time to come. If you have stopped advertising because you don't know what is working (if anything). Call me. Let's talk-no pressure on direct mail-no pressure on anything, let's just set up some tools on all your marketing to see where your money is being spent wisely, and where it could be reinvested for a bigger impact.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Social Networking for Sales Day #6

No, I haven't forgotten about this blog series, I was just taking a break...please click on the "social networking" tag below to pull up all the blogs on this series. If you've been following along, hopefully you've signed on to a couple of the major social networking sites and have begun getting your own content out on the web. Today we'll be discussing leading people to your content & other sites you participate in. Letting Others Know Where You Are
  • Why not start with those that already know you? If your dealership or company doesn't already subscribe to a company like Exact Target to help you legally & easily manage your database marketing--talk to someone who can make that decision. Begin by getting the word out to your customer base-especially those that like to communicate via email-odds are they may be on some of the same sites you are! Send out an email letting them know where to find you and how to connect.
  • Include links to your podcast, blog, Facebook Fan Page or other social networking "homes" in your email signature. It's a subtle reminder to anyone you communicate with to check out your content & profile.
  • Link with your address book. Most of these sites (if not all) allow you to sign in to your Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook, or whatever email account you have and let you know who is already on the site. It will also give you the ability to invite new users from your address book.
  • Once you have committed to a site or two put your profile or websites on your business cards.
  • As you are inputting a new prospect or customer into your CRM or DMS tool-why not search for them on any of the sites you have a presence in? It's likely many of them will be there too and you'll have an open forum to congratulate them on a new purchase or just keep in touch.
  • Get involved with the groups that interest you on the different sites. Making a personal connection with someone is the best kind of bonding and rapport. Now that you shared a sports tip with someone-they're very likely to agree to be your friend, fan or follower on the site.
  • Stay involved & keep at it! This type of marketing slowly builds over time - you are building an entirely new database of people who will know you (and hopefully like you). Over time they are all going to be in the market for a vehicle--and why wouldn't the shop from a friend first?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Smile & Move-what a philsophy!

3 words with a big impact.
Please check out this website sometime today. If you can follow the simple principles it will enhance your life and the lives of those around us.
Here's my favorite quote from the site:
Ever caught yourself beginning a sentence with "Knowing my luck..." and concluding with something negative? For many of us (even you), perhaps it should be "Knowing my luck, I'll win the lottery."
I LOVE this. There is a lot we could all choose to complain about with the current economic situations, and especially this past week in the automotive industry. But we all have so much to be thankful for.
Please check out the site today (click on "smile and move" above) and start this week off on the right foot!
PS: Yes I could have found a picture of a smile, but this is the way Charley "smiles & moves" and how can you not smile when you see her!?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Breaking in a Green Pea

If you read this blog often you know about our dog Charley. She's a crazy thing and just turned 5 on May 5th. As if handling her antics wasn't enough Andy and I decided to get a new puppy--we brought home Penelope Whidmore Thompson (any Lost fans should get the reference) or "Penny" on Friday and it's been quite a treat. Dealing with her has reminded me of several valuable lessons I also have learned when training newbies. Since I've had the nice refresher course sprung on me, thought I'd post these as a refresher for us all. Golden Rules of Breaking in Green Peas 1. Patience. Penny has never had to "go outside" to do her business and she must be taught and reminded a lot...just as newbies in any sales business don't know the ropes. Many things the rest of us know intuitively they need to be taught and reminded of. Have the patience to teach them. 2. Don't Assume. If you are doing the training you have probably been in the business for some time. Don't assume they know anything about your business. Even things as simple as lingo and industry talk should be "translated" for them in the beginning. (I'm struggling relating this to a dog-but I learned this morning I shouldn't assume she knows my flip flop isn't a chew toy.) 3. Be firm, but positive. Negative reinforcement works on some dogs and some people--but why make them hate you? More can be accomplished with positive reinforcement with any species, just be sure to set firm expectations of job duties and hold to them. 4. Know when to say "No!" The last three days at our house the correct timing has been about every 5 seconds. In the business world I think this is a very important skill of a manager or trainer. Knowing when it's just not going to work out or when someone needs more time to grow. Keeping on dead weight for too long doesn't just suck time from your day but also affects the entire sales staff. Know when to let go of someone that just isn't going to work out. Penny at 7 weeks, and my husband's chin:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Recent Successful Sales

In the midst of everything that's going on in the automotive industry and the country in general--I feel very positive right now. Now, more than ever, I feel like Direct Mail & one to one marketing (emails, purls, etc) is helping car dealers bring in more traffic and sell more cars. We have a higher response rate now (actually double from 1.5 years ago) than we've ever had-an average of 1% across all mailers and an average of up to 2% on several specific products. The national average for mail is .5%. Here are just a few stories from sales in the past few weeks...
  • In Elizabeth City, NC one dealer sent out 30,000 mailers at the end of April and had 866 people in-that's 2.9% foot traffic.
  • In Kansas City, MO a large Metro Chevy dealer sent out 43,000 pieces and had 599 people in the last week of April.
  • In the Dayton, OH market a Dodge store had 492 ups off of 20,000 mailers.
  • Cincinnati, OH a Ford dealer experienced a 3.3% response the end of April-having 660 people come in off of 20,000 pieces.
All of these stats are not guesses or estimates, they are the number of people that scanned in to MarketVision-these dealers are able to see exactly how many people have scanned in, where they are coming from and what sales person spoke to them...along with all their contact info--whenever they want on our website. PS: Yes, I know my posts are typically not "salesy" in nature...with results like this I'm getting to the point where I feel guilty for not sharing the huge successes that are happening out there. If you want more info on our mail contact me so we can help you with traffic at your store.

Missed Opportunities

Monday Pop Quiz-
  1. How many total ups did you have in your dealership last month?
  2. How many (that didn't buy last month) have been followed up on this month?
  3. Who is holding the sales team at your dealership accountable for continuing to follow up with the valuable leads the dealership paid for?
  4. How many opportunities is your dealership missing every week?

Do you know the answers to these questions? Do you want to know? NADA recently released a stat-

"Over 90% of people that visit a dealership are never followed up with."

Really? Think of all the time & effort, not to mention money that is spent on the marketing of a dealership every month--and then only 10% of those leads are followed up with--even once.

If this is an area you'd like to see some improvement with please give me a call. This is one of the central ideas behind our ADvantage plan and we do have solutions that will help with this tremendously!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Social Networking for Sales Day #5

What's all the Twitter about? Early this year I joined Twitter. It was right before all the buzz started about the little website with the bird. Over the past few months the media hype over this new social networking concept has gotten completely out of what's it all about? If you are on Facebook you are familiar with your "live feed" or "status." Twitter is in essence, a live feed site. You can post updates as often as you like as long as they are 140 characters or less. Why would you Twitter? Twitter is more content based than sites like Facebook or MySpace. There are no fancy profiles with pictures of your dog or kids. It's very much about sharing information and networking. You may find a group of wine enthusiasts that Tweet about vino and get together for a "TwitUp" (in normal language-they meet up somewhere) once a month at the local wine shop. Professionally-you can use Twitter to talk about popular models--congratulate another "Tweeter" on their recent purchase or post stats about your sales for the month. Let your followers know you are pushing to get 2 more units out on the last day of the month and are ready to deal--or host a special event for Twitter users. Twitter is also another great way to gain friends on your other Social Networking sites or to get traffic on your blog or podcast. The best way to get started is to do just that-start. Set up a profile and find some people to follow, make sure I'm on the list! If you join let me know you joined off the blog and I'll suggest some dealers that do a great job using Twitter for business. You can follow them and learn from those that are already doing!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Speed of the Leader, Speed of the Team

"Speed of the Leader, Speed of the Team"
Have you heard this quote? I've mentioned it before and it came from a past manager we had here. This was also mentioned in the book Axiom by Bill Hybels. He writes, “If you cannot say ‘Follow me’ to your followers - and mean it - then you’ve got a problem. A big one.” We are all leaders in one way or another. I know owners, GM's and Sales Managers in the auto industry read this blog-but others do too. We're leaders at home, in the office or in social settings. Recently I was talking to a client about how he's managed to collect thousands of email addresses. He told me how his guys complain and moan about how "old people" don't have emails. Then he told me how he stepped up and took 4 or 5 ups that all happened to be older one morning. In front of all the guys he got all but one email from these customers. Now that he led by example I imagine he won't hear that excuse again in the near future. Today I hope we can all say "do as I do" instead of "do as I say." PS: Anytime I can get Penquins in the blog it's a good day. How can you not smile when you see them?!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Social Networking for Sales Day #4

Become an Expert by Adding Content 1. Determine if you know or can learn enough to become an expert in your field. 2. Share your knowledge!
  • Start a blog
  • Become a guest columnist on an industry website or blog
  • Start a podcast
  • Create a webinar educating on your services and the industry
  • Post White Papers on relevant topics
  • Volunteer to add articles, posts or other content to your company website

3. Social Networking and sharing content go hand in hand. Once you have content to share and promote your Social Network should grow.

I blog and we have a resident Podcaster here. If you'd like help with either just give me a call or shoot me an email.