Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

From the Diva Family to yours, here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

We bought a Truck!

Yes, this isn't extremely noteworthy to most of you, but it is to us. Previous to the recent purchase we were a two small car family. Andy's Altima really could only fit two people, so we were more like a car and a half family. 18 mos ago we bought our dream house on a large lot, at the time it was basically .75 acres of poison ivy, weeds and buried treasure. 18 mos ago Andy was using a cooler with wheels on it to haul dirt and we were calling my parents weekly to make the hour long drive so we could use their truck to haul all the crap away. So to me, buying this truck was a bit of a turning point for us...well the truck and the wheelbarrow! We are becoming grown ups, we're now favoring function over image and common sense over everything that comes before it :) That's not to say my husband didn't end up with a bad ass truck (it even has remote start!), but I did see the 17 year old in him die a little bit that day as he traded in his sporty ride. Ok, now on to the post that actually has some we bought the truck.
What I loved about our experience:
  • Our salesperson was friendly. Even though I work with car dealers every day I'm still a bit nervous walking into a dealership.
  • He assessed quickly and found a specific vehicle for us. He got the basics and then selected the vehicle for us, instead of us meandering around the lot. This is the first time I've had that type of experience and it was quick & easy. Nice.
  • The test drive wasn't scary. He didn't talk the whole time, he didn't say things like "this baby would be great for bringing home a Christmas Tree next weekend," we talked about our dogs and I asked if a car seat would fit in the back (don't get any ideas-I'm just a planner!).
  • When we got back to the lot he stayed in the vehicle with us and pointed out all the features and how they work. I've now purchased 5 vehicles in my life and never has anyone done this. Sounds so simple, but wow, it had me asking what else my car can do that I don't know about!
  • We sat down to talk numbers and it was laid back. We weren't ready that night (we were hungry & it was late), so the saleperson suggested we take the truck home for the weekend to make sure it fit in our garage (a concern we brought up on the test drive). I realize this is a "tactic" in the car industry but it worked well on us. I was concerned it wouldn't fit in our 1950s garage, but it did. And lucky for the dealership, our neighbors had to come by and tell Andy how nice looking his new truck was.
  • We kept our appointment Monday evening and bought the vehicle.
  • Tuesday morning my insurance agent called to let me know our salesperson had already contacted him about our trade ins and the new vehicle. He had already written our new policy. THIS WAS SO HUGE! If dealers aren't doing this they should be. I know it's only one phone call but it's one I would have put off forever and dreaded dealing with.

What could have gone better:

  • Financing. Not the F&I guy, I freaking loved him, just the process. I had offered earlier in the day to get info to them to get everything started and he had me wait until we got there. Customers with good credit would so much prefer to just walk in, sign and drive off. Instead we were there for an hour and a half waiting for our turn...
  • Collecting info for the dealer. Before the demo he got Andy's license and logged us in, didn't ask for email or PHONE! Asked what brought us in, and then said "I'll just click newspaper" you can imagine how that made me feel! We were compeletly willing to go through the steps, if he only would have asked.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Email Marketing & Email Campaigns

As email marketing becomes more and more popular it's becoming clear there is a lot of confusion regarding this medium. Many companies offer email campaigns of one kind or another, here are the breakdown on the most popular - and the two kinds we offer here at Tri Auto. Database Email Marketing I'm calling this part "marketing" because it's not just a single advertising campaign, it should be a long term marketing effort aimed at continuing name recognition & goodwill to your client base.
  • The email list is provided by the dealership, it can be pulled out of your DMS, CRM or from Marketvision data from previous sales.
  • The email comes directly from your dealership.
  • The message of the email can vary based on who the customer is. For example, you could segment your list into recent buyers, buyers 3+ years or older & service customers. The recent buyers could receive new vehicle tips, accessory info & an incentive for the service or detailing department. The buyers from several years ago would likely receive sales info, special incentives on vehicles similar to what they own, or a buyback offer. get the picture.
  • It is also common to keep in touch with all past leads & customers through a monthly newsletter that works in all departments of the dealership along with some warm & fuzzy content like recipes, automotive tips, local news, etc.

Saturation Email Campaigns

  • The email list is provided by us. We let you know how many emails are available & legally opted in around your dealership and you choose what zip codes to email.
  • The email comes from a third party, but has whatever you like in the subject line.
  • The email message has to be the same for all recipients.
  • Typically dealers use this type of campaign in one of two ways: in collaboration with a specific direct mail sale or promotion or monthly as an inexpensive way to keep their name out there.

Email marketing doesn't typically draw huge responses immediately to the dealership. It's just one more tool that can be added to a well rounded marketing campaign.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bulk Mail Delivery Info from Ashley

Ashley Beck is guest blogging today. She's the Diva on our team responsible for chasing down ALL the mail and letting you know when to expect it in homes. Here are just some tips and things she's learned over the past couple of months.
Be in the know, email us to recieve your very own 2010 Postal Holiday Calendar so you're able to plan your mailers around these days.
As the Diva in charge of Mailplus, I could write volumes on what I have learned about mail delivery. Mailplus is a very important system that we have put in place here at Tri-Auto to make sure that your mail is where it should be throughout the delivery process and getting in homes on time for your sale. To give you a better understanding, here is my basic process: First, on the day that the mail is scheduled to reach the SCF, which I have learned to call “the plant,” I have a tracking number that I enter to see when the shipment has been delivered. I then call that central mail hub, ask for the manager on duty, describe to them the mail piece and how it was shipped, and have them confirm for me that our shipment did actually arrive. Two days later, I call the DDUs (or local post offices), which I now refer to as “the delivery units” to make sure that they are receiving the mail from the plant and getting it out in a timely fashion. From new post office lingo to my buddy Pete at the Fox Chase post office, the things I have learned over this last month will help me most in the future when tracking clients’ direct mail investment if dealers can help me by: · Condensing rather than feathering. The more mail pieces I have to call on in each zip code, the better. If there are 3,000 pieces vs. 300 pieces, the carriers are more likely to see them, and more importantly remember seeing it and carrying them out to homes. · Don’t push the timeline. I do everything I can to make sure that mail gets in homes 2 days after it was delivered to the central hub, but please understand that if the plant doesn’t receive the shipment until Tuesday the chances are most the mail won’t be in homes until Thursday. · Previous late mail? Let us know!! Tell Steph when you’re picking sale dates or Katy while you’re picking the mailing list. They will give me the heads-up so we can be even more proactive helping your mail through the system.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2010 Marketing Strategy Planning Part 3

You are not alone when it comes to this! Here are a few areas I can help with as you do your own 2010 Marketing Planning, let me know if you'd like to hear more.

  • Market Analysis-We have a ton of data & market info at our finger tips. Give us a call and we can put together an analysis of your market to arm you as you head into your strategy meeting.
  • Custom Marketing Plan-This starts with a phone call I'll ask you some questions about what you have in mind and the Diva team will come back to you with a customized annual plan. We do all the work and you can pick and choose what you like.
  • Marketvision 2.0-That's right, coming in January 2010 we're rolling out a whole new version of our extremely popular Marketvision software. The kiosk will now be able to sit at your dealership year round and track what marketing messages are being heard/seen, who is coming in, and what zip codes produce your most traffic & sales. On top of that customer contact data is easily uploaded from our system to your CRM for future follow up. Don't miss another lead's contact info again.
  • ROI & Response analysis throughout the year to keep your strategy on track.

The quickest ways to contact us are direct at 317-644-5729, or by email at

Thursday, December 3, 2009

2010 Marketing Strategy Planning Part 2

3. Decide how you will track response & ROI. These are two different things. In easy terms-response is the amount of action you see off of a type of marketing, ROI is the actual return on investment. If a piece of advertising brings in 400 people and you sell 0 cars, you have $0 ROI. 4. Draw up a calendar. Get an actual 2010 calendar out and look through the year. Plot tentative dates for your annual events, or for campaigns you tend to have good luck with or want to try. Think about holidays and how they will affect your efforts. 5. Call in the experts. Once you have a general idea of your annual spend & a basic calendar start planning with your consultants now. Giving a heads up to people like me, your TV/Radio rep, agency account exec and anyone else who helps design, place and execute your marketing can only be a good thing. Many of us work under such tight deadlines there is no time for custom creative ideas based on a complete marketing picture. Cluing us in early on will allow thought and planning to go into the ideas we bring you. 6. Finally, set up your plan. This 2010 strategy is flexible. Hold yourself & your team accountable to tracking all your marketing. Set realistic expectations as to what outcomes you are looking for. Be ready to change things that aren't working. Keep notes for next year's planning. There is no better time than December for getting these plans in place.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2010 Marketing Strategy Planning Part 1

Many dealerships, I'm sure not yours, but many never really sit down and strategize regarding their annual marketing. Budgets, ideas, campaigns, medias, markets and everything else change month to month depending on whims, gut feels and how the current month is shaping up. This leads to inconsistent messages to your market and gaping holes in your marketing, along with last minute planning and execution.

WHY!? We're talking about tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of mismanaged funds being spent willy nilly. So how do we change that? Here's a very simple list of getting started-it may seem very basic to the marketing masters out there but it is just a quick plan to get started for those looking to do more strategy based planning this year

1. Set a meeting of the minds date. Put it on your calendar and make it mandatory. Pull in your management team and any other decision makers-it's probably not a bad idea to also invite a person or two outside the inner circle. Maybe the text crazed college student that helps detail cars on the weekend, or the owner's daughter that promotes the local UFC fights. Bringing someone with a fresh perspective in helps to challenge current ideas and bring new ones to the table.

2. Determine an estimated budget for the year. This doesn't have to be exact. Marketing goes in waves, many dealerships slow down in January and February for weather reasons and ramp up in the spring, others have 4-6 large events a year. The monthly budgets don't have to be the same--just get an idea of the annual figure.

Keep tuning into the Diva Blog this week to see the rest of the steps!