Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Wrong Traffic

Is there such a thing as "bad traffic" in your dealership? Six months ago if you asked dealers that most would probably reply with an emphatic "no!" Just having bodies in the door to keep the salespeople off the roof was refreshing for a lot of stores. Things are changing though, the public is loosening up and sales numbers are up across the board. I'm hearing from more and more clients that things are just better, they are busier and the mood has certainly lifted.

So let's be honest for a minute. Has your dealership ever put on a big event promotion, probably involving a gift for coming in, that's brought in hundreds of people? How many sales were made and what was the gross? In the last three months I've worked with one store that had 485 ups and sold 3 cars and another that averages right around 300 ups every month and grosses between $150k and $200k like clockwork. What's the difference?

Probably a lot of things.

I think the bottom line comes down to the sales staff and management attitude. Before doing the big dog and pony show assess your staff, do they know how to take a gift getter and turn them into a buyer? Are they tenacious enough to work 10 leads hard to find the one that might buy today?
Do you or your management team believe it's possible to "take a gift grabber to a thinker to a looker to a buyer (to quote Mr. Tim Ditonto of Ditonto & Associates)?"
If the answer to these questions are "no" then let's talk about alternatives to the high traffic events, OR about helping prepare the team for this new type of sale.

Every store has its own culture, sales process and image. Be sure the marketing you are putting out there matches your store. Give me a call - let's talk about your store and put together a personalized solution.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What can you do with a Saturation list?

Recently our team here at Tri Auto has been partnering with more and more ad agencies.  We offer a behind the scenes service providing all sorts of direct marketing - to make their lives easier and to share our expertise in automotive direct mail.  For many, saturation direct mail is something they don't have a lot of experience with and it helps to have a team behind them that has specialized in it for years.

That being said, I have had the same question twice in the past few days - "Don't you have to hit an entire zip code to use a saturation list?"

The short answer is-no.  In fact you can even target your mail within a zip code using actual demographic info.  So what's the deal?

  • Each zip code is broken down into carrier routes.  It's just how it sounds, carriers = your mailman.  So imagine your mailman delivers to your neighborhood, the one down the road and two across the way.  That group of neighborhoods becomes a "carrier route."  It could be 50 homes or over 500, just depends on the market.
  • To get the "saturation" discount you only have to hit whole carrier routes.  Some companies are set up better than others to handle this type of list selection.
  • So what carrier routes do you choose?  This is where the demographics come in to play.  For each route we can show you the average home value, income and age for the area.  After a quick consultation with you on the market in question we can select the areas for you or you are welcome to do it yourself.
It's as easy as that.  So let's say there are 8,000 people in a zip code but you only want to do 5,000 mailers - no problem!  It is also easy to split those 5,000 mailers over three different zip codes as you like.

The main point of this post is to just let everyone know that saturation lists are becoming more and more effective and easy to use.  Katy Peat is the zip code diva on our team - she not only consults on what areas to mail to but can also share tips on avoiding certain pitfalls and using Marketvision data to help increase response on your future sales using the zip info from past ones.  If you have more questions feel free to email Katy today.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Direct Mail & Email: The Wave of the Future?

Last week Ad-Ology, a research firm that studies marketing and advertising trends across a variety of industries, released a report on the types of marketing likely to be increasing in 2010.

The findings might surprise you.  Yes, there was plenty of mention of Social Media & Internet marketing.  Obviously both sectors continue to grow rapidly.  However, the report found that when companies are looking to earn new customers the top two forms of marketing to be used in 2010 are email (84.6% of responders) and direct mail (70.4%).

On LinkedIn and other social networking sites there have been a lot of discussions lately about "dying" media formats.  Direct Mail and print tend to get thrown to the top of that list from time to time.  I'm a firm believer in a broad marketing mix that allows consumers to be touched by your message in a variety of formats.  Some forms are easier to track than others, but there is an added synergy in a good media mix that is nearly impossible to count.

Quickly though - why is it that email & direct mail would be the most popular forms of new customer acquisition?
  • They are personal, one on one messages.  Email and mail is always more effective when addressed to the person by name.  One could argue the only other media that could enter the personal space of a consumer like these two is texting.  All three deliver messages specifically to one person with their undivided attention, well, at least for a minute.  
  • Everyone checks their mail and email.  Not everyone watches Television commercials (Andy & I are a prime example, the only TV we watch live is sporting events), many people don't have a newspaper subscription, and with Satellite/XM radio and IPod integration in most new vehicles even traditional radio is slowing.  
  • Finally, timing.  The Post Office is still a government run agency - and thus not a science, but it's still pretty easy to determine when mail will end up in homes.  Email is obviously super easy to control.  With one message sent at a very specific time these methods can drive immediate results to a dealership.  Which is one of many reasons why they should both include timely calls to action.  You can't control when your customer to be will listen to your commercial on the radio, but you can control when your message is hand delivered to them. 
What forms of marketing are you looking to use this year when trying to gain new customers?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Marketvision Reports - Purchase Timeframe

Purchase Timeframe

The kiosk asks the customers as they come in when they are in the market to buy. This is a multiple choice question. We find that when a machine does the "asking" the answers are often more honest than if a sales person asks. Dealerships use this information in different ways, depending on their sales process. A large complaint with using gifts on a mailer is that it brings in all "prize seekers" now that we have a way to track this we are looking forward to being able to improve these stats as we identify what products are bringing in more buyers. In the meantime this report helps you realize who is a customer now and who could be a customer in the future.

The second part of this question is prompted if the customer says they are in the market at all. It will then ask "Are you looking for a new or used vehicle?" This data is also then reported and can be used when working with each individual customer, to create additional targeted mailing lists and to determine which of your messages are driving which kind of buyers.

As always if you'd like to talk further about these new Marketvision developments, or the new ROI tools in the hopper please give me a call or shoot us an email!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Marketvision Reports - Service Analysis

Service Analysis

The second new report on the Marketvision kiosk is a survey asking about Service.  It asks "Where do you currently service your vehicle?" and provides the multiple choice answers below.  We will soon be removing the "other" field as an option because it appears the other choices would cover all our bases.  This does a couple of things for you - it provides a quick snapshot of your market to see where the service customers are going, allows you to collect emails from all of these people so you can email service offers out in the future, and finally you will be able to build specific mailing lists from this data for future marketing.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Marketvision Reports - Media Measurement

We recently rolled out Marketvision 2.0, now that all of our clients have switched to using the new format I wanted to highlight a few of the new reports you can view online. For those that don't know you can log on 24/7 and see stats in real time on the website. In one quick snapshot you can see all the walk in traffic, all the phone calls and any internet leads received  throughout the sale up until the point you log on.

First up - Media Measurement

Marketvision now tracks all the different forms of marketing that is bringing traffic in the showroom.  We phrase the question so that customers can select more than one option - "Which of our marketing messages have you seen or heard?"  By beginning to take a look at what pieces of your marketing are actually being seen/heard & remembered you're able to allocate your budget to the hardest hitting areas, or take a look at new approaches for the channels customers aren't remembering.  Here's a sample from a recent event.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Powerful Words & Phrases for Direct Mail

I'm in a LinkedIn group focused on direct marketing.  Someone posted an awesome forum topic recently asking for the hot buzz words different marketers are using right now.  This got me thinking about some of the phrasing we use and have used in the past. 

Along with some ideas from the LinkedIn group, here are some of the top key words and phrases we have found to be most powerful, I'd love to hear from some of you on what you see success with as well!

First from the group:
  • Free, Yours Free, Free Gift
  • Reliable, Safe, Secure - Especially in this market, both automotive and economically, I like it!
  • "But wait, there is more..." "Did you know..."
  • "Call Now!"  "Act Now!"
  • You, Yours, Your Own - How can you lose when you make it about the reader?  so many advertisers lose sight and make everything about them.
From the vault here at Tri Auto:
  • Opportunity - "Your Opportunity is Here" "This is One Opportunity You Won't Want to Miss"
  • Creating a sense of urgency - "5 Days Only" "This Week Only" "Don't Wait, Hurry In" Just a side note on this one, many dealers and advertisers like to leave the window for response wide open in the effort to lengthen the amount of time for traffic to respond.  Without a sense of urgency things sit on counter tops for weeks, or get stuck in a purse or glovebox and forgotten.  Even if your urgency is vague (This Monday to Friday only) it will appear urgent to the recipient.
  • Win Big - "Win Big!" "You May Be the Big Winner" "Someone in Your Area is a Big Winner"
What words & phrases would you add to the list?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Best Direct Mail Strategy...Is to have one!

When I first started in this business almost exactly six years ago I was handed a somewhat up to date list of most of the dealerships in the state of Ohio and a phone. Sure, we had a little training - but a few hours in a conference room surrounded by glossy pieces of paper and some pricing sheets can't prepare anyone for what we do...but little can.

Those first few dealers I worked with probably signed up for different reasons...I caught them on the day they were planning to seek out a direct mail vendor, or they thought I sounded young, dumb & blonde on the phone (I was only 2 of the 3), whatever the reason they didn't agree to do a mailer with me because of my experience or knowledge. I like to think a lot has changed since then. But I know there are still those dealers out there that hop from one mail company to the next based on one piece, a short skirt or a low price. If it works for them - great, if not how about creating a strategy behind direct mail dance!?

Here in Divaland just this morning we were talking about how it feels like it takes working with a client for an entire year before they see the value in putting together a strategy for their mailers. They get their feet wet, realize we aren't idiots, eventually come around to taking suggestions and finally one of us says 'I think it's time we plan this thing out.' This post is really for anyone doing mail, but especially for those of you that know Marketvision and don't yet use a strategy.

So here it is - don't get too excited because it's simple. It's taking the time to do it that is hard.

1. Determine what zip codes respond to your mail and which don't. This typically takes 2-3 sales of just real data collection (which is easy using Marketvision, but can also be done by hand).

2. Take "good zips" and look for others that look like those demographically and add them to your master list.

3. Figure out how many homes there are and how often you want to do sales. Then divide the list evenly across all zips by the number of campaigns you are looking to do in the quarter. This makes certain you aren't blowing up your market and it keeps response consistent.

4. Find a good piece and stick with it. Look, I'm going to be blunt, if I'm telling you something is working then why change it? You can then use the same piece all quarter because no one is seeing it twice, easy right?

5. Put the plan in motion and continue tracking. The beauty of this is especially nice for dealers that do mail campaigns monthly or even weekly. You set it up at the beginning of the quarter once and then all you have to do is update dates throughout the quarter. Your piece & zips are already selected!

6. The result - mail with a strategy. You know who is getting your mail and when, and you know you're message is out there consistently. Every month a different group of people are in the market and are getting ready to be in the market - with a strategy you know they are seeing your message in that timeframe.

Obviously this is a simple list of things that actually require a lot of upfront work. The hard work pays off when you can just sit back and let your strategy plan out your mail. For Diva clients Katy does most of it anyway - give us a call today if you want to hear more.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A New Direction

I know, I know I've been gone a while...a lot less regular in posting.  To be honest I've been having a bit of writer's block.  Here's the problem - I try to always keep this blog pretty general, tips and tricks that you can use across all mail providers, not Tri Auto specific.  Today I realized the reason I'm struggling is we're becoming so much more than a mail company.  Now, let's not get ahead ourselves, I'm still the Direct Mail Diva - and our team here are still the experts when it comes to all things automotive mail.  We're just learning more about marketing in general and trying to offer our clients additional tools.

This is just a short and sweet way of saying, I'm back.  I'll apologize to the regular readers that stop by to fill up their cup with general mail knowledge, as many posts are going to start being a little more specific to Tri Auto.  By that I only mean I'll be talking about Marketvision a whole lot more because it's now the cornerstone of what we do, and there will be posts on additional services and working them into a mail strategy.  My hope is only that for our clients this becomes more meaningful and educational, and for anyone looking for a mail company this gives a truer picture of who we are.

As always, I really value your feedback, please feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call (317-644-5729) at anytime!  I'd love chatting with you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Marketvision 2.0

The new generation of Marketvision is here!  This technology continues to grow - and it's helping our clients be smarter about their marketing.

So what's new?
  • Different templates. - you can choose between 3 different templates for the kiosk with more coming quickly.  We consult to find out which set of questions best fit the data you are trying to capture for your dealership.
  • Increased online reporting. - you can still log in and see all the data from the sale in real time but now you can see when people visiting your dealership say they are in the market to buy, where they get their vehicles serviced and what marketing messages in addition to direct mail are being noticed.
  • Easily upload data into your DMS or CRM.  No double entry, scan the barcode on the mailer and it captures name & address - it then prompts the customer for their trade - in, phone number & email. 
Want to see more?  Email us today for a sample sale report!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Text Messaging and Automotive Advertising

What an awesome time we live in! Marketing is truly changing every day, and although I'm sure that can be said for other time frames as well - few saw as many changes in media as the last decade.

Obviously Social Media is all abuzz (as it should be) and email marketing is coming in to its own, along with more ways to personalize messages and target specific demographics every day. Many dealers are ahead of the game when it comes to all of these mediums. One area I haven't seen a quick adoption in is the use of text messaging.

How can you use Text Messaging in your marketing?

1. Build your list. Before you can just start blasting out text deals you have to have a list of people that have "opted in" to receive those messages from you. Include text offers on all your marketing - in the short term it will increase response for the current campaigns you are running, for the long term you are building a strong database of customers who have opted in to receive future marketing from you in this format.

2. Be consistent. Continue to use text messaging as an option to correspond with you and your dealership. Over time it will give your customers more flexibility and allow you to collect more opt ins.

3. Send relevant messages. Once you start using Text Messaging for outbound campaigns be smart about it. Send messages that people are happy to receive - like discounted oil changes or a sales special exclusive to your texting customers (that is actually worth something).

4. Don't be a stalker. If you've dated in the world of text messaging you know many people abuse this communication channel. Just like email or social media (and any other media for that matter) don't jam things down your customers throats. Be there, and be available but don't overdo it.

Give us a shout today to talk about specific text messaging offers you can start using in your current marketing tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Text Messaging & YOU

I have a confession to make. As a company we rolled out Text Messaging services about six months ago, and honestly I haven't talked to more than 5 dealers total about it. Sure, it sounds sexy to talk about adding a text messaging campaign to your current marketing plan, but I wasn't sold on how it can actually help dealers - and if I don't think it will help, I'm not going to offer it.

That is, until recently. Our Marketing Director has sent me over several case studies on how texting has brought in a ton of great leads for dealers (you can check them out here and here). In addition to these, real life examples of success I'm learning about the other applications and how this can fit into a long term strategy for dealers.

Here's the 20,000 foot view on what adding Text Messaging to your campaigns can do - I'll blog later on the week with more specific ideas.

1. Communicate with your customers the way they want to be communicated to. Think about even in your personal life - when people want to get a hold of you do they call, email, text, hit you up on Facebook? Your public is the same way. Texting gives them one more, convenient method to contact your store, and receive marketing messages from you.

2. Build a database for the future. When we add an offer to one of your current marketing campaigns "Text to win," "Text for a $15 oil change," etc. anyone who texts in to receive the offer is also "opting in" to receive future texts from you. As you build a database of people who has opted in you'll be able to start sending outbound messages to those folks with additional service & sales offers.

3. Offer something new in your market. Very few companies in general have hopped on the texting bandwagon, and even fewer dealers are in the game. This is an inexpensive opportunity to be one of the first in the market to offer this type of marketing.

4. Work texting into the advertising you're already paying for - TV, Radio, Mail, Billboard, etc. Click here to listen to a radio campaign with texting!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Toyota Recall Opportunities

I probably should have blogged on this last Friday, but better late than never!

As everyone now knows the domestic manufacturers are trying to capture market share from industry giant, Toyota, as they struggle through the current recall situation. This is proving to be a marketing opportunity for both Toyota dealers and those franchises that are offering incentives to Toyota owners. So how can you capitalize? 
Toyota Dealers
Yes, it seems strange to think of this as an "opportunity" and, let's be honest, it's not the type of opportunity you hope for - but why not take advantage anyway?
  • Get your message straight. How is your dealership handling the recalls? What are you saying to customers that call in upset or scared? Figure out what your response is to this challenge and make sure everyone in the store knows it.
  • This is a perfect time for text messaging! Consumer have to "opt in" to receive texts from your dealership - and right now they want to hear from you! Include a text message in all your marketing right now - "Text TOYOTA to 5555 for up to date information on the recall" or "TEXT TOYOTA to 5555 to hear about our exclusive incentives for our loyal customers" for example. You'll be reaching out to your customers, keeping them in the loop, AND building your text messaging pipeline for future sales and service offers.
  • Show your customers you are still there for them. I've honestly been really shocked at the way Toyota has handled this on a corporate level. There should be more dialog between the vehicle owners and the company - even though corporate isn't doing this, you can. Send out a letter to all your customers. Be up front with them about where you are and what you're doing to be sure they are taken care of. Why not go ahead and throw in a sales and service offer while you have their attention?
  • Set up a landing page. A landing page is like a mini website, and for many dealers it's much easier to put up a landing page versus overhauling their entire website. Get the page set up with what you know now concerning Toyota's response to the recall, include your own dealership response as well. Then include this website on all your marketing directing questions there.
  • Create a PR position for the near future. Who in the dealership is excellent with customer service and very good at listening to people? Give them all the info and make them the "go to" person for any customer calls or questions regarding all things Toyota right now.

 Domestic Dealers with National Incentives
  • Get the word out! The media has decided not to make a big deal out of the current incentives for Toyota owners you guys are able to offer. Include it in all your marketing and make it easy to understand. Katy and I were just working on disclaimers for one manufacturer and it confused us even when it was typed out in black and white.
  • Add your own incentives to differentiate. Extend the $1,000 to used cars (if this is legal in your state) or throw an extra $500 on the new car deals. You've done the first step of educating the consumer on the manufacturers incentives - now give them a reason to take advantage of them at your store!
  • Target owners of the vehicles you are able to give incentives on. This varies by manufacturer, obviously, but send mailers to those that qualify for the program.  Email us to find out how many names are in your market.
  • Send the right message - don't be vultures.
We have mailers ready to go for these situations.  Give me a call at 317-644-5729 or shoot us an email.  The window for all this marketing is very short, get on it this week!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Introducing: the Roll Fold Mailer

Happy Hump Day!!
Exciting news this Wednesday from Tri - Auto, a week or so ago we came out with a brand new product, I believe it's brand new to the direct mail game in general, but who can be sure? :)

I wanted to wait until I heard from a few clients before posting on this product, but the reviews are in and everyone loves it, our first round of them are going to press this week so I'll be sure to update when we have the Marketvision results on how it's performing.
We took the best parts of all of our best pieces to come up with this one, here's what we're seeing work right now:

-High Quality Paper Stock. I used to be a believer that it was the message that counted, not what it was printed on. Wrong. For example, we just looked at one specific product that we commonly print in three different paper types, here are the results:
  • High Gloss, heavy stock (100# gloss) - 1.41% response
  • 70# Gloss (standard gloss paper for most companies) - 1.0% response
  • 75# Matte (high bulk) - .77% response
  • These are the averages of all our sales compiled using Marketvision data from the past 6 mos.
-The Right Message. I'm not going to give away all our secrets easily on my blog, but we've been able to pinpoint what messages are driving traffic, and what ones are selling cars. Sometimes they are the same, sometimes not.

-Slapping a key on it. It doubles response. Still doing better than a credit card. 'Nuff said.

-Self Mailer vs. Envelope. The self mailer is winning all the time now. Not just any self mailer will do though - toss your 11x17 tri - fold self mailer right out the window.

So we added up all these things that we actually know to be true. As you know we aren't guessing or relying on registration cards from dealers anymore, or even a human being greeter at the door counting people. We have real, online, in real time data that is collected from 95% of our promotions now.

If you want to see the Roll Fold Mailer - email me. We have three different versions - one that is prize focused, one that is event focused, and one that is image focused. Yesterday we designed a tax one and they'll be more after that. You want to see this one.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Where's your Intent?

You may find this surprising but I did not come to such marketing genius on my own :). Along with the other two Divas, there are many people who I look to for guidance and counsel - one of them being Bryan Neale. He's a sales/life coach here in Indy. ...and get this, he believes if your "intent" is right and you are truly focused on helping others, then good things will come. I love this concept and fits in with who I am. So I guess today will be brief - this is an intent check. When you talk to your first prospect, up or client today, where's your head? Are you thinking of how much you can gross on a deal or moving aged inventory or are you thinking of the person standing in front of you and how they need help? If it's the latter people know it, and in my opinion all the sales tricks & motivation in the world don't stack up to someone who is an expert in their field and genuinely wants to do what's best for their client. ...even if sometimes that's saying - I don't think I can help you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Domino's Gets It

After my last post on reinventing our businesses and industry, I thought this was such a fitting application of a company that is doing just that.
Have you seen the new Domino's commercials? If we are Facebook friends I'm sure you've seen my comments on how brilliant I believe them to be. If not here's a very brief recap.
The spots feature Domino's employees talking about how they sucked - "The sauce tastes like ketchup," "Crust is like cardboard," "Microwave pizza is better," etc. Then they talk about how it makes them feel, and how now they have a choice. ...continue to hide the criticism or 'face it head on.' They are choosing the latter. They've completely started over when it comes to their recipe, and not only that, they are TALKING ABOUT IT. The marketing campaign is just as genius as their decision to make a change. Check out their website dedicated to this reinvention. The documentary is great, but what I find fantastic is the up to date feed of what people are saying on Twitter about the new pizza. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, but either way it's honest.
So yes, Domino's is a national company that is very well branded and a household name. Shouldn't your dealership be the same way on a more local level? How can this story be applied on a smaller scale?
  1. Take an honest look at the strengths and weaknesses of yourself, your department, your store. If you want true honestly Google your store and look at the online reviews (if you aren't already doing this - shame on you!).
  2. Decide where the biggest opportunities for growth are.
  3. Commit to changing the things that need to be changed.
  4. TALK ABOUT the changes you are making. In your print, TV & Radio ads, on your website, through social media, etc.
  5. Put your money where your mouth is. Don't be afraid to go out on a limb and make bold statements.

If you are looking for guidance in building a complete campaign - call me. We aren't just about event sales anymore.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Automotive Reinvention 2010

I'm back. The Diva blog has been on a hiatus for a few weeks as the team and I sat down to look at where we were headed for 2010. Like many of you, we made goals, strategies and implementation plans on how to get the most out of the year. Now it's nothing but full steam ahead as we move into a new decade. We've worked hard the past year to position ourselves for this moment. The moment when things turn and our economy begins the steady trek up again. Every dealer, manufacturer and supplier business in the automotive industry has reason to be proud today, they are still here and they are looking toward the future. While the big dogs plan their reinvention - shouldn't we all be doing the same? For many of you the charge will be led from the top to some degree. The marketing machine coming from the manufacturers will dictate your brand's focus, but what about that of your dealership? Will you focus on better customer service? Increasing service business? Improving your image in the community? Increasing gross on the front end? The back? I'm so excited for what the new decade holds for us as a company and a nation. I'd love to hear from you what your reinvention looks like and where you are putting your focus!