Sales is not the only part of your dealership, but it is the top dog. Hopefully, your dealership leveraged the uncertainty of 2020 to elevate your focus on fixed ops. Some industry reports say fixed ops generates as much as $99 billion1 annually. The impacts of the pandemic or even the lack of inventory for the new “it” vehicle are encouraging some consumers to hold on to their current car for a little while longer. These cars still need to be kept up, and you have a state-of-the-art service center. It’s time to capitalize on it.
Consumers have long had a misconception that service work costs more at the dealership. Be transparent with your pricing. Offer oil change and/or tire rotation deals. Proactively seek out current customers who are due for routine maintenance and help them schedule an appointment. Additionally, your service bays are another avenue for inventory acquisition. Customers may be more inclined to trade-in their gently used vehicle knowing that they can get more bang for their buck during this time.
It’s high time that we stopped allowing fixed ops to play second fiddle within our dealership operations. There is such a wealth of opportunity with this part of your operations, but for too long, it has taken second seat to sales and even F&I. Elevating the status of your fixed ops internally (e.g., resourcing and prioritization) as well as externally (e.g., marketing) can only help your dealership’s health.
In a recent presentation at Digital Dealer 23, I had the opportunity to present strategies for Big Data. The key driver was focused on how Big Data impacts the automotive landscape as a whole. One area specifically that captured the audience’s attention was how dealerships and groups of different sizes could begin implementing Big Data findings in their dealership without a lot of additional resources and costs.
Because I’m so passionate about this topic and feel it is a huge opportunity for dealers, I want to introduce a three part series and share how dealerships of any size can implement the systems and resources needed to use Big Data for key insights without breaking the bank.
Today I’m going to begin with single point dealers, those with one to five rooftops, and how they can use Big Data to their advantage. Within this subset of dealerships the most important thing to remember is to leverage partners. Look to your Big Data vendors and partners to help surface insights.
Key Tactic: Dig In to Understand your Vendors
Your most trusted resource at this size is the data vendors themselves. Look to your partners to help you uncover key insights housed within your system. Some key questions to ask vendors include:
- How are you using our data?
- Do you truly have a Big Data environment and if so what systems do you use?
- What insights can we extract from my data and how will it help me make better decisions about how I market, message, and engage my customers?
- What type of reports are available to me with the information you’re reviewing?
- How often can you send me the data you’re reviewing and in what format? (XLS, CSV, XML)
Key Role: Data Analyst
While your greatest resource at this size is your data partner, one key person you can add to the team for tremendous value is a data analyst. This person uses your data to glean insights and actionable takeaways from the data vendors send you and in turn, helps the entire dealership make better decisions.
I can hear you groaning now – more personnel? More time? More complication. But I want you to start thinking about this in a different way. Your data analyst is not a full-time job and you don’t need to hire an employee to do the work. Let’s think outside the box. Can you hire a contractor to work five hours a week to dig into your vendor data and provide key insights? There are several resources out there with stables of experienced contractors.
For example, in the past I’ve used UpWork to look for top talent that can be contracted for a few hours a week if folks are tied up on other projects.
I’ll take it one step further, here’s an example of what to ask for:
Looking for an individual with sharp analytics skills that’s familiar with multi-touch attribution and various media mixes. They will assist in the creation of a data warehouse by identifying data streams and database requirements. Use SQL queries and stored procedures to develop reports pertaining to web analytics, marketing campaign performance, customer interactions and other business and marketing performance metrics. Use data visualization and reporting tools including Tableau.
What if you wanted someone who could help you store and visualize some of your vendor’s data, who lives in the US, and has made at least some money in this craft? A Tableau expert returns 80 individuals; most of whom are highly qualified to help you start making sense of data!
Once you have the data coming in from your vendor partner, and have it being reviewed by your data analyst, it’s time to determine your data hook. What’s your data hook?
What your Customers Love x What Creates a 10x competitive advantage = Your Data Hook
If you don’t know what your customers love and your competitive advantage – don’t panic! That’s what your newly-hired data analyst is here to uncover from all of the vendor data they are sifting through.
Once you know your data hook, it’s time to create a data roadmap with your vendor and have them and your internal analyst watch the data, ask questions, learn and finally –test- that insight to see if your competitive advantage is working in the market. You’ll know it’s working when your in-market leads begin to increase.
I know the idea of Big Data can be overwhelming, but with help from your data vendors and partners, and a contracted data analyst, you can begin acting on the key information housed within your systems to own your backyard. Stay tuned for my next post on tactics and key roles for mid-sized dealerships.
The 8 traits that separate championship football teams from their competition are synonymous with the 8 traits that distinguish great dealerships from everyone else. Whether you’re a diehard fan, occasional watcher, or someone happy to do without, there’s a lot to be learned from the structure of a championship level football team.
In honor of playoff season, we compiled a list of strategies championship football teams implement to become champions and stay at the top. Some may be a bit obvious and others are a little less known. However, when combined and practiced with regularity, energy, and passion, they are extremely powerful tools to create a winning organization day in and day out and season after season.
Without any further ado, here’s 8 unmistakable traits of championship teams:
1. Championship teams have several small goals to support one big goal
Championship teams aren’t out there playing just to play. Playing for the love of the game is important, but champions train and play for something big by striving to achieve smaller supporting goals. Divisional champions. Conference champions. League champions. By breaking down the ultimate goal into smaller pieces they build on top of each other. The accomplishment of one propelling them to the next.
At the dealership level it’s the same way. Daily wins. Weekly wins. Monthly wins. Yearly wins. By breaking each win into a smaller category, they all build on each other to propel a store towards the big picture goal it set out to do.
2. Championship teams create a specific plan to reach their goals
There’s multiple ways to win a championship, but one thing all championship teams possess is their specific way to win it. What does the offensive scheme look like? What is the defensive scheme? What type of players best fit those schemes and what does it take to train those players be successful?
Dealerships are the same way. What type of inventory, pricing, sales team, and marketing & advertising strategies does it take to help your dealership reach its goals and full potential in your market?
3. Championship teams tactically develop a system for fulfilling their plans
Having a specific and actionable plan is 100% necessary to reach their goals. But, championship teams dive into the minutiae of their plans at a tactical level. What’s the prototype player for each position? What is the development of each player during the pre-season, season, and post season? What will the training sessions be? How much film do they need to watch? What is their nutrition plan? What type of on the field coaches are needed? What support staff is needed? Mentally, how are they trained to handle the pressures and length of the season?
The team at your dealership can benefit from those same types of questions. What traits does the ideal person have for each position at the store? How is each team member properly trained from a sales and customer service perspective? What does the routine of a highly successful salesperson look like? How can they continue to grow their skills and earning potential? How does the dealership support them to be great individuals, team players, and leaders in the organization? What are the processes they follow to have the best chance to succeed?
4. Championship teams make sure everyone in the organization understands their role
Creating a championship team means taking a bunch of individuals and combining each of their talents to create a group that achieves an actionable result. What sets the champions apart from everyone else is their ability to effectively communicate how the role of each individual supports the team and the big picture. Then, they keep communicating it to everyone, constantly. Everyone must do their job, do it well, and no one is bigger than the team.
Similarly, at a dealership, everyone from the porter to the service tech to the GM know exactly how fulfilling their role on the team supports the team goals. Anyone who falls short or is focused on their individual performance affects the overall ability of the team to perform and achieve what their after.
5. Championship teams focus on the small things one day at day
It’s not about trying to eat an elephant in one bite. Championship teams don’t let the big things get distracting. Instead, they minimize the distractions and focus on the small things that allow them to be the best they can be in each and every moment. Once a moment is over, they move on to next moment. They proceed at working to be the best they can be in thousands of tiny moments until the end result is achieved.
At a dealership it’s exactly the same way. For example, the ultimate goal on the showroom floor is a sale. However, each individual moment needs to be maximized to its fullest potential to move to the next moment and the end result. If one thing is skipped or not done well, the next moment may not matter because it may not happen.
6. Championship teams celebrate victories but don’t linger on them
With the right plan in place, becoming a champion may take some time but ultimately is accomplishable. Remaining a champion is quite a bit harder. Once a goal is achieved, complacency can start to set in and can be a bear to overcome. Championship teams avoid complacency by celebrating victories in a small window. Once that window is up, they’re right back to doing the same things it took to get them there in the first place. They always maintain their edge.
Dealerships can practice the same strategy. Celebrate your wins and accomplishments. They’re awesome! However, don’t ever get complacent and stop practicing what it took to accomplish those wins. It takes less work to maintain an edge than it does to create one. Don’t miss an opportunity in front of you because you were too busy looking backwards while patting yourself on the back.
7. Championship teams think different than everyone else
If you think like everyone else, you’re going to be like everyone else. Championship teams constantly think about what they can do to create a competitive advantage. How can they train harder and smarter? How can they play faster? How can they perform more efficiently? How can they attract better talent? How can they separate themselves from their competition? How can they win more aggressively and keep their players healthy? How can they be better than their competition in every way and do it consistently?
Dealerships have to think differently than their competition as well. How can you get more of the inventory that’s selling? How can you price it attractively and still make a profit? How do you offer the best customer experience that no one else can deliver? How can you advertise differently than everyone else to attract the number of car buyers it takes to help you reach your goals?
8. Championship teams learn from their losses and their wins
Losing is a great learning tool. And, so is winning. Just because a team won doesn’t mean they can’t do things better? Maybe the offense was really good but the defense stunk. Or, maybe the game plan worked but the other team would have pulled out the victory if there was just one more minute on the clock. Championship teams look at every win, loss, and play in the game and find what they can do better.
At the dealership level, it can be easy to see why you didn’t win a deal. The price was too high. You didn’t have a vehicle in stock. Maybe the person couldn’t get financed? The list goes on and on. However, championship dealerships evaluate everything. Even the wins. They strive to continue to grow, to get bigger, better, and faster with each and every vehicle sold. They know that each win and loss is an opportunity to get better than their competition and that getting better will continue to breed more success.
The difference between winning and winning consistently enough to be a champion is in the details. Everyone wants to win but only a select few have what it takes to go out and do what needs to be done to make it happen. What will your season be like? It’s the start of a new year? Do you have what it takes to be a champion?
It’s called the “bright, shiny object syndrome” or BSOS for short. For people in charge of dealership marketing it can be a problem that’s extremely hard to overcome.
People infected with BSOS can often see every new thing as THE thing, the one solution that’s going to make all the difference in helping them achieve their goals.
Something new comes along that looks good and they grab it. Then, all of a sudden, they spot another bright shiny thing that looks good and they grab on to it before the previous shiny thing is ever fully utilized. The pattern happens with enough frequency it becomes a never ending cycle of starting over.
Because of BSOS, it’s easy for automotive marketers to get pulled in an almost infinite number of directions on how to spend very finite resources like time, personnel, and money. Every day, another bright and shiny idea is launched to sell. With each are frequent opportunities to jump to yet another thing, ultimately causing resources to be exhausted with no consistent results achieved.
If you or someone you know sufferers from BSOS, it’s ok. There’s a cure and your dealership can benefit tremendously by kicking the habit.
The solution is found in one simple observance. Some things sell cars and a lot of things don’t. The key is having a precise strategy for being able to identify what works for your dealership versus what doesn’t. Then, you must have the fortitude to stick with what works and get rid of what doesn’t. The more things you find that work well will begin a decrease in the dependency for hopping around from object to object, and ultimately will allow you to be more critical in evaluating things that can pull you astray.
One of the common denominators for marketers who do a good job of separating what works from what doesn’t is they stick with something long enough to accurately measure its true value before they change gears and move on to something else. They provide themselves the opportunity to build a solid foundation of tried and true performers that achieve their goal. That doesn’t mean they’re not open to new things, they’re just more critical of their place at the table.
They follow a process that isn’t overly complicated. It’s based simply on time. The time to succinctly think through how to best utilize a tool; resource; or idea, the time to implement it properly, the time to think through and define their desired goals, and the time to then measure the heck out of something to see if it actually met or exceeded the goal.
Once a really solid foundation is built it then becomes much easier to separate contenders from pretenders the next time they try and present a new bright shiny object that deviates from what you know works for your dealership. As they’re presenting the wonderfulness of whatever they’re selling, call a time out and tell them you’re only interested in the answers to two questions:
Question 1: Does what they have sell cars?
Question 2: Can they prove it? Not just prove it with stories from other dealerships, but prove it in your dealership every month.
The lesson to be learned is that it’s not necessary to chase every bright shiny thing. There are some new things that work, and some things that are too tried and true to be shiny that also work. The key is easily sorting them out to find the best fits for your store.
Does it sell cars?
Can you prove it?
If the answer is yes to both those questions, it’s worth your time and budget. If not, it’s just a worthless bright shiny thing and who needs a collection of those?
As a successful auto dealership executive, you already appreciate that maintaining your industry lead and competitive edge takes continually attracting qualified customers who are ready to buy. No earth shattering revelations there. But what’s changing — at the speed of an electron — is how you can find and market to those customers.
Customers engage via multiple devices and in numerous ways. Understanding the customer journey and building a solid marketing plan that engages the customer at each step of the buying journey is essential.
That’s where Client Command® comes in. We use the latest data-gathering technology and analysis to identify and reach the best in-market customers and pre-qualify them with our unique, comprehensive lead nurturing system. Using 177 algorithms to identify buyers and where they are in their journey is how we guarantee results. Not only do we use your database we search multiple databases and target buyers.
A gun shot approach is never as effective as highly targeting and marketing to buyers by offering the right message at the right time. We are especially thrilled about our direction and the investments we are making in our people and platforms. Our dealership marketing programs now include:
- A plan to personalize and optimize customer journeys to target customers at the right time.
- Test messaging and promotions to determine the best conversion rate and highest ROI
- Highly targeted messaging and conversion optimized landing pages that drive sales
- Effective, permission based email marketing. 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission based marketing communication via email than any other channel.*
- Relevant, targeted content that nurtures loyal relationships and helps close more sales.
The Client Command® system is proven and comprehensive. We continually fine tune by keeping abreast of new techniques and software and applying them to our process. We are voracious about generating leads that turn into sales.
Results are continually measured to ensure the most effective lead-generation methods and strongest returns. The Client Command® team includes experts who are among the most skillful in their fields. They excel at what counts most: sourcing quality leads that translate into sales.
We understand that effective marketing depends on a thorough knowledge of the automotive marketing industry. That’s why we stay informed on relevant issues such as new laws and proposed legislation, market case studies, gasoline prices, new car features, and more. Then we leverage this learning to adjust our marketing software and messaging. The bottom line: we take advantage of the latest industry changes so you get the most relevant leads possible.
We know how important it is that we learn about your target customer and dealership. We listen carefully to your input on how we can serve you better. It’s truly a partnership. We’ll use our data to assist you in developing client profiles, determining your highest value and most frequent customers, and when current customers will be ready to buy again.
The result? Working with Client Command®, you enjoy the best lead generation — and strategic marketing tool that technology can provide. It’s a proven system tailored around the particular needs of your dealership, and it delivers results. Guaranteed. Every time.
Have you ever felt like the abundance of emerging marketing and advertising technology, gizmos, and strategies is a bit like being in a tsunami of information? Just as you get comfortable in one area, BOOM, there’s a new wave crashing down. As technology progresses, it’s inescapable as a marketer. The decision to make is do you want to navigate the waters head on in an ark or risk it in a life raft.
When it comes to automotive marketing, doing something different from what you know can be a bit uncomfortable. You may ask yourself things like, “Will it give my store an advantage? Is it cost effective? How much time will my team and I have to spend on it? What if it fails?”
But, it’s even more uncomfortable when you find out you’ve fallen way behind everyone else because you failed to progress and evolve. That’s why it’s imperative to seek out and embrace new marketing and advertising strategies in order to keep your message where your audience is going to see it. Even though there’s a lot to sort through, the benefits of adopting the right strategies can be awesome.
- Today’s audiences can be more tightly targeted than ever before.
- Ads can be specific to the viewer; so, the message is much better received.
- Engagement, leads, and purchases can be tracked to the specific medium.
- Less time, money, and effort is spent figuring out how to reach the right people and more time can be invested working on selling more cars.
- For automotive marketers wanting to adopt emerging technology and media but not drown in the tsunami of information, we’ve compiled three things to always consider when getting started.
1. Know your audience and their media habits.
Although almost all dealers are already engaged in some sort of digital advertising, as much as 80% of their monthly advertising spends are still broadcast media specific. That, despite the fact that there are fewer viewers in news and fringe time – traditionally the favorite time slots of dealerships. According to the Pew Research Center, late night news has lost nearly a quarter of its audience over the last decade, and viewership in other fringe times is dropping. Considering the fact that only about 1 in 20 households reached will be in the market for a new car, dealership media buys are talking to a shrinking market, of whom, only a small percent are truly active prospects.
A profitable first step is to consider the alternatives based on knowing your audience’s behaviors and understanding the mediums where they spend the most time. Emerging technologies can solve both the audience size and the percentage of prospects problem by reaching targets who are currently in the market for an automobile. It’s a much smaller population, but with a much greater return on dollars spent.
2. Hold the medium accountable.
The objective of campaign marketing is to sell automobiles, and the media rep (whether digital or traditional) sitting across the desk or virtual meeting should have a good answer to one important question: How can we track the sales results of this investment?
Having an accurate answer to that question is essential to allocating your marketing dollars to the marketing that produces the best ROI.
And there’s a second question the media rep should answer: How do you make sure that you are pushing the right message to the right prospect? Is it spray and pray saturation coverage or are audience members actively in market shopping? The fact that the prospect is identified as being in the market isn’t enough. What is the prospect in the market for? How long have they been in market? And what is the source of the data?
Media accountability starts with a clear explanation of what the medium is going to do, and how it’s going to do it. It ends with an accurate accounting of the units sold through that medium. Anything less is simply a vendor asking the marketer to “trust me.”
3. Put your message where the buyers are.
On the average, the typical cable-enabled American home receives over 200 channels. And on the average, they watch less than 10% of them. While broadcast tv and cable viewership is dropping, it’s increasing on devices that can connect to video content (streaming players, game consoles, computers, tablets, and smart phones).
Increasingly, viewers are where traditional advertising is not. And that leads to another question that the media reps should answer: How will your dealership’s message get to viewers wherever they are? And, how will the media company make sure they’re getting your message to the right audience members at the appropriate time in their buying journey?
These are questions that some media representatives aren’t used to hearing. In some cases, you may even encounter a blank stare. Those who will be most helpful to you in navigating the change in the way marketing information is both transmitted and received will have a ready answer. It’s because that’s the way they’ve designed their programs.
Its answers to questions like the ones above that will help automotive marketers clearly navigate the confusing waters of emerging advertising technology. By gaining those answers, you’ll be able focus on doing more of what works and quit doing what doesn’t. Your pipeline will be full and you can sell cars and that’s a pretty sweet deal!
Several years ago Rupert Murdoch said something extremely simple but precisely spot on in a discussion about the future of business. That statement was:
“The world is changing. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”
If that statement would have been made more than 10 years ago quite a few people may have thought it to be a bit questionable. Big corporate powerhouses seemed like they could control and dominate whatever they wanted. Particularly in the retail and service industries.
However, technology changed, evolved, and became adopted enough that little industry ripples eventually became massive tidal waves of change. Today those changes are commonplace and that’s why Murdoch’s statement is so powerful.
The question becomes, is your dealership fast and agile to meet today’s consumer demands or are you sitting just waiting to get passed by?
Below are just a few of many examples of how fast disruptors turned big industries on their heads and left their counterparts scrambling for answers.
Airbnb – Back in 2007 Airbnb essentially started off as two guys renting overnight stays on air mattresses in their apartment and making people breakfast the next morning. To initially promote Airbnb a website was created and ads ran on craigslist. As it grew, friends and others were recruited to become part of the Airbnb community. Then, BOOM! Through sound business decisions Airbnb is now valued around $31B and generates massive revenue from people using the service to rent the short term use of rooms, houses, and vacation rentals. What was a simple and new concept is now a massive worldwide disruption to the travel industry.
Dollar Shave Club – Michael Dubin thought purchasing razors in retail stores was really expensive and inconvenient. So expensive and inconvenient that he decided to do something about it. In 2011, he started a beta website he launched from his apartment in order to try and solve the problem of providing quality razors at a fair price that could be purchased easily. His solution, a subscription to buy razors from him online. The razors arrived conveniently on subscribers’ doorsteps every month at a fraction of the cost of purchasing razors from retail stores. What happened next is awesome. After making the right strategic decisions, Dollar Shave Club became such a disruptor David and his investors sold it to Unilever in 2016 for $1B.
Uber – Way back in 2008 two friends thought to themselves, “Why is it so hard to get a cab? There’s got to be a better way.” They noodled on how to solve the problem for a few years and landed on the idea to build an app for iPhones. They tested the app in New York with 3 Uber cars and found that the concept of letting vehicle owners use their cars to conveniently let people find them and catch rides for a reasonable price could work. Uber launched in San Francisco in January 2010. Uber is now subscribed to so well that it puts a massive dent in the transportation service and rental car industries. It’s currently valued around $50B – even after the recent negative press its received this year.
Ok, so yes, each of those examples are now all massive companies. However, at one point they weren’t. They were small and bootstrapped and they each had something unique. They had an idea for change in industries that had a noticeable flaw and they were each incredibly fast and agile in finding those flaws and getting their solutions to market.
What’s really cool though is each of them shared something very similar. They each developed simple solutions that made people’s lives less complicated. They were forward thinkers of change by challenging ideas, concepts, and business models that had been the same for decades and decades. They singled out their own frustrations and the frustrations of others. They questioned an old outdated way of thinking and positioned themselves as a simpler more convenient way. And, they harnessed tools and strategies that allowed them to be faster than their bigger counterparts.
They are true representations of the fast beating the big and their models are applicable across all kinds of industries. Even automotive. Interestingly though, that doesn’t mean now that they’re all big they can’t still be fast. Think about that for a second. Then think how it can be applied to your dealership. Is there something you and your team can do differently to get ahead of the status quo? Something that solves the needs of your store and your customers by turning an old way of thinking upside down? Can you do it quickly? Regardless of your size, with the right mindset you can be as fast as you want to be. The key to doing it before your competition is to simply just get started.
Quick trivia question, how many advertisements and brand messages is the average person exposed to each day?
The number that consistently pops up in numerous places and regularly gets referenced is 5,000 exposures per day. Pretty massive.
Even if it can be substantiated, 5,000 exposures sounds a bit much. But, theoretically it could be possible. With that in mind, we conjured up a more general phrase not tied to a specific number to answer the question. The phrase is, “A lot of freaking advertisements.”
Most everyone sees a lot of ads on a daily basis. Way more than they can possibly pay attention to and evaluate. For instance, just think about how many you’ve already seen today. Now think if there are any you actually remember.
WHAT’S THE HARM IN SEEING A LOT OF ADVERTISEMENTS?
We all experience it regularly. Often, multiple times per day. We’re simply minding our own business watching tv, reading email, surfing the internet, jamming to a great block of songs, checking the mail box, working to make a buck, and just living life. Then, BAM! Our attention gets interrupted and our intentions pushed aside by a multitude of ads promoting things we have little to no interest in at the time.
Whether it’s 5,000 or a few hundred ad exposures per day, one thing is for sure. The wrong ad at the wrong time is incredibly annoying. It’s simply an irrelevant, unwelcome pest many people don’t have much regard for. The more frequent and irrelevant the pest becomes, the more people can train themselves to disregard it and not pay attention. In turn, they can develop a behavioral pattern to stop paying attention almost completely and become much less likely to engage with an advertiser’s message even if they have an eventual need. Ultimately, yielding an extremely counter productive investment for the advertiser.
With this thought in mind, think about the type of advertiser your dealership may be. Do you deliver a valuable advertising message worthy of attention and action or is your advertising a frequent media pest doomed to the mental dungeons of obscurity and irrelevance?
WHY IT’S BETTER TO BE VALUABLE.
Advertising is disruptive. There’s no way around it. The trick for making advertising work well, even though it’s disruptive, is a simple idea. To be effective, ads need to be valuable to the audience they’re in front of.
A valuable ad in the presence of the right audience gets results. Even though it’s disruptive, it speaks to people in a way that can solve a need, frustration, or pain point. It’s in that solution the true value lies. Most people don’t like having problems. If the right solution is readily available to help solve a particular problem, people are more open to exploring how the solution can benefit them (even if the solution is disruptive). In the presence of the right audience, an ad can stop being viewed as a disruption to be avoided and instead be viewed as a fortuitous message to engage with.
The key to triggering higher advertising value and engagement is finding the right audience to be receptive of the message. That’s exactly where most advertisers fall short. They have a good product. They have a good message. The problem is, they’ve chosen to target and speak to an irrelevant audience. In turn, forcing an unwanted message upon an irrelevant audience leads to ineffective advertising.
Advertising works well for helping boost sales and support for just about anything. There’s thousands of brands, products, services, and organizations across the world who are proof of the success good advertising can create. The thing they all have in common is they know their audience. They know their audience’s problems, and they know which media will effectively get their solutions in front of their audience members with the right message at the right time. Instead of being incessant media pests with an annoying message that frequently interrupts and gets avoided, successful organizations create value with the right audience at the most opportune time their message will be received.
In today’s age of marketing data and intelligence, a car dealership can be as precise as it wants to be in efficiently targeting their ideal audience. The key is knowing which tools and media providers can deliver a highly targeted audience that is in need of the solutions a dealership can provide to solve their problems. Targeting the right audience with the right message isn’t just valuable to the people paying attention, it’s also incredibly valuable to a dealership’s bottom line. Done well, it will result in higher advertising response rates, vehicle sales, and return on investment.
During the journey of today’s car shoppers, some dealers will have the opportunity to make far more sales to far more car shoppers than others. The simple difference between the two is that the dealer not making the sale isn’t making it because they probably got beat to the opportunity.
The basic marketing/sales funnel model hasn’t changed in years. The start to a sale begins at a vague level of insight called the awareness stage; a car shopper knows they want a new vehicle and they know that dealerships exist but they’re not yet ready to care about where to purchase. They’ll eventually choose a dealership but not until later in their journey. The key is to make sure once they’re ready, they choose your dealership first.
Historically, caring about where to purchase started to come into play when car shoppers reached the interest stage. During this stage, they began visiting dealerships to gather information about vehicles. And, it was with this stage in mind dealerships established their marketing and sales models. The model worked fairly well as long as dealerships were the conduit between interest and information.
As shoppers arrived, they were handed off to a sales team member who helped move them through the remaining steps: consideration, intent, evaluation, and finally, the actual purchase. It was up to the salesperson to separate the specific dealership from all the others in the market.
Now, internet shopping patterns have become the norm. The original marketing/sales model isn’t just old. It’s extremely antiquated. Roughly half of car shoppers test drive only one vehicle before a purchase because they have access to every piece of information they need. Salespeople don’t have an opportunity to exercise their skills until a prospect has essentially already made a decision. The opportunity to earn their business has become a matter of where in the process car shoppers meet your dealership and message. Today, sooner is definitely better. And, being first is key to earning an opportunity.
The marketing versus sales influence model has drastically shifted. Many salespeople have already recognized it. They see customers everyday who have done their research, made up their minds down to the accessory package, and arrive already in the “evaluation” phase ready to test drive. It provides a different challenge for the salesperson, but it provides an even greater challenge for managers who have to allocate marketing funds to put shoppers in front of their salespeople before any other dealership has an opportunity.
Most broadcast, direct mail, and even digital media are stuck in an old marketing model mindset. They can stick a dealership’s name in a car shopper’s head. Done right, they can even give car shoppers a reason to pay attention. But in the day of the educated consumer, the one that makes up his or her mind before meeting a salesperson, that’s no longer enough. A customer-specific message delivered quickly, efficiently, frequently, and much earlier in the shopping process is what’s needed to win an opportunity.
It’s not a matter of better late than never. It’s now a matter of, if your message is late, it’s never.
Want to see which of your advertising media strategies work and which are a waste of money? It’s actually pretty easy.
For decades, car dealerships of all sizes have used different forms of spray and pray mass media to try and connect with car buyers. The question however, how can mass media really be measured to determine it’s true ROI. Is it a solid investment, a necessary evil, or just a waste of money?
For example, take two of the most popular mass media advertising line items like TV and radio. They’re each a time-worn tactic few questioned because there was no true way to track their ability to produce traffic and sales. If car buyers showed up at dealerships to buy a new or used car then the tv and radio must be working, right? If no one showed up then they were simply explained as investments for building a brand and future sales.
Truth is, for car dealerships, most of the money spent on spray and pray mass media campaigns is wasted. That’s because only a tiny percentage of the audience is actually in the market for a new vehicle. Common industry experts estimate as few as 2 – 4% of the market is considering purchasing a new or used vehicle from week to week.
What’s that mean? As much as 95% (sometimes more) of every mass media dollar invested by dealerships trying to attract car buyers simply goes to waste because it’s not reaching the right audience. People simply aren’t listening because they have no need to.
NUMBERS DON’T LIE
Over 95% media waste may sound hard to believe, but let’s look at the numbers. Assume a 2 week tv buy reaches an audience of 100,000 adults ages 25 – 54, and one commercial runs 56 times (4 times per day for 14 days) at an average of $300 per spot. That’s $16,800.
Now assume the tv buy is two stations deep. That’s a total of $33,600 for the entire two week tv campaign.
Of those 100,000 people targeted, only 4,000 of them (4%) are in the market to purchase a vehicle in the two weeks the tv commercial is running. Of those 4,000 prospects, only about 5% are in the market for the make and models of vehicles advertised. That brings the audience of viable prospects down to a whopping 200.
Knowing the tv buy cost $33,600, when it’s divided by 100% of the in-market prospects seeing it (200), the cost of reaching each prospect is $168. In actuality, the cost per prospect is most likely higher because it’s just not possible for 100% of all in-market prospects to see the spot. But hey, if we’re going to dream, lets dream big.
NOW CRUNCH THROUGH THE SALE
To continue this hypothetical example, assume the commercial worked really well and 50% of those prospects visit the advertised dealership during the time the spots ran (that’s 100 prospects). Finally, let’s say the sales team is fantastic and is able to close 25% of the people who saw the tv spot and visited the dealership.
All told, the two week buy cost $1,344 per sale. Not exactly a stellar return on investment for even a best-case scenario. To make it even more concerning, it’s simply not possible to know each and every time customers who purchased a vehicle ever saw the tv spot. Any ROI calculations are strictly guesses and not accurate. It’s possible the cost per sale could be higher.
WHAT’S A DEALERSHIP SUPPOSED TO DO?
We’re now in a day and age where, if executed properly, advertising channels are trackable to real actionable results (phone calls, floor ups, website clicks, emails, texts, and chats). Taken a step further, what really needs to happen is that every advertising channel should be tracked to the revenue it produced. If advertising can’t be tracked, then how in the world can any dealership know it’s true value and what to do with it?
This isn’t simply a rant about tv and radio inefficiencies (ok, it kind of is but all mass media is inefficient if consumers aren’t targeted properly). The fact is, most marketing vendors and advertising providers simply don’t go through the necessary lengths needed to target the right prospects and prove the true value of what they’re doing, even though the technology is available to do it. Instead, vendors are happy getting away with putting ads in front of anonymous audiences and discussing hypothetical results and inaccurate returns. The reason, most dealerships don’t vigorously demand to see actual proof that their advertising efforts are producing measurable revenue.
The technology and resources are available, right now, for dealerships to hold marketing vendors, advertising agencies, and media investments accountable for real production (all the way down to a sale, the revenue generated, and profit made). Do the math for yourself and see what each of your media sources is truly producing for your store. If the results aren’t good enough, be open minded enough to seek out and investigate strategies that may be able to perform better over the long haul.
Massive technological advancements in advertising delivery and tracking technology have made this an unbelievable time to re-think what’s normal and consider smarter strategies for getting the most out of your advertising investment. The dealerships that embrace a new mindset of what their advertising should produce and the value it can bring will be well positioned for sustained growth and competitive dominance for years to come.