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A woman reads a magical message.

‘Medium and Message’ Magic!

Last month I shared ideas on why content/creative is still king.  You can be on every medium, dot every digital ‘I’, saturate every market, but if the message isn’t right, you’re throwing a whole bunch of stuff at the barn wall that won’t stick.  The key to real magic is the right blend of message and media mix.  Even with the best creative, a great message has to hit enough of the target to drive your ‘share of market’ for the weekend, as well as planting strong seeds for consideration in the weeks/months to come.

Finding the right media mix.

Assuming you have the right message, what combination of communication mediums will deliver maximum efficiency?  You’ll never know until you test mixes in your own market.  Never assume that the national…even regional stats apply to your situation.  You might discover early evening cable news and 4:00 am farm reports on the radio sell trucks.  Cable/streaming ads on Discovery and History channel combined with social media linked ads to your website might drive hybrid sales.  Every segment of vehicle and service you sell might have a magical mix that results in best in class return on investment.  While testing can fine-tune over time, good research with your current customers can shorten the curve dramatically.

The very best research is local content analysis.

Over the past almost 30 years my strongest messages for success is in-house media habits analysis of buying customers (as well as employees!).  There is no media company out there, no data analysis program or guru who can deliver the kind of accuracy as the discovery process in media habits analysis.  For starters, most people simply do not know ‘what brought them in today’.  But almost everyone can tell you what media/communications influence them.  Most people can tell you what they listen to/watch in the morning.  What they listen to while driving to work.  What their favorite radio, television and social media channel is.  While most can’t tell you the nudge that brought them into your dealership, they can probably give you a good idea of what websites they looked at in the shopping process.  Companies like Nielsen can give you great overviews on national trends. But only your customers…in your market can give you the most accurate reading on where they actually spend time.  If you properly design your media habits questionnaire, you can code it with zip codes, income, specific make/model and other filters which will help define optimum media mix.

Ambassadors are the easiest subset to track media habits.

Your very best customers, your ‘loyal Ambassadors’ will give you the absolute best feedback on both message and media.  Ambassadors are part of your ‘family’ and not only appreciate what you do for them but want you to succeed.  If you’d like a free white paper on ‘ambassador surveys’, email me and I’ll send it along.

Make sure your virtual showroom is in the mix.

One of the best overall tactics in maximizing efficiency is your own website being a major part of the medium mix.  If you look through the Digital Dealer archives, you’ll find an article I wrote a few months ago titled ‘Bring Them To Your Website’.  Whether you use a linked ad on social media, a link in an email or text, or a teaser in your radio and TV ads, there is no better place for a customer to land than on your own website.  Here you have the opportunity to inform, educate, excite, and sell.  One of my good friends, a Midwest independent used car dealer, has been enjoying five of the best (profitable) years in his business since taking my suggestion of morning radio ads that he phones into a local station talking about the day’s specials.  He invites visitors to his site to see the vehicle.  He does a 30-second walk around and posts pictures.  He has held several 5 am blockbuster sales offering an extra discount to anyone visiting the dealership between 7 am and 8 am. Make sure your website has a ‘self admin’ feature that allows you to post, upload and change vehicle pictures, videos, and text on the HOME page.  Don’t make new visitors search for immediate offers even if you have a link to a separate page.  Make it easy. Be sure a telephone number and address is easily visible on your HOME page. Lots of folks go to the website just to get an address to put in their GPS. MAKE IT EASY!

Make sure your POP Signage is in the mix.

Few realize how important signage is.  Research reveals location/direction signage is the top reason for an initial visit for more than 10% of customers!  But it’s what happens with the customer’s point of view on arrival that is even more important in a campaign or promotion.  Several years ago I visited a dealership that was offering ‘blockbuster specials on Dodge Challengers’.  When I drove onto the lot there wasn’t a Challenger insight.  I actually thought I had come to the wrong place.  When I asked a salesperson about the ‘blockbuster specials on Challengers’ he walked to a remote area of the lot with about 6 Challengers that looked like they hadn’t been washed in a month.  Why didn’t they have a few of these on the front line with ‘Blockbuster Special’ signs on them?  One of the most successful dealers I ever worked with would play weekend ads for employees on Thursday morning, letting the folks know what we would be talking about that weekend.  Salespeople would approach visitors with “Hey.. thanks for coming in for (the special) you must have heard about our ad… everyone is talking about it”.

Make sure your PEOPLE are in the mix.

Instead of just having the ‘ad people’ throw something together to create action, why not plan your events, promotions, campaigns and let every single person in the organization know what’s going on this weekend…this month!   Like my dealer friend who gathers the sales staff on Thursday to talk about the upcoming weekend advertising, why not send an email or a text to EVERY SINGLE employee on the payroll (with their permission of course) and make them part of the excitement.  You’ll be pleasantly amazed at how often a service tech, office worker or lot person will ‘sell’ a vehicle for you.

Good selling!

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN DEALER MAGAZINE.

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