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5 Steps to More Effective, Efficient Advertising

Three years ago I shared these marketing ideas in a Dealer Communications article and received some pretty amazing feedback. One Midwest dealer, who has since become a good friend, not only took my advice seriously…he followed it to a tee with some impressive results. In fact, a 7% increase in EBITDA in the first year, 26% EBITDA increase over a three year period.

Here is the very best part. My suggestions did not cost my friend one dime more in advertising. In fact, over the past three years, ad costs as a percentage of gross have actually gone down 3%. Ready to ramp up your 2016 earnings?

Learn the plan.

Who is your best customer? My plan suggests you ‘score’ deals. 1-5 on overall gross. 1-5 on ‘ease of doing business’ (time spent putting deal together? Customer satisfaction with deal process?) 1-5 on TCV (total customer value…repeat sales/service…referrals). And if you want to add another category, 1-5 on trade value. DO NOT score on ‘finance/fico’ to avoid any potential legal issues. Meet with your managers to devise a coding scheme that can be easily translated.

Select at least 20 of these ‘best score customers’ and conduct a phone interview on media habits. My friend has consigned this project to his daughter who has a marketing degree and great communication skills. Here is the script she uses in contacting selected customers. “Mrs. Jones, I’m calling on behalf of my father to thank you for your business over the years, and because we consider you a VIP customer, we’re wondering if we might enlist your help in our advertising plans. Would you be willing to spend about 15 minutes with me on the phone at your convenience? In exchange for your help, we would like to offer you either a $100 Visa gift card or a complete detail of your vehicle which has a value of $200.” As further testimony to the ‘best customer scoring’, Amy claims that almost everyone she calls is willing to participate.

Ask questions.

Ask questions that best define actual media habits. Segments for various media. For instance: “Mrs. Jones, do you listen to the radio while driving? Do you listen to the radio at home? Probe for favorite stations/programs.

In Television segment, ask which cable system they subscribe to, satellite dish. What are their news habits? Local stations and national channels. Favorite programs. Is there any program they watch on a regular basis.

In regard to E-communications, ask if they spend time on any of the social media such as Facebook. Are they more likely to use Emails or Texting for messages? Do they read any newspaper on a regular basis? Ask if they have seen or heard any of your dealerships advertising. If so, what do they think of the advertising. “If we could make our ads you have any suggestions?”

Finally, ask this question: “If we wanted to reach you with an important message about a special sale or offer…what would be the best way to contact you…by mail, email, a text message or an advertisement on radio or TV? Remember, these are your BEST customers. There is a higher degree of compliance and trust in responses. Amy closes out her interview with an invitation for the customer to join their ‘marketing advisory team’ with direct contact by email/phone to Amy or her assistant. As a member of the advisory team, customers will get occasional emails asking for opinions as well as receiving a marketing team annual thank you gift.


Transcribe and analyze this information carefully. Consider placing at least 30% of your overall marketing budget into the media habits analysis. Think about it. These are your best customers. Doesn’t it make sense to weight your marketing efforts to attract more of the same socio-economic/demographic mindset? Start with 30%. If you’re pleased with the overall quality of traffic, closing ratio and EBITDA over the next several months, increase your placement in these media channels to 50% of your budget.

Make this research and analysis an ongoing project. Markets change. Media changes. Front load your research with 20-50 individual focus customers, and conduct at least another 10 every month.

The biggest companies in the world are channeling more and more of their marketing spend to channels that are frequented by their very best customers. They are giving more perks and rewards to their best customers. Identifying your very best customer and their media habits can lead to a much more rewarding experience and more effective, efficient marketing.

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