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7 Ways to Supercharge Your Advertising Effectiveness

Since advertising is just one facet of marketing, let me put my ‘marketeer´ hat on to share some ideas on overall marketing strategy for challenging times. This is no time for business as usual. In the best of times you may have enough margin to compensate for ‘wrong´ inventory, unproductive people and mediocre advertising. Not now and not in the near future. Here are some of the ways top performing dealers are getting an extra-ordinary return on their advertising investment:

If you have 60 employees, there is no reason you shouldn´t have 60 salespeople. If you have 200 employees, you have 200 salespeople. In past articles I´ve shared how some of the great dealers I´ve met sell as many as 800 cars a year from employee referrals. Imagine the incredible return on investment you can realize by simply learning how to advertise to your troops and making them part of your sales success.

Last week a dealer friend told me how two of his top technicians are now featured on the dealership television commercials telling how great it is to work at the dealership and giving reasons from a tech´s point of view as to why certain models are such great buys. Another dealer client recently sent out a mailer to an area where a dealer with the same make was closing. He used pictures of several technicians that he hired from that closing dealership. There was an immediate positive reaction…both in service and sales.

Demonstrate a ‘mileage calculator´ to your employees that shows how much people can save in gas expense by trading up to a higher gas mileage vehicle. (if you´d like a free calculator program, email me and I´ll send it to you.) Your employees (for the most part) like their jobs. They want to keep their jobs. They want your company to grow and prosper so that they may grow and prosper.

  1. Stay upbeat and positive. Sometimes that´s hard to do but it´s a critical psychological factor in your success. Every notice how when business gets slow, people get slow. Why is that? For the most part many of your employees are convinced they aren´t going to sell anything. Many salespeople are sitting on the sidelines feeling sorry for themselves, calculating their selling gross, rather than focusing on the job at hand. You need to constantly reinforce the importance of treating every customer on the phone, in an email and on the showroom floor as if they are here to buy today. Because they probably are!

  2. Advertise to the troops and make every employee a salesperson. The day after you read this article, schedule a meeting with your entire staff. EVERYONE. Sales, service, office, lot people. EVERYONE. Talk about the market. Tell them some dealerships are closing and laying off people. Then tell them it is your goal to not lay anyone off. In fact, you see this as an excellent time to gain market share! Talk about how important it is for each and every person to talk with their family and friends about buying a car. Explain the reasons why this IS a good time to buy a vehicle and why your dealership is the best place to buy. Offer an attractive incentive program to reward anyone in the organization who refers a customer.

  3. Plan and strategize but be prepared to turn on a dime. This is not time for an ad agency or anyone else in the dealership to come up with some ‘out of the hat´ gimmick or theme. Advertising efforts should be carefully planned around available inventory, incentives and vehicles most in demand. In addition, it´s important to keep your ears to the ground for potential opportunities that may surface. One dealer shared how a large company in his market offered employees a special incentive to purchase trucks since the employees needed trucks for the company´s line of work. The dealer discovered this information listening to a customer who said his ‘boss was helping pay for his truck.´ The dealer contacted the company owner and made arrangements for a direct deal that not only saved the company even more, but helped the dealership with 20 desperately needed truck sales. The dealership is now in the process of sending a direct mail offer to similar businesses in the market.

  4. Use mass media to promote what has the best chance of selling, rather than what you want to sell. Use targeted, direct marketing to sell the rest. This is no time to waste money on mass media with vehicles that are not in demand. Use radio time, broadcast and cable TV to create value offers on the vehicles people are looking for. Consider direct marketing strategies to market vehicles that may have less popular appeal. For instance, a trade-up offer on a minivan or larger vehicle only to customers who have purchased those vehicles in the past. A truck mailer to business owners who have to buy a truck regardless of the mileage situation.

  5. Work with your advertising partners to get more for your money. I don´t recommend that you ‘demand´ that your advertising partners, radio, TV, print, direct mail, etc., cut you a better deal. Don´t forget, they are struggling too. Better: have a face to face, heart to heart talk with them. Tell them you may have no other choice but to cut your budget as much as you hate to. Talk about ways they might be able to enhance value that drives more traffic. It might be more spots, remotes, links on their websites, special event tie-ins, etc. Remind these valued partners of how consistent our advertising has been, and how you pay your bills in a timely fashion. Talk about the good times ahead. Forge alliances that will create a win-win.

  6. Utilize your website (and those of your advertising partners) to enhance your position with daily/weekly specials and video. Web video is big and getting bigger and it´s fairly easy to administer. Best of all, a video on your website costs pennies compared to broadcast media time and is accessible 24 hours a day. You may consider re-purposing your current television spots or create unusual and interesting video specifically for your website. You might promote web video via your other advertising channels such as TV, radio or print. Consider an internal contest to see which salesperson can do the most convincing ‘walk around´ on a specific model? Top performers get their video on the website. How about video contest where your customers submit ways they are enjoying their vehicle from your dealership with a handsome prize for the best video submitted.

  7. Invest in SEO/SEM but don´t abandon mass media. Use broadcast to convince fence sitters the time is right to buy and drive those shoppers to your showroom or website. Use web strategies to capture those seeking information. Remember, 85% of shoppers are going to the Internet for some information. Dealers that promote their website report over 60% of those shoppers are visiting their website first. For a free informative whitepaper on Search Engine Marketing Strategies and Search Engine Optimization (SEM/SEO), email me.

6/29/08 Copyright © Jim Boldebook (for August 2008 Issue of Dealer Magazine)

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