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Why Your Dealership Needs an Automotive Marketing Agency More Than Ever

Updated: Mar 21

By Matt Hayward

Just 7 months ago, it was business as usual in the retail auto industry. We all know what happened next. Since early March 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, everything has changed. And yet, opportunity remains for dealerships that make the right moves and do business the right way. While it can be tempting to think that your dealership or group may need to retreat from marketing and from working with an agency during these difficult times, we’ve seen that now more than ever, dealerships and groups need a marketing agency. Here are a few reasons why.

There’s still business to be had (and market share to be taken).

Back when this all started, it was theorized that auto sales might essentially fall off a cliff. It was a viable theory. Unless you were alive in 1918-20, this is your first pandemic; nobody knew what to expect. But it turns out that there still appears to be plenty of business out there, and dealerships who continued to advertise from the get-go have disproportionately reaped the rewards. We’re not here to brag, but we’re very proud that as of this writing, CBC Automotive Marketing’s clients have set 26 different all-time sales volume & gross records since March. We’re also helping our clients overcome emerging new-vehicle inventory issues by pivoting their focus to used vehicles, thus helping them make even more gross.

Not to be forgotten is the service side of marketing. If you want to have as close to a recession-proof dealership as possible, build a rock-solid parts and service operation. The higher you can get your service absorption the better off you’re going to be. At the current hour, when some of your competing dealerships are becoming less aggressive, you have a huge opportunity to fortify your fixed operations division. A busy, well-oiled (pun intended!) service department and an excellent sales department work together in tandem to set your dealership or auto group up for major long-term profits. Too many dealers (and agencies) ignore service marketing. Take it seriously, and trust your service marketing to an expert agency.

Agencies (well, some of them) have the experience to navigate you through uncertain times.

Notice I didn’t say all agencies. Frankly, many agencies haven’t been around that long, and with these challenging times, the jury’s still out on what the future holds for them. Most current agencies weren’t around 100+ years ago for the last pandemic, but some have been around long enough to persevere through multiple global issues and come out on the other side with perspective their clients can tap into. Speaking for ourselves, CBC Automotive Marketing has been exclusively handling auto dealership marketing since 1983. 37 years is a long time in the automotive marketing world, long enough to go through many major disruptive events like terror attacks, four different recessions and more. While COVID-19 is certainly unique, and no one has a crystal ball for what the future holds, your best bet to navigate through a time like this from a marketing standpoint is to lean on a partner who has navigated other tough times in the past.

Every dollar counts even more right now.

It’s no secret that during COVID-19, every dollar you make and every dollar you invest has increased importance. That’s why you need an agency. But wait…doesn’t an agency cost more? That depends. Doing your own marketing means you’re likely taking your own time away from running your business and managing your people. Or maybe you’re paying a person to do it all in-house? Between salary, benefits etc., this often costs more than you’d pay an agency, without the benefits of working with specialists in every aspect of automotive marketing. (One possible exception to this is if you’re running a mid-size or larger group. We’ve worked with many groups where the combination of an agency behind the scenes and a marketing director on the ground daily helped yield fantastic results.)

The agency you choose has a big impact as well. A lazy agency will blindly spend your money and put you on “the program” that every other dealership gets. That cookie-cutter, one size fits all mentality benefits the agency, not you. Hiring a good agency is a smart investment that will pay dividends. A good agency will take the time to focus on your business and will make custom decisions based on research. In fact, in-store market research might be the single most important thing you can do in your dealership right now to sharpen your marketing pencil, particularly in today’s turbulent times when things seem to change so quickly. To get the most out of each marketing dollar, you also need to be sure you’re controlling your narrative / brand with custom creative that’s unique to you, to help you stand out in your marketplace. A good agency also prioritizes manufacturer co-op / compliance; making sure that all co-op dollars are covered, and that (when applicable), ‘strikes’ are avoided. All of this and more is why a good agency is a superior value; ensuring your hard-earned dollars take you further.

During economic booms, everyone looks like a marketing genius. But when times get tough, that’s when those who approach marketing the right way really separate themselves from the pack. It’s easy to see the draw of wanting to cut back and save as much money as possible during a time like COVID-19. It’s human nature; the desire in times of uncertainty to hold on to what we have. However, many dealers see opportunity during this time. To capitalize on it, your best bet is to continue doing what you do best every day – both in your business and your community, and hire a good automotive marketing agency to further supplement your strengths by doing what they do best every day as well.

Are you thinking about hiring an automotive marketing agency? Perhaps you already have an agency, but you’re not happy with what you’re getting for your money? Reach out to us below and let’s have a conversation.

Matt Hayward is Director of Business Development and a Senior Account Manager at CBC Automotive Marketing, a Maine ad agency working across the United States with successful dealerships and dealership groups.

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