Article

Advertising & Marketing: Is It Rocket Science?

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Dan Henderson - Also by this author

Rocket Science? Maybe not, but I have to believe it was cheaper putting a man on the moon than the trial and error method we all use for our advertising. To put it bluntly…I’M OVER IT! My creative side stops with the name on my personalized license plates and matching my shoe color with the color of my belt, and even then I have trouble. I never knew there were so many different shades of black and brown until I moved to California, where evidently your status in life comes from your ability to coordinate all of your articles of clothing with that of your shoes, who said Texas was a whole other country? So needless to say when it comes to anything creative I leave that up to someone else, but I will tell you what I have learned in this ever changing spectrum of chaos we call marketing.
First of all, we are all salespeople and one thing will never change about the average salesperson…we are lay-downs. That’s right, the weakest salesperson in the world can sell me a Fossil watch for the money of a Rolex all because, well, it kind of looks like one and I have the money and he did such a good job selling it to me (he put it on your wrist and told you to “live rich, don’t die rich”). I didn’t even bother to check and see that it didn’t match my shoes! So, don’t take everything that comes your way as the “next best thing in automotive marketing” and buy it. You know what I’m talking about. Remember that phone book cover that some gorgeous blonde (not me) told you would generate thousands of opportunities and thousands in profit. Yeah, I bought it too, but then realized that I generally don’t take the time to look on the cover of a phone book to find a car dealership. I look inside the big yellow thing under “Automotive Dealers”, much like the rest of civilization. Simply speaking, think these things through. What are your customers actually looking at? What are they reading? Where are they going? What will they see when they get there and how can you get your name in front of their face whenever possible?

Name recognition is what everyone in the marketplace should be after, but most don’t go the extra step to sell something in their marketing. When I say the word hamburger, what do you think? McDonald’s? More than likely. Why? The people at McDonald’s are marketing geniuses. In my college marketing classes we did a study on McDonald’s. We all know that they are the number one seller of hamburgers in the world, but did you know they are the number one sellers of Pancakes, Chicken, Coca Cola and toys? That’s right toys. They sell more toys than any major toy retailer in the world. They have a massive yet concentrated effort that ensures that either by radio, TV, internet, or road signage that you will see or hear the name McDonald’s at least twice a day. Their marketing strategy is not only to make sure you show up, but to make sure you buy something.

There is a difference between advertising and marketing. Advertising is used to create awareness where marketing is the selling of goods and products. In the car business we should always be marketing. There are three elements to marketing: Creative (not my cup of tea), Media, and Production.

Creative is your message. What are you offering to the consumer to turn them into a buyer? What is your hook? What do you want them to remember about you, but most importantly what do you want them to do in response to your message? What is your call to action? Low interest rates, limited time savings, rebates, whatever it is you have to have that “call to action” in all of your marketing. Have you ever noticed McDonald’s “for a limited time only” turns into a very unlimited time?

Media is where you place your creative genius. You need to OWN something and not just the newspaper. The more you hear something —the more you will remember it. Research your market and find the most profitable way to hit every medium as much as possible for the lowest dollar. We employ an agency in South Dakota to place all of our media. With the time and energy that it takes to market effectively we found it to be a better use of our money (time is money) to let an expert do our marketing.

The third is production. Production is the finished product. You can have the best creative idea, the best placement, but cheap production shows and leads to poor credibility in the marketplace. If you look cheap you are cheap, and I know I won’t buy anything from someone who I believe won’t have the money to take care of me after the sale. Start thinking like your customers.

All of this is pointless unless you know first and foremost, who you want to target with your marketing. We have to know what we are shooting at before we pull the trigger. To do anything else is throwing your money away, and if you are in that habit, it could be better spent on a different hair color for me.

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