Internet Advertising and My Marketing Plan

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Todd Swickard - Also by this author

Before you start reading too far into this article, you have to recognize the Internet as part of your advertising budget and not just a lead source.
If you agree, then read on because we have some great ideas. If not, please feel free to rip this article from the magazine and use it for toilet paper in your cave.
Now let’s take a serious look at how your marketing budget can work with the Internet. The ad industry would have you believe using eight percent to 10 percent of your marketing budget for Internet marketing is acceptable. I have to disagree.

Let’s take a look at what this type of advertising does for your business compared to other media types, and you can be the judge.

Advertising online brings people to your Web site. It gives them an opportunity to view your inventory, find your contact information and interact with you in multiple ways. Your conventional advertising gives you exposure—but is it to the people really looking for it? Is it so different from everyone else out there? Let’s break down ad mediums and compare them to online:
Conventional Media Online Media
TV – People see your business. You get 30 or 60 seconds to tell your story over and over again. With the sheer number of television choices it becomes hard to pick the audience you want to reach. You are calling them to action, hopefully to pick up the phone, “Come down and see us today,” or “visit our website.”

Major drawbacks: Expensive to produce and run. Low retention.
Network television is one of the biggest losers compared to online media. The biggest reason is it’s easier to get a call to action online, cheaper to run and definitely easier to target. With more and more online tools available each day you can produce digital quality ads for a fraction of the cost.

Major Drawbacks: Doesn’t reach every household and still not able to transmit video quickly.
Radio – Great for promotions and grabbing people in that drive time. Over time radio will struggle to compete and demographically will fall prey to online media campaigns. For a while, some stations ran promos for business with the tagline: “Radio gets Results”. If that is true then tell us how you are measuring it.

Major Drawbacks: Hard to track. Only able to capture larger audiences at given times. Only uses one of the five senses.
Online media beats radio in results. Radio beats many mediums in the sense that you get frequency of your ad but it cannot compete with the online frequency. Promoting live is always great if people are listening to the radio that morning and it’s definitely tough to promote live online. However online you don’t have worry about CDs, XM radio, memory presets or distractions, like road rage!

Major Drawbacks: Hard to recreate a Wolfman Jack online.
Billboards – Attracting those who drive by (sometimes five or six times a day). Billboards to me are money pits. Unless you are telling them: “Get off at this exit.” Save your money and buy a boat. At least with a boat you can take it out every once in a while.

Major drawbacks: Limited reach, terrible tracking, and expensive.
Online Marketing is like having a billboard on a highway that only has car buyers. Your Internet billboard gives them a choice to get off at your exit and shop your entire dealership….sales, service, parts, body shop, etc. The Internet is the only place where you can create traffic jams that are a good problem.

Major Drawback: A radio DJ can’t hang out five stories up and raise money.
Direct Mail – Getting warmer on the results side of it. Direct mail pieces give you the ability to target a place, age, gender, homeowner and wealth. Now all you have to do is pray that they open it. Online marketing is what direct mail always aspired to be as it was growing up. With online advertising you can target and track results. The big difference is the cost. Online can do it for a fraction of the cost and many times – FREE.
Internet advertising isn’t the silver bullet in your marketing plan. Your monthly efforts should include a little bit of everything and exploit the things the work. Many dealers and companies regard online advertising as something other than serious, powerful advertising and that is a mistake. It is proven that online adverting has a large Return on Investment, lower “cost per unit”, lower lead costs, and is fully trackable. Considering that more than half of all car shoppers in the U.S. use the Internet to gather information prior to making their purchase, it seems logical that dealers could only see Search Engine Online Advertising as one of the most powerful, target specific, cost effective tools available. So much for logic!

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