Article

Hitting The Bulls-Eye: Effectively Targeting Your Market

January 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Rob Anderson - Also by this author

Marketing is a lot like playing darts; even if you don’t hit the bull’s-eye every time you can still win with the most points. Most dealers know their target market and who they want to speak with to increase sales. The goal is to continually aim for the bull’s-eye.

The first step in hitting your target market is to walk a mile in their shoes, at least figuratively. Where do they live? What do they do? How do they spend discretionary income? All of these things are key indicators toward how they will make a big ticket purchase, like an automobile.

Bull’s-eye marketing is about locating your best prospects. It is the treasure hunt. Only, most of the time, you don’t have a map. You can start mapping by looking at your key marketing and support materials, then comparing them to those of your closest competitors. 

Involve key personnel in marketing and advertising decisions by holding monthly Q&A sessions with key staff members. Discuss challenges and opportunities as they see them relating to your target market and core customers. During these sessions, determine which target market has the most growth potential, so you can allocate resources more effectively.

I find nothing more valuable than talking to dealers to understand the individuals behind the leads we generated for them. This same exercise can be practiced within a dealership to make necessary shifts in advertising on a monthly basis. You should be doing the same thing on your local level. Your loyal men and women on the front lines can be doing more market research than you can imagine—right now, today.

The next step is to understand your customer. This takes far more exhaustive research than staff meetings, but it is essential. As I mentioned, it all starts with walking a mile in your customer’s shoes. This is a lot easier said than done for most dealers. The best, and the only, way is to attach a direct-response mechanism to all of your advertising. Include a phone number and Web site with 24/7 contact capabilities on every message you send out into the marketplace.

I’m talking about hitting your target from a placement perspective. Most people walk a mile in their customer’s shoes only in terms of their message. Does your message hit home with your target market? I’m suggesting you spend just as much time considering where your target market lives, as compared to the time you spend determining how your message is received. Ask yourself, “Does my audience exist in the print-newspaper world? Does radio make sense for me?”

And the question I ask myself more than any other, “What is the television audience that I need to reach?” You must look at audience shifts and dying mediums. They certainly exist, and many of you are still participating in them.

Find out from your customers where they get their entertainment and editorial content. You may find it is the Internet or satellite radio, when you thought it was something else. Let’s be honest; other than direct mail, we are always trying to weave our marketing message into someone else’s entertainment or editorial format.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone on an inbound sales call, and talk to a customer about their habits. With as much time as most dealers spend with a customer before the sale, a mountain of market research could be accomplished. It’s amazing how much your salespeople learn about your target market when they are in your showroom, but very little of it is integrated into your marketing practices.

Don’t just ask your customers, “How’d you hear about us?” So much more can be accomplished. And, best of all, its absolutely free. You are in the unique position of spending extended periods of time with your customer. Use it wisely. Develop questions that go beyond a table that reads, “How did you find out about us?” with a check box next to newspaper, radio, mail or television.

Ask every customer to complete a true consumer survey. You could give them a prize for doing so, but you probably won’t have to because most people enjoy participating in these things. This also allows you to kill some awkward waiting time in the process. You have a surefire way to walk a mile in your target market’s shoes.

Maybe some of you are doing this already. If so, my suggestion is to take it to the next level. Find out about your target market’s habits. How do they get their news, entertainment, sports and leisure activity? Delivery mediums are changing and dealers are going to have to adapt. My suggestion is to get ahead of the curve, by working even closer with your staff and customers.

Until next time, start asking different questions, and use what you learn to hit the bull’s-eye every time.

Vol 4, Issue 11

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