10 Common Mistakes In Advertising - Part 2

April 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Tom Herald - Also by this author

Last month, I explained the first five common advertising mistakes dealers make (most of which I learned from my own experiences as a dealer).  As promsied, here are mistakes six through 10.  Hopefully you won't have to learn the hardway, as many dealers do.

Mistake #6 Creating Ads Instead of Campaigns:  A single ad can never tell the entire story. The most effective, persuasive and memorable ads are those most like a rhinoceros: They make a single point, powerfully. An advertiser with 17 different things to say should commit to a campaign of at least 17 different ads, repeating each ad enough to stick in the prospect's mind.  So, find a couple of things you do better than the competition and give the prospect a reason to buy.  Hammer those points with a couple of consistent, well placed ads.  Each ad is a battle for the attention of the prospect but the war is in the campaign.  The goal is to win the war one battle at a time. 

Mistake #7 Overconfidence in Target Marketing:  Many advertisers and media professionals grossly overestimate the importance of audience quality as they try to focus on specific demographics.  In reality, saying the wrong thing has killed far more ad campaigns than reaching the wrong people.  It's amazing how many people become "the right people" when you're saying the right thing.  The best description for the car buyer demographic I have heard describes them as “people who can have children.”  It’s regardless of race, income, education, etc…  Most people need a vehicle.  The point is to focus more on the message than the audience or niche and you’ll be surprised by the variety of people who are interested in your dealership.

Mistake #8: Sales Events: A special event should be judged only by its ability to help you more clearly define your market position and substantiate the claims in your ads. If 1 percent of the people who hear your ad for a special event choose to come, you will be in desperate need of a traffic cop and a bus to shuttle people from distant parking lots. Yet your real investment will be in the 99 percent who did not come! What did your ad say to them?

Gimmicks don’t work!  People have been tricked by false claims and overused hurried events that they have become jaded and skeptical of these ads.

Mistake #9 Great Production without Great Copy: Too many car ads today are creative without being persuasive. Slick, clever, funny, creative and different are poor substitutes for informative, believable, memorable and persuasive.  The testimonial infomercial is probably the most effective but takes a lot of media time (and money) to accomplish.  The trunk monkey is perhaps one of the best examples of this point.  Many people remember the commercial but seldom remember the dealer’s name.

Mistake #10 Confusing Response with Results: The goal of advertising is to create a clear awareness of your dealership and its unique selling proposition. Unfortunately, most car dealers evaluate their ads by the comments they hear from the people around them. The slickest, cleverest, funniest, most creative and most distinctive ads are the ones most likely to generate these comments. See the problem? When we confuse response with results, we create attention-getting ads that say absolutely nothing.  Getting attention is only the first step.  The second step is keeping their interest.

Don’t make the same mistakes that other dealers are making.  Learn from these 10 common mistakes and develop advertising that builds the brand of your dealership, creates interest, substantiates your claims and spread your message with the focus on frequency instead of reach.  If your patient and consistent, the customers will hear your message and respond and your advertising will be much more effective in the long run.  If you’ve missed Part 1 of the 10 Common Mistakes in Advertising, you can read it online at

Vol 5, Issue 3

Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email:  



Jim Ziegler
Stupid Is as Stupid Does

By Jim Ziegler
The Alpha Dawg charts the brief rise and long fall of Johan de Nysschen, the recently departed president of Cadillac and author of the business plan that effectively crowned Lincoln as the new king of American luxury.

They Finally Killed Somebody

By Jim Ziegler
Ziegler believes Uber’s directors should face criminal charges for their role in an Arizona woman’s violent death.

20 Things a GM Must Do Every Week

By Jim Ziegler

All Things Must Pass

By Jim Ziegler

Opening Observations

They Took Cadillac for a Ride

By Tariq Kamal
Hindsight is 20/20, but at least one industry member saw GM’s latest mishap coming a mile away.

Stand Up and Be Counted

By Tariq Kamal
The Dealers’ Choice Awards are the Yelp of vendors and finance sources.

Over the Curb

This Is Us: Dealer Edition

By Jason Heard
Heard knows delegation and outsourcing are the quickest path to a work-life balance.