Archive for April, 2008

Auto Sales Marketing War: Memorial Day Weekend 2008 (pt. 1)

April 30, 2008

A friend of mine sells TV and radio spots to car dealers.  He told me that business is pouring in from every corner of his market.  Auto Dealers are really concerned about this year’s Memorial Weekend sales.  He has shared as much as he could without violating confidentiality agreements, and let me just say this just might be the roughest year yet. 

What has surprised me most is the strategy that most of these dealers are using: the same old lost leader four days only type of message.  Oh, don’t forget the, “Only at ABC Motors” tag at the end.  Think about this, if the average customer in a typical PMA hears an average of twelve ads from five different dealers, all saying basically the same thing, and all saying that it’s only at their dealership, then the only message that really gets through is that this weekend would be a good one to buy a car because everyone is having some sort of special sale!  Is that the message that dealers really want to get out to the buying public?

Well, I’m not in TV and radio, so maybe there’s something I’m missing.  Perhaps dealers want to create a general buzz out there and compete for business from the showroom floor level; sort of like fishing.  I guess from my perspective this idea just doesn’t sound like the smartest way to do things.  To me it seems that dealers should operate much more efficiently than this.  I agree that dealers should spend money on TV and radio to promote their brand and location over a long period of time, but when you begin to exploit the lifeblood of your future reputation in exchange for a short-term gain, it jeopardizes the effectiveness of a perpetual continuance of the TV and radio medium, therefore lessening its efficiency – seemingly intentional.  Unfortunately, there is an invisible terminal point of hyper-exploitation that when ultimately crossed, the effects are fatal. 

Many automotive advertising agencies are just as blind to this as dealers.  The agencies that are aware of this are so sales-driven that they are convinced that “what is ethical” is doing whatever it takes to continue to make sales – even if it means withholding pertinent information from their clients (auto dealers) necessary to their success.  That’s exactly how my buddy is.  When I asked him if he told his clients how many radio and TV spots are being sold for Memorial Weekend 2008 to several competitors in a PMA, he said no.  I can’t use his exact expression for fear of giving away his recognizable identity, but let’s just say that he revealed his preference for his own paycheck over his clients’ success.

For me, my paycheck is based on my clients’ success, so they’re hand-in-hand.  It’s too hard to chase after new business these days, so I’d rather keep my current book as happy as a pig in mud.  Contrast that with my TV and radio buddy.  I showed him what I was doing for dealers this Memorial Day Weekend and his reaction was one of fear.  I ran it past him to see if any of his clients could use it instead of the over-saturated TV and radio, and rather than do what’s right, he refused to show it to his dealers and trusted that he would force dealers to buy his snake-oil. 

When he and I did a side-by-side cost analysis and comparison (on his laptop using his company’s software program), he openly agreed and conceded that my Memorial Day Weekend program would benefit dealers substantially better than his.  So I asked him why he wouldn’t do his good clients a favor and run mine past them at least out of courtesy, he answered that he didn’t want to give up any business.  I replied to him that this would keep them on board because it would prove to them that he had their best interests in mindSince his brain isn’t wired with the capacity to comprehend such a concept as that, he had a glossed over look in his eyes and began looking over my shoulder, scanning the room for the waitress (we were in a local bar and grill here in OC)!  One of the major drawbacks of Orange County is that it is filled with “dudes” like that.  Anyhow, I think I’ve made my point.

Since this blog is an outlet for me to vent as well as update, I thought today I would vent an update and kill two boyd’s with one stone!  One, to report that TV and radio has been way oversold this Memorial Day Weekend, and two, that my Memorial Day Weekend 2008 auto sales promotion is going to make me famous with the dealers I run with that aren’t being shepherded by ’08 BMW driving Orange County Advertising Agents with iced-water in their veins and the conscience of a mercenary.  OK, there, I said it!  And, NO, I won’t share it online.  If you want to see it, you need to request it here.  There are already way too many clues in this post.

Urgent Notice: Auto Dealers

April 29, 2008

Our Research and Development Team is about to release an exclusive marketing product for auto dealersThe release will not be public.  Beta testing has been far beyond successful, and the product is in the final stages of adjustments and fine tuning.  The only way that dealers will be able to see this product is by request.  If you are not on the Platinum Update list, click here and request for your dealership to be added.

There is no commitment or purchase necessary to receive Platinum Update’s.  The list is only an outgoing update service that informs you of what’s hot and what’s not; what’s true and what’s new

To receive the new product brochure, click here and request to be added to the Platinum Update list.  You can opt-out at any time.  This will be your only notice!

INSIDER’S TIP: Automotive Direct Mail that is Working Right Now

April 21, 2008

Note: This Insider’s Tip is brought to you by John Greenleaf, Director of Marketing and Dealer Support, Hill Marketing Group, Orange CA. 

I just wanted to bring you a quick update from within the automotive direct mail industry.  This insider’s tip is to let you know what is working at this very moment. 

1) Gorilla Saturation! This is the type of direct mail that is used by staffed event companies that guarantee $300k in gross. These pieces have the nature of appealing to the broadest audience possible and can pull close to one thousand ups over a four day weekend. Pricing starts at $0.29 each, making them the most affordable and cost-efficient direct marketing tool available to dealers today! Click here to learn more.

2) Pre-Qualified Credit Offers! These pieces are designed to appeal to the buyer that has less-than-perfect credit. These buyers’ near-prime credit rating give you the advantage of discussing their credit history with them, enabling your staff with the necessary leverage to make great grossing car deals. Most programs come with a 24/7 call center to take incoming calls and set appointments. These programs have recently been reported as generating up to 6% response rates, resulting in 25-30 units delivered per 5000 dropped. Click here to learn more.

3) Title-Swap & Conquest! This is an amazing tool for dealers looking to penetrate an otherwise impossible PMA. The secret is in the mailing list. You can pick who you want your mailer to go to, based on make, model, beginning and ending model year, and zip code. In other words, you can select all 2001 to 2005 Ford Trucks (F150, Ranger, Explorer, Expedition, etc.) within 30 miles of your store (regardless of where it was originally purchased) and send buyback letters, fleet letters, cash assistance offers, etc., all addressed to the owner, including his/her vehicle (Attn: John Doe, Re: your 2003 Ford Explorer). This is like the old DMV list prior to the Shelby Act.  Click here to learn more.

These three angles are helping dealers all across the country weather the storm of an unstable economy.  If you are currently experiencing the effects of a declining market and want to do something about it, I suggest that you at least look into these three options.