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

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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.

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2 Responses to “Auto Sales Marketing War: Memorial Day Weekend 2008 (pt. 1)”

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