Posts Tagged ‘Auto Dealers’

When Will The Credit Freeze End?

October 8, 2008

Many Auto Dealers are hopeful that lenders will loosen up on their restrictions soon and begin making auto loans to their secondary (Sub-Prime) applicants once again. Perhaps they are counting on the $700 Billion Bail Out, or perhaps they have confidence in some of the recent acquisitions made by larger financial institutions.

The hopeful outlook is in stark contrast to the feedback I received from dealers last month after the announcement of HSBC and Triad’s decision to discontinue making loans through auto dealers and focus on other markets. Cindy Savio, spokesperson for HSBC said, “The auto finance business has been under strategic review for some time…Our exit from the business will allow HSBC Finance Corp. to focus on its core businesses – credit cards and mortgage lending.”

Jack Tracey, executive director of the National Automotive Finance Association said, “HSBC’s departure leaves a hole for the dealer community that seeks to finance customers with less-than-perfect credit…That leaves fewer options for dealers in an environment where other lenders who are left are tightening credit.” (source: Automotive News, Aug. 12, 2008)

Many dealers have felt the breeze created by that hole and have had to turn away consumers that they could have easily converted into sales the month before. I noticed a decrease in orders for my bankruptcy mailers which I see as just a ripple-effect of these sub-prime auto lenders pulling out of the auto lending market. Some of my clients have had to actually postpone scheduled mail drops for sub-prime direct mail orders simply because they felt that they would not be able to provide financing for consumers that responded to my aggressive credit offers.

But since HSBC serviced approximately 7,500 auto dealers and Triad serviced about 5,000, when it became public that they informed their dealers that they would no longer provide auto loans, other lenders seized the opportunity and contacted these dealers vowing to fill the sub-prime auto lending hole.

With obvious caution and skepticism, dealers took the wait and see approach and slowly began to submit applications that HSBC and Triad normally would have received. Once they began to see approvals and actually got funded with little or no hassle at all, their confidence began to grow and it is my opinion that this is where their hope is grounded.

I say this to rebut the mass media’s claim that the U.S. automotive industry is severe trouble. I’ll grant that there are many difficulties, but as we saw a major GM dealer close its doors last week we also saw it reopen the next day under new ownership. This is clearly the case of one man’s failure being another man’s opportunity.

Confidence in the U.S. automotive sales industry goes against the media’s scare tactics that are seeping with political overtones (which I’ll not get into here), so it’s no wonder that the general report is one that is “all-bad.” But I am still receiving orders for direct mail, and these orders are substantially larger in volume than they were a few months ago. I believe that I am a good barometer for market conditions because I only exist if auto dealers use my services, and guess what??? They are.

In closing I quote the prolific “Public Enemy” – “Don’t, don’t, don’t believe the hype!”

Auto Dealership Closes Its Doors Due To Great Depression Like Economy

October 1, 2008

How many times have we read that headline this year? Let it be known that absolutely none of Hill Marketing’s automotive direct marketing and automotive direct mail clients have gone out of business. Our clients are happy, selling cars, and increasing their advertising budget.

Why? Because we are the professionals to trust when it comes to bringing consumers into auto dealerships, even in uncertain economical environments. I can’t stress this enough – Hill Marketing keeps dealers in business! If you’re having trouble with numbers due to economic uncertainty, then you need to do some business with us.

Welcome Automotive Sales & Marketing Newsletter Visitors

September 16, 2008

If you are here because of the link in the latest Hill Marketing Automotive Sales & Marketing Newsletter, then please accept our warm welcome and invitation to browse our site. You will find many informative articles on automotive direct mail, auto sales indutry news, marketing and advertising, sales training, and more.

We only publish quality content related to automotive direct mail that is designed to create traffic at your location so that you can increase your auto sales.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us…

Oversized Key Mailers – One Way to Win Big This Fall

September 4, 2008

Imagine walking into a high-schooler’s bedroom and seeing a poster of their favorite rock star or athlete on the wall. The size of that poster would be about the same size as our giant key mailer. Imagine taking it off the wall, folding it in half, then folding it in half again. Then imagine stuffing it into a 9″X12″ flat magazine envelope like what your Sports-Illustrated-type of magazine is mailed in. Now replace the rock star or athlete image on the poster with the most aggressive double sided auto sales copy and tape a high-quality key to it. The picture in your mind represents the reality that thousands of customers will experience when you sign up for Hill Marketing’s assorted line of giant key mailers!

With low prices and the largest response rates, Hill Marketing’s giant key mailers become one menu item that dealers cannot afford to pass on. Historically, Fall is the best time to run key mailers, and many of dealers will be doing that beginning this month (Sept.). Gas prices are down, Back to School is out of the way, and consumers have finally returned to the market to inquire about purchasing a vehicle. Many will buy on their own. But only a proactive campaign will bring them to your store to buy from you. Get on the phone and set one of these up today. Most importantly, don’t do anything until first checking what Hill Marketing has to offeryou won’t regret it!

P.S. An amazing lead-generating, vehicle selling tool is our newest line of bankruptcy products. If you can finance fresh bankruptcies then you need to do this. Ridiculous results are being reported at this very moment!

Why Some Auto Dealers Survive While Others Go Out of Business

August 20, 2008

We’re halfway through Q3 and we are approaching the final stages of planning Q4. Certain industry factors have left some craters in the wake, but the moon-walking automotive direct marketer feels at home in such conditions. Let me explain.

Soaring fuel prices and economic uncertainty led to a sharp decline in U.S. auto sales in general, but truck and SUV sales in particular suffered the most. At this point there’s no need to recap this summer’s auto sales woes, but add in the stricter lending guidelines and loss of lease business, and we can say with assurance that the “car business” is hurting right now.

But from our perspective, our interaction with U.S. auto dealerships and what is being reported in the national media do not necessarily match up. For example, earlier this month a Hyundai dealer in Tennessee did a 5,000 piece targeted direct mailer, and from the first half (2,500) they got 36 responses (1.44%), which isn’t bad. It’s above industry average, and it yielded double digit sales. But there’s nothing too special about that (our direct mail has been called the best in the business, and over 90% of our programs have performed in this manner for over three straight years!).

The amazing thing is that with a tweak in the data for the remaining 2,500 pieces, the dealer got 175 responses (6.99%) and is still selling units to this day from the mailer we sent out! In the end, the dealer will probably end up with 30 or 40 retail deliveries. This is in addition to the traffic produced by other advertising mediums and daily walk-ins. This dealer will gross over $100k from a dinky little 5,000 piece Hill Marketing mailer; just one of the reasons our clients love us so much!

On the other end of the spectrum is a Dodge dealer in NC. Only the man that has been hiding under a rock in a dark cave isn’t aware of the ultra-suffering and hemorrhaging that Dodge dealers have had to endure this summer. But as a Hill Marketing client, this Dodge dealer has had a steady flow of quality traffic from our mailers. We got a call at the beginning of the month and the dealer “TRIPLED” their normal amount of direct mail (they run with us every month).

Now, why would a Dodge dealer triple their amount of direct mail? Our answer: because our mailers out-perform anything else on the market! This Dodge dealer is enjoying over 3% response rates and is not firing salespeople, rather, hiring more! Try to tell this Dodge dealer that the market is soft and he’ll laugh at you. His salespeople and F & I team will average over $10k on this month’s paycheck – because they’re selling units with good grosses.

Another example would be a GM dealer in Louisiana that runs our mailer religiously. In the midst of all the trepidation they are laughing all the way to the bank enjoying a 3.74% response rate from Hill Marketing direct mail.

Then there’s a Texas dealer that can’t stop putting in orders for our direct mail. He’s a Chevy store, and he uses us multiple times per month (anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 pieces). For over a year we have been providing direct mail for this dealer, and in his eyes, we’re his hero.

So it is with a major San Antonio dealer (tough market). We’re the ace in the hole for them because we’re the only direct mail provider that can get 5.34% response rates! To a bunch of savvy car people, leads are of essential importance. That is why the GM down there picks up the phone and calls Hill Marketing and orders direct mail from us – every month.

Anyone can say anything online. That’s just the way it is. So if you’re a dealer reading this and are considering doing direct mail but think I’m lying, do like they did at one point and call me and ask for references. The above referenced real life cases have been informed of this article and are willing to take reference inquiries. Nothing beats a real life testimonial from a peer, and now is your chance to check things out. Q4 will be here soon, and there’s still time to book Q3 events.

It’s either that or you’ll just keep reading about other’s success!



John Greenleaf

Marketing Director

Hill Marketing Group

(866) 572-4861 ext. 4127


August 13, 2008

I’m not sure if this is considered “classified information,” but I have been told by three different GM dealers (in different regions) that on the 19th of this month GM plans to launch what they are calling “THE BIGGEST SALE IN 100 YEARS!”

We don’t know what it’s going to be yet, but as soon as we do, we’ll let you know. So if you’re a GM dealer, then you probably don’t need to use us for the rest of August. But if you aren’t a GM dealer, then you need to worry about market share.

This will be a ripe time to mail since auto buying will be on the mind, producing a consumer “monkey see monkey do” environment.

In our Hill Marketing office we play a radio in the background all day long. Today I have already heard several mentions of GM products from the DJ, not an advertisement, in between the songs. Someone’s getting paid!!!

Stay tuned, I’ll let you know as soon as I hear what this “BIGGEST SALE IN 100 YEARS” is all about.

Automotive Direct Mail Firing On All Cylinders

August 6, 2008

Since most automotive direct mail campaigns have a “hit-n-miss” component that sneaks up and appears when it’s least expected, a celebratory boasting is warranted whenever a solid run emerges. This latest string of successful automotive direct mail campaigns stretches back to the middle of March (of this year). The few minor adjustments we’ve made have resulted in a major impact in the overall volume of new and pre-owned sales for the dealers we’ve serviced.

So, if a sudden surge in sales is what you’re looking for, now would be a good time to call. Free consultations are offered between 8am and 4pm (PST). To reserve a free consultation, fill out our contact form completely and you’ll be contacted a.s.a.p. Media Kits with samples, pricing, etc., are available upon request.

No obligation

No purchase necessary

When Every Door Looks Good: A Primer to Contextual Marketing

July 11, 2008

Contents of this article:

1. See Jane Dream

2. See Jane’s Mind

3. Meet Jane

4. Sell Jane

1. See Jane Dream:

Behind her are six paths to her future. Each path is represented by a non-primary color door. From the look on her face we can see that her imagination is contemplating which door to open. Based on her facial expression, her clasped hands in front, and her upward left looking stare, we can know that she is logically calculating the memory of a positive past experience.

2. See Jane’s Mind:

Eyes don’t lie. Ancient proverbs from many cultures in one way or another acknowledge that the eyes are windows to the soul. A trained body language expert would be able to analyze Jane’s body position and conclude with scientific precision what she is psychologically experiencing “inside her head.” Experts agree that up-left eye-movement indicates the visualization of a “remembered image” or “experience.” Whereas an up-right eye movement indicates the [creative] construction of an idea, image, or concept. Since Jane is looking up-left, we can conclude that although she has many unknown futures through the doors behind her, she finds more comfort and security interpreting those unknown future opportunities in light of her past positive experiences. This is a shocking discovery; a marketing and advertising breakthrough in anthropological research. And until robots become our customers, we need to understand people much better than our current advertising methods indicate.

3. Meet Jane:

Jane is a 28 year old dental assistant that makes $40k/year.  She lives with a roommate and she recently upgraded her wireless plan online to unlimited text messaging, and visited a few dealer sites just to get the flavor of what’s out there in case she ever wanted to trade in her ’04 Matrix.  Many women want to be her and most men want to be with her.  She represent the culture-at-large and guess what, she would rather stay home exfoliating than deal with a car salesman (type). One more fact about Jane, she’ll buy a new car this summer from someone.

Sell Jane:

In order to sell Jane, Jane must feel like she’s buying. In other words, unless she feels that she is self-initiating the buying process; all attempts to advertise to her will simply be ignored and dismissed as irrelevant. The trick here is finding a way to proactively foster enough of an influence on her so that when she responds, she does so in such a way that she considers on her own terms.

If she feels corralled and cornered, she will interpret the situation in light of a positive past experience and you will end up in her mind-space reserved for negative experiences inefficiency and overall ineffectiveness.

In just a few short words, I’d like to debunk the myth of feminine design as well as warn of the long-term dangers. Women are less likely to respond to feminine design, and are more likely to appreciate transparency. If you can get them to appreciate your transparency (i.e. up front price, etc.), then they are most likely to respond. Don’t put the cart before the horse! If they feel like you’re trying to treat them differently because they’re women, that’s a good enough reason for suspicion.

In today’s media, your mailers can’t look like everyone else’s. The same old tired pieces you’ve been running is the same as everyone else, and it no longer works. If you want to be noticed, your mailers have to be fresh, different, and inspiring. That is why Hill Marketing is currently designing 80 brand new, fresh and exciting mailers. Today, we must look different, talk different, think different, and sell different. Since the retail car business (at best) is always about six years behind the times when it comes to trends, technology, and marketing philosophy, Hill Marketing is dedicating to revolutionizing automotive direct mail by creating copy that competes with Verizon, Microsoft, Apple, Vonage, etc. Industry experts have predicted that Hill Marketing will lead the charge in saving the direct mail industry.

The same old thing you have been doing is the same as everybody else, and it no longer works. To be noticed, you’re advertising needs to be fresh and different.

Sarah black and white

Sarah black and white

Sarah Gundry is Creative Coordinator and Research Professional for Hill Marketing Group in Orange, CA. Her experience and background in studying the philosophic turn to postmodernism and its direct relation to contemporary marketing and advertising makes her a valuable contribution to the team at Hill Marketing Group. She is currently participating in the contextual marketing think tank established by John Greenleaf and will be featured as a prominent speaker in upcoming seminars and conferences.

Meeting the Challenge of Automotive Direct Mail and Online Marketing

June 11, 2008

Rock and Hard PlaceAuto Dealers are truly between a rock and a hard place (see image of auto dealer to the left). On the one hand, they know that good direct mail works, and on the other hand they know that some good online marketing works too. This forces some dealers into having to make a decision because since neither is free, and since most dealers don’t have an unlimited advertising budget, most stores will be able to only utilize one or the other. But if the decision needs to be made, which should they pick?

First, let’s take a quick look at some of the features of each that make them successful. Then we will consider a proposed solution of integrating the two and synthesizing the successful features of both direct mail and online marketing.

Automotive Direct Mail: There isn’t a conceivable scenario in which direct mail can become obsolete all together for the automotive industry. Think about this, if everyone decided to stop doing it, it would create an open market with no competition and before you know it everyone would be mailing again. Unless some kind of law or restriction on who can mail what is legislated, direct mail isn’t going anywhere and will still remain one of the more preferable means of automotive advertising.

Successful Features of Direct Mail: 

  • Delivery is straight to prospect in the home
  • Tangible means that can not only be seen, but felt, handled, etc.
  • Direct Mail is received and reviewed at a specific time of day allocated for such things as opening and reading mail
  • Variable printing makes offer personalized
  • Control of geographic distribution
  • Results are immediate compared to other means

Online Marketing: This can be a broad descriptive category, but for our purposes here we will limit the term to include email blasts, third-party leads, SEO, microsites, and spots. This medium has potentially unlimited possibilities and is limited only by the imagination of the developers. It is obviously inevitable that the day will soon come when a nationwide de-sensitization of internet users will lead to the ignoring of such ads that say, “Click Here For A Free Vehicle Delivered To Your Home!” With so many unlimited opportunities for marketers online, internet users are quickly becoming aware of scams, tricks, and “specials” that are perceived as over-promising and under-delivering. The skill for online marketers will be in separating dealer ads from the rest of the online ads that users will become conditioned to viewing as literally invisible.

Successful Features of Online Marketing: 

  • Large audience is online
  • Internet is used for research
  • Prospects prefer internet to respond online vs. calling toll-free
  • User controls the pace online
  • Internet is interactive

These highlighted features of the two mediums of direct mail and online marketing provide a framework for us to explore the consideration of a synthesis of the two. This consideration is what led to the development of Hill Marketing’s progressive line of automotive marketing tools. We have masterfully produced colorful customized mail pieces that maximize personalization while providing customer response options both by toll-free numbers as well as online.

The toll-free number doesn’t need explanation at this point, so I want to take a look at the call-to-action response online option. In addition to top-performing direct mail design, prospects are provided with a website to visit that contains their name in the url. This is bound to get their attention and worst case, due to sheer curiosity, provoke them to visit the site online. This transition from direct mail to online is prompted by the prospect’s own personal name in the url on the mailer. Example, if the prospect’s name is John Greenleaf, his mailer will have a url in big letters that says: Hey John, be sure to visit to get your personalized message from ABC motors.

When the prospect logs on to his personalized url, he will find a customized landing page that is designed to look like the direct mail design. This maintains the theme of the campaign and immediately strikes familiarity on the subconscious level of the prospect’s mind. The customizable, personal landing page will have a personal message in the prospect’s name and will correspond with any other pertinent information.

The landing page will feature an interactive section where the prospect will be able to fill out a form with survey and comment box. This landing page, due to the specific route the prospect used to get there, can employ many of the great tricks of the internet such as, “As soon as you complete the form below, you will be eligible to win one of the following prizes!”

The prizes will be the same prizes that are used in standard direct mail, the biggest difference is that instead of having to visit the dealership to become eligible to win, all the prospect has to do is visit his personal website from the convenience of his leisure. This will substantially increase response rates and allow dealers to capture valuable information that direct mail could never do.

For instance, the survey on the landing page can determine whether the prospect owns or leases, whether they will be in the market in the next 30 days, 4-6 months, over 1 year, or over 2 years, whether they prefer new or used, etc., as well as whatever comments the prospect wishes to submit. Over time, the data captured here can become the dealers most valuable list, and the web traffic to this page can far exceed the dealer’s own website, virtual showroom, online inventory, etc.

We will also offer a customizable “Thank You” page upon exiting that can offer a link to dealer website along with any message desired. We will also provide dealers with a stat page that tracks all the action (traffic activity) that the mailer generates. This comprehensive statistics page is a great tool for managers to follow-up with on leads given to the sales staff.

Now, I have leaked just about enough information to scratch the surface of the intelligent person’s curiosity. If you don’t get it, yet, you will soon – but probably in the mail from a rival competitor. What we have accomplished is the perfect balance between direct mail and online marketing without raising the investment one would have to make for a very inexpensive direct mailer. For samples and more information, or to quickly set something up at your store, click here and we’ll send you our media kit.

Automotive Direct Mail: Recent Results and “Across the Board” Averages

June 9, 2008

This is a record of eight recent sales events I did using automotive direct mail. I will list the response rate, dealership location (State), and an “across the board” average for a hard number on our automotive direct mail performance! 

  • 3.39% – TX
  • 2.50% – TX
  • 1.74% – TN
  • 2.22% – TX
  • 1.72% – AL
  • 4.95% – NH
  • 2.72% – OH
  • 2.04% – NC

The combined “across the board” average is 2.65% response rate. These do not include responses that circumvented the process in which leads are logged. We can reasonably add at least a half percent in non-logged responses, bringing our “across the board” average to an (unconfirmed) 3.15%ON AUTOMOTIVE DIRECT MAIL!

Do you see now how I can unashamedly boast of having the TOP-PERFORMING automotive direct mail products in the country? How is your mail company doing?