Posts Tagged ‘Auto Sales’

February Temperatures Heat Up As Auto Dealers Capitalize on Toyota’s Woes

February 4, 2010

As a direct marketing professional, I keep track of the causes behind the peaks and valleys of the automotive industry. For example, since my livelihood depends on the advertising dollars dealers spend on a monthly basis, I generally “feel” the impact in a personal and unique way. When the economy began to spiral downward, I noticed a sharp decrease in my orders for credit-related mailers. Dealers complained that their lenders were turning down many of the sub-prime loan applications they normally would approve, and because of that they were not able to justify paying me to send credit offers to bankruptcy lists, low credit score lists, etc. Well, in a similar way, I “feel” it when things turn the other way too!

Most recently, in light of the national negative publicity Toyota has received, many auto dealers (non-Toyota) have seized on their opportunity to capitalize and are winning as their gamble is paying high dividends. Here’s what’s going on:

Non-Toyota dealers are ordering all of the Toyota owners in their market from our Title List. They are sending them buyback letters and other offers, and local Toyota owners are flocking in to trade out of their Toyotas because they no longer want to drive them! In fact, just yesterday (2/3/10) Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood uttered the non nationally-broadcasted statement that received the highest level of media blitz:

At a congressional hearing, LaHood said his advice to an owner of a recalled Toyota would be to “stop driving it. Take it to a Toyota dealer because they believe they have a fix for it.” His comments prompted new questions and rattled Toyota stockholders, causing shares to plunge 8 percent before they recovered, declining 6 percent for the day.

Then, just this morning (2/4/10), a suspected problem with the brakes on the Toyota Prius (not included in original recall) has led to a national recall too! My intention is not to kick a man when he’s down, but do you realize the potential this brings to ANY non-Toyota store?

If you are intelligent enough to put two and two together, then let’s get rollin’ and put together a serious mailer and send it to all the Toyota owners in your market. You may not ever have another chance at this type of business again. It’s literally a plug-n-play market right now – mail them your offer and they’ll come in and buy. It doesn’t get any simpler!

Use our contact form, call, or email me at

And please, non-Toyota franchised dealers only. Thanks.

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…

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


August 4, 2008

With Factory leasing no longer being an option for many dealers, a peek into the old marketing trick bag could be well worth the time. Our turnkey direct mail programs are virtually plug-n-play. If you’re ready for a big pay day, then browse our featured programs below. Every one of these programs will be available in August, 2008.

 1. Severe Traffic Builders (for emergency situations)

  • Giant Key Mailers – 17X22 full color w/$50k in prizes (recent events include 54 units sold off 30k pieces). Prices starting at only $0.79 (30kp).
  • Gigantic 9X12 Jumbo Postcard w/high quality key affixed. Full color double-sided key mailer on card stock w/multiple prizes. Prices starting at $0.69 (50kp).
  • Giant 11X17 Tri-Fold Saturation Key Mailer. Double-Sided full color on 80lb. gloss w/high-quality key taped to inside panel. Multiple prizes to drive traffic. Prices start at $0.69 (50kp).
  • All Key mailers are fully insured for prizes: 1) $25,000 in cash, 2) Vehicle giveaway ($20k), 3) 42″ Plasma TV, 4) 4-Wheeler ATV, 5) $100 in cash. For additional saturation traffic builders, call or email us for samples and prices.

2. Title List Mailers (for targeted trade-ins for pre-owned inventory)

  • Mail the piece of your choice to our title list that catalogues current owner with the current vehicle at the current address. With variable data printing, mailers can reference the owner’s name as well as vehicle. This is an insider’s secret that every successful dealer is using below the radar. Great for toggling between dealer database and title list. Best for buyback and conquest. Highly effective, no nonsense mailing list.

3. Pre-Screened Credit Offers (for high-gross sales)

  • US Capital MasterCard Credit Sale. This piece is a pre-screened credit offer backed by a real auto lender (you can switch financing) that has an actual US Capital MasterCard affixed to the piece. This extremely official looking piece generates a large volume of credit applications by pre-screened Beacon-filtered customers interested in obtaining an immediate auto loan. All events are exclusive and customer must physically appear at dealer location to take delivery. Prices start at $1.39 (10kp) and $1.59 (5kp). Larger volume discounts are available. Price includes first class postage, credit data from TU/XPN/EFX, toll free # with IVR/CRM and 24/7 call center and appointment setting.
  • Live Check Mailers – Send pre-screened credit offers to qualified prospects in your market area. Piece includes a funding check already made payable to your dealer. All customer has to do is register online or call IVR to secure funding code. Then they walk live check into your dealership and you match their credit approval with a vehicle from your inventory. Strong advances such as 120% of MSRP or retail blue book makes it easy to roll no money down deals, or absorb negative trade equity. Prices as low as $1.29 (10kp) and $1.57 (5kp). Great grosses are continually reported.
  • Credit Mailers are best for dealers with strong finance departments. The above programs allow dealer to use any lender they choose. No demand for first right of refusal are ever made. Dealers have total freedom and are never restricted or boxed in.

4. Ongoing Lead Programs (for Spec-Fi depts.)

  • Current top-rated lead program is our BKLeadXpress, a daily BK trigger program that sends US Capital MasterCard mailers to every discharged BK the same day it is discharged. This program focuses on the customer’s need to establish positive post-bankruptcy credit to enhance their future credit rating. Using your auto loan as the catalyst, this program makes a strong run at every discharged bankruptcy in your market area and gives them strong reasons why they should buy a vehicle from you right now instead of waiting for their credit to get better first. Program requires dealers that have lenders to finance fresh discharged BK’s with as little as $2,000 down payment with strong employment history.  
  • Facts: 37% of consumers purchase a vehicle within the first 30 days of their discharge. 70% of consumers will purchase a vehicle within 90 days of their discharged bankruptcy. These “ready-to-buy” prospects are the hottest commodity in the Special Finance world, and they’re available immediately upon set-up.  
  • Depending on size of dealership and aptitude of Special Finance manager, one time investment is approximately $2500 to $3500 for 6 to 8 months worth of leads. Manifest with phone numbers are sent daily to dealer for immediate phone follow up prior to mailer’s in home date. Ample opportunities await the sales and finance professional with auto lenders to buy this paper.

 5. Internet Lead Services and Online Applications (disc.)

  • Due to the highly frivolous, unscrupulous, and fraudulent nature of many lead providers and their leads, we have indefinitely discontinued offering internet leads to our clients. Our reputation is too valuable to blow for a quick buck, and so we give internet leads away for free to dealers that we do business with. Whether it be 12 leads or 496 leads, we do not charge for them nor do we stand behind them as authentic or exclusive. We apologize if this hurts anyone’s feelings, but our long-term outlook on our business always takes precedent over short-term profit. Our decision is final.

Media Kits, samples, and price cards are available upon request. Just email or call and request.

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.

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.