“Cutting through the Bull, advertising that Works!”

A few years ago, we did a seminar titled “Cutting through the Bullshit, advertising that Works,” and it was wildly successful. In the 4 years since, the market has changed quite a bit, and we felt that it was important for us to bring this back into a series of blogs that will help educate dealerships how to better invest their advertising dollars. So, welcome to the first of many blogs!

You know, one of our biggest pet peeves in this business is the self-proclaimed “Digital Guru” who has an opinion about everything, but really offers no legitimate solutions. Then, when you dig down and look at their background, they have minimal, if any, actual experience in what they are talking about. So, it’s important for us to note that what we speak of or write about is from actual experience. This is factual, not theory.

We approach each new client with our Dealership Advertising Hierarchy of Needs and Advertising Priorities, broken down by each element of consumer touchpoints. This list has changed in order and percentage of budgets, but many of the points are still valid.

We’ll start by listing each, and then really break down each of them into much better detail in future blogs.

  1. Website - The first and most important priority is your website. Many of you already know this. Think about the website as your location, your virtual showroom; however, most dealers aren’t thinking about their mobile sites.

    We see anywhere from 66 to 72% of all dealership website visits being on a mobile device. The problem with this is that most OEM-provided websites have a horrible mobile platform and this hinders the performance by quite a bit.

    There are many things you can do with your current website to help your mobile performance, even if they have a poor mobile platform.

    Simple things like:

    • Minimize the number of sliders you currently show on the mobile portion
    • Reduce the amount of videos on your mobile, reduce the overall file sizes
    • Cut the number of fields the prospective customer has to fill out

    We will cover this in much further detail in our Website Performance Blog!

  2. Website Optimization - Ever since Google’s latest Penguin algorithm update, SEO has become so much more important. Especially, if you are on one of the Box Company’s (OEM Provided Website Company) SEO platform, then you might want to check your website’s organic traffic.

    Most of our clients who participated in them have been penalized for having duplicate content. There are ways that our team can find that out. If that’s the case, then your SEO content becomes obsolete and, actually, can hurt you.

    We have a pretty in-depth strategy when it comes to SEO! You’ll find out more in our SEO blog.

  3. Paid Search - Depending on your market, this can be one of the most important pieces of your marketing priorities.

    If you’ve been in the business since the 90s, you’ll probably remember that if you had no presence in newspapers then, you weren’t going to sell any cars. That’s because consumers were conditioned that when in the market for a new car, they had to pick up the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday paper to see what deals were available. Think of it like it was a directory. Paid Search is sort of the same thing. Search is the go-to when it’s shopping time.

    If you think back to those days, you’ll remember your success depended on a few things:

    • Your budget. You needed to be able to invest in the right ad.
    • Your creative messaging. It needed to be believable, convincing, and had to have an expiration on it to get them to act.
    • You needed to price accordingly. If you were advertising higher than everyone else, people saw that and chose not to engage in your store. Your prices didn’t need to be the absolute lowest, just reasonable.

    This is how we approach our Paid Search, by figuring out the appropriate budget for a particular market and utilizing the best bidding software in order to get the biggest bang for your investment dollars.

    Then we focus on the moment of car shopping, and we’ll write customized creative for each moment.

    We know that people will respond to certain creative in different parts of the journey. This is especially true where technology cannot replace people. Depending on what the keywords are and what the copy says, we will send them to corresponding landing pages, which greatly increases your success. This is sort of like an extension of the former newspaper ad.

    When it comes to pricing, we advise our clients on the pricing. Being in line, or a little more aggressive, will definitely increase your success rate here. However, if your model is to price at one hundred and ten percent or higher in the market, we may have to adjust the strategy completely.

    Again, please watch for our Paid Search Blog where we’ll go into further details on this.

  4. Stimulus Media-Both Traditional and Digital Media - How can Traditional and Digital Media be clumped into the same thing? It’s really quite simple. We view online radio, the same as traditional radio, we view video pre-roll, the same as we view television. It’s just significantly more targetable and measurable, but all of it is consumed exactly the same way – that hasn’t changed.

    This is where most of the digital companies are completely lost!

    They treat their video pre-roll the same as they treat their paid search. This is a huge mistake. There is a reason why we flight our media on TV and why we run Wed-Sat with our TV, Cable, and Media buys. The same applies to pre-roll! We know it’s consumed just like TV. Don’t run it the first of the month through the 31st. Flight it. In addition, don’t judge it from a click through basis.

    Why is advertising in Media still important?

    It’s the driver to get your unfair share of the business. If you were to stop advertising and simply had your website and minimal optimization, you will end up selling cars. In fact, for the first few months, you’d continue to sell around the same number of cars. That’s due to the residual effect of all the advertising you’ve done up to that point, and the strength of the brand you have!

    However, over time, your sales will start to slide, and your competition, usually the more aggressive dealer is going to end up selling more cars, and slowly eat your lunch. In addition, you’ll also start to lose out to other brands, very few people are brand loyal anymore!

    We actually have had a handful of dealers try and get away from doing Media, and it played out exactly the way we described above. Those are usually solid brand stores in major metro markets and usually they are successful off the backs of other dealerships spending money in media. We will cover this in a lot more detail in a minimum of a two-part blog.

  5. Social - Here is another important aspect of your advertising budget and this continues to evolve every single day. If you were to ask us 5 years ago what you should be doing in Social, you’d get only one tiny piece of what we’re able to do today.

    If you are not participating in any social media advertising campaigns, stop reading this blog, and go immediately to Facebook/Instagram and start building your campaigns. That’s due to the reach, the target-ability, cost effectiveness, and the overall abilities of this medium!

    What are the “Must Do’s” when it comes to Social?

    • Traffic Ads - These ads are a creative blend targeting of in-market shoppers, income, lifestyle, and in our case, specific CRM targeting.
    • Video Ads - Also targeted the same as traffic ads. Video is extremely cost effective and the easiest way to brand your business.
    • Conquesting - Within Social, you have the ability to target your competitors by drawing a tight radius specifically around their stores and showing creative that resonates to that particular shopper.
    • Service - Here is another huge area in Social that we spend a lot of time on. We have the ability to target customers by where they are in their service cycle.
    • Retargeting - Extremely important. Within the Facebook and Instagram platform, dealers have the ability to retarget potential customers that have visited their website with very specific ads.

    All of this is ridiculously trackable! Through Facebook and Instagram, you can also set offline conversions and custom events to track a customer’s purchase path. Which, will actually show you the ROI of your exact campaigns!

    We will cover Social in a lot more detail in further Blog posts as it is pretty robust.

  6. Targeted Customer Email/Direct Mail - No customer is easier to keep then your previous and current customers, unless of course you are creating a bad experience. So naturally marketing to these people is extremely important. Most OEMs have created programs to help dealerships market to these people based upon the lifecycle of the vehicle. Lifecycle of the vehicle ranges from service, to lease returns, equity mining, etc. If you are currently not marketing to your prior customers, we highly recommend getting on it right away, because if you’re not, your competitors are.

  7. 3rd Party Lead Providers - By third party lead providers, we mean the Cars.com, AutoTrader, and CarGurus of the world. Unfortunately, it is still a necessary evil. Ideally there would never be a place for these and we’d recommend putting all your budget into driving traffic to your site, however the reality is they exist and our dealers need to participate.

    Which ones to use depends on which market you are in, and that has to be determined at the store level. Fortunately, there is a lot of reporting available in this, and you just have to dig through it and determine what’s legitimate and what is fluff.

  8. Conquest Email/Direct Mail - Depending on the market, both Conquest Email and Direct Mail can be very successful and should be a part of your advertising mix. We have seen success in almost every market, and have our dealers participate in at least one or the other every quarter.

    Direct Mail, again, varies by market as to which pieces get traction. If your market has been hammered by every single dealership over and over again, then the population becomes numb to it and will not respond so easily. There are some, like Buy Back Mailers to your database that typically always work, usually falls into Lifecycle Mail, but we will mix in a conquest list into this with a 40% Database/60% Conquest mix.

    Unfortunately, there is a ton of fraud when it comes to Conquest Email. We’ve run across a ton of fly-by-night companies popping up with aggressive sales people selling email programs at about 3 times what they actually should cost. They usually email to a massive list of people within the dealerships’ immediate area. Then, they’ll ask for your sales data for the month and cross-reference it to the list they just emailed to. And naturally there are quite a few people you emailed who bought cars. But of course this is going to happen, as they are emailing to a massive amount of people in your back yard. It’d be crazy that there wouldn’t be people on that list who bought cars.

    We’ve also seen a ton of fake website traffic hit your analytics via bots. There are quite a few companies out there that can help determine what is real and what is not. Orbee is a great company that we use in our agency to illustrate transparency.

    Again, we’ll be covering this in a lot more detail at a later date.

Thanks for reading this blog! I know it was a bit long but I wanted to cover a lot in the first blog. I’ll be going into much more detail on everything you’ve read. So, if something has peaked your interest keep coming back, there’s so much more coming in my future blogs