There are essentially only two kinds of advertising. Some folks try real hard to make it look complicated, but it’s not.
There’s the type of advertising you see on prime time TV, The Super Bowl and in all the fashion magazines. Beautiful shots of the sun sparkling off the hood of some sleek, exotic sports car as it winds its way around curvy mountain roads which give way to panoramic ocean vistas while some super celebrity whose voice you almost recognize tells you that this car, this marvel of the modern world is the key to your happiness. That’s brand advertising designed to create awareness.
Ford and GM and Toyota and Honda are in the brand awareness business, and they spend about a bazillion dollars a year on it. But you’re the retail arm of industry, you need ads with a call to action.
Like the kind where some average looking Joe who talks a little too fast shows you how his new miracle towel can soak up ten times its weight in spilled grape juice and motor oil and if you call before midnight, he’ll throw in an extra towel PLUS a juice machine and all you pay for is extra shipping.
Now I know you want to be the first kind. I do too. Everyone does. You want the people in your town to know about you and your store’s brand, about how your grandfather started the dealership when he came home from the war, how you use all the profits from your store to support homeless children and puppies with ADHD. How you’re the one in a million car dealer with the gruff, tough but fair exterior and a heart of gold.
But those commercials are about YOU not about your customers.
And your customers mostly care about how many towels they can get for free if they call before midnight.
As much as people tell the market surveyors that they care about your reputation, about your service after the sale and about your work on behalf of ADHD puppies, none of that matters before the sale. And it definitely doesn’t matter when they’re driving down the road listening to the radio. Your reputation and good name isn’t enough to demand that they stop what they’re doing and pick up the phone.
If they’re a first time customer of yours and don’t have a personal relationship with someone at your store, what they care about is whether you’ve got the car they want. They care about how good a deal they can get. About whether they can afford the payments. About whether or not they can even qualify for a loan to get the payments.
Yes, they care about your reputation and your service after the sale, they just care about all that after the sale. Right now they care about the deal.
Over the last few years, the number of dealerships most buyers visit before making a purchase has dropped from four or five to one or two at best.
Getting them to come in the door, pick up the phone or send an email NOW has never been more important and to do that you have to make them an offer they can’t refuse
Ford F150’s at 199 a month even if your credit’s so bad the bill collectors have you on speed dial is a great offer.
Come see the all new F150, America’s best selling truck for 37 years running is not.
Every Ford dealer in America has America’s best selling truck for 37 years in a row. Why should the people hearing or seeing your ad stop what they’re doing, pick up the phone and call you now for that F150 instead of the hundred other Ford dealers within a 200 mile drive?
Dealer advertising boils down to pushing 4 specific buttons in the buyers heads
1) We’ve got the vehicle you want
2) We’ve got the best price/payments on the vehicle
3) We can get your financing approved
4) For a limited time only
If you can combine that message in an attention grabbing and memorable way, that’s an offer they can’t refuse.
Terry Lancaster is the VP of Making Sh!t Happen at Instant Events Automotive Advertising, father of 3 teenage daughters and a Beer League Hockey All Star, as if there could ever be such a thing. You can connect with Terry on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.