The Five Deadly Sins of Automotive Marketing - Part II

By Jimmy Vee & Travis Miller


You may already be committing the first two deadly sins when you spend dollars marketing your dealership… but do you commit any of the remaining three? In this article you’ll find out and we’ll tell you what you can do to end the suffering and put your soul at peace.

We already know that a typical problem in the automotive industry is that an ungodly amount of cash is thrown into the advertising or marketing arena with less than stellar results. This article series has been designed to help you stretch your ad dollars and make everything you do more profitable by exposing the nastiest crimes ever committed in automotive marketing.

Marketing Sin #3: Not Using A Proper & Powerful Headline In All Your Ads

You may not know this… but your dealership name is NOT a headline. Let’s repeat that again for the “hard of reading.” Your dealership name is not a headline.

So what is a headline? Think of a headline as an ad for your ad. If you were trying to get someone interested in reading your ad what would you say to them? If someone asked why they should read your ad and you told them your dealership name and nothing else, do you think it would compel them to read the ad? Of course not!

You want to use a statement that will pique your prospect’s interest and pull them into your ad. Something they can’t resist like…

  • How To Choose A Car Dealer
  • The Best Vehicle You’ve Ever Driven Or It’s Free
  • Four Big Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A Used Car
  • Did You Make These Costly Mistakes When You Bought Your Last Car

An insider trick to really make your headlines pull people in is to tie your advertising and marketing into current events and pop culture.

The key is to tap into the conversation that is already going on inside your prospects’ heads. If your message matches what the reader is already thinking and talking about it is going to be read by more people than if you try to create a new conversation altogether.

You see, it is much easier to sell a prospect if you are in sync with what they are already thinking and talking about. Plus, by tapping into their current thoughts and emotions your message will penetrate deeper and make a longer lasting and more powerful impact.

Marketing Sin #4: Competing On Price

It is amazing to us how many dealers spend so much time and money hunting down, fishing for and pulling in price-shopping customers. Many dealers try so hard to educate themselves in the business, spend countless hours picking out just the right cars at the auctions and still continue to compete on price.

“The best dealership and the best service” and “lowest price” do not belong in the same sentence, marketing piece and not to mention the same dealership.

But many great dealerships end up pricing themselves out of business because they don’t understand that consumers will pay more than the lowest price if you give them other reasons for choosing you. If left with no other differentiating factors, price is the only option.

If you do decide to compete on low price you should make sure you just give that level of service. It makes no sense to raise your level of service, expertise, education and experience but not raise your gross.

How much you can charge for something is all based on your ability to sell it, which means the more you learn about marketing and the more you utilize powerful marketing techniques, the more you will be able to charge for your vehicles.

Marketing Sin #5: Not Using Social Proof In All Your Marketing

One of the most powerful ways to promote and communicate the value of your dealership is by getting other people who think your dealership experience is great to say it to for you.

This is the whole concept of word-of-mouth advertising. Many people believe word-of-mouth advertising is not controllable, that it just happens when it happens and they’re lucky to get it. Others believe is happens automatically by delivering good service.

Both of these statements are untrue but most everyone we talk to believes it. Word-of-mouth is controllable and can be greatly stimulated by a good system.

One way to generate more word-of-mouth is by packaging up your testimonials in the form of print, audio and video and using them in all your communication with prospects, ups and customers.

Put testimonials in your ads, in your consumer guides and in your yellow pages ads. Use audio testimonials on your website, in your radio commercials and your emails. Use video testimonials on your website and in a loop tape in your showroom.

You can have your sales people carry around video iPods to play actual testimonials of your past customers to their customers. Or play an audio testimonial CD in the vehicle during the test drive.

No one sells your services better to prospects than your really happy past customers. This is one tactic sadly underused by most dealers.

Put It All To Work

Reading good information isn’t enough, you have to take action. Many dealers spend a lot of time waiting for the perfect scenario to run an ad, test an idea or make a change at their dealership.

The perfect time never comes and nothing ever gets done. Use these sins as a measuring stick for what you are doing at your store. Are you committing all five sins? If so, start making changes now to implement some of what you just learned.

While you won’t burn for eternity for committing these sins, your business just might.


The Five Deadly Sins of Automotive Marketing - Part I

By Jimmy Vee & Travis Miller


A typical problem in the automotive industry is that an ungodly amount of cash is thrown into the advertising or marketing arena, with what results? A silent telephone and an empty lot.

What does it take to get the phone to ring and the ups to show up? What does it take to sell the number of units your store SHOULD BE selling? What does it take to stop throwing your money away when it comes to advertising or marketing your dealership?

In today’s marketplace there are five specific plague-like money-sucking pitfalls that infect many of you and your dealerships. The rest of this article will shed light on these little-known atrocities and show you how you can make your dealership impervious while at the same time spike your advertising and marketing effectiveness and see significantly increased profits.

Here are the Five Deadly Sins of Automotive Marketing.

Marketing Sin #1: Not understanding what “marketing” actually is.

Marketing is one of those terms defined in a lot of different ways. defines it simply as, “ to offer for sale or to sell.” This definition is misleading because marketing is a multi-step process that ultimately should lead to sales. But defined that simply it does not give us any information to learn from.

Here is a good definition for marketing: The quickest path to selling prospects and clients who are properly positioned to be sold—without actually having to sell them.

That may sound confusing… to make it easier, let’s define the difference between sales and marketing.

Sales: What you do with a person once they are in front of you or on the telephone. A prospect or customer on the lot or on the phone needs to be given a sales presentation. Everything you or your salespeople do in front of a prospect is a presentation and should be treated as such and executed systematically and dynamically.

Marketing: What you do to get prospects and customers on the lot or on the phone.

In a sense, marketing is pre-selling and positioning. You want to set the stage for your presentation. You are the director of a mega-profit-producing production. You want to get people excited about what you are going to show, demonstrate and tell them. You want them to have a certain perception about you and your dealership before they ever step foot on the lot or call on the phone. You want to be perceived in advance as a welcomed guest, a valuable resource, an asset—not an unwelcome, product-pushing pest.

Marketing Sin #2: Not having an effective marketing system to sell your service.

Most people handle their marketing in a way we like to call “spray and pray.” Just SPRAY it all out there and PRAY something happens as a result. It’s usually not very well thought out and is done with no real rhyme or reason. It just is what it is. Separate pieces of a puzzle, always changing, never measured and definitely not orchestrated into a proven system.

Your marketing should be like a musical score—written out in advance, with movements and rests and harmonies exactly as they are to be performed every time. The composer knows how the different parts will affect the thoughts, emotions, and perceptions of the listeners like clockwork.

The music sets the mood and the tone and so should your marketing set the mood and tone of your sales presentation and your dealership experience.

Most dealers we meet are throwing spaghetti on the wall when it comes to marketing and trying to find what sticks…then riding that gimmick till it stops working. Then they throw more spaghetti in order to find the next new gimmick.

This doesn’t make your marketing job or your life very easy or fun nor does it create a duplicable system that produces ongoing results for you, making your dealership impervious to changes in market conditions and ultimately recession-proof.

What you need to create a powerful and systematic marketing system that pre-sells and pre-positions your dealership is all based on response oriented direct marketing. Using direct marketing you can sell yourself in advance and make the job of closing significantly easier.

Instead of just using your marketing to say, “Here we are, we’re getting our name out there, here’s how long we’ve been here and here’s our number in case you want to call us,” you really want to use education-based marketing strategies to get people to take immediate action and then be persuaded to come to the conclusion on their own terms that you are the only and best choice for them.

Notice we haven’t said anything in here about vehicles. Selling vehicles puts you in the commodity game and we will discuss that issue in some of the later “Sins.”

You want to use strategies like making prospects call a 24-hour, pre-recorded hotline message, visit an information-based, permission gathering website or request/read an educational sales letter or consumer awareness guide.

These are the type of marketing steps that educate, pre-sell and position you as an expert in your field and in your market. This is the kind of thing that can help you overcome traditional negative industry stereotypes and give you an unfair advantage over all your competition.

Plus, there are many new methods of distributing your education-based marketing material that cost very little and are consumer-sexy, such as the Internet, email, blogs, RSS feeds and podcasts.

How can you integrate some or all of these education-based direct marketing strategies into a systematic marketing plan that gets proven and consistent results? That’s the question you need to be pondering and creating answers to if you want crush the competition and recession-proof your dealership.

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