by Mark Tewart
How much is your advertising budget? Why? These are two of my favorite questions to ask a Dealer or General Manager. The usual answers that I get lead me to believe that in general, automotive dealerships and most all businesses from any industry become myopic in their approaches to doing business.
Whether your answer is $10,000 or $200,000, ask yourself why and how you spend that money. Do you spend x dollars per car sold because that is the industry average, or because that’s the average in your 20 group, or that’s what you have always spent. Ask yourself if you can quantify and qualify how well your budget did. Can you specifically account for the results of your dollars spent. Questions are the first step to spending your money wisely.
Let’s look at some more questions that need to be asked. Do you have an SDP – Specific Defining Proposition. Can everybody in your dealership define three reasons why someone should buy your product, three reasons someone should buy from your dealership and three reasons why someone should do business with them as an individual. When I ask these questions, one of the answers I usually get is, good service. What does the term good service mean to the customer in today’s market? Nothing! Several years ago you could say you had good service and that meant something to people, but in today’s market, people expect good service as a given, not a an extra. How does your dealership as a whole and each individual specifically, define why someone should do business with you? Ask how and why over and over until you have a clear idea of what makes your dealership unique.
When a prospective customer looks at your marketing pieces or your advertising, what stands out as your Specific Defining Proposition? Does your heading have immediate impact that captures the customers attention. Does the body of your marketing piece have multiple clear benefits? Do you have a clear, direct call for action at the end of the marketing or advertising. Look at your recent advertisements and marketing pieces and ask yourself what’s in it for the customer? How does this add enough value? How does this bring HFG ? (Hope For Gain) People will not take action unless they can see measurable benefits that will improve their current situation. When the customer takes action by coming in, will your sales staff be able to communicate your SPD clearly to match what you have conveyed in your marketing.
In general, dealerships are taking the shotgun approach to marketing; spending money in different directions and seeing what happens. The common practice is creating advertisements and marketing pieces the day of the deadline and expecting them to work. A game plan has to be established that plans in advance for the long term. The message has to be congruent every time. Stop using the shotgun approach for all of your budget and start creating niches that will produce better results that will create more loyalty and customer satisfaction.
Let’s look at some trends that can provide opportunities for niche marketing:
60% of all vehicles sold by the year 2000 will be to females.
By the year 2000 over 65% of the population will be over 55 years old.
There are over 2,000,000 more self employed people than in 1980.
By the year 2000, 20,000,000 people will work from their homes.
55% of homes are expected to have personal computers by the year 2000.
36 million people will have internet access from their homes by the year 2000.
An explosion of Spanish speaking individuals in the U.S. How have you addressed these trends so far? There are several niches to be found in these statistics that can create a better bang for the buck than mass marketing. Creating and following your customer database will be a niche market that will provide incredible results over time. There are three ways to increase business: 1) sell more volume of cars 2) make more dollars per sale 3) sell your current customer base more often. If you do number three, the first two will take care of themselves. Every dealer needs a formalized program for having a database of their customers and how to follow that customer from cradle to grave. It costs considerably less to keep one of your present customers than it does to go get a new one. Thirty percent of your customers may do business with you again without ever being prompted. How many would do business again and quicker if they were prompted on a formalized continual program.
When dealers or general mangers ask me for my advice in marketing, I advise them to stop trying to be everything to everybody. Find out who your customers are and define what they want. Define and convey your Specific Defining Proposition and reduce the percentages of mass marketing while increasing the niches that produce more loyalty and more dollars more often.
© Copyright 1999 Tewart Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Mark Tewart is the President of Tewart Enterprises Inc., a training and consulting company and is also a partner and National Marketing Director for Symeron LLC, an automotive computer company. Mark is a keynote speaker and has had top ranked programs on ASTN (Automotive Satellite Training Network) and is a featured article writer for Dealer Magazine, Wards Dealer Magazine and JustSell.Com as well as being a contributing author to a book titled, GenderSell – Selling To The Opposite Sex. Mark also provides sales and management seminars internationally.
You can contact Mark at:
Mark Tewart, President
Tewart Enterprises Inc.
1999 Kirby Rd. #100
Lebanon, OH. 45036
FAX 513 934-4588