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The Five Deadly Sins of Automotive Marketing (Part I)

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The Five Deadly Sins of Automotive Marketing (Part I)

Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller
April 7, 2009

Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller

The Five Deadly Sins of Automotive Marketing (Part I)
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. Dictionary.com 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.

Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are the nation's leading experts on attracting customers and the co-authors of Gravitational Marketing: The Science of Attracting Customers. Get important survival strategies and tips for FREE by requesting their Automotive Emergency Survival Marketing Toolkit For Used Car Dealers and Managers. To get your FREE copy visit http://www.richdealers.com/articles .

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