An Automotive Marketing Makeover For Price-Conscious Dealers.
Jimmy Vee & Travis Miller
15 June 2009
Image, brand, awareness, "getting your name out there," exposure...
This whole marketing thing seems very complicated, doesn't it? It's supposed to. That's how advertising and design firms make their money - charging small businesses, like car dealers, a lot of money to manage a process that seems very complex.
In truth, maintaining a quality image and building a strong brand is actually pretty simple. We're going to walk you through the process.
But first, why should you care? You sell used cars. Does anybody really care about your logo?
Here's the skinny. Much of what people believe to be true about brand and image is bunk. What really matters is that you sell cars. More cars next month than this month. And spending a ton of cash on a high-end design firm most likely won't pay off. And launching an ad campaign to convince your market that you're a nice guy will almost certainly be a waste of money.
But having a professional and polished image can make a big difference in developing trust with potential prospects. And a spiffy appearance can help you look bigger and better than you really are.
With the information you'll learn in the article, you'll be able to freshen up your look and makeover your entire image,including your logo, business cards, stationary, web site, and brochures in about two weeks for not much more than a 99 Taurus at the auction.
Here are a few principles to consider:
Good Enough Is Good Enough
Nobody will care about your logo or web site more than you will. So don't get frantic and obsessive about the process. When redesigning your corporate image, go for a polished, professional and simple look. Hire a professional to do with work.
Yes, we made this word up. It's a hybrid of branding and transcend. What we mean by brandscend is to rise above traditional branding strategy.
Most people think branding is something that is accomplished over a long period of time with a lot of effort and money.
But that's not the only way to achieve a strong brand presence and a solid image. Developing and maintaining a polished image and consistently using that image in all of your efforts signs, commercials, mail, print ads, shirts, letters, web site will go a long way toward promoting the value of your brand. There's no need to spend a lot of money running ads that only serve to "get your name out there" for the sake of building your brand.
Simple Steps To A Newer You
The average street price for a corporate identity package from a reputable design firm is about $3,000.
But did you know that many very talented graphic designers moonlight as freelance entrepreneurs? And without the costly overhead of running a firm, their rates are MUCH less. And by much less, we mean as much as 90% less.
Yes! You can get a complete and professional corporate ID package for as little as $300 by working with some online outlets. Simply search "corporate identity" on google and you will find a long list of options.
One such firm we recommend is www.logoworks.com. They're not the cheapest, but they're a lot lower than the traditional alternatives.
Usually these online design firms send your project to several designers who all make several proposals to you. Then you get to choose from a page full of concepts. Almost all of the companies will make unlimited revisions until you're 100% happy. Big design firms don't work that way. It's truly amazing!
The only drawback is that you'll be communicating primarily by email and you'll never meet face to face.
Printing For Pennies
We've never revealed this source to anyone, but we were asked to hold nothing back, so here goes.
This company, www.netprint24.com, offers the lowest cost business card printing we have ever seen. We're talking about 5,000 full-color, 2-sided cards for $75. Try getting that from your local printer.
For stationary, we recommend www.printingforless.com. Their prices are significantly lower than most local printers and their service is unparalleled.
This is a secret of some of the world's top marketing experts. Many web professionals from around the world are interested in picking up some extra dough in their spare time by taking on personal jobs.
It just so happens that a company named www.elance.com has created an online environment that allows you to interact with and receive bids from thousands of freelance designers and programmers. You can see references and samples of past work. And you're able to pay the person for their work directly through the web site.
It's not uncommon to find ultra-professional web designers who will work for 25% of normal rate and be glad to take your business.
Maintaining a web site with ever-changing inventory is a nightmare. Plus, the job of your web site should be to get people to the dealership. If you post your entire inventory, you allow customers the chance to decide for themselves whether or not you have the vehicle for them. That's like letting ups browse the lot unattended. And you know what happens then.
Once armed with your new look and logo, you can hire a local graphic designer to apply that logo to your signs and banners. You can visit an embroidery store and have your logo added to golf shirts and hats. You can visit ww.naagtag.com to get unique name tags with your new design.
Who This Doesn't Apply To
If you're the type of person who will require an executive board meeting to decide on new logos and the headline for your website these ideas probably aren't for you.
You have to be prepared to be flexible and somewhat patient when dealing with people via the internet. That's the trade off to buy a brand new fancy look for your business for dimes on the dollar.
But what if you can't tell a keyboard from a mouse? No problem. Surely someone at your store is familiar with the computer. Put them in charge of the project. Then you can spend your time improving your sales and marketing process so you sell more cars.
Advanced Concepts: Creating a Super Stellar Selling Environment
So what do you do when the "re-branding" process is done?
Take it to the next level. If you've developed a professional and unique corporate appearance, make sure that appearance isn't only skin or paper deep. Make sure that appearance is maintained when people arrive at the lot and when they interact with your staff.
Let's be honest...many used car lots have little space to work with and can be pretty ugly. Does this equate to fewer customers and less gross? At some level yes!
But by setting yourself apart from your competitors through your image (on paper and in person) you can effectively reduce the occurrence of commodity shopping.
One way to remove yourself from the commodity car game is to make your dealership sensational. You go to your dealership every day so you take the environment for granted. Think about the first time you go to a new place a new restaurant, a friend's house or an amusement park. Your eyes are opened wider and your brain is processing new information. You notice everything. It's just what we do. Many of your potential customers are seeing your dealership for the very first time and their eyes are wide open and taking it all in.
First impressions are made in fractions of a second. What does your dealership say?
Which vehicles are on the front line? Do you have banners and signs that match your image and marketing? Is the sale you promoted in the paper actually taking place?
Here are a few ideas you can use to spiff up the place and make your dealership a stronger closer. Clean It Up: This may sound obvious, but is so often overlooked. People like clean environments unless they live in a cave.
Generally people are only comfortable in their own dirt. So hire a cleaning service and get the place tidied up. Don't forget the carpets, windows and concrete too.
Ask Sherwin Williams: A nice coat of paint can do a lot to liven up the place and make your dealership more professional and friendly. A fresh coat on both the inside and the outside of your building every few years can do more than you would think on the mental state of your customers. But don't take our word for it...next time you see Sherwin ask him.
Your goal as time goes on should be to strive for a congruency, a sameness, between your advertising, your image, and the reality of shopping at your store.
As you achieve a consistent level of professionalism in your marketing, your image, and the experience you provide, your brand will begin to increase in value, making your job of selling and closing easier every year.
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