Focus on running effective, lead-generating advertising

Tory HornsbyA phrase commonly heard at Dealership University is "recession-proof your dealership." While that sounds great, I believe many dealers hear that phrase and overwhelmingly think." In this economy, I don't even know what to do, or where to start." Well, there are four primary areas that control the growth (or decline) of your dealership's sales. Focusing on each one of these areas individually will provide you with a much clearer and focused objective. The primary ways to grow your dealership are:

* Increase the amount of new leads coming to your dealership;

* Increase frequency of visits from past and present customers;

* Improve your closing ratios in all departments;

* Raise the average value per customer.

In this blog, we're going to focus on the first two subjects: Increase the amount of new leads and frequency of visits, which are both dependent upon your marketing. In the past many dealers have focused on image or branding-type ads that don't generate any quantifiable leads. However, in the "New Economy," this can no longer be afforded. Now is the time to focus on running effective, lead-generating advertising or Direct Response. Direct Response marketing is any form of advertisement that includes a compelling offer, a call to action (tells prospects what to do next) and has a deadline.  

To compare the two side-by-side, let's take the ad given to you by the OEM's ad agency that has a picture of a motorcycle with a snazzy tagline like "King of the Road." You put your dealership's name, address and phone number on it, but there's no offer, no call to action, no deadline or sense of urgency. Let me ask you: How many leads have you received from this type of ad in the past? I'm guessing the pickings are slim to none there. The fact is that you shouldn't expect the OEM to develop an effective advertising plan for your specific dealership. It's simply unrealistic considering many OEMs have more than 1,500 dealers in their network and each one has varying inventory levels and objectives.  

Now let's say you send out a personalized letter that's made out to customers who purchased from you two years ago. It has compelling ad copy explaining you really need their trade and at the bottom of the letter there's a trade-in voucher for $400 made out in their name that expires in 10 days. With a quality list, this type of advertising is actually much less expensive and has been shown to generate over an 8 percent response rate!  Or perhaps you create a 100 percent quantifiable Search Engine Marketing campaign with a specific landing page that's designed to capture the prospect's key information and matches the search criteria they originally entered.  With pay-per-click (PPC), you only pay for the prospects that are genuinely interested in your products.  

Here's where you can start: Schedule half a day this week to proactively working on your advertising. If you wait until the ad rep shows up at your dealership to begin working, you will inevitably throw together a lame ad that doesn't work. Yes, I know this from the school of hard-knocks. 🙂  


Bar all distractions and determine what your compelling offer will be, which media method you will use and who specifically is your target audience. Then determine what you want prospects to do (your call to action), and lastly assign a deadline to create urgency. There are many Direct Response campaigns that you can choose, the key is that you're no longer wasting money on advertising that doesn't work and isn't generating any leads for your dealership.

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