Happy 10th Anniversary Dealer Marketing Magazine

tenth anniversary cake

Dealer Marketing Magazine published its first issue in January of 2002 and introduced the magazine at that year’s NADA. How the magazine started is a strange story.

The magazine started out as a direct mail piece designed to sell syndicated television commercials to auto dealers. Brett Stevenson and Michael Nealy, two ad agency owners in Seattle were producing TV commercials for some of their auto dealer clients in the Seattle market. They were sitting in the video editing room and the conversations turned to car commercials. Both commented that often, car commercials are all the same: Typical dealer commercials usually start out announcing a sale theme (like Red Tag Sale) followed by an offer on a vehicle (like $299 per month), then show cars and the commercials end with the theme of the sale and the location of the dealer. The two agency guys decided that if commercials were all similar, why not produce some generic themes and just drop the dealer’s logo, address and location into the commercial? This would make commercials much less expensive.

The problem was how to make dealers aware of the syndicated commercials? Mailing a VHS tape out was expensive (no email at that time). So they decided to send out a direct mail piece to all auto dealers that explains how the dealer can save money by using syndicated commercials. Stevenson and Nealy decided that the direct mail piece would get opened more often if it had other valuable content that would help dealers with their marketing. So they crafted a tabloid size magazine with ads for the syndicated commercials and articles on marketing. This direct mail piece went out in January, right before NADA, and Stevenson and Nealy rented a booth at NADA to sell their commercials.

That’s when a strange thing happened. The phone began to ring with callers who had seen the magazine/direct mail piece. They weren’t calling to order the commercials; they were calling to ask if they could also advertise in “the magazine.” Stevenson and Nealy were surprised and looked at each other and said, “They think this is an actual magazine.” They both shrugged and said, “Ok, it’s a magazine, let’s try it again.” At NADA that year, while trying to sell commercials from their booth, they also talked to neighboring booths and ended up selling more ads in the next “magazine.” Dealer Marketing Magazine was born, unintentionally, and without a plan. Since the magazine began with “How to” articles, they continued and asked writers to write articles that taught dealers how to market their dealership.

Ten years later, the magazine has a long list of writers, a booming website, weekly newsletters, and hundreds of advertisers. Long live the flying D!



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