You are no different than any car dealer out there. You are looking for that one idea that will elevate your dealership to the next level. You want something different than your competition—you want something that Harry Houdini, Criss Angel, or Lance Burton might have come up with—you want magic! So, where is that next “pull a rabbit out of a hat” idea?
Look, if you’re sitting around and waiting for that next breakthrough idea, you may find yourself waiting in line at your local bankruptcy court. Let’s face the facts; there is nothing new under the sun. You need to take the best of the old and find ways to give it a new face and recycle it; your best idea is already staring you in the face.
Get back to basics and start doing the things you did in 2005 when U.S. car sales were at 16.9 million vehicles. Think back to how aggressive you were back then. Now, incorporate what you learned last year when we had the biggest decline in car sales in history. You got smart last year, now you need to rekindle thataggressiveness.
Crazy sales and unrealistic offers will not fly in this economy. Now, more than ever, you need to get back to selling the cars. Show the benefits, show safety, show fuel efficiency and, most important of all, show how the consumer can save money. Remember, the consumer’s state of mind is much different than it was during those boom years. Receptivity to a value-advertising message is greater. People want to spend less and save more. Nielsen reports that 61 percent of consumers are using coupons and frequenting sales, stocking up, and switching brands—or switching stores. They are also saving more and putting off buying new cars. By sticking with a value message, ad recall has a better chance to break through the ad clutter than ordinary, unrealistic or gimmicky offers.
There are unprecedented opportunities out there for car dealers when buying media this year. Media companies are still feeling the pain of this recession. Newspaper advertising was amongst the hardest hit again this year, with over a 20 percent decline on top of a 17 percent drop last year. Television is expected to drop as much as 20 percent as well. Terrestrial or land-based radio will fare no better. So, bring your best negotiator or best media buyer to your next ad meeting with the media, because there are some excellent opportunities out there if you take advantage of these media revenue declines.
Make no mistake about it, when it comes to advertising, there are no magic beans. It’s like a line from one of my favorite movies, Sideways, when Miles tries to explain to Maya that he is waiting for a special occasion to open a bottle of '61 Cheval Blanc. Maya responds, “You know, the day you open a '61 Cheval Blanc…that's the special occasion.” Perhaps waiting around for someone to come up with a perfect slogan or groundbreaking creative is really just keeping the cork in the bottle. Uncork the bottle and let the advertising itself be the magic you are looking for.