More Evidence that Dealers Continue Advertising Using Traditional Channels

I recently read an article published on by Terry Lancaster titled, “Why Are Car Dealers Still Spending 75% of Their Advertising Budget on Traditional Media?” The original article was from December, so obviously I’m a bit behind on my reading pile!

But, I digress…this article touched home for several reasons. If I am deducing correctly, the overall point being made by Mr. Lancaster is that consumers who are engaged in the early process of researching a new car purchase are persuaded by traditional media at the onset of their buying decisions, because radio, television, and direct mail formats are designed to interrupt people during their preliminary thought process and subliminally make their way into the sub-conscious mind. All of this is taking place before the buyer even realizes they want a new car.

This all sounds pre-meditated, and that is what advertising is all about—making an impact on consumers and persuading them to go in a certain direction, to buy a certain product, before they have even considered a need or desire for that advertised product or service, placing them at the top of the sales funnel, as Mr. Lancaster points out.

As a company that provides direct response tools and marketing technologies to improve advertising ROI to many auto dealers across the country, it was refreshing to encounter a company and author who has a similar mind-set and perspective on the importance of traditional media.

Why? Because our services are best suited when used in traditional media advertising, where it is significantly more important to have a memorable call-to-action and response tool, than say in paid search ads or social media promotional campaigns.

The point of this article also touched me as reports continue to come out that traditional media is in fact not dead, and that specifically businesses view traditional advertising channels like TV, radio, and outdoor as “excellent” and “extraordinary” at promoting their businesses, as proven in a recent BIA/Kelsey study.

For over 20 years we’ve worked with companies, many who are auto dealers that have improved their advertising response rates to TV and radio campaigns simply by encouraging their customers to call into their dealership using their vanity number, which we provide. They continue to do this, despite the prevalence of digital media, as Mr. Lancaster also mentions, because they have proven to themselves over the years that a live conversation with a customer is far more impactful on their sales performance than an email exchange, a live chat, or a social media interaction.

Why? Because the simple premise continues to remain true to this day: as consumers, we want to have a personal interaction with a company, especially when making a $30,000, $50,000 or higher investment that will be with us for many years.

To back up this thinking, I’ll share an example. We recently spoke with a long-time dealer customer who continues to use traditional media (along with their digital strategy) to reach their audience. According to the Internet Marketing Director at this dealership, “Phone calls are more valuable than online web leads.” He explains that when sales consultants at the dealership receive online leads, they will respond by email, but eventually try to contact the customer by phone to have a live conversation. “Having an inbound phone call eliminates a few steps and shortens the sales process, because our people already have the caller on the line; they do not have to reach out to the buyer.”

This is not the only customer who has shared that sentiment. We have more examples…

There is a reason auto dealers are continuing to spend the majority of their ad budgets on traditional media. Not only is television a more attractive way to present cars for a start, as Mr. Lancaster shows, it is a way to speak to the car buyer before they may even know they want to buy a car! It is a powerful, visual, emotional way to intrude into their psyche and make those first impressions with a brand, and persuade them to call your dealership and start forming a personal connection, which will give your sales team the opportunity to lead them further down the sales funnel and into a new vehicle.

I welcome anyone reading this to contact me, tweet us @800response or visit our LinkedIn page if they feel otherwise, or to share their perspective and stories about how traditional media has impacted their dealership.

Laura Noonan has 20 years of experience working with the SMB market. She leads the marketing teams at 800response and CallFinder, delivering telecommunications solutions and clould-based marketing technology tools including vanity 800 toll-free phone numbers, sophisticated call routing solutions, real-time call tracking data, and monitoring services like call recording and CallFinder speech analytics. Contact Laura at

Michael Bowen


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