New Marketing Truths in Today’s Smarter Automotive Industry


hand touching car button on screen

With coordinated multi channel communications like direct mail, email, text, phone call campaigns, and mobile apps, dealers are able to break through the clutter and quickly grab the attention of the customer. But too often the strategy behind these communications is based on broken and outdated ideologies that focus on the car and not the owner, causing dealers to aim the wrong message at the wrong target customer.

This broken marketing approach is geared toward the service interval of the car and it’s spraying out messages that have little to do with the customer. Techniques that blindly fire off messages across multiple channels of communication, and hope they stick, are outdated; these channels have been completely transformed by technology and higher customer expectations with ever decreasing attention spans. And millions of dealer dollars are being wasted on this old truth marketing, as direct service and sales marketing are delivered the same “spray and pray” way they’ve always been—largely unsupported by data and research.

That means dealers are communicating to the wrong consumers in the wrong channels with the wrong offer and at wrong intervals, neglecting to face the automotive industry’s current realities, realities that have completely changed the way dealers must market and communicate to the new automotive customer.

Here are some of the automotive industry’s current and alarming realities:

  1. The growing age of vehicles on the road
  2. Increasing maintenance intervals
  3. Improved vehicle manufacture quality
  4. Changes in consumer behavior and attitudes
  5. The continuing revolution of digital and mobile technology

Based on these five realities, dealers need to rethink marketing and adopt the new truth—investing in new marketing science, new techniques and new technology, all founded on new research, tailored to consumers’ behaviors and attitudes. It’s time to capitalize on the small fraction of time that dealers now have to target customers.

So where does a dealer start when abandoning the old truth and grabbing hold of the new truth? It’s vital that dealers begin to integrate new technology and digital channels such as responsive email design, mobile apps, QR codes, texting and Passbook to effectively communicate with consumers. Mid interval communications for battery, brakes and tires will help the dealer keep their customers coming back while prepaid maintenance programs also give dealers a great opportunity to increase customer loyalty and retention, especially among millennial customers. And hyper-targeting customers will allow dealers to communicate to the right customers at the right time via the right channel.



This is a new, smarter automotive industry where not just any professional can play the game. It takes deep science, strategy, and research with precision execution to thrive in the new digital marketing age. Today’s challenge lies in making the shift to new truth marketing, centering your strategies around your customer, what they want, how they behave, where they spend and how they spend, and put an end to ineffective and expendable direct vehicle marketing.

Mike Martinez is chief marketing officer of DMEautomotive, the industry leader in science-based, results-driven automotive marketing that provides a range of marketing services to the biggest and most innovative automotive organizations in the industry. For more information, email dme@dealermark.com.

Michael Bowen

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