The Marketing Toolbox

The world of automotive marketing has experienced drastic changes over the past several years. Dealers are jumping from one medium to another trying to attract that ever elusive customer hiding behind a very fragmented media landscape.


One month it is a cable TV buy, the next it is a ‘Hail Mary’ direct mail campaign. Meanwhile, dealers are clubbing their database over the head with ‘one-size fits all’ emails, throwing videos up on YouTube or postings on the internet in hopes that someone will see it and buy a car from them.


So with increased competition for fewer customers and limited resources and budgets, how do you reach that elusive customer?


Start by identifying them. There is plenty of demographic, geographic, and even psychographic information that you can access from your manufacturer. You also have years of your own research and customer profiles to draw from. Take an hour and revisit that before you start your planning.


Ok, now that you’ve figured out who you would like to target, it’s time to figure out where they are. Access the millions of dollars of independent research available and it will tell you what your target customer reads, watches, and listens to. Your agency will have this or you can access it from any media outlet at no charge.


Remember, there is more than one right way to reach consumers; there are many right ways. It is about finding the most cost efficient way to communicate to as many people, as many times as possible, who have the highest propensity to buy a car.


Open your marketing toolbox


Think of marketing as a toolbox. Inside it you have dozens of tools to choose from to fix, repair, or build with. Not knowing exactly what you may need, you want to have all the tools at your disposal so they are ready when required.


Marketing is the same way. Open your marketing toolbox and find the right tools to work with. You may simply need a screwdriver (advertising), wrench (database), or just a hammer (direct mail) from time to time. Or you may find that you need several different tools to achieve the desired results—an integrated approach.


Challenge each tool in the beginning to make sure you select the right one with the right fit to accomplish the job. Set benchmarks, objectives, and measurements for the desired outcome. You would not use a drill to saw a two by four in half, would you?


Don’t make your next media buy based on a media rep calling and offering ‘fire sale’ rates or buy cable TV because it is cheap in your market. Review, consider and use the tools in your marketing toolbox to build the most efficient path to the customer. If the job calls for an electric sander, then make sure you have the best electric sander in your marketing toolbox.


Research, plan and execute your 2011 strategy carefully. Monitor and measure it daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly with your agency. Then you will know what is the best tool to use, when to use it and how to use it. You can now make course adjustments as necessary. Remember, the marketing toolbox can be a dealer’s best friend if used properly.


Thomas Hensey is the managing partner of Rhino Marketing, a full service automotive advertising agency. He can be reach at 713-681-6711, or





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