With the recent Toyota PR disaster, many dealers have had to decide whether or not to pounce on their longtime rivals. While some dealers have taken a “why kick the competition when they are down” approach, others have chosen to seize the opportunity and are watching their market share soar as a result. As an automotive advertising specialist, I believe that when the news favors your brand, it is an opportunity to change the buying cycle. This philosophy applies not only to the current Toyota issues, but to any brand at almost any given time.
The best advertising in this climate matches and compares products. Car and trade publications are constantly comparing and giving the editorial edge to one product over another, but the majority of potential car buyers don’t read trade publications. Traditional media is often a primary source of information for these customers.
When creating comparative ads for your dealership, here are a few quick reference points to consider before crafting your message:
1. Make sure you are better than the competitor before you declare war. If you are going to battle, you must be sure your product can deliver the goods or you will be annihilated by your competition in the end.
2. Make sure you have the budget to fight a comparative battle. If you are taking on a big spender in your market, he may have the ability to sustain a counter-attack over a long period of time. You don’t want to find yourself in a war of attrition with a better funded adversary.
3. Keep it in good taste. Don’t get personal and don’t take shots below the belt. Consumers want to know the facts and nothing more.
Consumers are looking for anything that will help them make their buying decisions, so use comparative advertising to position your vehicles as the better product, whether it be price, safety, or simply more options. This is an extremely competitive industry—if you don’t showcase your product’s benefits when the seas are stormy for your competition, you are simply missing the boat.