Your Dealership Marketing Budget for 2012


marketing dart hitting bull's eye

It’s pretty exciting to watch the transitions happening in the automotive marketing world. When it comes to individual dealerships, most dealers are straddling the traditional media world and the new digital marketing world.

In the traditional world, newspaper, radio, and television (mostly television) still have a hold on dealers’ confidence. At the same time, most dealers are moving toward online marketing, because they know that’s where consumers are researching their next auto purchase. Old school, traditional ad agencies are saying, “Television is still the most powerful tool!” (because they don’t do much online marketing). New digital marketing companies are saying, “Online is the only way!” (because they don’t do television).

The most powerful marketing plan is probably a combination. Traditional media, like television, however, is taking on a new role in the car buying process. It is still a monster traffic builder, but it is now a monster web traffic builder.

Here’s an example: Recently a Seattle/Tacoma dealership group added a strong television schedule to its already-running search campaign. Prior to the television schedules, the visitors to the group’s websites numbered in the 3,000 to 4,000 visitors-per-month range. When the television schedule was added, the traffic to their websites jumped to 5,000 to 6,000 visitors per month. Why? Were there suddenly more people shopping for cars? No. The television was driving more of the shoppers to the group’s websites, because they saw the web addresses on the television commercials.



Most auto dealers will tell you that if they saturate the television stations in their market with commercials prior to a weekend sale, they will be swamped with customers. Now it is clear that their website will also be swamped with visitor traffic. Perhaps the strongest marketing plan includes a coordinated effort of both online and television.

One of the challenges dealers face is finding an advertising agency that can do both kinds of marketing. One solution might be to hire an agency that is skilled at television, and then handle the online portion of the marketing in-house. If you do take this route, remember that the video assets you create for the television commercials can be of great value in your online marketing. At the very least, you should place your television commercial on the home page of your website to maintain the brand you are offering on TV.

You can also create short videos that can be used to enhance your search campaigns. Google tends to push videos to the front page of the search results, so you should capitalize on that fact. Tell your story using video, but be sure to move your marketing efforts to a combination of online and television. By combining these two powerhouses, you can improve your results. If you are an ad agency, you need to be able to serve your client with knowledge of both. Otherwise, you are an incomplete marketing partner.

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