In business today, specifically the car business, what do we really have when it comes to value? The value of a dealership is determined by our real estate, its fixed assets, and its blue-sky or good will value. When you use a multiple of blue-sky value plus assets, you have the value of what your car store is worth. But, what is your actual brand worth? That is, what is your reputation worth? They say your reputation is invaluable and that reputation is everything in business. Many dealers, however, don’t spend enough time and invest enough money on advertising to build their all-important brand.
It seems some dealer would rather go out and find the loudest announcer, who can speak the fastest to scream out a series of prices and hope that the consumer will run in and buy a car from that dealer. Is that really what sells cars? Sure consumers want the best deal. But the truth of the matter is, there are only a few dollars in play on every car deal and the real sale comes in the reputation of any given dealer. The consumer knows this by now and unrealistic hard sell messages no longer work, because buyers no longer believe them.
Think of branding this way—How many times have you ordered a Coke, when all you really wanted was a cola? Or, when you ask for a tissue, you say can I get a Kleenex. How many Cokes do you think were purchased because of how well Coca Cola built their brand? I would say millions and millions of dollars worth every year.
It is my belief that dealers who concentrate on brand building, rather than running the typical car spot, sell more cars, simply because they have built a better brand. Look at the dealers in your market and think about it. Brand building is no simple task; you need to be known for something. And when you ask many dealers what they feel they are known for, they give you a blank stare.
Think about who you are and what you want your store to be known for. Make an investment in your brand and be consistent in that message. In 2007 all dealers were successful, because more people were buying cars than any time in history. Today, there are less car buyers out there and the dealers that are generating the sales are the ones with the best brand names in their markets.
Good branding requires good production and a strong message. It requires creative that stands out and doesn’t even need to mention a price. Good branding can be as simple as a great slogan, great jingle, or a captivating message. Good branding can be a spokesperson people remember, or a lasting impression you leave the consumer. Good branding is most often developed on television or radio, but can effectively be enhanced through print and internet.
It’s time for car dealers to get serious about their image and start rising above the wasted, ineffective poorly produced advertising messages cluttering up the airwaves. Build your brand and you will in turn build your business value.
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