Best Practices for Evaluating Your Dealership’s Ad Spend

marketing budget

Marketing is critical to all businesses. The titans of industry spend billions of dollars on annual advertising. For example, the Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola, a company that brings in several billion dollars every year, spends over $1 billion on ads. Every company has the potential for growth.

The goal of advertising is to first establish a need. Your business meets that need. Ideally, when someone needs a car, it’s your dealership they think of first.

How do you get your dealership to be the first one that a person thinks of when they go car shopping? You can inundate consumers with all types of advertising. There is something to be said for everything from traditional print ads to television commercials, social media marketing, radio ads and so forth. The classic approach of brand repetition has worked in some cases; virtually bombarding the public with your brand can usually cause annoyance and aggravation, but when John Q. Public needs a new car, your dealership may indeed be the first seller that comes to mind.

marketing budgetThere are multiple approaches to effectively utilize your advertising and marketing budget intelligently, efficiently and successfully. There are techniques and strategies that will not only help you to promote your business but also further educate both your customers and your employees as to what makes your dealership stand out.

Extensive research has been done to determine what advertising works, and these basic principles can be applied to everything from interpersonal relationships to becoming an effective communicator. Knowledgeable but not arrogant; informed but not condescending; and, most importantly, a good listener. A salesperson is able to answer questions honestly and correctly, instead of delivering a standardized sales pitch.

In this article, seven strategies are outlined to help you determine how to get the best return on investment with your advertising and marketing budget. The strategies and methodologies listed are based on real-world research and should help your dealership exceed its goals this year and beyond.

7 Tips on Effectively Using Your Dealership’s Marketing and Advertising Budget

  1. Customer Relationship Management Training & Techniques

It is believed that when a person has a positive customer service experience, he or she will tell one or two people about it. When a person has a negative customer service experience, five or more people will find out about it. This can be extremely detrimental to a business, including a car dealership, especially with the advent of online reviews.

From the moment a potential customer walks into the dealership, your employees must do everything possible to make it a positive experience, regardless of whether a car is sold or not. Employees should be trained to treat every potential customer with the utmost respect, and while professional sales tactics should be utilized to bolster the potential customer’s interest and desire to purchase a vehicle, your sales team needs to be trained to allow the customer to feel free to look around without being constantly chased by an overly aggressive salesperson. It is absolutely worth it to invest in employee training tactics; how to be aggressive enough without hounding the customer, how to be persuasive and informative, and how to earn a customer’s trust and respect.

Additionally, Customer Relationship Management or CRM does not stop once a sale is final. Reaching out to your customer via text, email or otherwise with specials, discounts and service reminders are a way of showing your customer that you care that he or she is enjoying their new car. Of course, there is a cost associated with CRM technology, but it is the most direct method of reaching your customer.

  1. Intelligent Online Decisions

Your dealership undoubtedly already has an impressive, organized, easy to navigate website, and if that is not the case, please remedy that. Hire a professional website developer with experience in the industry to ensure that your site features impressive graphic design, is sleek and organized, and interactive, making it easy for a customer to make an appointment online and so forth. Additionally, online ads can be quite effective; approximately 63% of automotive dealerships spend their budget on online advertising.

That said, most people are annoyed by the ads that pop up while they are browsing the web and close out of them as soon as possible. This can have the opposite effect of boosting business. The solution is not to eliminate online ads; clearly, the internet is an excellent, immediate way to display an advertisement. Rather than investing in embedded popup ads, many dealerships are hiring digital marketing experts who can create ads that are informative, helpful and direct; answering important questions that a customer might have about a vehicle without taking such an “in your face” approach. Ads that are important, helpful and friendly, rather than being loud, disruptive and generally annoying, can greatly bolster your business.

  1. Brevity is Best

Do not abandon traditional advertising approaches such as radio and TV spots, which are still excellent ways of attracting customers. The change you may want to make is reconsidering the length of your ad. Ads that are 20-30 seconds long are, surprising as it sounds, too long for the average customer. A commercial that strikes a customer as being too long is considered annoying, distracting and long-winded. What is the magic number when it’s time to develop your next ad? According to industry insiders, six seconds. While six seconds may seem like barely enough time to even state your dealership’s name, it is indeed enough time to get a clear, succinct message across without annoying the viewer or listener.

  1. Social Media Expertise

Social media is a powerful tool, and a way of allowing the public to directly contact your dealership with questions, comments and other correspondence. It is also a way to display positive and honest reviews, as well as a way of showcasing the vehicles in your inventory.
While it is not difficult to create a Facebook or Instagram page to promote your dealership, a smarter decision is to hire an expert to create and manage your dealership’s social media presence. From drumming up excitement to creating interest or launching a call to action, social media expertise is a potent tool that can greatly increase your dealership’s digital presence.

  1. Do Not Abandon Traditional Advertising

While digital marketing is a highly effective tool that should absolutely be invested in, that is not to suggest that traditional marketing approaches should be abandoned. Many consumers prefer to view printed ads, view TV commercials or listen to radio ads. Digital marketing is still a relatively new medium, and the statistics determining its effectiveness compared to traditional advertising media has yet to be definitively proven. Instead of investing your entire budget in digital or print advertising, diversify. Continue to retain talented experts and graphic designers to work on your print ads. Don’t overwhelm the consumer with extraneous text; rather, succinctly state the most important aspects you want to convey to the public, whether you’re promoting a sale or showcasing a particular vehicle.

  1. Keep Going, Positively

As previously mentioned, the most successful companies in the world still strive to reach even greater success. Perhaps your dealership has enjoyed its most successful year so far. Emphasize the fact that through your entire team should be proud of its success, next year can be even better. Coca-Cola pays billions to earn billions, and it does so to remind the public that it values its business and works hard to earn it. No company is so successful that it can operate without proving to its customer base that it is worthy of its business.

Additionally, while Coca-Cola may be the most successful company in the beverage industry, it still works hard to stay ahead of its biggest competitor, PepsiCo. Pepsi and Coke push each other to do to better. Healthy competition can boost business. Perhaps your dealership is the best of the best in your area. Undoubtedly, you still have a fierce competitor. Use marketing and advertising to keep the competition at bay, while still doing so in a positive competitive spirit rather than a negative one. Don’t waste your budget putting down anyone else. Extol the virtues of your dealership to convince the customer why he or she should do business with you, instead of discouraging them from going elsewhere.

  1. Invest in Enjoyable Sales Training

Even the most successful salespeople in the world could benefit from utilizing new and different techniques and approaches. Putting your salesforce through training is a sound investment. However, make sure that the training is enjoyable. Whether it’s sending your team to a training program in a desirable location or rewarding them another way, take the time to show your team that you are putting them through training because you value them. Encourage your entire team to do its best, rather than creating an environment wherein your two top salespeople are constantly trying to outdo each other. Make sales training something that your employees look forward to instead of dreading, and prove to your employees that you appreciate their hard work.

To summarize, the key to effective advertising is diversity. From exploring digital marketing to traditional ads, the best approach is retaining experts to help you advertise your dealership in multiple ways. Positivity is also key when promoting your dealership, not disparaging competitors. Take extra steps to ensure that your sales force feels appreciated and rewarded and that sales training is something to look forward to rather than dread. These small steps can bolster your business and company morale, making your return on investment more than financial, but also beneficial in terms of maintaining a happy, satisfied team that enjoys working at your dealership.


Sources: AutoRaptor, CBT News, FitSmallBusiness, Dealer Marketing Magazine, Automotive News, Forbes