If you are a Dealer and you are currently delegating your advertising and marketing, stop it! By delegating all of your advertising and marketing responsibilities, you are abdicating the responsibility for the lifeblood of your business. You are handing the keys to your kingdom to someone else and allowing them to drive your business in any direction they want. By doing so, you are losing the leadership and understanding of your business and your customers.

You may be using several excuses when you delegate all your advertising and marketing responsibilities, such as, “I don’t have time” “I don’t know enough about advertising and marketing” “The advertising companies are professionals that know more about that stuff than me” “I am from another era and I don’t get this digital stuff” “I need to focus on what I know best which is selling cars.” Do all these things sound familiar?

It definitely makes sense to pare down your daily activities to the things that you have the best talents and skills for. It also makes sense to understand that you can’t be great at everything and that you only have time for so much in one day.  However, it’s critical to know there are certain things in your business that you must have strong knowledge about and be heavily involved in. Advertising and marketing definitely falls into that category.

marketingFirst of all, you may be shocked to know that many if not most advertising companies are not only not experts, they often don’t know more than you do about advertising and marketing
. Conventional media advertising companies are often well versed in production and buying advertising time but can be woeful at understanding the best practices of marketing.

To make matters worse, the conventional media advertising companies have seen their billing dollars drop dramatically as more dollars are being spent on digital marketing and to compensate, many of those agencies are now adding digital marketing services to their portfolio of services but often have little expertise in digital marketing. Some ad agencies outsource this work to digital agencies and do not disclose that their clients.

The very first thing a Dealer must take the time to do, is to define what are your goals? What are you looking to accomplish? It’s easy to say you want more traffic or you want more sales but it runs much deeper than that. A dealer must define the “4 M’s. – Message, Market, Media and Match. What market are you looking to reach? Be specific. Who are your current customers? Who are your best potential customers? Who are you not reaching now that you could and should? What is the best message that reaches, motivates, engages and gets those customers to react? What media choices are best to reach those customers and how can you cross channel market to amplify the effectiveness of all your marketing? Who are your competitors and what is their approach? What are the opportunities in your marketplace? How should you define your SDP – Specific Defining Proposition? What makes you better and or unique in the value of what you do and what you offer?

All of those questions and the potential answers may seem overwhelming and out of your wheelhouse of expertise but you must begin to fully educate yourself to at a bare minimum to guide and assist any advertising and marketing vendors to help you reach your goals. Otherwise, your vendors will be playing blind archery with your money.  One of the very best things any dealer can do is to begin to educate themselves through some of the masters of the advertising and marketing game going back several years for a better perspective. The reality is that for all the new digital channels and resources there are still principles that hold firm no matter whether it is digital or conventional approaches being used. Take the time to study some greats such as David Ogilvy, Richard Benson, Claude Hopkins, Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham, Victor Schwab, John Caples, Ted Nicholas and many more.

As an example, if a Dealer will learn the art and science of copywriting they will enhance every dollar ever spent on marketing and advertising but also save tons of money that would be wasted by agencies on methods and ads that violate every known axiom of marketing. Although nobody knows exactly what will work in advertising and marketing every time, there are certain lessons that will greatly increase your odds and with well over hundred years of lessons that can be studied, there are certain things that become formulaic in your successful approach. There are also certain things that almost never work. You would be surprised how many of those things are being pushed on Dealers everyday that show no historical evidence of ever working!

One simple principle of marketing is to conduct A/B test on most if not all your marketing. If you are running content on your website, study the most effective advertising headlines of all time and choose two that may work. Utilize one for a month and then test the other the next month. History shows that headlines can be 90% of the effectiveness of ads and marketing. So would you not want to test that to see what works best? Dealers will often spend tons of money on mass mailings with absolutely no targeting and no A/B testing. Dealers often spend 4 times the money to get 25% of the potential result. It is common to see TV commercials with zero hooks and no call to action or radio commercials that don’t effectively and quickly mention the name of the dealer and therefore provide no benefit to the dealer at all.

Some agencies will push a particular digital or traditional method on a dealer in the hope they will fall in love with that particular media or channel. History shows that there is no such thing as a bad media choice but only bad usage of the media. It’s true that some media channels may work better for particular messages to reach particular audiences but you should never value the media without considering the message and the match of the two as being just as important. In other words, don’t fall in love blindly with TV, Radio or 3rd party lead sources or any other method as holy grails because there are no holy grails as media sources.

The more you self educate yourself as a Dealer, the easier it will be for you to guide, direct and assist your vendors as a true collaborative partner. You will also greatly reduce your wasted time and money dealing with charlatans and the misinformed. If you raise your game, you will put pressure on vendors to raise their game as well. It’s simply too important and involves too much money to completely delegate all responsibility to others. If you are doing that now, Stop It! 

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