It’s easy to think of “traditional marketing” and “digital marketing” as two wholly different techniques for attracting and retaining business. Traditional marketing takes place in the “real” world, utilizing the likes of mailers, billboards, and TV advertisements, while digital marketing happens in the online world.
You may also get the impression that traditional marketing is on its way out and digital marketing will be the sole surviving wave of the future. This is not correct. While digital marketing has become the cornerstone of most automotive retailers’ marketing efforts, traditional marketing is still visible and prevalent for many consumers and, when used properly, can generate additional growth for your ongoing operations. Each of these disciplines has its own unique advantages that can complement and enhance your overall marketing efforts.
However, the most successful automotive dealership marketing campaigns use both traditional and digital efforts as a unified whole. While traditional marketing will always have a place on its own, it can also serve to enhance the visibility and selling power of your website in many different ways.
Partnering traditional and digital marketing techniques for greater growth
Some examples of the ways in which traditional marketing can affect a dealership’s digital presence include:
Driving traffic to key web pages through QR codes: QR (Quick Response) codes were invented in Japan back in 1994 to track auto parts made by supplier Denso. In the public domain, these machine-readable, two-dimensional matrix barcodes had more recently fallen out of favor – until the COVID-19 pandemic hit the globe. In an attempt to avoid spreading the virus, restaurants worldwide ditched their printed menus and put them online, where they could be accessed by scanning a QR code placed on the table. This instantly boosted the visibility and usage of the QR code, making it a newly viable way to marry traditional media with the digital realm.
You can place QR codes on your dealership’s business cards, in your newspaper ads, and on your billboards. Different QR codes can take customers to different pages of your website: to specific landing pages, to online financing applications, to schedule a service appointment, or anywhere else you choose, making them a versatile tool.
You can even place individual QR codes on your new and used-car inventory, with each vehicle’s QR code connecting to a specific page that showcases that car, truck, or SUV in fine detail. These pages can also let consumers make inquiries, request test drives, and apply for credit 24/7, even outside of business hours. Best of all, the results are trackable, bringing a measure of accountability to your traditional marketing!
Giving the sense that the dealership’s web presence is a “big deal” through local community visibility: As the dealer principal or general manager, you are no doubt intimately familiar with the workings and intricacies of your website. You likely oversaw its development, rollout, and updates. But what about the general public? In our online-heavy world where every competing dealership, as well as every other business, has an online presence, how can you focus attention on what your site has to offer?
The answer is to use the benefits of traditional marketing! By emphasizing your website and its customer-friendly shopping features in your traditional media, you are building authority and trust for your digital assets, increasing your conversion rate. It’s as easy as including a screenshot of your homepage in your newspaper and magazine ads, billboards, flyers, and direct mail pieces. You can also take it to the next level in your TV commercials, by showing how easy it is to click and shop your inventory, request a test drive, or make a service appointment online. Even on the radio, you can emphasize your website’s address and its ease of use.
By giving potential customers a preview of your site and how it works, they will be more likely to visit it. These consumers will also have a comforting familiarity with it the first time they use it, because you have already shown it to them in the real world.
Providing more detailed information in a prestigious format: While media like newspapers and billboards have their benefits, you may be searching for a better way to present your store in a more upscale way, while also providing additional information. Magazine ads are one way to go, especially if they are local or regional in nature and serve your core demographic segment. High-quality, full-color printed flyers can also fulfill this function, providing added versatility at a lower cost than typical magazine ads. With flyers, you can:
- Distribute them to the right consumers in your market area by targeted direct mail
- Post them where potential customers congregate or shop
- Generate leads with special offers and track them with discount codes
- Send customers to a unique landing page
- Announce a new vehicle model or a special event
- Include them with other correspondence to customers (they usually ride along with no extra postage)
- Insert them into newspapers for additional impact
- Send them via marriage mail or shared coupon mailings to reduce delivery costs
- Give them out at fairs and festivals
- Make a large-format postcard version that eliminates the envelope and puts your message front and center (with less competition) as soon as the mail is received
Generating buzz through creative television and radio commercials: With the proliferation of cable television systems nationwide, there are a wide variety of affordable options for dealerships interested in local TV advertising. You can select the specific channels that attract the same demographics that you wish to target, whether those audiences are mass-market broad or high-end luxury narrow. You can target certain parts of the day, particular programming, or go for round-the-clock coverage. There’s a plan for every budget.
Once you have your media plan in place, you can then develop a TV commercial that will present your rooftop’s story in the best possible light to your selected audience. It’s usually a good idea to engage the services of a production company that can deliver a professional-looking product within your budget, giving you an ad that will make people want to visit your store and do business with you. Add your website address and a quick shot of your site to generate responses online.
With radio advertising, you will typically select those stations in your local market that reach the audiences most likely to buy your vehicle brands. Whether you choose country, rock, or a combination of mass-market formats, you will generally find that morning and evening “drive times” tend to attract more listeners but will end up costing more. Most stations will offer you significant savings on a plan that is spread out over the day for exposure on a 24-hour basis. You naturally will want to mention your website address prominently at the very end of your ads.
Another option for high-end luxury dealerships is public radio sponsorships. Public stations usually attract a higher income demographic, playing classical music, news features, and/or general and specialty interest talk shows. You can sponsor a specific program and “own” that part of the day for that program’s fans on an ongoing basis if you so choose.
Whichever way you go with radio, avoid the temptation of the radio station that offers to “record your spot for free” when you purchase the airtime. Instead of using an in-house announcer that does many other commercials on that same station, make the small investment in a freelance voiceover artist who brings a unique voice to your message. While you’re at it, find a writer with radio experience or use your own marketing department or agency to create a distinctive spot for your voiceover artist to present. A distinctive radio spot presented in this way is one more way of creating overall local media saturation to drive potential buyers to your website.
DCG Acquisitions offers you a team of experts with experience in every facet of the automotive industry
At DCG, our expertise even includes marketing! We are ready to advise our clients on any issue related to purchasing or selling a business in the automotive industry, as well as the many aspects of day-to-day operations.
Contact DCG Acquisitions to speak directly with an automotive M&A specialist. We’re here with resources for automotive sales, acquisitions, and growth.