By Leigh March
The challenge for community dealers to stand out in market areas of fewer than 50,000 people is daunting. The latest NADA stats show that 4,900 dealers own only one location, and 1,289 own only two locations. Many of these rooftops are lower volume stores and rarely have the resources or budget to hire a full time marketing director or ad agency. As a result their default marketing strategy is to post inventory on classified sites, engage a few vendors from their OEM co-op list that provide some basic online marketing or social media posts, and do a few direct mail campaigns a year.
Auto Industry Advertising Through the Roof
Car dealers collectively spend just under $10 billion in advertising annually. So if dealers are spending $630 in advertising for each new car sold, are they getting a solid return on investment? Are they building their brand? Are they connecting with local prospects? The results are mixed. Additionally, where are the dollars going? The biggest chunk of the auto dealer industry’s adspend, 55%, goes to the Internet. Not far behind are TV, radio, direct mail and then newspapers. One can guess how much of this comes from the smaller dealer.
Using vendor co-op dollars provides some online exposure but it doesn’t offer any differentiation from the thousands of other dealers using the same service. If a dealership is marketing via the same channels as their competitors, they need a way to stand out. Sensing this challenge and frustration Dealers Marketing Network developed a program specifically to make small community dealers rise above the competition.
A Targeted Marketing Approach
Dealers Marketing Network’s suite of marketing solutions benefits local dealers in several ways. They offer a choice of programs covering local promotional events, social media activities, reputation marketing, a dealer video channel, consulting time to develop community specific programs, and a service that helps dealers identify vendors that offer good solutions for their market.
According to CEO Mark Dubis, during the onboarding process, Dealers Marketing Network conducts an audit of the dealer’s current marketing activities, vendors, and campaign results. Then Dealers Marketing Network develops a strategy specific to the dealership for a Phase-One deployment. Examples of what this could involve include digital and social media tactics, a blog, and showroom point-of-sale materials.
The Power of a Network
The Dealers Marketing Network plan creates non-exclusive promotions and engagement strategies on a market exclusive basis. Simply put, when a dealer signs onto the program, it will be the only dealer in its market area with access to the Dealers Marketing Network programs.
“Auto dealers benefit from our network similar to how a local television station benefits from being an affiliate of ABC, CBS, FOX, or NBC,” said Dubis. “Our clients have access to exclusive programming that is hard to compete with because it is well researched, targeted, and strategically planned,” he explained.
Dealers Marketing Network expects to build out across the country. They anticipate this growth to provide them with an extensive amount of resources to develop cutting edge marketing solutions, videos, and customer attractions and events for their member dealers.
The Greatest Value To Member Dealers
Above the standard services, member dealers have the opportunity to initiate other programs and boost their visibility and brand even further. A compelling aspect of the program is the fact that the member dealer controls the monthly ad budget and the promotions it wants to roll out in its market.
Dealers can also boost programs in the spring or summer and cut back on some in the winter. Or they can boost their winter promotions to bring in more customers during historically slow selling periods. Essentially the dealer controls turning the marketing faucet on a little or a lot.
Feasible and Reasonable Without a Catch
When asked how Dealers Marketing Network is able to provide a broad offering of services for a low monthly retainer, Dubis explained it has put together standard services that form the core of its dealer marketing offerings and uses a combination of team members, contractors, and local “in-market” talent.
Dubis further explained that Dealers Marketing Network team provides the work product for each initiative. If the project requires printed materials, point-of-sale items for the dealership, or other external costs, the dealership covers those additional costs. For local promotions and events targeting select audiences, the dealer can have its own staff manage the process with the network’s support, or they can engage the network to handle everything from A to Z.
Over the past few years technology has often been a two-edged sword for auto dealers. Now dealers in the network will be able to leverage creative talent and technology to generate more sales and service business and build relationships for future sales too.
Leigh March is a freelance writer for various companies and publications and works with companies looking to develop a digital marketing strategy. She can be reached at [email protected].