What is marketing? The word has multiple definitions and can be tied to numerous opinions. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines marketing as follows:
“1A: the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market, 1B: the process or technique of promoting, selling and distributing a product or service. 2: an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer.”
In my humble opinion, marketing is the difference between selling a vehicle or not. Many teams have mastered the art of assisting a customer from the “meet and greet” handshake to the “thank you, enjoy your new vehicle, safe travels and see you at your first service appointment” handshake. All of that is the easy part. The more challenging portion is finding those customers prior to all the handshaking. I believe the solution to this task lies in your creative abilities, effective placements to maximize reach and, of course, how often this message is drilled into their consciousness by way of frequency.
The concept of marketing can be analyzed from many points of view. The spectrum ranges from deeply analytical perspectives to simple, fun actions and contains a wide variety of viewpoints in between. Two notable methods that often conflict today are conventional versus digital. I will offer a third (as well as my favorite) category to contend with the former two: unconventional marketing techniques. For me, the best solution to the challenge of marketing is to simply make a friend! Why? It’s because people enjoy working, spending money and spending time with other people that they enjoy being around. This points the finger to grassroots marketing.
Around September 2015, Toyota Motor Company President and CEO Akio Toyoda challenged every single Toyota dealer in the United States to become the “Best in Town.” Akio then created a fund that every U.S. Toyota dealership can use strictly to benefit their primary marketing area (PMA), otherwise known as their community. This means a local Toyota dealership can give money to almost anyone with a valid request for a donation or sponsorship in their designated PMA without impacting the dealer’s financial statements. Such requests included money needed for local children’s sports team’s jerseys, community festivals, covering the deficiency balance for a local school’s child lunch fund or simply providing meals for less fortunate families during the holidays. This platform creates a win/win scenario for the future customer, the recipients and the dealership.
The automotive industry tends to lean more towards conventional and digital methods of marketing and advertising. However, being extremely familiar with your PMA and the best ways to efficiently penetrate it with your story and message is a very important strategy.
For example, in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the market is best reached via a radio strategy. In this community, folks are forced to drive “to town” at an average of 15 to 20 minutes of travel, and most people keep the radio on during this commute. Therefore, radio gives the highest frequency with the widest reach and ensures the message is memorable if the creativity supports it.
The idea of marketing is quite complex. It may be best to describe advertising as a perception. Regardless of the direction you are headed with your message, be cautious that you are branding your business and dealership. Keeping the theme consistent is best so that one does not confuse the audience and ensures the message you want to convey is the content you deliver to the future customer.