Marketing efforts that are reliably profitable for your dealership can feel elusive and challenging to make, but there’s hope! Working with our clients, I’ve learned that there are several proven steps you can make to improve your dealership’s marketing, whether you have a high performing marketing team or you’re refining your existing strategy.
Generally, a lot of dealers that we work with are growth minded, which is great, but they can get carried away with expenditures in the marketing department. On the other extreme, many other dealers can be very reserved and only focus on minimizing operating expenses while losing a lot of opportunity because they’re just not allowing their marketing efforts any chance to recruit customers. But it’s absolutely possible to both grow from great marketing while cutting out unnecessary costs toward a leaner and efficient marketing plan.
To get the most out of your marketing efforts, we recommend focusing on two strategic areas for overall improvement. While each of the areas below could have their own in-depth article, let’s focus on how they each lead to more impactful and reliable marketing procedures while saving you costs.
For many dealerships, there’s usually a loose understanding of the marketing process with a specific focus on being aware of the budget and incoming customer incentives. But they don’t often have things like internal workflow diagrams or process charts from partner marketing firms to stay aware of how both internal and external marketing efforts directly affect your business.
Keeping records of how every marketing task fits into a department’s workflow helps you understand each part of the process and which parts are crucial, missing or redundant. The OEMs that dealerships represent spend a ton of money on researching and applying these methodologies to become more efficient. It doesn’t have to apply to just manufacturing. It applies to your entire dealership, from the office to sales to marketing. Let’s use an example diagram to better visualize what we’re talking about.
While the above process can be functional, there are plenty of operational redundancies at play and important questions that could help reduce costs substantially without losing quality work. For instance, here are just a few observations and questions that could optimize this marketing workflow diagram:
• Why are there separate creative departments across four different marketing channels? The social media content could be repurposed from assets created by the internal designer, saving time and money from executing different strategies.
• Are the social media designs related to the website designs or the work the agency is doing?
• Is there an ad agency that also handles social media and/or SEM analytics to reduce how many external parties are necessary for my dealership’s marketing process?
A lot of dealers know they need efficient marketing, but they don’t necessarily know how to determine what type of marketing is effective. There’s the old marketing adage: 50% of this is working, but which 50%? In order to get a handle on whether and what parts of your marketing process are effective, here are some of the steps and exercises we suggest dealers practice:
Vendor & Source/Channel Audit Exercises
• Write down all the vendors involved in your marketing flowchart.
• Go to your finance department and have them provide you a list of all marketing expenses by vendor.
• Cross-reference this list with the above list of vendors to ensure full coverage.
• Go to Google Analytics and write down all of the sources/channels of current traffic and write down the responsible party for each source/channel.
• Now write out each vendor and media channel along with the associated expense.
• Go line by line and determine the value the vendor and/or channel is providing expressed in a monetary format (for example, if something saves you time, then use your loaded hourly cost and/or the predicted value in where else that time could be spent).
• There will be overlap by vendor and marketing channel, and that is OK! There is a chance that a channel provides value, but the vendor is not, or vice versa.
There’s no doubt that these two principles will improve your marketing efforts substantially, but they’re also just the tip of the marketing-performance iceberg. With the constant digital innovations of the internet, the importance of the overall customer journey, before they’re even aware of your dealership, is just as crucial toward earning new customers. But the aforementioned strategies will help your dealership determine its key areas for growth from marketing efforts and the most efficient ways to apply them.