Marketing and advertising may be classified technically as an expense, but rather than thinking of your efforts as a cost of doing business, what if you considered those efforts an asset to growing your business?
Let me explain. Today’s customer demands a quick, easy and enjoyable purchasing experience from any retailer, including your dealership. Your marketing strategy must be designed to fulfill those expectations as well as to address your unique business needs over the long haul
Those needs will change over time, and the strategy will need to evolve to match them, but it does that as a constant part of your long-term strategy — a fundamental aspect of how you approach your business. It’s not an expense, but a regular investment.
The fact is, your marketing strategy will be more successful as soon as you stop treating it like any other expense and start treating it as an investment in building your brand and attracting consumers to your store.
The Investment Mindset
When you approach your marketing efforts as an investment, instead of just another operating expense, you automatically bring a different set of ideas to the table: a focus on broader and more fundamental dealership goals, an eye toward long-term planning and a preparedness to take on a certain level of risk in your commitment to improving your bottom line.
First, you have to shift your primary focus away from the short-term revenue goals and start thinking big picture. While this might cut against your business instincts, it’s critical. What are your goals for your dealership a year from now, or five years from now? You can’t take the short term for granted, but a successful strategy also demands long-term thinking.
Second, adopting the long-term investment mindset can actually save you money as you budget over a longer period of time, reducing the temptation of those attractive, but wasteful, short-term strategies. You will also gain a truer sense of which strategies are and aren’t working for you, as your analytics are made more reliable by larger sample sizes taken over lengthier periods of time.
Third, you’ll have to be prepared to assume a certain level of risk and practice some patience in giving this strategy the time it requires to work. There’s risk because not every strategy works for every dealer: There’s no one-size-fitsall marketing solution, and your strategy will likely need some tweaking over time as your needs become easier to identify.
Patience is necessary because long-term improvements are not necessarily visible in the first week, or month. Setting some honest and realistic expectations at the outset will help you stay the course during the challenging times.
Transforming Your Marketing
You might say, “That’s fine, Chris, but how do I get started implementing my new long-term marketing vision?”
My advice is to look for a marketing partner who understands your goals and can carry out your vision.
A few tips on working with that partner to implement a long-term strategy:
- Research your options and be open to watching demonstrations and consulting with industry peers
- Document what your specific goals are — both long- and short-term
- Examine track records to find a marketing partner with a proven history of results, then take an active role in planning and know the specifics of how your strategy will unfold.
- Find out what returns to expect, and when you can expect them. Your marketing partner should be able to provide you with concrete analytics and communicate the results of your campaigns and be ready to adjust the strategy as needed to meet your goals.
It will always be tempting to treat your marketing as just one more expense. But, the difference between the mediocre and the truly successful lies in that critical shift of understanding its true value to your business.
Start treating your marketing as an investment, approach it seriously as a key part of your long-term roadmap to success, and the transformation of your campaigns will begin.
Are you ready to invest in a bold shift in thinking?