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Wild West Days Are Back

Many dealers dipped their toe into Facebook ads with a tiny $500 or $1,000 spend and decided it was not for them. How many cars would you have sold in the 1990s with a $500 spend in direct mail or newspaper ads?

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Jason Girdner is the CEO of Tecobi

At one time, the car business might have looked to some like the Wild West, with its dealers the gun slingers. In those days, dealers used to find something that worked and poured more and more money into it to sell as many vehicles as possible. And, if that worked, why not take the marketing investment of, say, $7,500 in the direct mail campaign that produced 35 car deals and double it the next month in hopes of doubling the results?

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This entrepreneurial gun-slinger spirit is gone today in most stores. “Play it safe” and “do what everybody else is doing” rules the day today.

Dealership marketing has been changing with an ever-quickening pace for the last two decades, although few blaze a trail into new marketing territory until they see the herd moving that way. Dealers have reallocated marketing dollars from traditional to digital just like every other dealership in their town and across the country. The amount of newspaper, television, radio and direct mail advertising that dealers are doing today has dropped in the past two decades and most would agree that this was and is the best way to spend marketing budgets. Websites, SEO, SEM and third-party lead providers were able to produce more per dollar, so almost all dealers went all in.

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Today, the marketing landscape has changed again and the available advantages for the early adopting dealers is greater than ever before. If this sounds good to you, go into the closet and wipe the dust of your gun belt — the Wild West is back.

Facebook came in like a lamb and today is a lion. For years, dealers tried to get “likes” and post non-sales content in hopes of selling cars. A few vehicles were sold, but Facebook felt like a necessary evil to dealers and, for years, did not mature into a vehicle-delivering machine. Over the last two years, however, Facebook has come of age and the Facebook lead generation ad is the single most cost-effective means to find car buyers and bring them into your dealership. It is the closest thing to a silver bullet out there today. Dealerships embracing this and shifting their marketing budgets accordingly are seeing more than 30 percent of sales coming from Facebook. So, why then are so many dealerships reluctant to try it or, if they do, to really give it a chance?

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Many dealers dipped their toe into Facebook ads with a tiny $500 or $1,000 spend and decided it was not for them. How many cars would you have sold in the 1990s with a $500 spend in direct mail or newspaper ads? Any methods, to truly drive incremental sales, will require more than $500. We all know that Facebook is where most of us consume the most media, so it only makes sense to spend a larger portion of our budgets here.

Not only will you get more leads for less money, but the leads are absolutely higher gross customers than any other source. Most Internet leads are submitted by car shoppers after they have spent 10 or more hours researching the best way to drain every last dollar of gross from the deal. They come into your store ready to dig in their heels and do battle.

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Facebook lead generation ads reach people in their newsfeed. They are looking at pictures of friends’ children and vacations when they see an offer to put them in a new vehicle that resonates with them. They have not been shopping or researching. They have simply reacted to an offer with two quick clicks and they are back to liking their friends’ posts. It is truly as simple as two clicks. Facebook auto-populates the lead form and the customer opts in to receive text messages.

Once you have captured this customer lead, the best way to set an appointment is with texting. A report commissioned by SinglePoint found that text message open rates exceed 99 percent and that 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes. You want to talk about a strong communication rate?

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Facebook lead generation ads are catching on quickly and you cannot afford to be the last store on your street to start using them. Don’t leave the fastest-running marketing horse in the stable. If you would like to see samples of some well-performing ads, please send me an email with “Samples” in the subject line.

Jason Girdner

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