By Richard Yarrow
There was a time when a dealer who needed to quickly shift a few cars would turn to the tried and tested formula of Balloons + Bunting = Buzz. Five minutes watching reruns of Minder on one of those TV channels loosely classified as ‘entertainment’ shows you Arthur Daley was clearly a believer. Needless to say, it’s not top of the list of sales techniques with his spiritual successors. The question is, what has replaced it when it comes to tactical marketing?
NEED TO KNOW
|♦ Dealers must utilise classifieds, SEO, pay-per-click and social media|
|♦ Local newspapers can still work, but social media offers faster response|
|♦ Dealerships can mine databases to target specific customers with offers|
Nick King, market research director for Auto Trader, said a smarter and more hi-tech approach to tactical marketing was needed to bring customers to the forecourt.
“A proactive and integrated strategy that uses tools such as classified advertising, optimising websites for search, pay-per-click and social media can be most effective. The most successful retailers gain the greatest advantage through careful planning and the adoption of an integrated digital retailing strategy,” he said.
King said the trick was stocking desirable vehicles, offering them at the right price, then channelling advertising and marketing spend accordingly.
It’s a view echoed by Daksh Gupta, CEO of Marshall Motor Group. “If you’re a franchised retailer in the 21st century, the place for balloons and bunting has gone. When you look at the investment we make in brands and corporate identities, I don’t think customers go for that anymore. It’s a nice catchphrase, but we’re far more sophisticated in drawing attention to our sites.”
Gupta spoke of the benefits of Google Adwords and database-targeting to create VIP events, but also of placing an advert in the local newspaper. Like decorating the forecourt, it’s another promotional tool which has fallen out of favour with many dealers, but Gupta believes it still has merit.
“A lot of people have pulled away from it, but because of that, the cost of marketing there is lower than it used to be,” he explained.
Andy Coulthurst, managing director of Motors.co.uk, said balloons and bunting were about “trying to make the car the star on the forecourt” and that’s still the right approach. The difference is the place to do that now is on the internet.
“By working with advertising partners to develop the best online promotion and competitive pricing strategy, dealers can significantly increase leads and also open up reach to potential buyers who are prepared to travel from further afield,” said Coulthurst.
He believes local newspapers can still work in some circumstances, but says if retailers are looking to make a quick return on investment, or want to reach a wider audience, it’s not the right approach.