Never has there been a time more urgent for exploring new frontiers, new best practices and new marketing tactics. In the past most dealers were able to succeed despite a very re-active "Ready, Fire, Aim" approach to marketing. Unfortunately, it’s this last minute shoot from the hip approach which leads to the disappointing outcome of feeling your valuable advertising dollars were wasted. I should know; I remember back in my MotoSports days when every Tuesday my trader magazine rep Paul would come walking in and ask me what we were gonna do this week. I’d flip through the book and look at what my competitors were doing. I’d usually end up telling him to run last week’s ad again, or if I was really inspired we’d sit down with some graph paper, scissors, tape and markers and draw out a new ad.
For way too many years I knew nothing about advertising except what my competitors were doing, which was all wrong! The ad copy I would come up with, the media I chose, the target audience I went after and the timing of it all was completely an afterthought to selling spark plugs, desking deals and maybe the occasional tire change just to show the service boys I could still do it. It wasn’t until I began to understand that in order to have my advertising generate red hot leads that are ready to buy, I had to choose the right media method, hit the right target audience with the right message, and do this all at just the right time.
This reminds me of the old story of the wife who was bound and determined that she was going to join her husband and his friends on their annual deer hunting trip. After reluctantly agreeing, the husband carefully placed his wife in a remote valley where she would certainly not see any deer. He then instructed her to only fire her gun into the air, should she see any deer. Once settled into his own stand, the husband heard shots fired from the valley so he quickly rushed down the hill to find his wife holding her gun on a very frightened fellow as he was shouting, "Ok lady, it’s your deer, just please let me get my saddle!" The point is, you can’t hit your target if you don’t really know what it is.
You also must choose the right weapon to hit that target. Choosing your media methods is like picking your weapon of choice, and with the Internet boom and the complexity of traditional media, choosing your weapons can be difficult.
According to DM-News/Pitney-Bowes 2008 Direct-Mail Survey, 85 percent of respondents say they open, sort and read selected pieces of their mail every day while 15 percent let it accumulate unopened for two or more days. Another interesting stat is that 55 percent of people report greater enjoyment from reading their snail mail versus e-mail. My suspicion is this number will continue to rise if the rest of the world receives half as much Viagra e-mail as I do!
75 percent of consumers say they’re examining their mail more closely in recent months for coupons and special offers that might save them money. Close to 40 percent of consumers say that they have tried a new business after receiving direct-mail from that business, and a whopping 70 percent report renewing a relationship with a business they’d ceased patronizing as a result of receiving direct mail inviting them back.
By no means am I advocating direct mail as the magic bullet for your marketing, however, assuming you’re not a new dealer your customer database is your number one asset. There are many other cost-effective weapons that can be used to communicate with your database, such as telephone and e-mail. According to the late Peter Drucker, your business has a 1:14 chance of doing business with someone whom you have never done business with; a 1:4 chance of doing business with someone whom you have had a previous business relationship; and a 1:2 chance of doing business with existing customers. So what does this mean? Communicate more with your existing database of customers. Additionally, it’s been proven time and time again that customers who have shopped with you before will spend on average twice as much as first timers.
While many dealers think the purpose of getting a customer is to make a sale, in this new emerging economy the successful dealers are thinking the reverse: The purpose of the sale is to get a customer!