It’s easy to forget your advertising in a market that has been profitable over the last two years. Many dealerships have cut way back on their advertising and others have stopped altogether. It’s all based on simple economics, when demand exceeds supply, prices and profits go up. That model is starting to shift back to pre-pandemic days as supply chain issues are being resolved and customers start to expect a deal.
Do you have a plan in place to take advantage of the shift in the marketplace? Future success starts with finding your voice, a voice that reflects the personality of your dealership. Were you a hard-sale all-the-time dealership? Did you follow all the rules, do you like taking chances, is customer satisfaction really important to you? Didn’t know your dealership had a personality? Your customer and former customers assign personality traits to your dealership. Trustworthy, Caring, Crooks, High Pressure, Fair…. So start defining your dealership’s personality and from that, a branding voice will emerge that can carry your advertising message today and in the future.
Do you feel confident with your dealership’s branding? Here’s a quick test to grade your branding efforts: Pull all your advertising for the last four to six months. Digital banner ads, Magazine ads, Videos, Radio spots, direct mail, in-store point of sales, and your logo just to name a few. Does each ad, from all your marketing efforts, look related? Does each message carry the same type style, color combinations, sound, and tone? You can think of it as a family reunion and the striking family resemblance among the attendees. Or like an odd family union with strange cousins, uncles, and aunts that look nothing alike? If all your advertising looks related, congratulations you have started building a brand. However if like most dealership advertising you have a hodgepodge of ads, then now would be a good time to start putting together a branding plan for your dealership.
Full market recovery may be a few months off, so there’s time to reevaluate the current state of your advertising. You have a lot of tools at your disposal to help with this effort. Starting with customer surveys and online reviews. Poll your employees to define the dealership in one sentence. The best branding campaigns will be a reflection of the dealership’s personality and that personality is usually set at the top with the dealer principal. If you’re having trouble defining your dealership’s personality it’s helpful to hire an outside source to review all the past advertising efforts with a fresh pair of eyes. The old adage, too close to the forest to see the tree applies here. A fresh pair of eyes with experience in advertising and branding will be invaluable as the automotive market resets in full recovery mode.