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Half Your Advertising Isn’t Working Can You Identify And Eliminate It?

The same joke has been around the ad industry for decades: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The problem is I don't know which half." Although it is a joke, 50 percent is still a meaningful number.  Any effective marketer or promoter lives and dies by it on a daily basis, right?

Wrong. Marketers in today’s digital, on-demand advertising age realize that this percentage is closer to seventy-five percent, possibly higher on occasion.

Three-quarters of all the promotion you’re doing right now is potentially not working. Auto dealers are not immune to this overall trend in advertising simply because they have been in the local newspaper for the past 50 years and feel that they have enough brand equity in their local marketplace to sustain them for another 50. Erosion is in everything from newspaper print circulation to network newscasts, which has caused one certainty – Fragmentation.

Of all new car buyers, 75 percent shop online before making a buying decision. How do you as a dealer use this to your advantage? Rather, does this number place you at a disadvantage? Many dealers have become adept at capturing localized Internet shoppers while others have ignored the trend. It must seem difficult to embrace the new digital age we live in, an age which has brought us Internet keyword advertising, Pay-Per-Click, video on demand, mobile advertising and a whole new meaning to the term “direct response.” Dealers today have more choices when it comes to ad-placement than ever before. Many consider this a good thing, but others feel the waters have become too muddied to navigate. You need to be even more discerning when it comes to the current advertising and promotion marketplace. A dealer must recognize when a marketplace becomes more and more fragmented. You have to focus your attention on many different individual campaigns measuring the effectiveness of each one.

New tracking technologies can measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns online and to some degree offline, but this is something that has been in place for almost thirty years in the direct response television industry. It is now referred to as a “performance based" campaign. The electronic retailing industry has been pinpointing its target audience and monitoring the effects of their messages for decades.

This brings me back to my original point of the magic number, 50 percent. As tracking technology improves, that wasted half will be trimmed and trimmed, making online advertising even more attractive. With the growth of online video and the shifting of more dollars, media will become more and more accountable. What can you do today, as a local car dealer, to maximize every ad dollar spent? How can you stop flushing away 50 cents out of every promotional and marketing dollar? Analyzing your ad dollar is no waste of time.

It all starts with electronic accountability. Every single message you put out there needs a toll-free number attached to it. This number needs to be associated with a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week answering service. This is the basics.  Many dealers answer all their calls on their local business line, and only during operating hours. Utilize your dealer Web site to its fullest potential. Drive people to it in every message you broadcast, mail, print or post. Never settle for a branding campaign again! Remember if you’re like the typical dealer, your brand was built years ago and people know who you are; now make an offer and track it! Then, ride the best one until it’s time to test and track another one. Instant results are still possible. You don’t have to wait until the end of the month to begin adjusting your business.

The beauty of electronic accountability is that it is instantaneous. Run a “Zero Down” radio campaign over the weekend and track Web hits and phone results daily. On Monday, debrief the campaign. This, in conjunction with how many cars you sold over the weekend, will give you a very clear and confident picture of how effective that campaign was.     

All advertising has direct response potential. If an ad is good, people will respond to it electronically. The percentage of people who walk in your door will correlate directly to those who respond via telephone or the Internet. It is a great thing for auto dealers because it will help chip away at the 50 percent rule.

Here’s an exercise for you and your ad agency. Tell your agency you would like to follow a direct response advertising model next month on all of your campaigns. After you explain how this is possible, tell them you would like to see them in your office every Monday morning to review weekly electronic results from all mediums. When they ask you why, tell them you’re not satisfied with the 50 percent rule and you want to know which 50 percent is not working.

Vol 3, Issue 12


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