With thousands of franchise and independent dealers shuttering their doors in 2008, it is hoped that 2009 will be a time of rejuvenation for the dealers who withstood the blows of ‘08. Focus Inc (Focus), a direct marketing company based in Tampa, Fla., offers dealers a turnkey solution to draw more customers into the showroom. Customers, which seem to be in short supply when compared to previous years, are still out there, but they are apprehensive about walking into a car dealership for fear of being turned down for an auto loan.

While the credit markets have tightened, it’s important that consumers realize they can still get approved for an auto loan. Focus can help improve consumer confidence with its direct-response marketing campaigns broadcast via infomercials. To be able to offer dealers direct-response advertising at an affordable price, Focus developed a subscription-based service, which is available in the top 50 markets and guarantees dealers a minimum of 500 shared leads for a flat fee. In some markets, dealers can buy up to 1,500 leads, said Raul Vazquez, co-founder and CEO of Focus.

The subscription-based lead service was developed to offer dealers quality leads that are comparable to Internet leads but less expensive. Many Internet lead providers claim to offer exclusive leads, and there are several reputable Internet lead providers out there, but the reality is that while a lead may be exclusive to that particular provider, it’s almost impossible to determine whether the same customer visited other lead providers’ sites and filled out more online applications.

“The difference with our product is, a competitor doesn’t enter the arena. Our customer has sat there, watched a half-hour infomercial and is much more motivated … The likelihood that our customer had gone to another Web site … and filled out an application is much less. That’s why we have a much higher closing percentage,” said Vazquez. “The bottom line is, we deliver a shared lead and we price it like a shared lead.” Focus’ leads range from $5 to $8 per lead, depending on the package dealers purchase.

To be able to provide this service, which targets the subprime customer, the infomercials are blind (i.e., infomercials that aren’t branded to any particular dealership). When customers respond to the infomercials, their information is input into an online database, which is where subscribing dealers access their leads. Beyond lead generation, however, Focus also offers lead management services, or BDC services, to set appointments for dealers. Vazquez said, “Generating leads is great, but only if you know how to finish the job. You can’t take leads to the bank unless you know how to follow up. A big part of our business focuses attention on making dealers better at servicing customers and selling cars. Our BDC plays an active role in helping dealers accomplish this. We can do it for a lot less money than [dealers] can do it themselves, and we do a really good job of setting appointments for dealers … and we can set appointments in both English and Spanish.”

In addition to lead generation and management services, the company also produces custom commercials and infomercials for dealerships. When Focus creates custom TV spots for dealers, it’s a comprehensive service. With more than 20 years of experience in direct-response marketing, the company covers the process from A to Z. Focus scripts the spot, finds the talent for it, films and edits it, places the media, answers the inbound phone calls, and even works the leads generated from the spot if the dealer prefers. Custom commercials and infomercials can also be produced in Spanish. Additionally, Focus offers media-buying services for dealerships that already have a commercial or infomercial ready to air on television but are unsure of the best times to reach their targeted customers.

Striving to stay on the forefront of technology in marketing, Focus produces video for Web sites as well, which many dealers are incorporating into their online marketing strategy. Technology nowadays allows anyone to shoot video and upload it online, but not everyone knows how to create video that generates response. “We know how to create video that’s going to generate a response,” said Vazquez. And that’s the ultimate goal—to get customers to respond to your video messages.

To learn more about direct-response marketing and the many services Focus Inc offers to dealers across the country, call 866.740.7369 or visit www.FocusInc.com.

Special Finance Insider Vol. 3, Issue 1