Paul Potratz is COO of Potratz Advertising

Paul Potratz is COO of Potratz Advertising

Marketing expert explains how selling a car is like selling a camera: You have to create brand awareness before trying to sell a price.

Pricing is synonymous with conversion, but should it be? Before I answer, allow me to challenge your non-automotive mind. In other words, I want to think like you do when you’re shopping for personal items.

Let’s say you’re early in the process of shopping for a new camera. You have determined it should be a Nikon. You have never owned a Nikon, but in your mind, the brand has a great reputation. As consumers, we all follow the same rules in the shopping process — or “sales funnel” — listed below. Understand the psychology of a shopper and use it to your advantage. You will win!


This cycle is always followed, whether it takes a day or several weeks. The actual purchase is the fourth stage, a.k.a. the “action” stage, of the six-part shopping process, which includes awareness, consideration, preference, action, loyalty and advocacy, in that order.

When marketers focus on the action stage, they rely on price advertising. Hence price advertising skips the three prior stages.

So you can sell by price, but you will also die by price. If you don’t always have a sales event going on that prices your vehicles below those of your competitors, your sales can suffer. Of course, the same strategy also drives your sales increases late in the month. Let’s consider different ways you can start merchandising your inventory. 

Let’s look at the shopper funnel cycle in more detail. First, you became “aware” that you needed a new camera. I use the word needed but the real word is wanted. We don’t need the vast majority of stuff we purchase. So what caused you to even think it was time for a new camera? It could be one of any number of reasons:

• You saw another person using a camera that caught your eye.

• You watched a cute TV commercial that made you laugh.

• You decided it was time to get a hobby.

• You saw an inspiring photo and said, “I could do that.”

The next level is “consideration,” and you’ll notice that price is not yet even a factor. You’re still trying to decide which Nikon camera will fit your needs — you need a camera you can use to take pictures of your children playing sports, you need to be able to shoot in low-light conditions, you need something light and portable.


Our subconscious minds force us to justify our every action, including purchases. You can justify your need to buy a camera by saying it’s for the family — children are only young once and we have to capture those Kodak moments. Those moments could be captured on an iPhone or a $79 point-and- shoot. But you will find a way to justify a bigger expenditure.

In the car business, we are pros at helping customers justify their purchases. Your goal is to develop your website and marketing strategy into a purchase-justification resource with compelling content. With the right content, you can dramatically increase your chances of capturing every car buyer who visits your site. Employing this type of strategy can seem overwhelming and costly, but it will offer the highest return in conversion.

In the “consideration” stage, we seek information to support the purchase decision. Here are several steps you are likely to take in your search for a Nikon:

• Search for information online

• Read — and attempt to comprehend — the manufacturer’s technical information.

• Watch “unboxing” videos made by other buyers.

• Seek reviews and “acceptance of right choice” from other buyers.

• Consult family and friends — in person and online.

• Ask friends if they know any photographers.

The “consideration” stage is your best opportunity, because:

• Customers are still deciding what to purchase.

• Customers have not decided where to purchase.

• Cost is not the major factor, which offers more opportunity for profits.

• Customers are more engaged and willing to discuss options.

• Less competition with other dealers since most focus on price to sell a vehicle.

Now let’s look at the actual process of following these principles to create your new marketing strategy.


Create a list of 25 questions you have been asked about the vehicles you sell. Then create a video addressing each question. You will also need to create a transcript of the video for those indiiduals who prefer to read. Here are some topics you can use to develop a video clip or marketing copy:

• Explain the differences in trim levels between, say, the Camry LE and LX

• Full, detailed vehicle walkaround for each model

• Full test drive for each model

• Powertrain warranty coverage and details and options for an

extended warranty

• Lease vs. purchase

Those are five topics of discussion to get you started. Now I want you to work with your team and come up with 20 more this month. Yes, I know it’s a lot of work! But this strategy will offer benefits and leads two years from now. What other type of marketing will offer that kind of shelf life? Check back next month as I take you through the next steps for driving leads with your new content.

I want you to be as successful as you want to be.