Many car buyers use their income tax refunds as down payments. Offering to double the amount creates value at every credit tier.

Many car buyers use their income tax refunds as down payments. Offering to double the amount creates value at every credit tier. 

Tax refund season is upon us! Do you have strategies in place to capitalize on the wave of newly enriched taxpayers? This is an excellent opportunity to create a unique event for your dealership, and it comes but once a year. In 2015, you can separate yourself from competitors who are running the same old manufacturer events at the same exact time. You have the ability to demonstrate tremendous value for your customers and help them take advantage of their annual “gift” from the government.

The best advice is to start planning early. Stop waiting until the last minute to put your plans together — in every aspect of your business, everything will be easier if you start the preparations ahead of time.

You may think the first step is to determine exactly what to offer. But there is a more important question that needs to be answered first, and it too often goes unasked in the planning stage: What exactly do you want to get out of this event? 

Maybe you need to sell an additional 40 vehicles in February and March, or perhaps you want to build more brand awareness. Whatever your goal, it needs to be determined before you start the work of creating strategies and processes. If you don’t know where the finish line is, you can’t win the race.

Structuring the Offer

Tax season events are too often perceived as an opportunity to reach out to the special finance market. However, dealers shouldn’t limit themselves to a single, segmented group. After all, credit-challenged customers aren’t the only taxpayers who receive refunds. Feel free to open the offer up to the masses to create a higher volume of traffic. It all comes back to the law of contact: The more individuals you reach, the more opportunities you have to sell.

One item we have seen tremendous success with is a “Double Your Down Payment” offer. The customer brings in her tax refund to use as a down payment, and the dealership doubles it. It’s a simple message and it provides tremendous value at all levels of credit.

Many dealers offer different pricing structures based on the vehicle costs, often determined by the manufacturers they represent. By offering to double the amount of each car buyer’s tax refund, you can match your pricing structure to the OEM’s. You can limit it to a specific amount or — if your front-end costs allow — you can match any refund that comes in the door, no matter the amount. This is a creative message that makes you stand out while providing tremendous value to new and loyal customers alike.

Get the Word Out

So what types of online marketing campaigns are best suited for drawing in-market car buyers at tax time? Every dealership and market is different, but there are a few constants that can help you decide where best to spend your advertising budget. Let’s take a look at five that are particularly pertinent to tax time:

1. Consistency sells. The first step is to insist on a consistent message — including the look and feel of the creative pieces — across all marketing mediums. This is vital, as advertising efforts can be wasted if you muddle them up with too many ideas. Create a message that is clear and specific, then design your marketing to drive that message home — no matter how or where your customers encounter it.

2. Create a virtual showroom. Now you need to get the messages to the right people at the right time. Your website is one of the most important tools you have to promote your event. Just about every customer visits the website before visiting the dealership, and it is vital that you treat yours as your virtual showroom. During the event, create a banner on the home page promoting the offer that, when clicked, links to a landing page with more details and additional information.

3. Focus on education. You have the ability to educate your customers on tax season best practices and suggested ideas for how best to utilize their new funds. This ties back into a very important aspect of website content: You need to focus on providing real resources for consumers. Your Web conversions will increase as you add opportunities for visitors to learn from and engage with you.

4. Be prepared. Next, you need to be prepared to handle the influx of leads and visitors who decide to take advantage of your generous offer. Scripts should be set in place for anyone who answers the phone and the sales team should be trained on how to promote the offer.

Point-of-sale material is another tool you can use to help drive home the event, and make sure everyone who walks into the showroom knows about the offer within a few seconds. But to reiterate my point above, make sure your point-of-sale design and messaging matches your website and any other creative you send out to promote the event.

5. Use social media. Using social media to promote your tax-time event will give you the ability to target consumers based on whatever criteria you set, such as the amount of time they spent on websites like H&R Block or TurboTax. You can even go a step further and target people who have visited those sites and have shown interest in purchasing a vehicle recently.

If you plan to host a tax event this season, don’t just roll with the crowd and offer the same basic discounts every other dealer in your market is likely to promote. Make your dealership stand out by enticing consumers with a relevant offer that will be valuable to them and help you meet your sales goals.

Paul Potratz is COO of Potratz Advertising and a nationally recognized expert in digital, mobile, behavioral and social media marketing. [email protected]

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