2015 was a record year for car sales in North America. Just under 17.5 million vehicles were sold—up 5.7% from the year before. The next couple of years, however, are expected to be relatively flat. Yet dealers, and their salespeople, still have numbers to meet, creating a very competitive environment.
Adding to the challenge is the variety of ways consumers buy vehicles. There’s no silver bullet and no clear cut solution to attracting customers. For example, Gen Y consumers spend a lot of time researching possible vehicles online. They trust car reviews on independent websites more than any other generation. What attracts them might differ a bit from what catches the eye of Gen X consumers. So how do you stand out in 2016? How do you communicate to buyers in a way that will convince them to buy from you—without increasing your spend?
The answer lies in deftly applying the fundamental advertising. There are core concepts that consistently work – but they have to be applied with the skill of an artist. These fundamentals include frequency, data, options and technology.
Frequency. We assume you’ve got reach, so let’s talk about frequency. Think about when you hear a new song on the radio. The first time you hear it, you might say, “I like this song.” By the 10th time you hear it, you may say, “I love it!” It may get stuck in your head and you may find yourself humming the tune without even realizing it. Advertising it just like that song. Repetition is the key to getting your vehicle stuck in the head of your target consumer. Not only are buyers more likely to remember your ad with repetition, they’re more likely to believe and find it trustworthy.
Data. People make brick and mortar decisions based on online research—especially Millennials, as referenced earlier. This is where data comes in. You need to understand how people use media in 2016 and for your creative to work well, your creative must reflect their preferences. Frequency doesn’t matter if your creative isn’t spot on. This includes mirroring your buying population. For example, if your buying population is 90% Hispanic, match your creative to this demographic. You increase the value of your advertising by aligning your words, graphics, fonts, visuals and more with the culture. People like to communicate with people like them – it establishes a comfort level. Use your data to understand your consumer and don’t waste money on bad creative.
Options. Buyers in 2016 expect choices – and want a comfortable buying experience. Today, buyers can find out everything they need about the price and product. They want choices about service, accessories and payment plans. It’s great to have a lot of options, but make it easy for buyers to sort through those most relevant to them. There’s a bit of a paradox at play here. Give consumers the options they want and they’ll be likely to spend more. However, if you give them too many options, they may not buy at all. The secret is to create a targeted experience that matches choices with a buyer’s preference. People buy differently, so you have to be flexible. Use your ads to present the best, limited amount of choices matched to the buyer’s preferences..
Technology. Most people don’t buy a car online, but they do get an idea about the cars they like—and even conduct research about those vehicles—on the Internet. So technology is a mission critical step to driving people into the dealership. Don’t throw away great creative and a solid strategy on bad technology. The things you need to consider include a great mobile experience, robust analytics and geo-fencing technology.
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t have to spend a ton of extra money to get more bang for your advertising buck. If you follow some basic advertising concepts, you should be able to make your dollars do more for you. Be sure to have a conversation with your ad agency or internal advertisers and ask how they are tackling each of these concepts. Chances are you can drive more traffic without revving up your spend.