The Most Cost Effective Use of Your Ad Dollars

As a dealership owner and manager you spend a significant amount of time focused on the number of cars sold and gross profit this month. Many financial reports and statements are based on monthly calculations of gross vs expenses, so if you are spending money on advertising this month you need to produce results this month. Direct response advertising is designed to do just that; spend the money today to produce results today. A direct response campaign motivates the viewer to take an action NOW, as a result of seeing the message.

“There are some key components your message needs to include to produce the best results.”

 First, you want to make sure the message contains your dealership identity and a way to separate your dealership from your competition. It is important to not only have a company logo and branding of your dealership, but also a reason for the viewer to do business with your store versus the competitors in your market. This may be an award your dealership has received or a designation given to your business by your community or manufacturer.

It needs an offer. This is more than just an announcement such as a price or payment on one vehicle. Your offer should appeal to the majority of your audience. For example: zero money down, double your down payment today, or no payments till next year. The offer needs to be clearly seen in the message and repeated several times.

The viewer needs to know what to do in order to take advantage of the offer. The most effective direct response campaigns are asking the responder to call. Phone calls are very easily tracked and tend to produce the best conversion rates. It is much easier to talk to someone calling in than making numerous outbound attempts to reach them. On average it takes 7-10 attempts to reach someone from other lead sources. Most dealerships have a resource for tracking and even recording phone calls; the key is to use different tracking numbers for each direct response message and in each media outlet. For example, if you are on four different television stations running a single message, you should be using four different numbers. If you have two different messages running that’s eight different numbers. This will allow you to pinpoint which placements are producing the best results.

The urgency is the motivator. There needs to be an expiration date or a limited offer amount to get the response now versus later. This needs to be emphasized along with the offer. It should be clearly seen and repeated several times.

The method to respond needs to be clearly seen, easy to read and prevalent throughout the entire message. It is good to have the dealership logo throughout the message and undoubtedly there will be some viewers that will inevitably google search your dealership or go to your web site. However, if you are asking them to call the phone number this needs to be the biggest and loudest thing seen and heard.

“Tracking is going to be one of the most crucial aspects of a direct response campaign.”

This is where the rubber meets to road. Even in a SUCCESSFUL campaign, 25 percent of your media will not work on any given day. Unless you are tracking and measuring, you will never know which 25 percent that is. Many advertisers equate direct response advertising with internet ads because of the ease of tracking. However, television and radio are also very successful mediums. Advancements in technology and software have made this even more measureable. Whether you are implementing a direct response campaign yourself or working with a direct response agency, you will need to make sure the proper software is implemented to track the calls, the time of the calls and to the commercials and stations airing it. There is additional software that can send a signal to your server within 24 hours of when the commercials air. This is a great tool to keep your stations accountable and ensure that your commercials run as scheduled. Once this is in place and your campaign is running you can now identify daily what percentage of your advertising worked and what didn’t. This gives you the right information to make educated decisions on when and where to adjust your media buys for maximum results.

The most successful direct marketers have someone overseeing their campaign on a daily basis; this can be an in-house marketing manager or an experienced direct response media agency. Keep in mind that a general advertising agency is not accustomed to tracking and analyzing results on a daily basis, and implementing ongoing schedule changes. It is important when choosing an agency that they have a proven record of success in direct response media. Ultimately, accountability, measurability, flexibility, efficiency and immediate results are what make direct response advertising the most cost effective advertising for your dealership.

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