Point in case: Doug Demiro, a former manager of Porsche Cars North America, and now author of a popular column on automotive website Jalopnik, answered a in his column that illustrates this point very clearly.
The question essentially boiled down to this: “Do those letters and e-mails from dealers saying they really want your trade-in actually mean anything? Do dealers really want your trade-in? Are they going to pay top dollar for your vehicle because they have some customer who desperately wants it?”
His answer: NO
Go ahead and read the article. It’s pretty much how consumers perceive these offers. The comments are also rather entertaining. It’s all consumers sharing experiences in which they received a similar offer and actually wanted to take the dealership up on it -- until they found out the dealer couldn’t deliver, or that the offer was unobtainable. And now, in general, they assume ALL offers are simply ploys and conspiratorial plots to entice the customer into the dealership.
Are they right? Is that what we’re doing?
Well, that all depends on how responsible a dealership is in handling their marketing. Dealerships who turn over their entire DMS to outsourced BDCs, direct mail companies, extended warranty companies, or any other vendor without first segmenting out and vetting that database to ensure that it is correct for that targeted message; that the recipients of the message qualify for the offer; are in fact, for the most part, doing more harm than good.
All this type of poorly thought out, uncoordinated mass blanketing of promotion does is create an aura of mistrust with existing customers. By blasting them with irrelevant messages you make it more difficult for the customer to believe ANY message they receive - even if it does apply to them. This practice, which is still more widespread than many realize, in turn gets projected onto the retail auto industry as a whole.
That being said, smart dealers understand the importance of segmentation and relevant messaging. When a dealership realizes that “spray and pray” hurts more than it helps and takes the time to segment its database and send relevant messages to those customers most likely to be interested, the campaigns - no matter what form of marketing it is - will always perform better. Why? While you may be marketing to less people, those people are more likely to take you up on your offer. They’re more likely to convert when they come in, since they will actually qualify. And you’ll spend less money to achieve better results. The side effect of segmenting your marketing messages is that you will start to earn your customers’ trust. They still may not believe everything you send them (even if it’s true). But, when they come in and discover that you can actually fulfill the offer, not only will you win their business, but also their trust. And that’s something all dealerships and our industry certainly needs to do.