There is a constant battle that rages between dealers and the manufacturer when it comes to marketing and advertising.

It’s been my experience that dealers tend to put more importance on generating instant traffic to their website, phones and showrooms, while manufacturers put more emphasis on brand image.

When dealers are expected to invest their own money they want traffic… and they no very well that dealerships that focus solely on branding alone will go broke if they never figure out how to get people in the door.

And, on the other hand…

The manufacturer expects the dealer to build and protect the brand image… especially when many times they are co-oping a percentage of the marketing investment. They understand that a total focus on direct response can have a negative impact if all you do is sell, sell sell.

And nobody wants to be “that guy”…

Today, if you want your marketing to be effective you have to optimize the relationship. It’s about giving a lot more than you ask for. You have to give more information, be more transparent and give better service. This has to be done upfront at the beginning of the buying journey – when they begin to shop and research online. If not… customers will find someone who will.

You will see me speak or write often about direct response marketing vs institutional advertising. I can be very critical when not enough budget is directed towards direct response. The reality is that dealers survive and thrive on leads and opportunities.

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There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for the business as long as your are giving your prospects much more upfront. In fact, this is proving to be the most profitable marketing approach in today’s automotive world.

In order to merge direct response marketing and brand image (without sacrificing results) you must make sure you are in compliance with the manufacturer’s corporate identity (CI) or brand guidelines. Understanding these guidelines is critical when you market but also when you are creating your dealership’s own brand identity.

It’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to build and promote the brand not the dealer’s… however… they should always align. By aligning with the manufacturer’s CI you can accomplish both goals – driving traffic and in the process build the brand.

Provide Value

The most effective way to obtain more leads and build the brand is delivering high perceived value in advance. In other words, give your prospects valuable, usable information they actually want BEFORE you ask them for a call, email, visit… or give you their money.

Make no mistake… the goal of this valuable information is to convert. In order for that process to happen, you must understand how this new economy works. Step number one to delivering high perceived value in advance is to indoctrinate, engage and (hopefully) wow…

This isn’t new. Great marketers have been singing the praises of creating value in advance for years. What’s new and what makes this money-making sales and marketing model unique is what happens after you gain the lead… that’s where the real marketing begins.

Today, the market is saturated with all the same offers, all the same inventory and let’s face it… most of the pricing/discounts are all the same.

Create a Competitive Edge

You create ads that are only intended to amplify a valuable piece of content to an in-market audience. This has to include as much conquest prospects as previous customers. The auto industry has relied too heavily on DMS lists or previous customers (when it comes to direct response marketing) because conquest prospects are much harder to get the ROI needed.

The reason conquest has become more difficult is because these people do not need you. They don’t rely on you for information. They don’t know you, so they are not going to just call or visit you because you ask them to.

Target Conquest Shoppers

Because if you read my blog “This is Why Conquest Marketing Matters to You” you would know you don’t have a choice – you have to. All the data says loyalty is dead and you have no chance for growth unless you have an effective strategy to attract and sell more conquest business.

So, if you want the ads used to amplify content to in-market audiences to actually work… You absolutely must have content that is outstanding!

You must be able to offer them exactly what they want. Your content has to have high perceived value. You will know when you have the right content because your responses will increase drastically and your leads will vault to a new level.

My opinion and your opinion of what is valuable is irrelevant.

“The only opinion that matters is the marketplace. It voices it’s opinion loud and clear with its time and money.”

When you have great content (something of value to an in-market audience) – it doesn’t matter if they are a conquest buyer or previous customer. Something of high perceived value appeals to both.

Turn the tables on today’s car buyers and watch what happens to your lead count.

Once you have your lead and the prospect enrolled – then let the real marketing take over. Automated emails, phone calls and strong call to action options will continue to move your new lead down your sales funnel.

It all starts with giving much more than you ask early on. Then after you gain their interest and they are enrolled in the process… compel them to call, email or even better show up and buy.

It’s that simple. More importantly, this should be automated so you don’t have to worry if your new found leads are being followed up with.