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Death Of The Gimmick

Death Of The Gimmick

Brian West

Giant inflatable gorillas? Waving arm tube men? Strings of balloons? Is this really the best way to be spending your advertising budget in 2019?

If your dealership is still wasting monthly budget on these gimmicks, it’s really time to reexamine your marketing strategy. It’s 2019 and it’s the age of the informed shopper. 9 out of 10 people walking into your showroom know exactly which model, trim, color, and even stock number they want to purchase. 

So how do we adapt? We create an online giant inflatable gorilla. With a well planned digital strategy, you can still draw the eyes you want without all of the gimmicks that will drive away the millennial shoppers. Personally, my last 3 new vehicle purchases were almost entirely online or 100% via email (even secured financing through e-signature). Spending your money wisely on digital advertising and creating a quality customer experience will far outweigh the cost of a gimmick that will attract tire-kickers and people wanting a free hotdog. 

After a decade in the automotive industry I’ve broken my personal “top tips” into these three main bullet points: 

1. Connect with your community and create lifetime connections with customers and let them become advocates for your dealership. Whether it’s through philanthropic means, or by doing a “you scratch my back, we’ll scratch yours” marketing campaign for a local business – it will take your numbers to new heights. 

2. Drop the gimmicks. It’s 2019 and people are educated. You should be honored that someone even set foot in your showroom because 99% of those shoppers have done their research and have decided that YOU are worthy of their time, energy, and eventually their money. Treat them right. 

3. Spend your marketing budget on digital. Focus on in-market shoppers using 3rd party data and hammer them with quality, unique, and engaging ads and engagement. The trifecta of Facebook, Instagram, and SEO will far outweigh the mailers and fake keys you’re spending an arm and a leg mailing out every single week. As the late and great Mitch Hedberg once said when presented with a flyer or junk mail, it’s basically like saying “Here, you throw this away!.”

Digital marketing is genuinely the best way for dealerships to spend their money. Running Facebook ads alongside a quality pay-per-click campaign will certainly get you more leads, more sales, and more customers than an inflatable. The average “20ft gorilla holding a car” is around $1,500 to purchase. On the flip side, I’ve ran ads for $500 at the end of the month and have solid 10-15 units. Which do you choose? The emotional A-type buyer is still out there, but the numbers are shrinking by the day. Consumers are educated; you should be too. And trust me, I know there will be some old school car dealers that will take total offense to this and shake their heads because of my age, but I’m telling you that right now is the time to wake up get with the program.

Ditch the gorilla. 

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