Don’t mess with your marketing money

Publish Date: 
Jan 13, 2014
By Rod Stuckey

HAVE you put considerable thought into what specific strategies you can implement to outperform your financial results of 2013?  

Have you put these thoughts into goals, and then created an action plan in writing to achieve those goals?

I know this can be an overwhelming question, and I understand there are many variables in play such as new unit sales, used vehicle sales, F&I, parts, accessories,  service,  staffing, facility, inventory mix -- the list goes on and on. However, one of the most impactful components of your dealership’s success -- yet often overlooked and under-planned -- is your marketing.

I remember years ago reading a retail industry study which concluded that on average only 1 percent of total retail businesses actually have a written marketing plan in place. This re-active strategy is what leads to ineffective results, which then leads to resistance with future advertising.

When you don’t have a plan in place, the local cable television rep pushes in and proceeds to explain why and how she can solve all of your problems and drive tons of new traffic into your store.  Her logic is sound, her presentation is nice, and of course she reminds you multiple times your competitor is doing it, so it must work. Before you know it, you’ve agreed to a long-term contract that takes up the majority of your budget and you have put zero thought into a real plan and the big picture for how you can maximize your marketing dollar’s ROI.

After years of making this mistake myself as a dealer, I finally accepted the 6 ‘P’ Rule of which my father often reminded me: Prior, Planning, Prevents, Piss, Poor, Performance.  

The best way I’ve found to avoid getting caught off-guard and making un-educated advertising decisions to create a 12-month marketing calendar that has a “reason to buy today” theme dedicated to each month. Once you have a theme, you can then hitch your wagon to this theme and make your messages more compelling, regardless of what media you choose. 

Here's an example of a simple marketing and promotions calendar.

Marketing and Promotions 2014

JANUARY: New Year’s; Model Clearance Event

FEBRUARY: Cold Day’s Hot Stuff; Mardi Gras

MARCH: Bike Week; St. Patrick’s Day

APRIL: Spring has Spring; Milestone Anniversary

MAY: Perfect Time to Ride; Memorial Day

JUNE: Father’s Day; Customer Appreciation Open House

JULY: Independence Day; No Sales Tax Promotion

AUGUST: Hot Dog Days of Summer; Owner’s Birthday Celebration Party

SEPTEMBER: Labor Day; Hunting Season Promotion

OCTOBER: Halloween Event; Extend the Riding Season

NOVEMBER: Thanksgiving; Black and Chrome Friday

DECEMBER: Christmas; What Santa Forgot