There is a constant battle among marketing professionals over the relevance and impact of traditional versus digital marketing.

What methods have the best return on investment? What is going to lead to an increase in sales? Is traditional marketing dead? Marketing that creates a continuous flow of foot traffic coming through the showroom door is going to be the deciding factor of what marketing tactics are the best fit for your dealership. The choice between traditional and digital marketing needs to be made by the results generated every month and what approaches are engaging the most potential shoppers.

The psychology of today’s car shopper is evolving — and we all know it. Customers are coming to the lot, doing their research, and are well-versed (for the most part) in what they think they should be paying for their chosen vehicle. So how does a dealer get that online researcher to convert to a sale? Is it through Facebook or Instagram ads? Is it through TV or radio spots? From our experience within the team at Dealer Authority, we understand there is a happy balance between utilizing marketing dollars for traditional and digital marketing as a united front.

One traditional marketing tactic that will always have a lasting impact is well-planned events and let’s be clear; these events are not limited to the dealership lot.

This doesn’t mean that you have to have the local radio station onsite every Saturday, raffling off a few TVs and giving away free burgers. You can do that but let’s push that idea even further. Dealers who have been “around the lot” a few times claim these events as their old faithful — and we aren’t knocking that! But what we want to point out is that there is a way to modernize these events so that they are not a budget and time guzzler, but more so an excellent public relations tool on top of a sales generator.

Below are our top five tips for taking your dealership’s events to the next level:

1. Take the time to invest in organizations within your local community.

We will keep reiterating this – if you bloom where you are planted by working with organizations that are in your market share, your dealership will reap the benefits of it. DA has a client that is a perfect example of this. This auto group upped their game this spring by encouraging test drives and new car sales through connecting the campaign to their local Humane Society. The customer had to tell the salesperson that they wanted to take a test drive with the “You Drive They Thrive” campaign and $50 was automatically donated to the Humane Society. When a new sale was made via this test drive, and the customer financed through the dealer’s preferred bank, another $50 was donated. This campaign was promoted on social and TV and resulted in over 150 test drives and car sales, plus $10,000 being given to the Humane Society. They also incorporated an adoption event into the campaign which brought new foot traffic to their dealership.

2. Turn the “warm and fuzzies” into a purchase.

The Humane Society event not only built up a credit of good faith with the dealer’s community, but it also took those positive feelings and turned them into a desire to make a purchase. The dealership differentiated themselves in their market by showing the community that they had a genuine interest in organizations around them, and if the customer would support those organizations, then the dealership would give back to the customer.

3. Look beyond traditional advertising.

To ensure that an event is going to be a success you need to take a look at the target audience of this event and cater your marketing efforts to reach that audience. Don’t spend money that isn’t necessary. This is a space that Dealer Authority truly shines in. We consider ourselves not only digital marketing experts but automotive industry market experts as well. With over 12 years of average experience among our staff, we are able to assess your digital marketing strategy and make sure that that strategy is reinforcing the messaging of your traditional print, radio, and television campaigns. Even if you don’t have an agency managing your dealership’s marketing, taking a moment to make sure that each marketing piece and campaign is working together as a cohesive unit is vital.

4. Create an annual event

No matter what way you slice it, humans like consistency. It gives us comfort and a sense of balance to know that certain things will happen at certain times – and also gives us something to look forward to. This concept also applies to events. Consistency with your events at the dealership helps build brand trust with your customer and gives them even further incentive to hold out for a special event to make a purchase at your location. Top that with an excellent customer service experience and a dealer shouldn’t be surprised when a new customer becomes a repeat buyer.

5. Hit the streets.

If your dealership has the opportunity to be part of an event that is outside of the dealership lot – consider it! Yes, this will take some time and staff-power away from the store, but if this external event has thousands of your target shoppers participating in it, why would you say no? Make sure when engaging in these events that you come prepared. Don’t just set up a table and call it a day. Bring something with you to entice your audience. Activities like face painting (Fact: face painting always has the longest line at every event), photo booths, live Princesses and Super Heros, and animals always have a major draw. If you can sponsor activities like these and offer a special incentive that is only for participants at the event, you will see a brand-new set of foot traffic coming through your doors.

If you have been considering doing more events at your dealership but feel entirely daunted by the task, never fear! We would be more than happy to discuss your options with you and help you find an event that would be best for your time and most importantly your budget.

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