Giant inflatable gorillas? Waving arm tube men? Strings of balloons? 

If your dealership is still wasting monthly budget on these gimmicks, it’s really time to reexamine your marketing strategy.

It’s 2019 and the age of the informed shopper. The customer walking into your showroom is ten times more likely to already know exactly which model, trim, color, and even stock number they want to purchase. Most (but not all) have done their research and are ready to take a test drive because they’ve already done their homework, not because they were driving home from pickup up their groceries and saw the inflatable waving them over to their new purchase.

So how do we, the automotive industry, 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 down my “top tips” into these three main bullet points:

1. Connect with your community and create lifetime connections. Let your customers 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 you 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!”.

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.