What if people were willing to fly from Brazil for your next dealership promotion? What if they were willing to wake up at 4 a.m., hire a professional “line-waiter,” or pay $900 for a first spot in line at your store? Yes, we’re talking about the launch of the iPad 2-and the opportunity vehicle launches present for automotive professionals.
Many dealers are rightfully proud of the local brand they have created – this is an investment that pays back throughout the year. However, there are times when the most effective marketing strategy is simply to ride the coattails of the many millions your OEM is spending to create buzz and interest for their new product. By studying Apple’s marketing strategy, it becomes obvious that dealers can emulate this flagship brand to create similar salivating demand for their own inventory.
Much like Apple stores, car dealers are all selling basically the same inventory from store-to-store. The launch of an Apple product is a study in beautiful synchronicity. When Apple goes to market, every aspect of the Apple experience-commercials, online ads, website, store fronts- align around a singular objective: promoting the launch of that new product. The result of this multi-tier campaign is a single, powerful message: at that moment, this is the most important product launch in the world. Customers in turn believe this message, and respond accordingly. The proof is in the profits. Apple sold an estimated million units in the first day.
Leading dealers recognize the value of this “synchronicity” in their marketing in support of OEM marketing campaigns. If you are fully deployed with messaging aligned with the OEM’s launch activities you will provide the consumers a seamless online experience directly to your showroom – and facilitate that self-reinforcing consumer buzz for your store that is so essential to Apple’s success.
Synchronicity is a matter of degree. Virtually all OEMs will insure that there is appropriate messaging on your franchise website, although you’ll need to stay on your toes if you are using an independent website. Search marketing and content aligned with the vehicle launch would be the next tier. The most advanced digital marketers will deploy an integrated multichannel campaign of search, display, retargeting and web content to channel shoppers directly to their stores. These complex campaigns can be developed by your agency partner. However, investigate whether there are endorsed packages from your OEM’s digital marketing partner – they will have early access to OEM assets to provide that valuable synchronicity and cost efficiencies from use of technology and integration with the franchise marketing platform.
If you’re worried about “selling your soul” or diluting your dealership brand, take a cue from Apple as well, where Seattle stores celebrated the iPad launch with Starbucks coffee, Virginia with hot cider, and Florida with palm-tree lined storefronts. Once your shoppers get to your website or showroom it is your opportunity to deliver the exceptional experience that makes them the rabid fan of your dealership as well at the vehicle. It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition.
The message is obvious: there are times where it is in your interest to focus on your dealership brand and there are times when it is most profitable to ride the wave of interest created by your OEM. Successful dealers will exploit both strategies with today’s new generation of cost-effective digital marketing solutions.
Chris Reed joined ADP Digital Marketing (formerly The Cobalt Group) in July 2007 as Chief Marketing Officer. Chris brings over 25 years of experience in marketing strategy for businesses ranging from start-ups to IBM. Chris holds a BA in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University, and a MBA from Harvard University. In addition to education, Chris’s marketing inspiration could be attributed to his international upbringing-he used to ride an elephant to school in the jungles of Sumatra.
The Cobalt Group