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Jared Hamilton
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Brady Irvine

Brady Irvine Marketing Guy

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Stop The Marketing Incest... (Please?)

Yes, I used the word incest, but don't worry...

I'm not going to make any mention of any specific parts of the world you may live in, or the likelihood of your neighborhood being wiped out by a tornado.  

This isn't a comedy blog, and I'm not "Larry the Cable Guy"...

However, I would like to discuss something just as annoying.

Auto industry advertising.

You know what I'm talking about, open the newspaper or listen to the radio...  Really?  The lowest prices EVER?  This weekend only?  Never going to happen again? 

You can tell a dealership advertisement in less than a second can't you?  Of course you can, they all look and sound exactly the same.  But why is that?  Listen, it’s no secret that advertisers copy each other’s ideas on a pretty regular basis.  I can’t remember ever hearing a marketing guru speak that didn’t recommend putting together a “swipe file” of good ideas, ads, and headlines that could be tweaked for your own purposes.

So what’s the problem?

 The problem is not that you’re “swiping” it’s who you are swiping from that creates the problem.  If all of your ideas are coming from other car dealers (or worse the manufacturer) you are committing marketing incest.  Without new blood being introduced, you are producing deformed, genetically weak advertisements.

 (Don't get me wrong, it's not just the auto industry that does this, in fact most industries "borrow" from each other and end up creating generic, boring crappy ads...)

So what can we do about it?  Where can we get ideas if not from each other?

  1. Look outside of your industry

Did you know the first drive thru was used at a bank in 1930?  Where would our waistlines be if the fast food industry hadn’t copied the idea?  (Don’t worry, it only took the fast food guys 20 years or so to catch on...)  The old school direct mail guys recommend you study ads that you see over and over again in places like the National Enquirer.  Why?  Because they are insanely expensive to run.  If you see them repeated it means they made money. 

  1. Check current events

What are your customers thinking about in their day to day lives?  What is taking up space in their brains?  If you can relate your marketing to what they are already thinking about you will have a FAR easier time getting their attention.  You’ll have to be a bit creative, and a bit careful...  You might want to avoid anything too controversial, but scan the headlines and look for inspiration.

  1. Check the calendar

A quick Google search for obscure holidays or obscure holiday calendar could lead you to some ideas for ads that would help you stand out from the crowd.  For example, did you know that December 9th was International Anti-Corruption day?  Neither did I, but I can think of several ways to use it...  Or how about National chocolate covered-anything day on the 16th

How about you?  Do you have any examples of advertising that has really caught your attention?  (Good or bad) Why not post them below and we’ll discuss them in the comments section.  For instance, I was NOT allowed to put signs in our vehicles that said “I want you inside me...”  Would that have caught your attention? 

Lindsey Auguste
This is a great post, Brady, and I completely agree. I used to HATE car commercials because they were all the same. They blurred together from the get go. It's one reason I like the Honda Days commercial where that guy starts out asking if we're millionaires because only millionnaires buy cars for other people as gifts. It's totally the opposite of the image that other car commercials put out. Caught my attention and made me laugh. Thanks for getting us thinking.
Brady Irvine
Hey Lindsey, thanks for the feedback. I had never seen those Honda Days commercials so I just checked them out on YouTube... You are indeed correct, Patrick Warburton is always hilarious, and it's an excellent take on a holiday ad. My favorite was the elf one.
Jim Bell
Great post. There are so many dealers that try to 'stand out' with the screaming, fast talking, etc. It gets old. There was a chat that we had last night about a $3000 minimum trade value. He got frustrated because our BDC that does our chat was doing their job and getting his info. They got an email, and he said he was tired of 'playing games'. Really? What do you think a push pull drag sale is? Love the Honda commercials (and again, I'm partial), but Chevrolet has rolled out with some good ones as well.
Brady Irvine
Thanks Jim, I totally agree with you. I think lots of times customers are already frustrated with the whole process by the time they get to us. That kinda reminds me of when GMAC switched to Ally and our rep showed up and said "you've probably seen our new commercials and not known what they were advertising, they're pretty funny" and most of the staff agreed with him that they were great commercials. I don't think he liked it when I mentioned that if it's not clear what you are advertising it sucks, no matter how funny it is...
Ed Dugas
I'm so happy it's no longer vogue to be a fast-talking, theatrical, screaming car guy in one of those commercials. We had a guy like that on TV where I grew up called Jolly John, except I remember him pulling it off in a more tasteful manner.

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