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Please inject some reality into my life.
I’m in marketing and always have my ear to the ground looking for how dealers promote their stores and brands. Last night, I heard a radio ad for a local car dealership (Volkswagen Subaru in Bellevue Washington) that disturbed me. The ad was almost exclusively promoting the idea that this dealership offered what they termed ‘AN UNASSISTED TEST DRIVE’ meaning that they are promoting the fact that you can test drive a cars WITHOUT A SALESPERSON in the car with you.
Here’s why it bothered me. While I believe that most dealerships would probably offer the same thing if a customer asked for it, or even offer it casually at the time on site as part of the sales process (“hey- take it for a spin without me if you want”) - the idea of promoting NO SALESPERSON as a marketing point of difference bothers me because – by extension- it promotes the idea that SALESPEOPLE ARE A NEGATIVE in the car buying equation. I feel the same way about statements like NO HASSLE (equals: buying a car is a hassle that should be avoided), NO PRESSURE (equals: get ready for pressure when you go to shop for a car) or any of the NO’s that try to win at the expense of trashing the industry.
I would hope the presence of a salesperson during a test drive or any other part of the sales process would be viewed as a POSITIVE customer benefit to explain features, answer questions and (dear god) actually develop a relationship with the customer and dealership. Isn't that what we in the industry want- the opportunity to break down walls- build relationships- earn a customers business and trust?
Really in this age of TrueCar and all the other ways people can try and AVOID working with dealerships don’t we have enough challenges without adding the idea of NO SALEPERSON to the marketing voice? Especially when we within the industry use our own voice to do it?
I'd like to hear what you think.