Labor Day. Memorial Day. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Some of the best sales days of the year in the car business happen on national holidays when people are off from work and ready to buy cars.
Many dealerships put a great deal of their advertising and marketing budgets towards promoting their various sales. The OEMs normally have something going on for these types of holidays and the combined advertising efforts makes for some amazing exposure. It's easy to ride the wave and assume that your customers know you're participating, but you can't take that for granted. Even more important is that these holidays are a great time to prompt people into car buying mode.
Let's take a look at these two important components of holiday advertising so you can look at hitting your customer database in a different light.
Even in today's ultra-informed consumer world, there are still many people who cannot discern between factory, regional, and individual dealership incentives. It's common for them to see an ad where the dealership is simply promoting the manufacturer's incentive, but they conclude that the dealership itself is the one having the special.
Even the national and regional advertising can put a little doubt in their mind. The ads often use phrases like "participating Ford dealers" or "Connecticut Acura dealerships" that can get them wondering whether or not their normal dealership is involved. Then, when they see a competitor's ad reiterating the sale, they contact them instead because it's confirmed that they are part of the program.
Letting your past customers know that you're part of the event keeps them from migrating to a competitor who is more aligned with the ad they saw. For example, it's not uncommon for someone in Connecticut to buy their Acura in New York, but the way that the manufacturer or regional ad is worded could make them think they need to stay in their own state instead of going back to you.
Your customers are your customers if you're treating them right and staying visible to them at all times. They are more likely to open your direct mail, emails, or other forms of communication than they are to open the advertising from a competitor. They should also trust your message more than a competitor's.
Holidays are often a time for people to get together with friends and family that they don't always see. We all know what happens when Uncle Greg rolls up in his new ride: vehicular envy. There isn't a better time to bring your past customers into the market than before and during holidays.
Take advantage of this through advertising designed to pull people forward into the market ahead of time by letting them know about what you have going on at the dealership. Too often I see dealers focus on the barbeque pit and bouncy ball house in their holiday advertising events while missing out on utilizing their customer database for intelligent pre-event marketing.
As you plan out your holiday advertising, don't forget to put the right amount of effort and budget towards the low hanging fruit that your past customers represent.