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Michael Sweigart

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With the slow Economy, sluggish car sales, gas prices going up and down, what is a dealer to do?

Do you need a hatchet or a scalpel to fix things? Will the market come around and if so, when?

Tough questions, tough times.

These times are when a dealer and their automotive marketing partner needs to get into the Waste Management business. No, not the Sopranos “dump the body” waste management, but identifying the waste in your advertising and making hard decisions.

We have recently begin re-coining ourselves as Automotive Waste Management specialists, and it is a big part of what we do (and we looove doing it)

It’s simple really-

We look at your budget for all of your advertising (nothing held back) including phone calls, emails, CRM, walk-in traffic logs.

We identify the cost per action (call, email, walk in, etc)

We turn everything into a formula that shows us the true cost of your automotive marketing budget.

Then, we back up the dumpster and dump in the all of the advertising that is costing you way too much money. It may feel at times like you are getting rid of some “old friends” and in many cases that is what happens. If the old friends are costing you $300 per call from that newspaper ad, or your radio spot on that expensive station is creating a cost per sale of $3000, then it’s time to say goodbye to old friends.Parting is such sweet sorrow.

You have to know what advertising is creating true and measurable action. You have no more choice to wait around watching your sales reps play solitaire because that direct mail piece will “hit any time now” even though you know it hit a few days ago. You need to know which online sources are the best and which are not, and you cannot depend on your "gut feeling" to tell you what is working.

Hold your agency, your media, even your message accountable for every single dollar and believe me you will see drastic reduction in budget and fast shifts to areas that are successful. Put a tracking number on everything and track all calls, emails, walkins. Be vigilant about it and accept no excuses from any staff member or agency (internet or traditional). Toll free numbers are cheap (purecalling.com offers single numbers or packages as low as $10) and tracking can begin nearly immediately. A few dollars for tracking numbers can save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in waste.

If you do not start really analyzing your results, you can just fuggetabout it and continue to throw your automotive marketing budget right in the dumpster. Which would you rather have? All of your money in random unnacountable advertising, or your money in trackable results-driven marketing?

Two recent examples came from “domestic” dealers in the Northeast.

One of them spent nearly $1000 per phone call on a direct mail piece (no walkins were verified)

Another spent $800 per contact from their postyourvehiclesforsaleonourwebsite.com advertising.

One received a large amount of calls from a print campaign which was a “special buy” and it worked out to be around $30 per call. This we deemed as a “keeper” and recommended that the dealer try this again when the opportunity arose. However, at “regular price” this would ad would have worked out to be over $120 per call.

Another dealer was getting tremendous ROI with their email blasts, selling cars every month with no cost other than the time to create the offer.

The biggest kicker of them all, was the dealers websites, which were producing phone calls under $2.00 per call (yes, two American dollars) Weight the options then- free sales from email blasts and two dollar website leads, or one thousand dollar direct mail leads, two dollars leads, one thousand dollar leads…hmm not much of a choice there. Ooh I hear the truck backing up with the dumpster- what goes in first?

Of course closing ratios account for something and cheap leads are not always good, right? Again, track it all to a sale. A good CRM will allow you to know the exact cost per sale on all of your advertising.

We can do it wrong all day long; doing it right takes a little bit more work, but it is well worth it. Put on you Automotive Waste Management hat and let’s get started. If anyone needs a little help reviewing these various reports, leads, and analytics, just let us know (or any other qualified waste management specialist on this forum) and we can give you a report on your wasted budget.

 

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