Automotive advertising agencies who expect to be here tomorrow should apply tomorrow’s technology today or they will follow their shuttered auto dealer clients into the ranks of the unemployed. The consolidation of the auto industry is a necessary reaction to a shrinking economy and the proof of two basic rules of business — supply should follow demand and survival of the fittest insures that it will. The secret to survival for automotive advertising agencies and their auto dealer clients in a challenging market is to offer more for less and the technology being designed to improve sales processes on the Internet provides efficiencies that will determine the winners and the losers.
Integrating proven real-world automotive marketing best practices with maturing virtual world selling processes that rely on developing technology on the Internet allows forward-thinking automotive marketing agencies to blur the line between the real world of brick and mortar auto dealerships and the new virtual showrooms being built on the Internet Super Highway. Automotive advertising 101 teaches that you should go where your customers are if you want to reach them and with 93% of car shoppers confirming that they start their car buying process on the Internet that part of the marketing and sales process is easy. The hard part that automotive advertising agencies have to recognize is that the one constant that has survived on the World Wide Web is human nature. Customers empowered by the easy access of information on the Internet are no longer dependent on auto dealerships — real or virtual — to determine what vehicle they will purchase and who they will buy it from. Online shoppers are looking for a new or used vehicle, not an auto dealership, and automotive advertising agencies need to convert from push/pull advertising methods to pull/push techniques preferred by an educated consumer.
Of course, there is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater! Automotive advertising agencies need to use conventional wisdom built on the stable foundation of human nature supported by the efficiencies offered by new automotive advertising applications designed to crash through the glass wall of the Internet to preserve both market share and profits for their auto dealer clients. The easiest way to satisfy the customer and the auto dealer — in that order — is to give the customers what they want when they want it — which is immediate — and to do it in such a way that the customers feel that they are buying a vehicle vs. being sold one. That is where the use of new automotive marketing technology and the related improved selling processes come in.
Giving the customers what they want — which is a vehicle, not an auto dealership — suggests that Automotive Marketing Agencies Will have to promote individual vehicles on the Internet, not their auto dealer clients. While this may seem counter-intuitive to old school car guys who presume that they should sell themselves before they can sell their vehicles, it is in keeping with equally established wisdom that suggests that automotive marketing doesn’t sell cars it just attracts customers who want to buy one. Simply put, the best advertising message in the world has no value if no one sees it, and since customers are searching the web for individual vehicles that is the bait that will have them bite the hook that has the auto dealer on the other end of the line.
It is an accepted fact that cars sell cars and brick and mortar auto dealerships have gravitated to car rows or auto malls to take advantage of the attraction of having as many vehicles as possible in one location to draw real-world car shoppers to their facilities. The leveraged advertising of multiple competing dealerships and the added value and convenience of one-stop shopping for comparable makes and models at one central location is a value for consumers that has survived on the Internet Super Highway. Established third party inventory based websites have a proven place in today’s online automotive advertising plans. Most auto dealerships already rely on the leverage of their collected inventories of literally millions of vehicles from thousands of auto dealerships to attract online new and used vehicle shoppers. The search engine optimization, S.E.O., realized by these third-party sites coupled with their localized search engine marketing, S.E.M., investments drawn from the collected revenues of the auto dealer clients that participate in these communal sites provide a competitive advantage that no individual dealer or even a large dealer group can compete with. New technologies being applied to this established business model promise an even better return on investment, R.O.I., for the auto dealers that participate.