How to Create Powerful Marketing Campaigns
When Josh Sherman, marketing director at Hoehn Motors, joined the dealership group nine years ago, the marketing department took a “traditional dealership approach,” he says. A fair amount of money was spent on TV and radio placements, and although some of those efforts may have worked, not everything was tracked as well as it should.
Now, the marketing department at Hoehn has streamlined its marketing to create a single, unified approach across its 11 dealerships. Instead of sitting back and letting what’s worked for it before be enough, Sherman and the rest of the Hoehn team are taking a proactive approach to test out different approaches and see what works and what doesn’t for its customer. One of the ways it’s been able to do this is through constant communication.
“The fact that the dealerships that cover 11 of our brands are located within walking distance allows us to have a high level of communication and collective teamwork between dealerships,” Sherman says. “If the management team at one of our stores is experiencing a particular challenge, it is encouraged to utilize our other dealerships in coming up with a solution. The fact that those stores are often across the street facilitates the inter-company communication.”
Instead of using all of a dealership’s traditional marketing tricks, Sherman has found a few keys to help create powerful marketing campaigns that work and create a strong ROI.
Stay top of mind with customers.
It takes a lot of work to get a new customer, so Sherman says that Hoehn is focused on staying in front of the customer and continuing to service their automotive needs to prevent them from wanting to go elsewhere.
“We really stress the customer being aware of their service intervals,” Sherman says.
To do this, Sherman says that he makes sure that every sales email that is sent out has a link for the service department and talks about the service it can provide for the customer. It also provides a summary of the various amenities that are offered and at least one service special based on the customer's service history. If you provide a desirable experience for customers, he says heavy discounting isn’t necessary.
Try a fresh approach.
Hoehn’s marketing department isn’t afraid to experiment with something new. Once they’ve tried it, they will use analytic tools to track the results.
“When we develop something that has been shown to work, we build it into our regular planning on a repetitive basis. We regularly make tweaks to optimize results,” Sherman says.
Develop a plan and stick to it.
Sherman says that one of the most common mistakes that dealerships make when it comes to marketing is not developing a plan or developing a plan but not sticking with it. Without a plan and a specific process in place, Sherman says that there is an opportunity for dysfunction.
“Marketing is only as good as the process and people that turn opportunities into sales and service business,” Sherman says. “A solid marketing plan will not generate results unless behind it is a great team that is committed to execute the marketing plan.”
Discuss the plan internally.
“Having a single voice is really important,” Sherman says.
By regularly getting together with the service and general managers of the dealership, Sherman says Hoehn is able to say on the same page and discuss what’s working and what isn’t. Before any additional marketing expense is taken on, there’s a considerable amount of communication between the necessary parties, Sherman says.
Find the right partners.
Whenever Hoehn has a new campaign, it identifies partners that will help cross promote the campaign to its respective customer base.
“We try to make it a win-win for us and the partner,” Sherman says.
One of Hoehn’s past successful campaigns was when it partnered with a premium outlet mall that is adjacent to one of its dealerships. Black Friday had always been a slow day for Hoehn’s service departments, so the marketing department got creative and decided to offer complimentary parking for outlet customers in its lot. While the cars were parked, the dealership offered multi-point inspections to determine if the vehicle had any service or repair needs.
“The campaign earned us goodwill with our customers and provided us an opportunity to sell additional service in the form of regularly scheduled service, vehicle details, and repair work identified during the multi-point inspection.”
The goal of the campaign is to fill the service department for the entire week. The shop is packed for the next five to eight days based on the one-day event.
Another example of a mutually beneficial relationship is its display of vintage surfboards from a local shop. Because of the dealership’s proximity to the beach, it’s a fun display that makes sense for the area. The surf shop advertises its services by encouraging its customers to check out the display and, in return, gets free advertising from the dealership’s customers.
Collect the necessary information before testing.
Before testing a new marketing campaign, a goal needs to be set and information needs to be collected. How do you know whether or not a marketing campaign is working? Sherman says that whenever he starts a new campaign, he’ll collect all of the data necessary.
For example, recently, the dealership wanted to increase the amount of details that it did through a campaign. Sherman went to the service manager and collected information on the amount of customer-paid details in the previous four months. "Paid" is the key word. If Sherman tracked all of the details, that would have included new car details, which weren’t included in the campaign, so it would have impacted the results. After he got that information, he tracked the amount of details that were done per day by dividing the amount of details that were done in the last four months by the days the dealership was open. He got information both per month and per day.
Once he knew the average amount of details per day and the average variation (between 5–7 percent) he decided that a 10 percent increase would show that the campaign was successful.
“It’s easy to come up with goals, but if you don’t have some relevant data on what you’ve done, it’s hard to look back and see whether or not you were successful,” Sherman says.
Know when to go for it.
Tracking results is great—up to a point. Sherman warns that way too much time and energy can be wasted testing things.
“You could never get an idea off the ground because you would keep testing concepts,” Sherman says.
Sherman says that he does a combination of tests, such as A/B testing, and gets reactions from people. Once you get a feel for whether or not it’s a good idea, go for it. However, don’t wait for every possible piece of information to come in. Sherman says you can drive yourself crazy trying to account for every variable; sometimes you need to just pull the trigger and see how things go.