HAS THE CAR MARKET REALLY CHANGED?

NOTES ON MARKETING CARS IN THE DAY OF THE INTERNET:

LINWOOD SAID:

“Remember Joe Girard, the famous car salesmen who sold some 200 cars each month. He did not own the dealership, he was just a salesman. He also was really a direct mail man. Joe had a mailing list of some 15,000 names that he mailed to every month. And it resulted in selling 200 cars a month.
What did he mail?
It was just a monthly greeting card, like “Happy Valentines Day, I like you. Signed Joe.”
It always included his business card.

Keep in mind, they buy from you for 3 reasons only:

  1. They like you.
  2. They are convinced yours is a good deal.
  3. They were going to buy this crap anyway and you just happened to show up at the right time.

I guess, Joe Girard got 2 of the 3 items right. Likeable and Timing.
I guess, Mark Yarnell had to lean on CONVINCING more.
Just thinking.


MR WHITACRE SAID:

Things have changed dramatically in car selling. You can go online and see what a dealer pays for a car. You can shop every dealer in your area online. Car salespeople are almost unnecessary now.

But Girard would have fit right in today.
He made about $200,000 a year back in the 1970s…a good living, but it was by selling an average of about 1,200 cars a year. That’s less than $200 a car. So he was heavily discounting.

He got by on being friendly, working referrals (which he paid for) , and (in the beginning) cold calling strangers. It was hustle. And his after sale service was legendary…which it has to be to get referrals that buy. He would probably be doing the same thing, and making the same amount of money…talking to almost only blue collar workers, selling Chevrolets.

LINWOOD SAYS:

So, what you’re saying is that ad copy is more important than ever, in today’s online car business. And since cars are kind of a commodity, it would behoove a car dealer to make the offer more interesting, singing the praises of the car, and the smartness of buying the car from him and not the guy down the street. Sweeten the offer.

… Just thinking here… if someone were to read a long-winded car ad, by Joe the dealer, wouldn’t it kind of build trust in the prospective buyer to buy the car from him and not the competitor?

I’m keeping in mind that the PURCHASE happens THE MOMENT the potential buyer makes up his mind to buy that car, and that experience, even if he can’t get to the show room for another 3 weeks.

MR JEFFERY SAYS:

Way back that would have an impact – Not going to happen today because today’s target market has changed significantly.

Back in the day when there was no internet, blue-collar workers relied on T.V. ads, radio ads and word-of-mouth, Today, the same blue-collar worker relies on the internet in terms of searching “the best offer” i.e. research that matches their finances.

Car dealers spend more on radio ads than internet ads. Radio ads match the buyers intent to obtain “the best offer” whereas internet ads are more for visual aesthetics.

Millennial blue-collar workers are today’s preferred target market for car dealers that have to have a large turnover.

Internet wise, the attention span of millennial blue-collar workers is short – very short – on average 3 minutes at best.

Millennials are not going to read long-winded copy no matter what and no matter that the copy is logical.

Other attributes of millennials impact the buying decision. The educated blue-collar worker understands that they may need to switch jobs and even city/state every three to five years and loan institutions understand this as well.

Today, anyone can research the internet and know what “the best offer” will be from month to month, the complete financials such as down payment if any, insurance, and derive a monthly total out-of-pocket budget.

Like Claude said..
Things have changed dramatically in car selling. You can go online and see what a dealer pays for a car. You can shop every dealer in your area online. Car salespeople are almost unnecessary now.

LINWOOD SAYS:

I’m not writing to win a debate, but to clear up my thoughts. And to seek your help in understanding the big picture. So….

Regarding the car market and car marketing…
1. “Things have changed”… Yes, that’s true, but some things are the same. To me what has changed the most is that the bankers are involved more than ever in the car buying decisions. When I was growing up in the 60’s computers we just barely a thing, but banks got them and started keeping track of “credit issuance” more easily, so they started mailing out bazillions of credit cards to folks who never even asked for them. When I was about 16 years old, I remember my “wild-man” uncle saying “I didn’t ask for that card, they just mailed it to me.” He was bragging on how he ran up that credit card to the maximum limit, ($5,000 I think) and had no intentions of paying it off. He died an early death, so he never did pay it off.

2. Today, no one buys a car, they buy a car payment. So, you’re right, that does change the dynamics of how you sell a car. That would also mean, if they are only buying a car payment, getting any kind of loyalty out of that customer is an uphill battle.

3. And if the banks are ultimately in control of credit and interest, the car dealer is really an employee of the bank… so much is taken away from him and his control.

4. Is it still true that the main profit center for the car dealer is in servicing the car, after it was purchased? If that is so, long-winded ads might come in handy in getting an edge.

5. I hear a lot of folks say “Millennials don’t read”… but they said that of us Baby Boomers when we were 20-some, 30-some years old. But “millennials” are just a broad demographic. What you are looking for is a psychographic within that demographic. Thus: some millennials read, some don’t. Turns out that the readers make more money, are more engaged in the buying decisions, are more loyal once they make a decision, and get ahead in life more than the non-readers.

6. Let’s say you get your customers off the radio, that’s fine, but how you follow up is key to any business success, and “reading” is the way to reach your customers via letters, email, text messages, etc. POST PURCHASE REASSURANCE would go a long way in customer loyalty and maybe referrals.

7. So… if you’re stuck selling the monthly payment, instead of the car, maybe your long-term success would depend on your follow-up rather than claim, “my lowest price is better than his lowest price.. oh wait, it’s the same.”

8. Since every car dealer has a web site, wouldn’t long-winded, story-appeal ads on each page, give the HUNGRY prospect (hungry for information) more reason to stay on the page, and thus build your SEO rankings with google? Not only can you do more with those words as far as getting inside the head of a potential buyer, you rise in the search rankings. Not bad, if ya can do it.

9. If every car dealer has the same LOW MONTHLY PAYMENT plan, how does one stand out from another???? Back rubs? Lollipops for the kids? Free car wash for 5 years? Open late? Don’t come to the show room, we’ll deliver the car to your door? However it is, you must communicate it with “more words”.

10. But I do think the banks have really screwed with the car business… turning cars into a commodity like table salt. With 3 cars in every driveway, cars are not treasured like they use to be. And almost no one goes on a “Sunday drive” any more.

11. I blame banks for this too: The car dealer is out there shouting “BUY THIS CAR FOR $399 A MONTH”… and the Uber/Lyft driver says, “I’ll get you there, $19 bucks please.” Car dealers have to compete with Uber… what a pisser for the car guy… thus: he’d better use his “long-winded” ad to SELL the benefits of car ownership over anything Uber can provide.

12. I guess I’m saying, it would behoove a car dealer these days to get back to basics: And Clyde Bedell outlined the “basics” in his book HOW TO CONVERT WHITE SPACE INTO ADVERTISING THAT SELLS. Six basics… here they are…
ONE: ALL GOOD SELLING IS SERVING.

TWO: PEOPLE BUY ONLY TO GET BENEFITS.

THREE: BENEFITS SOUND HOLLOW WITHOUT PRODUCT POINTS TO BACK THEM UP.

FOUR: PROSPECTS (not people) WILL READ ANY AMOUNT OF AD COPY AS LONG AS IT’S INTERESTING AND HELPFUL.

FIVE: THERE MUST BE PROPER PLANNING AND PROPER TIMING.
SIX: TOP MANAGEMENT MUST AGREE ON THESE THINGS OR PROFITS WILL SUFFER.

13. I think the car business has long past reach it’s peak profit cycle. It might be smart for the car dealer to look into the “flying car” market, as it’s even more cool than Elon’s electric thingymabobs.
… thinking aloud about these things.

Yours
Linwood

PHONE: 801-895-9598

Everyone wants low hanging fruit, but never wants to plant a garden.

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