A Top Auto Dealer Advocates Making Tier Ads Work Together

In a Q&A, Scott Fink, who runs six dealerships, discusses different types of auto advertising.

Adam Armbruster, Senior Partner

September 6, 2019

3 Min Read
adam armbruster photo resized
Wards Industry Voices columnist Adam Armbruster

As I view tier two and three automotive TV ads from city to city, they make me wonder.

Tier-two spots typically are run collectively by local dealers or by dealers with multiple stores. Tier-three ads focus on individual dealerships.

Which of these ads work best to retain and build brand share? Which drive real traffic to dealerships? What tier-two marketing elements are relevant to a buyer?

Is tier-two marketing in synch with a digital car buyer?

From what we hear from dealers, some tier-two efforts have room for improvement in this fast-paced selling environment.

I spoke with Scott Fink, who is actively involved in his own tier-two marketwide TV campaign.

Scott Fink.jpg

Scott Fink

He runs six dealerships in the Tampa Bay area, including Hyundai of New Port Richey, the South Korean brand’s largest-volume U.S. store. Fink, a former Ford marketing executive, heads the Hyundai Dealer Council. (Scott Fink, left)

Armbruster: A consumer today experiences all three tiers (tier-one ads are from the manufacturer) of TV advertising simultaneously. For them, it's like a wave of messages. All ads say slightly different things about a nameplate.

Which tier is responsible for a local buyer action step?

Fink: All tiers need to work together to be able to communicate key messaging. 

Tier one should be focused on brand building and positioning.  Tier two needs to be more retail-focused: Define the deals, timing, and a clear call to action.

Tier three is where to buy locally….and buy from me.  Why?  Location, customer service and reputation.

Armbruster: What about tier one? Do these also help the dealer sell cars? Is their job branding or retail action?

Fink: Effective tier one will help dealers sell cars. How?  Because vehicles are still best presented in video format.  They show the beauty of the product, the functionality of the product, tech, safety, etc.  They also define the relationship of the vehicle with the prospective buyer.

Armbruster: How does Hyundai tier two strive to cut through competitive ads in your large market? How does tier-two television help the buyer move toward a Hyundai store instead of a competitor?

Fink: Hyundai’s tier-two strategy has really developed over the past decade. Hyundai Motor America does a great job engaging their dealers in the creative process.  We have a national dealer committee that meets multiple times a year to vet through the creative ideas.  They are always focused on the retail call to action messages.

Armbruster: What trends do you see in tier-two advertising in terms of creative messages, and what do you want to see these ads accomplish for the group?

Fink: One strategy change has been going to 15-second spots with the offer shown on the screen for the entire spot. This increases frequency and eliminates the standard end tag.

Armbruster: It seems tier-three dealer TV messages are becoming somewhat like tier two in terms of scale and geographic impact. Does that mean tier-two messages need to also become more like tier-three ads and do more of the heavy lifting in terms of consumer action??

Fink: Tier two must get the customer to research the brand and offers. Tier three and two are almost merging. The OEMs push for MAAP (minimum allowable advertising price) and takes away lots of latitude dealers once had.

(Adam Armbruster is a senior partner in the business growth firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Company located in Red Bank, NJ. He can be reached at 941-928-7192.)

About the Author(s)

Adam Armbruster

Senior Partner, Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Company

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