TV advertising for vehicles almost always falls into two categories: national corporate “image” advertising, and price/promotion ads that maybe are national but more likely local.
The airways are flooded with both. The clutter is enormous, and has the effect of negating much of the impact of what are sometimes well done ads and campaigns.
The result: more ads by more companies and dealers seeking to get an edge over the competition. This clutter problem is one of those situations that everyone talks about but no one does anything about it.
The newer sameness part is the Internet. Today's consumer has a propensity to shop online for both manufacturer information as well for consumer reviews and other information (i.e. dealer invoice prices). Trying to take the job of selling the product out of the hands of the dealer is a new popular pastime. And somehow it is supposed to improve the buying experience.
Something seems fundamentally wrong in all this. Letting the consumer gather some small bits of information from 30- and 60-second TV ads and then running to the Internet for pricing turns a new vehicle into nothing more than a commodity.
Dealers have lost a lot of the opportunity to better acquaint prospects with the value of vehicle lines.
There's a solution. It combines the power of television's visual benefits and the Internet's ability to provide lots of information. It's the TV infomercial.
Educating the consumer smartly while taking some quality and quantity time to show vehicles gives much more message control than the present environment provides.
Infomercials generate leads. They generate “as seen on TV” residual success. Marketers who use infomercials help in-store selling efforts. Consumers digest TV advertising as a way to learn more about products before purchasing them at retail, and then supplement it with their own Web activity.
Wouldn't you prefer they learn about your product in an expansive way with you controlling the message content?
Infomercial viewers “opt in” to these programs. Whether in full half-hour viewing or in channel surfing extended stays, TV watchers devote significant minutes to infomercials if the content in relevant and compelling.
Someone shopping for a vehicle will take the time to evaluate an infomercial message, just as he or she would in an Internet search. Today's consumers want to be informed buyers, so they are apt to invest the time in a well-produced and informative TV infomercial.
Infomercials are clutter free. Standard commercial breaks routinely feature one or more vehicle spots, sometimes several, creating a “cancellation effect.” With an infomercial, you get the entire half hour to yourself, customizing the time to best suit your needs and objectives.
Long dismissed by major marketers as inferior television advertising, giants like Proctor & Gamble, Clorox, Microsoft, Pfizer and others have jumped on the DRTV (Direct Response TV) bandwagon in recent years to launch new products, generate leads or build awareness for items they want to create excitement for at the retail level.
If big retailers are starting to discover the power of direct response TV, given all the choices big ad budgets give them, it validates this marketing approach.
Infomercials are more than just long commercials. They require a sophisticated approach that generates an immediate response. It's a specialty marketing business, and you need specialization and talent that works in this space.
Because I travel widely, I rent a lot of cars. They are increasingly better products. But I don't think auto companies are getting that full story across to the average consumer. One way to do that is with the longer advertising format. It gives enough time to focus on the message.
TV advertising has been a stalwart of automotive marketing. Maybe it's time to use this powerful medium in a smarter way, one that takes advantage of its ability to influence customers, and with added benefits.
Dan Zifkin is president of Zephyr Media Group, specializing in direct response advertising. He is at [email protected] and 847-328-1519.