Auto retailing, like every industry today, is being forced to measure and account for their marketing spending.
In an economic climate where dealerships may be working hard just to sell enough cars to keep their business afloat, dealers especially must ensure any marketing initiatives deployed are effective and assist in growing the dealership's bottom line.
Weighing the value of each dollar spent on marketing and figuring out the best way to reach customers with targeted and relevant messaging that resonates with consumers for the smallest amount of money is vital to livelihood and longevity of a dealership.
In addition to keeping costs in line and budgets in check, dealers must also be concerned with aligning their marketing strategies to comply with corporate brand standards.
Over the years, manufacturers have worked hard and spent millions of dollars to ensure a consistent image of their product is portrayed. Keeping up with strict guidelines and design element changes can be overwhelming and take away from your end goal of engaging your customers.
However, there are solutions today that enable geographically distributed end-users to produce localized cross-media marketing campaigns that are strictly managed within a manufacturer's brand and legal standards.
One solution is marketing on demand, an intelligent form of technology, often called marketing automation.
It provides a closed-loop marketing system that offers an on-demand marketing solution that goes beyond traditional web-to-print to support the challenges distributed-marketing organizations face.
This web-based technology enables local users to create, proof, and execute marketing materials that preserve brand standards and comply with legal requirements.
It streamlines and integrates everything from print ads and sales collateral, to service coupons, personalized direct mail and personalized URLs (PURLs) with integrated microsites that can offer more detailed information.
And with the increasing availability of digital-print technology, marketing automation systems make it possible to develop and distribute localized marketing collateral with speed, simplicity, and affordability.
Take for example a dealer that has a database of buyers and knows the date they bought their last car and the average miles that each customer puts on the car on an annual basis.
The dealer can segment the database and target those whom are most likely to be in the market to buy a new car in the near future. He can then send a direct-mail piece from a suite of options in the web-based platform to each prospect with a PURL included.
The PURL leads the recipient to a pre-designed microsite with a flash demo embedded that gives them an overview of the key features of the new car. A questionnaire, that is triggered by corporate or triggered locally, may also be placed on the microsite, capturing the customer's interest in learning more.
Either way, feedback is gained to follow-up directly with a call or a brochure.
A marketing-on-demand system enables sophisticated analysis of the entire promotion pipeline. Dealers can assess a multitude of factors including accountability metrics, purchase patterns, and profit/loss calculations to get a complete data picture and better plan for future campaigns.
Having the ability to reach customers and prospects with marketing materials that are relevant to their needs builds brands and drives sales.
Dealers that embrace customer-centric marketing techniques and take advantage of the comprehensive suites of web-based applications available will be able to develop integrated campaigns tailored to their local dynamics and, in turn, drive more traffic to their location.
John Larkin is the president and CEO of Centiv, a modern-marketing firm based in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].
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