In Allan Dib’s book, “The 1-Page Marketing Plan,” Dib provides one of the best examples of marketing I have ever read. Here is an excerpt from the book:
“If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying, ‘Circus Coming to the Showground Saturday,’ that’s advertising.
If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.
If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed and the local newspaper writes a story about it, that’s publicity.
If you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.
If the town’s citizens buy a ticket to attend, as well as buy concessions, that’s sales.
And if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing.”
In commercial sales, think of marketing as your master plan to reach your ultimate goal of not just selling units, but also maximizing your profit with the lowest possible cost. Unfortunately, most dealerships get caught up in the first phase only; the sales team or marketing department places advertisements in publications or creates a direct mail campaign. Yes, the price is low, but so are the benefits and the results. I don’t mean to say that you must spend a ton of money to be successful — far from it — I only mean that successful marketing efforts are both strategic and comprehensive.
Not long ago I got a call from a dealership that did a 3,000 piece mailing initiative. Their targets were very broad and not well defined. The result? Over $4,000 was spent, with only two responses (neither of which ended up buying a vehicle!). I suggested that next time we work together to plan and implement an actual marketing strategy.
I can’t cover all the details of how to achieve great marketing results in one article, but I can give you a real life example of a marketing program we performed with one of our dealerships, McGrath Auto, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
We scheduled an appointment with the Executive Director of the Cedar Rapids Home Builders. I asked if there were any events we could sponsor to help promote the dealership and the association. The Executive Director said there was a “Lunch-and-Learn” scheduled which was in need of a location. Apparently, after an email goes out (there’s that basic advertising), they usually get around 20 attendees. We agreed to host the event, but also decided to strategically boost the marketing efforts!! Let’s walk through the steps we took:
Step One: Advertising – The local Home Builders Association contacted all members (for free).
Step Two: Promotion – We created a theme for the meeting, “10 Ways to Grow Your Client Base Through the Home Builders Association,” and promoted via handouts. The dealership also offered a free giveaway for registered attendees.
Step Three: Publicity – We contacted the local talk radio station about the event and let the station know the State President of the Home Builders Association would be available for any interviews (of course, we got the interview!).
Step Four: Public Relations – We emailed all the local papers, local TV, and radio stations, as well as the local business journal, about publishing press releases.
Step Five: Sales – We assigned the sale team to interact with all attendees and collect business cards via the prize giveaway.
What was the result? Instead of the usual 20 attendees, there were over 90 people in attendance, and we got the right to quote on a large fleet, as well multiple appointments that lead to actual sales!! True marketing combines all the various components: advertising, promotion, publicity, public relations, and sales. It’s a careful balancing act on the tightrope of success, but when you strategically plan and execute each of these steps, you may pull off your best show yet!! Are you ready to master the marketing circus??
About the Author
As the Founder and President of Commercial Truck Training, Ken has consulted, coached, and trained commercial dealers on individual, regional, and national business levels. Known as an industry leader, Ken has worked with companies like General Electric, General Motors, FCA, Ford, Commercial Truck Trader, and Equipment Trader.