Archive for January, 2013

EcommerceHave you noticed more and more these days, e-commerce businesses like Facebook (Valued at about $105 Billion Dollars), and Google (Valued at $192 Billion Dollars) are using that old washed up, traditional media to gain customers?  It is really interesting to see this happen.

Plus, the reps that push the services of these companies have been saying (on Facebook, Tweeting, blogging, YouTube)  “the old way of advertising and marketing is dead, gone forever. It is a waste of money. No one watches TV or reads their mail anymore. You’re just wasting your time, spinning your wheels!”

In fact, some of these “non-brick and mortar companies” like and to name a few, are not just spending some money on TV, they are going to the ultimate level (over 200 million eyeballs), with the Super Bowl!

Yes, we are seeing the most valuable companies in the world; companies like Facebook and Google invest millions of dollars in that old washed up traditional, “direct mail”.

What? Wait a minute. What do they know?

They know the facts!

The facts are traditional media like direct mail is anything but dead. In fact, it’s more powerful than ever before. Technology has not only enhanced and improved the actual printing process but it has made printing creativity more powerful and incredible than ever before, and it’s more affordable.

How? Every time you increase your direct mail accuracy, you increase your response. Every time you increase your response, you automatically decrease your printing, and when you decrease printing, you of course decrease postage and other cost.

Now, of course Facebook and Google are using direct mail to ultimately drive the recipient to the Internet using a cause of action.  But they are using direct mail for precision.  When any company (or dealership) wants to deliver a message to a certain criteria or type of person, it is because they want to be relevant.  When you are relevant to the reader, they respond, plain and simple. DirectMailDude

When you use today’s technology such as complex variable data, you can send out a letter that is unique and is relevant to each reader. That is how response rates go through the roof along with ROI.

In other words, Google and Facebook are utilizing the most powerful approach ever in this business. They are tapping “Multichannel Marketing”.

These companies probably spent millions of dollars on research, surveys, and study after study, to find out what works the best to gain customers in today’s over crowded market?

We would have told them for half price… Its Direct Mail, silly…


EducateIt’s no secret, most people hate going to a dealership to buy a car.  They fear paying too much, being lied to, or being ripped off.  Many car dealerships have changed their tune and treat the customer right but that “reputation” still exists for car dealerships as an industry.  It will be a slow process but it can change.

One new challenge many dealers face is all the rants, complaints and false accusations from the Internet.  Some are valid but most are just a competitor or customer who want the impossible and no matter what a dealership tells them, they think it’s a rip off.  If you drop the extremes on both sides of the curve, most customers are good, rational people who just want to be treated fair and with truth.

After writing Automotive Direct Mail Marketing copy now for over 26 years,  you learn a lot when your goal is to “separate from the pack”. Back in 1996, when we wrote the first few events for the now famous “Butterball Bonanza”, people said we were crazy.  No one is going to drive down to a dealership for an $8.00 Butterball Check thinking they can get a Thanksgiving Turkey.  Over a million turkeys later and every single competitor in the industry doing it now, the skeptics got that one wrong. When we wrote the “Certification Test Market”, people said it was “too wordy”, no one will read all that, they prefer short sentences, pictures, fonts, burst. Once again, 100 million pieces and 400,000 deliveries later, we proved them wrong again.

Difference-It’s important to note that these events were founded, created and inspired by a desire to not do what all the other dealerships were doing at the time (with success), believing 100% that for true success, you must separate yourself from everyone else or you become like everyone else.

Today, we have a similar circumstance. We have a situation where dealerships are sending out mostly High Traffic, Cash Give-a-way, Buy Backs, or some type of Pre-approval piece.  There is NOTHING wrong with these mailers. There is a segment of people who will respond every time. But there is a bigger segment that does NOT respond and never will.  WE WANT THAT SEGMENT!

Imagine sending a direct mail piece out to people (in the market for a vehicle), that had not one word about any “Super Red Tag Sale” or “Match this and Win $10,000 Cash”, and so on. You get the picture?

This is a direct mail piece like no other. No where do we try to sell a car.  All we (YOU) do is educate the car buyer (but make it interesting) and keep them engaged. We also make sure we brand your dealership throughout the piece.

You are saying to the 5 mile radius around your dealership, “We know the purchase of a new car will be your family’s biggest investment (outside a house) in your life time. We don’t take it lightly and we want you to know that we are here and we are ready to do business, when you are ready.  We don’t want you to be uncomfortable when you arrive.   We want this to be an exciting POSITIVE event for you and your family.  We have put together some important tips on everything from selling your current vehicle, to financing, picking out the right car that is affordable, and everything in between”.

Here is a sampling of what is in the piece:

  • Automotive Financing 101:
  • Glossary of Automotive Industry Definitions:
  • Credit Score Basics:
  • Wallet Card: Key Reminders Before and During Your Dealership Visit:
  • Taking Steps To Boost Your Credit Score:
  • Trade It or Sell It: How To Get Rid Of Your Old Car:
  • How to Avoid Scams in Car Buying Transactions:
  • “Just Marrieds” In the Driver’s Seat When Buying Their First Vehicle:
  • Recent College Graduation Discount Program:
  • Everything You Want to Know About Buying a Car But Were Afraid to Ask:
  • Our Dealership Is Proud to Support our troops:
  • Ready To Shop For a Car? Take the POP Quiz and Find Out!

Each piece is customized but you get the idea.  There are so many dealerships right now that do so much for their communities, it’s amazing.  They put some information on their website but that’s about it.  Car dealers are some of the most generous people in the country.  They are leaders in their communities and have incredible stories to tell.

This piece is loaded with so much information and value; you don’t even have to ask for their business.  The dealership is willing to say to customers, “We are not in the business to trick you into over paying for that new car.  We sold your parents a car and we want to sell your kids a car. We know if we treat you right, you will tell your friends and neighbors”. Plus, you will hopefully bring your vehicle back for service. When it comes time to buy another car or an additional vehicle like a truck or Sport Ute (as your family grows), you will come back where everyone knows your name and you are comfortable doing business”.

What about legalities?  How about “Peace of Mind”… With so many rules, lawsuits, shake downs, wouldn’t it be refreshing to send out a Direct Mail Piece that doesn’t need disclaimers and is just good solid branding and building relationships?  Isn’t that what its all about anyway?

Affordability…  Since this piece is not Time Sensitive, you don’t need to pay a premium in postage.  With postage being the most expensive part of any direct mail piece, that’s good news as well.

SocialMediaMessXLThe best part is this information can all be formatted for email, social media, and a host of other digital marketing strategies! Great Selling!

By Todd Vowell, Copyright 2013
All Rights Reserved

There is this “rule Imageof thumb” when writing social media blogs that basically says in order to capture the reader’s attention and build your audience, never try and sell them something. Always make sure your content is informative (something for business, life, or both that will enhance or help them or their business in some way). It could be “three tips to improve customer service” or “five ways to lose weight” and so on. You get the idea.

With that “bit of information” fresh in your thoughts, what if you became the dealership in your market known as the educator? What if your dealership actually took a “branding direction” at educating the public on how to buy a car, save money, and get the best deal?

Take “Carla Car Buyer” in “Anytown, USA” and there was one dealership that was always sending her stuff that taught “how to buy a car right, not get ripped off, and save some money”, would she not visit that dealer and actually feel the most welcome and want to purchase from a dealer like that, simply from the “trust factor” alone?

Depending on the size of your market and salespeople with “No Fear”, you can also set up car buying workshops for groups such as:

  • Local Toastmasters or other speaking groups
  • Community Centers
  • Companies with 25 + employees
  • Churches and other Faith-based Organizations
  • Teachers
  • Any local group or organization

One other great example is direct mail backed up with email.  What if you took the traditional 5,000 piece mailer that most if not all car dealerships have at least tried, and replaced the traditional “direct mail event” (you know, the one with huge discounts and win $5,000, HUGE Rebates, etc. etc.) and replace it with “Five Tips to Stay Within Your Means When Buying a Car” and/or “Three Tips for First Time Buyers”, and so on.

This mailer should include a letter from the owner or GM of the dealership personalized to each consumer.  Imagine a personal letter from the owner of a local dealership that offers a first time buyer tips to save them some money, ease their anxieties.  How great is that? If you feel really bold, do a YouTube Video or even a series of videos! Include Social Media and really hit it hard.

Imagine you have never bought a car before.  You have read and heard all the “car dealer stories”. You have this vision of the dealership and how intimidating it can be.  Then all of a sudden you get a personal letter from the owner of a local dealership that is not telling you about how cheap his prices are or how great the rebates are or how much they will buy your trade for ($5,000 guaranteed!)  No, you get a nice positive letter filled with nothing but tips, guidance, and education on getting the right vehicle for you and your family.  I think you would agree, at this point, you as a dealer don’t even have to ask them for the business, they are going to come visit your dealership and most likely buy from you.