10 Steps to a Great Advertising Plan For Automotive Marketers

Advertising is more than just writing a catchy slogan.  And building a great campaign is a lot more than the four “rights” – right message, right person, right medium, right time.

For your automotive ad campaign to be great, it must raise the awareness level of your dealership while simultaneously causing consumers to take action and respond.  

Successful automotive advertising requires proper planning, research, budgeting and execution in order to produce results.  While not conclusive, the following will provide a few steps you must take to build a great advertising campaign.

1): Establish the goals you want your campaign to achieve.  You’ll never know if your campaign was successful if you don’t set some benchmarks first.  The goals should be measurable, attainable, and time bound.

2): Know the demographics so you can speak the language.  What’s your target customer’s age, gender, income and educational level?  Different consumers speak different languages.  You must know the demographics before you can speak their language.

3): Focus on benefits, not the features. Consumers buy for their reasons, and it’s not because you’ve been in business over 25 years or use high-quality materials. Sell the style and the warmth, not the jacket.

4): Put your money where your market is.  You must place your ads on the mediums that deliver your audience. You may think that everyone watches the morning news on TV or listens to the same radio station as you do.  Do some research before you place that buy.

5): Create a budget and stick to it.  Far too many advertisers will “pull the plug” just as their campaign is getting traction.  I’m not advocating spending money endlessly.  Just don’t expect your phone to ring off the hook the day you launch your campaign.

6): Track and measure the success of your campaign once you’ve finalized the advertising campaign you plan to execute. Execute your advertising campaign, calculate results and plan for the next campaign.

7): Take the high ground.  Automotive advertising is warfare.  Your dealership must establish a high ground position and maintain it.  The high ground allows you to get above direct competition and comparison, occupying a unique niche in the prospect’s mind, ready to be called forth when it’s time to choose – or to buy.  It’s not about spending more, but thinking better.

8):  Be different.  Look at what your competition is doing, and do something else.  Different media, different message, different image.  Be careful – you can be too different.  Distinguish your company in a manner that’s true to your core beliefs and it will ring true.

9): Stick to your guns.  Next to creating the most compelling message possible, consistency is the strongest force in advertising.   For every prospect that’s ready to buy now, there are countless in “the pipeline” who will be buying next week, next month or next year.

10):  Present your ads as information.  The most effective advertising doesn’t look like an ad at all.  The non-ad is relevant and useful information your prospects are interested in.  Tell them what they want to know, not what you want to say.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not about spending more.  A great ad campaign can be yours by thinking better and planning ahead.

Ronald A. Heider is the owner of HMA – Heider Marketing & Advertising; a Hampton Roads based agency servicing the automotive and auto-aftermarket industries.  He can be reached at (757) 447-4987; on-line at www.hmaads.com or by e-mail at rheider@hmaads.com.