Selling Cars? It's All About the Offer

Help Dealers Understand That Tough Times Call for Unique Offers
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This is an excellent time for your sales team to start a dialogue with your local car dealers about how your radio cluster can help them move cars off their lots now. iStockphoto/pixelprof According to Bloomberg, there are now about 7 million new cars sitting in storage facilities around the United States. In rural areas, you can see the gleaming new autos sitting sadly in the sun on empty fields, awaiting buyers.

Many feel that it's only a matter of time until the auto industry acknowledges that dramatic times call for unusual measures in terms of offering deals people can't afford to ignore.

If this occurs, the radio industry is poised to be the best medium with which to alert consumers. Radio, locally and nationally, has the most cost-efficient way to combine reach and frequency to generate sales.

However, the right offer has to be offered to elicit action.

This is an excellent time for your sales team to start a dialogue with your local car dealers about how your radio cluster can help them move cars off their lots now — before the big guys make their move with national deals.

Create action

The key is to remember that it's "the offer," combined with the correct advertising (and perhaps promotional) schedule, that will assist your local car dealers move their inventory, even in a slumping economy.

The most difficult answer to find is uncovering what offer is necessary to create action. In all likelihood, you will have to be inventive with dealerships to do a "test and measure" scenario, where they pick one offer for five days of a heavy schedule and another offer for the second flight.

It's vital that dealers understand that tough times call for unique offers — things they haven't either been willing to do before for financing and leasing, or sale prices they haven't been willing to offer before, but will do so now to generate some cash flow.

They may want to reconsider how they deal with their pre-owned inventory. Competing dealerships on the same block may wish to actually pull their resources and have a one-of-kind "block party," with cooperation and offers never seen before in your city.

If you're part of cluster, utilize a road-block advertising strategy for these campaigns where you are airing the same offer on all five stations at roughly the same time, so someone tuning around will hear the same offer with even greater frequency.

If you're streaming, make certain to insert these same spots into streams.

If your station is making the creative (instead of an agency), be absolutely sure the commercials are clearly communicating the desired message. Don't leave this to chance. Play the spots to a lot of different people and then ask them to explain back to you what they thought the offer was about.

Bring 'em in

Maybe you need a few quickie promotions to convince dealers that you can still motivate listeners to walk through their doors.

Here are a few quickies that almost always work and any one of them will prove the point you need to make: It's all about the offer.

If you're a regular reader of mine, you know the $500 trick: Go on the air and tell your listeners that you are giving away five hundred dollars in cash — a dollar at a time — for as long as it lasts from the dealer's showroom. You will get 500 people into that dealership and in most cases, the money will be gone in 20 minutes.

Other benefits that will get people through the door:

  • • Hot sports or concerts giving away in a mass quantity in a short period of time.
  • • Memory sticks for computers. Buy 'em cheap and give them away in big numbers — first 100 people get a 2 gig memory stick with a free song from your format on every stick.
  • • Free oil changes if you bring the oil — we'll do the change for as many cars as we can do from 9 to 5.

Warn the dealer in advance that these promotional gimmicks will not necessarily sell cars. They will only prove that radio can produce action.

Finally, help your clients by doing research about what is succeeding in other markets. Talk to your sister radio stations to learn if they stumbled on concepts that have generated success.

Can you turn back the clock to 1995 when cars were flying off the lot? Maybe… if someone is willing to turn back prices to 1995 for a few hours.

It's all about the offer.

The author is president of Lapidus Media. Write him atmarklapidus@verizon.net.

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