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Are You Blind?

What portion of the Market are you missing?

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In the automotive industry today there is always a question of what type of marketing a dealership should pursue. From speaking with many dealers, looking through the newspaper, and studying different commercials, it has become obvious that subprime advertising is greatly misunderstood.

When you advertise to the subprime customer you have to understand two key elements: Who is your customer and what is the Irresistible Offer? (Mark Joyner’s book The Irresistible Offer is an outstanding resource for this topic.)

Dealerships across the country are spending a lot of money running television ads. The key problem is that most of them are commercials for the prime customer. They are advertising their brand, offering free Ginsu knives, making offers for “a limited time only.” Now the dealer gets a customer that wants a sharp knife not a vehicle.

So, what does subprime advertising look like? First we have to look at what does the subprime customer need. Subprime customers need loans. After they get a loan then they can get a car. As we saw in prime advertising, customers are called to the dealership to get their car, but they have not even secured a loan yet. Now you have a customer that walks on the lot, looks at a $30,000 SUV and leaves upset because they qualify for a $9,000 sedan. The reality is that this customer should have started in a credit decision and not a product decision.

Now, what does subprime advertising look like? Blind. Subprime advertising is most effective when it is blind. Blind advertising achieves several goals. First, it keeps the customer in a credit decision. They know they have bad credit. When they see an ad for a dealership, they get flashbacks of their sedan experience. When they see an ad for loans to credit challenged people, they now have a ray of hope that they will get a loan for their car. Hope leads to action, action leads to phone calls and phone calls lead to sold units.

The second thing blind advertising does is protect your dealerships reputation. If you want your dealership to maintain a prime image, you can now make your money in the back with your subprime customers and cover the retail customers in the front. I have seen many retail dealerships move completely to subprime and be very success but that was at the expense of their retail name. That does not have to be the case. You can still make the big gross and keep the same name.

The third major advantage to advertising subprime blind is the ability to jump across franchise lines. As I mentioned earlier, these customers are not dumb to how hard it is to et a car but they still seem to have a commitment to a certain brand of vehicle. Even if you are running the best ad in the market but this customer has a thing for another brand, they are not going to call your ad. They will keep driving by the other franchise dreaming about the car they want. On the other hand, if they are just calling on the ad to get a loan they will come to any dealership if it means getting a car.

As a dealer, you should be looking at every advertising avenue you are using and consider putting 1-800 numbers on them. In order to keep your ad blind, your calls should go to a call center that does not mention your dealership name. What does this do for you? This allows you to control the customer’s experience and keep them in a credit decision. By keeping each customer in that credit decision you are able to land the car on the customer and earn more gross on the deal.

To conclude, subprime advertising is not about gimics or ginsu knives, but about landing cars on the customer. Blind advertising is the most effective way at capturing the subprime customer. Blind advertising keeps the customer in a credit decision, protects the dealership’s reputation, and allows you to cross franchise lines. By using 1-800 numbers you are controlling the customers experience, getting a better gross, and most importantly selling more cars.

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