I have come to this conclusion several times over the past few years: The Kool-Aid that marketers sold to automobile dealers when times were good is still being consumed by those dealers even though you could drive a Mac Truck through the logic.
If I have to hear one more time, ‘but…are these incremental sales?’, I think I may take the next huckster in this business and set them up for a long dinner with to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Henry Waxman!
This next set of statements are important. If you are a dealer or a marketing person, I dare you to contradict them. The dealership does not exist in a vacuum. That is to say, they have a sign, past customers, a location, radio, TV and direct marketing all within their market. There is absolutely no way to accurately quantify ‘incremental sales’ in this environment because of the overlapping messages that get out. The only way to quantify ‘incremental sales’ would be to market into an outside market not currently being addressed such as an Atlanta dealer marketing in Nashville or a Los Angeles Dealer marketing in Salt Lake City. Those sales in an outside market not previously producing customers would be quantifiable ‘incremental sales’.
Okay, I’ve said it. I feel better now…sort of.
Here’s what should be looked at: Efficiency and Market share retention/growth. Period! A dealer can sell fewer cars in a quarter and still gain market share. If the market is shrinking during a period, the marketing goal should be to efficiently shrink less than the competition! How cost effectively you retain your market share (or grow it) is and should be the one factor that is scrutinized. I’ve said this before, but anyone can put $200,000 a month into a TV push and grow their market share, but at what cost per up-tick?! No one would call that an efficient way of going about it.