Wasting your time: misinterpreting what marketing actually is

Trying to identify each and every sale an auto dealer makes to a particular source may sound like a ‘scientific’ approach, but it misses the big picture and the actual nature of successful marketing.  Marketing is a collective effort to make your brand (dealership) a known factor to potential buyers.  The successful result should be increased market share. That is what successful marketing is; an aggregate effort to increase market performance (market share).  If you think it’s anything else, you are wasting your time.

When reviewing marketing efforts you have two questions:

  1. Am I outperforming the market (my geographical area) and outperforming my brand in the same area?
  2. Am I spending the right amount of money to do the above (point of diminishing returns)?

One dealer group using a highly sophisticated method of identifying each sale to a particular source took on one of our partners as a marketing partner.  This partner successfully identifies potential buyers and puts the dealer’s message in front of those people in a systematic, consistent way.

During their involvement with our partner, the dealer’s market share was significantly higher compared to several previous months prior to their involvement.  The dealer was not only outperforming the market by a significant amount, but, was outperforming their brand by a similar margin.

But, because they had in place a ‘highly sophisticated method of identifying each sale to a particular source’, they concluded that our partner was not accounting for enough sales (directly, that is). So, they decided to look elsewhere for their direct marketing and dumped our partner.

The logic here is that because you can’t identify specifically the source to the sale, the system is no good.  This is not what successful marketing is all about.  Successful marketing provides an improvement in market performance because the people who need to know about you (because they are in the market), do, in fact, get to know who you are. The result is that incremental sales do occur.  Can you identify which of those sales are ‘incremental’?  No, but you can measure the success by seeing if you are out performing your market and your brand.

Nitpicking direct marketing that has proven to quantifiably improve your market performance is an exercise in futility.  It doesn’t prove anything except that you have people trying to identify the source of each sale.  It does not address the actual performance of your dealership in the market, market share does!

This story is, unfortunately, repeated many times in this business.  The dealer, not understanding the nature of what marketing is supposed to accomplish, will throw out successful formulas just because it doesn’t  fit in with their ‘scientific method’ of measurement.

I have been studying this phenomenon for over 10 years now.  I’ve seen dealers throw out (fire) successful marketing (market share growth) for sundry reasons; not enough leads, not enough traffic, I want more Facebook Likes, they want something more ‘sexy’, or just their inability to look at the evidence or lack of desire.

The only measurement a dealer should worry about is market performance.  I can’t stress this enough.


About dealerite/in association with AP Level 4

National affiliations of professionals who are engaged in changing the culture of the automobile retail business. Associated with AP Level 4 and Edifice Group. These companies are bringing sustainable marketing which has proven quantifiable improvements in a dealer's market share performance
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One Response to Wasting your time: misinterpreting what marketing actually is

  1. Mike Fraley says:

    Good thoughts for those of us still producing traditional marketing. We do a weekly free-on-the-shelf magazine serving a smaller sized market in NorthCentral WV. The struggle to receive credit for sales resulting from our magazine is an increasingly difficult challenge. As you say, the larger picture is ignored in favor of solutions that can provide a direct backtrack, if you’re old school advertising can’t provide a direct backtrack, you lose, even though you may very well have outperformed the competition. “That car sold from our website.” Well, that may be, but where did they get your website? Google? Maybe… but it’s also printed in your ad, and we put 16,000 copies of that and into buyer’s hands last week…..
    For our part, we are growing on both sides…. more copies of the printed magazine in hand.. and more cars into our website where new versions show those cars in more accessible formats. And luckily, people still walk on the lots with the magazine in hand.
    Print is NOT dead!


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