Make the Switch from Reactive Marketer to Proactive Mind Reader

targeted dealership marketing


The once tried-and-true strategy for marketing your dealership to prospects – throwing out messages for the masses and waiting for the leads to land on your lot – is no longer true. Things have changed – not just for dealerships and their customers, but at the very core of how people communicate with businesses.

A reactive approach to marketing is a surefire strategy for “staying put,” if not falling behind the competition. Back in 2006, Jay Walker-Smith from the Yankelovich Consumer Research said that “we’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today.” That number has not gone down. In fact, technological progresses in the last decade have made it even more difficult today to get consumers to take notice, let alone take action.

If dealers take the right steps to be proactive instead of reactive with their marketing, their marketing efforts can feel more like mind reading. Here are three steps to becoming a proactive mind reader:

1. Beat the Prospect to the Punch
The average age of vehicles on the road is still above 11 years old, and new data indicates longer ownership decreases brand loyalty. Couple that with a defection rate above 50 percent for even the best of brands, and it’s clear you’ve got to get ahead of the Zero Moment of Truth! Knowing when your customers are in a position to buy before they realize it themselves puts you back in control of the sales conversation.

2.Tailor Your Message to Be More Meaningful
This can be difficult with an out-dated database. Much of your customer’s experience with your dealership relies upon their engagement with your communication. Customers today, especially those in Gen Y, demand personalization. It means you want to send meaningful, moving messages and an email “blast” is not your best bet. Whether you send direct mail or targeted emails, you’ll see better success if you go beyond a generic message.

3. Stay Consistent in Your Communications
No matter how creative or captivating your messages may be, sometimes the only way to make a deal is due diligence. Your OEM has programs that may help, but they also may detract from your dealership, in favor of promoting the mothership. Sales and service cycles go round and round. Your goal is to fill the gap between those cycles. If you don’t communicate between cycles, those customers won’t come around again.

A version of this article originally appeared in in the April 8 issue of Dealer Communications.


Zach Vaughn, Naked LimeZach Vaughn was named 2014 Rookie of the Year when he joined Naked Lime after spending 12 years with a traditional ad agency in Dallas, TX. Prior to joining Naked Lime, Zach worked with dealerships of all sizes and OEMs across the country to help them understand how marketing messages impact every department of a dealership. Zach currently puts his marketing expertise to work in his hometown of New Orleans, LA, where he helps dealers win in the “New Normal” as a Naked Lime Sales Specialist.