Phone: 630-495-2282 Fax: 630-495-2260 Map/Directions

Creating a used-vehicle marketing plan

November 18, 2010

A used-vehicle sales operation cannot reach its potential without an effective marketing plan. Dorothy Miller Shore, whose workshop presentation at the NADA’s2006 convention was titled "Extreme Makeover: Revitalizing Your Used-Car Advertising," offers the following as a planned checklist:


1. SET A BUDGET. Whether you plan an advertising budget month-by-month (based on a percentage of your previous month’s sales) or work on a fixed yearly budget, you must have a plan for wise use of your marketing resources. Stay within your budget and be sure to track your results. Knowing which media bring more customers to your showroom—and which ones don’t—will help you refine your advertising approach in the future.


2. SET YOUR MEDIA PLAN. Which group or groups are you trying to reach? Which medium or combination of media will you use to reach them? Whatever your approach, be creative and make sure the money spent on advertising reaches your target audience as efficiently as possible. If that direct mail flyer didn’t bring in as many 18-to-34-year-olds as expected, try something else.


3. ESTABLISH A CREATIVE OUTLINE. What promotions do you want to run during the next year? As part of your creative outline, you should try to include at least four major events each year. Spread them out—perhaps one each quarter—so each event can be fresh in your customers’ minds.


4. CREATE A TRADITION OF ANNUAL EVENTS. As your dealership grows, you’ll probably want to maintain several of your promotions as annual events. Customers in your selling area will come to recognize and expect your regular events, helping you to establish a stronger identity in your selling area.


5. SET YOUR CALENDAR USING HIGH AND LOW SALES TRENDS. Keep records of how well your events do so you’ll know whether to repeat them. Also, note any factors—weather, remodeling, competing local events, and so forth—that affected your event for better or worse. A notation such as "We’ve had more customers at our sales events since we remodeled our showroom" will help jog your memory when you’re planning for future events.


6. PREPARE YOUR SALES MATERIALS AHEAD OF TIME. Whatever media you plan to use, it’s always a good idea to have themes, layouts and other details considered in advance.


7. PLAN YOUR INVENTORY TO MATCH YOUR CALENDAR. If you’re going to have a major sales event, you’d better make sure you have vehicles that people want to see. Trade-ins will account for, perhaps, 30 percent to 60 percent of your event inventory. Auctions help you find the rest of what you’ll need, and they’ll also help you stock the best-selling, most popular vehicles in your selling area.


Recordings of the NADA convention workshops by Dorothy Miller Shore and others can be ordered online at www.iplaybackNADA,com.