In advertising, just as in every other aspect of your business, attitude IS everything. The tone, the message, the inflection, the confidence, all determine how your communication will be perceived. When you walked into the dealership today, did you believe your dealership would sell ONE car today? Or TWELVE cars today? Or NO cars today? If you believed NO cars, why would you even bother getting out of bed! Back in the early 90’s, I worked with a dealer in the Northeast who, one morning, called all of the salespeople into his office. He asked “Who’s going to sell a car today?” I happened to be sitting in the office watching the show. The dealer repeated the question and three of the nine people in the office raised their hands. The dealer said “Okay…so you’re going to sell a car today? And you? And you? Great! The rest of you go home.” There were a few giggles and shuffling and then the dealer repeated himself “I’m serious…I want every one of you who didn’t raise your hand to go home. Take the day off! And do me a favor… if you don’t think you can sell a car tomorrow don’t come in tomorrow either!” At the end of the day, the three salespeople who raised their hands, along with the dealer, had sold nine cars.
Why should our advertising express any less of a positive attitude? Here are some important elements of ‘right attitude’ advertising:
A clearly defined offer of value or opportunity. If you’re stating a payment, why not include some of the most desired options included in that payment. “This is not some come-on payment on a base model. You get the heated seats, rich leather interior and video terminals for the kids’ entertainment!” Or… “You don’t need sterling credit, we’ve financed people who never thought they could qualify for new car financing.”
A message the average person can understand. Don’t use big words. And you don’t need a lot of hyperbole (overstated/exaggeration). Don’t use too many words. Radio and TV/video ads should pace the listener/viewer in the same manner as a showroom face to face presentation.
The right delivery energy. The perfect advertising message delivery is about 10% above a ‘face to face’ delivery. You need a little more enthusiasm/excitement…but you should never be screaming or shouting.
The right ‘voice.’ Research proves the most effective ‘voice’ is the most believable voice. It has nothing to do with tonality or even pitch. You don’t need a big deep ‘James Earl Jones’ voice. It’s good to have a ‘unique’ voice. One that isn’t heard on a bunch of different advertisements in your marketplace.
Stay away from celebrities. With rare exception, one of the worst mistakes you’ll ever make is paying big money to a celebrity to endorse your product or service. Especially today when ‘celebrities’ love to take very public positions on social or political issues. Don’t let an outsider define or alienate your potential customer base. Celebrities are human beings with human failings. Why do you think the postal service doesn’t put living people on stamps? And by the way, do you think anyone listening or viewing your ad believes the celebrity is endorsing you because they are a ‘normal’ customer?
The best ‘celebrity’ is your customer! Customer testimonials remain some of the most powerful tools in the advertising tool box. Especially when they are done without written scripts or cue cards. ‘Real’ people saying ‘real’ things in ‘real’ ways are powerful referral tools.
Nudges can be more powerful than advertising beat-downs. “Every dealer says they will sell for less. We’re so confident, we say why not shop us first. Get our price. Get our trade allowance. Then at least you’ll have something to shop with.”
Don’t drown the message in music. Music and sound effects are okay, but they can obliterate and overpower the message. Don’t try to let ‘music’ carry your advertisement. You’re not in the entertainment business. You’re in the business of selling cars.
Make an advertising ‘promise’ you can live with. Remember the dealer I mentioned in the beginning of this article? Once when a new Cougar model was released by Lincoln Mercury, sales were disappointing nationally. The dealer told me to bring a camera and microphone. He got in front of the camera and said this: “Folks you’ve known me for 40 years. You know I stand by my word. I believe this new Cougar is one of the best built cars we’ve ever sold. Come see it. Drive it. And if you buy it and don’t like it after 30 days, bring it back and I’ll give you every dime of your money back.” I asked the dealer what he would like for disclosures. He said “NONE.” That month the dealer sold more Cougars than the other top two dealers in the nation combined. He also set a record for Mercury sales nationally that month. And he didn’t buy one single car back. It was the most powerful ‘attitude’ advertisement I’ve ever been involved with. I know many of you reading this know who that dealer was.
Last month I wrote about an article sharing the research that 40% of walk-in customers buy that same day. 70% do it within 72 hours! Obviously, the task of our marketing efforts is to convince as many people as possible to walk through that door. Marketing is ‘conception to consumption.’ Everything your customer sees and hears the moment he or she walks through the door is affected by point-of-purchase marketing. How is the ‘atttitude’ of that experience? Is it fresh, clear, inviting, clean? Does your internal marketing experience; what they see and hear, how they are greeted, tell your customer they made the right decision. They came to the right place? If so, there is a good chance every third customer that walks through your doors is going to be driving a vehicle with your name on the back.
One of the top hotel chains in the world has a little sign in the office area behind the reception desk, so that when a customer comes in, the person going to greet them sees a sign that says ‘STOP! SMILE! IT’S SHOWTIME! That’s setting the stage for the right attitude.
Author: Jim Boldebook
JIM BOLDEBOOK is Founder of CBC Automotive Marketing, an advertising/marketing agency working with some of America’s most successful dealerships. He has been in the broadcasting, advertising and marketing fields for almost 50 years. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org