This past March I wrote an article for Dealer magazine entitled: “Buttoning up your Brand,” focused on developing brand awareness of a dealership. I received quite a bit of feedback on the article with inquiries for materials offered in the article on the subject of brand awareness.
Thank you for being engaged!
This month, I’d like to revisit a concept I’ve shared several times over the past 20 years in this publication: Creating and marketing a dealership ‘brand’ infomercial.
A video infomercial is not only a powerful and effective tool in defining your brand, but because of technological advances, it’s actually less expensive to produce and deliver a quality product today than it was 20 years ago.
What is an “infomercial”? It’s a paid program of varying length designed to showcase your brand attributes with a professional presentation of relevant information to existing and potential customers. The most effective infomercials (in terms of “share of mind” return on investment) focus more on information and less on “schmaltzy” repetitive “do it now” deals.
In many markets across America, some dealers still produce the half-hour stream of walking/talking pitches on as many vehicles as can be crammed in the time frame. This is 100% share-of-market with little or no brand building in the process. This is not the concept I’m referring to. I’m talking about a program that helps build customer confidence in the “dealer brand” and provides the kind of information most customers seek in the shopping process.
What are the key-elements of a successful infomercial?
For starters, it should include the five Ws: Who, Why, What, When, Where, and the big H: How.
Who: A little history on the dealership, founder and principals. Maybe a few seconds of interesting footage from the dealership’s early days and some of the earliest models sold.
Why: Why are we running this program? (We want to sell you a car, of course!) We want you to know a little about us, what we stand for, our unique and distinctive advantages and benefits of doing business with us.
What: Yes, a dealership of course, but we’re actually more than that. We’re a full- service transportation portal. We not only sell vehicles, we service them in this state of the art facility featuring the latest and greatest diagnostic technology. We stock genuine factory authorized parts. Our customizing shop has the latest and greatest wheels, audio equipment, safe, comfort and convenience accessories. (By the way, have you heard about our incredible guaranteed best-deal tire offer?) Infomercials can show paint-booths, service waiting areas with free Wi-fi, conference rooms available for community meetings and the list goes on as long as your offerings and imagination.
When: Never hurts to talk about your extremely convenient sales and service days and hours, or the fact that browsing can take place 24/7 at your digital showroom.
Where: You may be a lot more convenient to a segment of potential customer base than they ever imagined! It sure is a lot easier to find you when you show a nice 3-D map on screen, along with address, distance from key addresses and points of interest.
How: Glad you asked. Right here on the screen you’ll see our toll free numbers (in fact we’re going to leave these up on the screen for several minutes) for both sales and service. You can also text or e-mail for more information or just visit our 24/7 digital showroom to browse our inventory, get an instance price quote, fill out your credit application, value your trade, or get the research information you’re looking for on gas mileage, safety, warranty, etc.
You may want to produce a full half-hour infomercial (28.5 minutes) that can be easily edited down to a 15-minute and a five-minute version.
You can run this infomercial on network television channels, cable, on ‘YouTube’ or streamed from your own website. You might be shocked to find out how inexpensive full half hour blocks of time can be on major networks at attractive times on the weekend.
What does it cost?
You can produce a professional half-hour infomercial for as little as $5,000 or as much $20,000 (or more if you want…most videographers and production houses will not set a limit on the high side). With today’s digital editing, it’s much easier to structure and “build” video programming in a modular fashion which allows “freshening/updating” at a reasonable cost. For instance, you might produce several modules on the company “history”, facilities, location, etc., and integrate different opening, closing and insert modules such as a featured model or vehicle segment each week.
Some infomercials are produced with the same “breaks” as regular television shows to insert dealership or other advertising at the breaks. You might have to negotiate with the television station as some have strict rules about “brokering” time, especially to existing station clients. But times are changing and there is a greater creative flexibility in these types of arrangements than ever before.
Devin Robinson, director of production at Sound and Motion Automotive Productions says costs can be kept down by doing advanced outlines of the proposed program and assembling as much information as possible to speed the process. “Often a dealership can make arrangements with customers for testimonial shoots well in advance of the actual production,” says Robinson. “This saves a lot of time (and money) by a production crew.” Sound and Motion has done a number of program length automotive video projects over the years and Devin has agreed to share an “Infomercial Step by Step” outline that may be helpful in your consideration of such a project. If you’d like a free copy, just e-mail me here at Dealer magazine: email@example.com.
If you’re looking for ways to balance your “share of market” messaging with “share of mind” retention that keeps customers focused on your brand, both short and long-term, consider putting the power of a brand building video infomercial to work for you.