Pricing Strategies and Advertising Fun - Volume 1

Since price advertising tends to be a very common thing, I will address some concepts that I have learned about making it effective. I will focus on commercial truck pricing, but also touch on a number of other pricing issues with other types of products. This is volume one of many volumes about pricing strategies.

Trader type publications. I ran a double page ad in the Big Truck & Equipment Trader every week for 8 years while I was at dealerships. It can be an effective tool. It is pretty thick now, and there are thousands of prices to wade through. It is a regional publication, so your prospect may be 500 miles away and you want to attract all that you can. Here is a few things I learned about pricing and advertising in this kind of publication:

  1. Be unique. Sell something that is harder to find in this publication. If you are selling an 8' service body on a 3/4 Ton or 1-Ton single rear wheel chassis, there will most likely be hundreds to choose from. If you are selling an F550 with a 5,000 lb crane on a service body, you could count them on one hand. Don't compete--create.

  2. Do not put "call for price." This just ticks people off. It tells me you are afraid of the price and I should be as well. I hate it when I see that phrase or something like it and I skip right past them. Be bold! Be strong! Have courage! Put yourself out there!

  3. White space is good. It provides focus. Keep it simple and consider what someone else's eyes will focus on if they see your ad.

  4. Present important features, benefits in as concise a manner as possible. Bullet points is always a good way that is likely to get read and considered.

  5. There are lots of ways to price an item. You can put the sales price before tax, license, doc fees, etc. You can put a payment with disclosures in fine print. You probably have some experience of how people commonly purchase the kind of vehicle you are selling. Are they financing it? How long? How much down? Are they paying cash? Pick a common theme and use it. If 80+% of your buyers are financing with an average of 20% down, put that scenario in your ad. Businesses look at these things a bit differently than private parties.

  6. Put links to your website and even a direct link to this truck. Make sure your phone is large.

  7. If it doesn't sell quickly, don't succumb to dropping the price. Raise it instead. I would do this on the lot as well. Who says prices have to go down? You'd be surprised to know how many I sold at the raised price!

  8. Vary the ad. Put it here, there, try different things.

  9. Do not make lists. If you want to promote the volume of items you have, state "we have ___ to choose from for immediate delivery" or something like that. Short, sweet, simple.

  10. Used. Used commercial truck is the best seller in these publications. A good reason to stock and promote good used commercial trucks.

  11. I was in Northern California near Sacramento and got a lot of business out of Southern California in this publication. I advertised "Free delivery in California, Nevada and Arizona." Of course, I planned that expense into the sale price. Commercial buyers rarely had trade-ins so that was an easy thing to do all of it over the phone until the delivery in person at their location. It was easier for them than driving across town to buy locally! Sometimes people wanted to come up, so they would fly in and we would pick them up at the airport and make it a smooth and pleasant experience for them. It was all incremental business to me.

  12. Take your own photos if you are good at it. The photo in the ad is critical. Make it a good shot. Lead them to your website to see a photo gallery of that truck. The more they see, the better.

  13. Color helps get attention if you can afford it in the budget. Color ads are a must if you are selling colored trucks.

  14. Do not be coaxed into filling up all the space in the ad. I'm repeating myself, but white space provides focus. What will your customers eyes focus on when they see your ad? Too much going on, means no focus.

  15. Point 15 is the most important point: Keep Track Of Results! Keep track of every call and what vehicle they called on and what happened. Learn from every call what to do that might be more effective. Spending hard earned money on an ad and not being able to measure the results is the same as lighting it on fire and burning it. Know what is working and what is not working. If you have a team, insist that these rules be followed. How many calls came in on this ad? Keep track over a long period of time. Always keep track of every ad and every response (or lack of response). Know. It is the only strategy that makes sense to me. I studied it over time and reaped the results of that knowledge. Keep track.

I tried a number of these kind of publications. I tried them long enough to know. I kept track of the calls. Of all the ones I used, the Big Truck & Equipment Trader was the best for me. I made a consistent profit. What is working for you? What is your strategy?

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