More Meaningful Marketing, Part 8

Moving along from the list in part 2, we're on to Alternative Sales Marketing.

An interesting phrase, alternative sales marketing. What I mean by this is out of the box marketing--at least for the dealer. A dealer has been used to marketing in a certain way or a few ways for a long time, so here are some ideas to get you out into some traffic.

Take some of the advertising money you've been using and try some of it in these areas:

The mall. Besides the freeway, here is where there is traffic--and its the kind of traffic you probably need more of. I went online to Westfield Group and clicked on Specialty Leasing. They list three different ways to do short or long term specialty merchandising with them. One: Retail Merchandising Units (AKA, RMU's Mall Carts, Common Area Stores) and they state that these are the "quickest and easiest way to establish your retail presence in a center." You've seen them in the middle of the floor in the mall and they can be very effective. Two: Floating Retail (AKA Kiosks) "will afford your business and product unparalleled exposure and permanent long-term real estate within our centers. Floating retail gives you the ability to have front and center interaction with the shopper; Kiosk designs offer standard sites averaging 150 square feet. Floating retail design is entirely customizable to fit your business, product and merchandising strategy in order to maximize sales and company success." Three: Temporary In-Line Stores "enable you to take advantage of seasonal vacancies of in-line retail spaces in our centers so you can dramatically expand your sales over a short period of time."

I've seen cars and trucks inside the mall, but they are static displays with sign-up forms all around the perimeter of them. There isn't anyone there doing anything. It is on autopilot. Extremely ineffective. I would go so far as to say it is a waste of time and energy to do it that way. But, having a display that has a person or persons with a story to tell, handouts, contests, activities can make a big difference. There is a lot that can be done in this area and it doesn't have to cost $10k a month to do it. My main point is that there is a lot of traffic here and if you have something outstanding to say, here is a great place to say it and show it. Hand out service coupons and drive business to service and parts. Hand out free car wash coupons and get them into your store. Have regular drawings and give away a detail to a car or truck, some free service like a lube, oil, filter or something like that. You don't need to give away hundreds of dollars worth of items. Get people coming into your store. That's what it is all about. You'll be able to touch people that would have never thought of coming into your store when they are ready for a vehicle.

In this environment, don't think about selling a car today, think instead of driving business into your store in other ways so that you can build a relationship with them so that when they are ready, you have a great shot at their business. But, don't forget one of the most important things: it isn't so much them, as who they know. Have a computer or two going and people can see your awesome website and you can show them the super service videos you have there that can be so helpful for all those younger folks that aren't coming into your store now. It will help the older folks too. This is the information age, so give them plenty of interesting information that is helpful and useful. They will appreciate you for that. And maybe that one will never buy from you because they love that other make, but they know people who do like your product and they can tell how cool your display was and pass the coupons on to other people.

This is but one idea. It's not free, but it's not outrageous, either. Considering the traffic you have an opportunity to influence, it can be very cost effective if you can have a good plan of doing different things that are attracting people to have the opportunity to influence. If it is just a car and a person, it won't draw much. Better to have a Mall Cart with brochures, video playing, giveaways, ways to interact with people. Hire some talent to be there with you perhaps. I'm sure you can think of some workable scenarios that will be effective for you.

I grant that it is out of the ordinary for car dealers, but these are extraordinary times. Get out of your box and go for it. Find some unique more meaningful marketing to drive traffic and business to your store.

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