Car Dealers: Your Check Engine Light Is On

You’ve seen this ad a million times. A man stands in front of his car dealership, grinning nervously into the camera. The poor guy looks like a hostage. He begins…

Hurry in now for our biggest sales event of the year. There’s never been a better time to buy. We’re dealin’ on the largest selection…tent sales…0% financing…cash back…we won’t be undersold…then a high-speed disclaimer.

It seems that every dealership, in every city, is tone deaf. Where’s the seduction? They just hammer consumers with a hard sell, propped up with holiday gimmicks. As if buying a car on Memorial Day somehow honors our fallen heroes.

Automakers invest billions to create technological masterpieces. But by the time those cars reach local dealers, all that savvy evaporates. When it comes to marketing, they’re leaking oil. Their karma ran over their dogma. (Give me a sec, I’ll think of another metaphor). Dealers are so desperate that Little Joe’s Autos in Virginia resorts to: “I’d give them away, but my wife won’t let me.”

Here’s my take: The auto dealers’ Check Engine light is blaring: Overhaul. It’s time to dump the one-size-fits-all drivel and talk to us, like real people. Then learn target marketing, starting with women – who have a vote in 80% of car-buying decisions. But, car ads are aimed at men, voiced by men. Rugged, manly talk about drive trains and big loads.

What if car ads were voiced by women? They’d talk about safety and features that are meaningful to them. Rather than boasting about JD Power awards, make women feel informed, empowered and less vulnerable to getting ripped off.

Then, focus on Millennials who reject all advertising and get by just fine without a car payment.

Next: Jumping Curves

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

2 thoughts on “Car Dealers: Your Check Engine Light Is On”

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