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"Ive got a great gimmick.  Let's tell the truth."


 My Conspiracy Theory

 By: John Luciani

What I’ve leaned over the years is there is no eureka moment for retail car ads.  But, there are more effective ways to influence people to go to your dealership.  All it takes is an understanding of consumer psychology and some creative thinking.  That amazingly sophisticated organ we all have, our brain, is the key.  Once you understand how the brain works the rest is as simple as selecting the right tool for the job.

Unfortunately there aren’t many car Dealers out there who want to make it happen badly enough.  Most car Dealers I’ve met have never shown that they're willing to make the commitment to see change. Courage and time are essential to make a dealership a brand that will bring customers through your doors for their lifetime.


There is a massive sub-industry of companies and people whose very existence depends on the retail car industry’s resistance to change.  Jingle houses sell “out-of-the-box” jingles to car dealers throughout North America.  Newspapers employ scores of people who do nothing but assemble clip art car ads.  There are freelance advertising consultants, web masters, nephews and brothers of dealers, radio reps, the wife, and even the some consumers, all telling car Dealers how to promote and advertise. Dealers listen to all of them except the most important one – the customer.

Anyone in the car or the advertising business who knows me has heard me say that retail car advertising sucks.  Let’s face it, for the past forty years or so not much has changed in how dealers advertise cars.  What puzzles me though, is that dealers continue to follow the status quo despite all the sob stories about sales.

If you have millions of dollars invested in a car dealership and your sales aren't growing wouldn’t you try and make changes?  Many good Dealers do, but many more don’t. To get change you have to make change and it’s usually uncomfortable.

From ad agency to ad agency where I’ve worked on car accounts retail car ads never change.  It’s always a “Clearance Sale” or a “Red Tag” sale or “the best time to buy.”  That’s not to say my colleagues and I haven’t recommended some brilliant ideas.  It's just that the car dealers and ad industry executives have been afraid to make a change.  In some cases, overly cautious ad agency execs scuttle game-changing ideas just because they’re "not the way we do things."  Ads by committee make everyone feel safe but don’t motivate buyers.

Nobody seems to listen to the consumer.  I’m not a research expert but I’ve read my share of interesting data and the one thing it says is that consumers are not as naive as we think.  Clearance sales, Red Tag Days and March Madness events don’t fool them.  Let’s be clear, there is no “lowest price ever” or “best time to buy.” That stuff is all ad fodder.


21st Century car advertising

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