Dealership Integrated Marketing 101: Rethink Automotive Advertising
Chances are, your dealership is already practicing integrated marketing communication, or IMC. You plan to send a direct mail campaign, air a local TV spot, and run a few social campaigns for your latest sales event. But do you know the foundation behind why you’re doing it all? If you don’t, hold on tight: this might just flip your current marketing strategy upside down.
What is and what isn’t integrated marketing communication?
In his book, Principles of Marketing, Philip Kotler describes IMC as “the concept under which a company carefully integrates and coordinates its many communication channels to deliver a clear, consistent message about the organization and its products.”
For dealers, IMC means taking automotive advertising to the next level by spreading your campaigns among both traditional and digital channels to create a cohesive experience for your customers.
This strategy reaches beyond adding your website address to your direct mail pieces or rushing through your dealership’s Twitter handle at the end of your radio ad. (We’re not saying these are bad tactics, but they are just a glimpse into what is a much bigger picture.)
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To truly master IMC, you must tie all of your marketing channels together to create a foolproof knot of organized and effective communication for every campaign.
If your dealership’s messaging looks unfocused and unorganized, you risk weakening (or never even forming) customer-driven brand loyalty. Your audience will likely question making a $30,000+ investment with you if they believe you don’t have your ducks in a row.
When working to implement an effective and integrated marketing strategy, keep in mind these 4 rules (known as the 4 C’s):
In short, every campaign should look consistent across all channels, and every campaign should complement your brand.
Think of McDonald’s, a company whose diverse campaigns range from promoting their new beverages to highlighting their healthier choices for kids. Rolling in $27.5 billion revenue annually, they have oodles of money invested in IMC: everything from their radio ads to their billboards and website exclaim the same message, and every message advances the same red and yellow, “I’m lovin’ it” brand image.
Don’t replace the channel; just change up the mix
It’s wise for dealerships to create a strategy that uses both traditional and digital forms of marketing in order to fully surround customers with one message, regardless of those customers’ media habits or whereabouts.
Mix up your channels, and see what combination works best for your dealership’s target audience. Stick with direct mail, but try pairing your next campaign with an email campaign sent to the same audience. Or try adding social media campaigns and retargeting ads to complement your radio spots. The options are truly endless when it comes to IMC.
While you should seek balance between traditional and digital media, the success of IMC doesn’t depend on how much of your automotive advertising budget is dedicated to one over another. Your dealership’s sole goal should be to to create an overall campaign that generates a fully-executed, memorable brand image.
Remember: you’re advertising to one collective audience. The customer who sees your ad on TV is the same customer who will see your ad on their smartphone, and then again when browsing the web.
Think beyond firing off single, small-idea campaigns that are limited to only one or two channels. Make it a priority to create communication that establishes long-term, lasting connections with your customers.
If you do this, your dealership will witness the power of integrated marketing.
Now, learn by example: Recipe For Automotive Integrated Marketing: Learn From 3 Big Auto Brands
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