auto industry marketing
Latest example of how auto industry/dealer marketing is out of touch with its consumers. I traded this auto to dealer 4 years ago.
A simple tan envelope arrived in the mail today. My name and address are printed on the front with a faux handwritten font. No indication of the sender. There’s a small return address on the back flap (more on that later). Inside was a postcard from a local auto dealer, Starr Motors. Starr has been in business for more than 50 years selling and servicing new & certified pre-owned Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and RAM vehicles. According to their website they are one of the top dealerships in the Mid-Atlantic region. Located in Suffolk, it’s got a bit of a small-town charm, but the “sales game” is the same.
The following message was printed in the with same faux handwriting font from the envelope:
Jeffrey, I wanted to drop you a quick note about purchasing your 2008 Dodge Ram 3500. I need it now and frankly, I think you’ll be pleased with my aggressive offer. It’s easy and you don’t have to purchase anything! Call me by March 31st! Talk to you soon
(the faux handwriting even includes a smudge in place of a period)
– Ed White
Ed’s phone number is circled in the lower right corner with his extension (which is probably a way to track the postcard, the amount of numbers looks suspicious).
First off, I leased this 2008 vehicle from Starr Motors in 2008 and decided to turn it back in to them at the end of the lease in 2011. I decided to buy a 2011 Dodge Ram 3500 and got a much better deal closer to home from another dealer.
Clearly Starr Motors, and/or it’s marketing firm, has no record keeping capabilities. Now for the kicker.
Thanks to Google, I easily found the business belonging to the address I mentioned seeing on the back flap. Located at this address is a 9-time winner of the “Best Direct Mail Marketing Company” voted on by automotive dealers, according to one of two images on their website home page. It gets better. The company’s name is “Strategic Marketing”. The more I read about them, the harder I laughed. “Strategic Marketing really isn’t just a direct mail company that does data, they are a data company that implements direct mail.” They have a proprietary system to collect and interpret data that, in their words, “makes us experts in regard to Response Mechanisms.”
Based on what I see, I find it hard to believe this “strategic marketing” firm has their finger on the pulse of anything other than their clients’ wallets.
Being out of touch is not isolated to this dealership.
I have received several direct-mail pieces from the dealer where I purchased my current truck. Greenbrier Dodge in Chesapeake might possibly have the worst marketing in the area. Several months ago when I called to check up on the status of my vehicle for service, the online message announced, “come see the all new 2013 Dodge Ram Trucks” – this was in August of 2014.
And they continue to offer me special deals to trade my Ram 3500 in for a newer Ram 1500. If these car salespeople had a clue, they would know that anyone who owns a 3500 series truck would not be interested in trading down to a 1500. There’s a reason one purchases a 3500 series truck – mainly for hauling trailers. It’s not a grocery-getter.
With the technology available today, why don’t these guys simply pick up the phone and call me instead of sending an expensive, wasteful direct mail piece? It’s not like these guys have a lot to do all day at the dealership besides standing around waiting like vultures for someone to drop in.
The auto industry needs a fresh, new marketing perspective.