WOLFBITES - Issue 13

The mad, mad world of automobile
dealership advertising

If you have ever bought a car – and most of us have – you have seen, heard and read advertising for automobile dealerships. Most often, it goes like this:

The word price repeated three times, presented by Toronto freelance copywriter Wolfgang Franke to highlight the obsession with price in print advertising for car dealeships.

Bored yet? No, well then let’s look at the message delivered in other car dealership advertising:
PRICE, price, PRICE, price!!!!

So what is the problem with shouting price, price, price? That’s easy. If you tell the customer that price is the only thing that matters, the customer will go for the lowest price. They will have no loyalty to a particular dealership because they perceive – understandably – that every dealership is the same.

The truth is that every dealership is not the same – even if they sell the same cars. It’s also true that a car dealership can – and should – sell much more than price. For example, let’s assume two automobile dealerships are competing for the same customer. Dealer A places loud, screaming price ads. Dealer B places the same number of ads, but instead of devoting his entire ad to price, price, price, he inserts a few select messages that give Dealership B a brand identity and – equally important – establish a value proposition that goes beyond price.

Now the customer has a reason to choose Dealer B because he or she is getting price and the added value the dealer offers after the sale. A few select dealers in the Greater Toronto Area get this already. Two that stand out are Dufferin Mazda and the Ontario Toyota Dealers.

So, Mr. Dealership Owner, you have a choice. You can sell everything that makes your dealership special, a strategy that will produce short-term benefits (immediate sales) and long-time benefits (customer loyalty). Or you can continue to sell “price, price, price”, a me-too strategy (with the lifespan of a daily newspaper) that proclaims to the marketplace – at great expense – we are no better or different than the other guys.

PS: If you are still not convinced, subject your latest print ad to this test: delete the logo and address and drop in the logo and address of a competitor. If the ad could still work (subject to some shuffling of the offered prices) you have a big problem.

Read Wolfgang's latest marketing blog.

Wolfgang Franke is President & Creative Director of Words at Work Advertising & Marketing, a full service communications company established in 1988. Our growing list of valued clients are found throughout our local market, Markham and the Greater Toronto area, across Canada in cities such as London, Ontario, and Edmonton, Alberta, and an expanding list of international locations ranging from The Big Apple in New York to Kanturk, Ireland.

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