Why is Co-Op Advertising Important?

By: Courtney Guggenberger

Have you ever noticed how similar a lot of dealership ads seem? The majority of them seem to focus exclusively on the deals or specials they are offering currently. TV ads usually involve loud spokespeople talking about how they can offer 0% on everything in stock with guaranteed credit approval, etc. Most print or e-mail ads have a multitude of cars, no doubt figuring that the more options they offer, the more chance that someone might find something they like.

However, there’s a fundamental problem with this thinking. In making everything so general that we can appeal to all audiences, we make our advertising impersonal and it appeals to no one. Most customers won’t be approved for the majority of these offers so by diluting our message down to just having the best deals, lowest prices or most competitive financing rates we are setting the stage for an upset customer before they even arrive at the store.

What happened to building value in our dealerships and our products? The OEM’s spend millions trying to make sure that the public perception is that their vehicles are reliable and worth every penny. We should latch onto that marketing and mimic it to a degree, simply illustrating that we are a local arm of the OEM designed to service their vehicles and aid them in picking which one best fits their needs.

Our goal with advertising should be to tell the story of the dealership and how it is different, and more importantly, better than all competitors. If the answer is we’re only better on price, then it’s not surprising that customers don’t remain loyal and go looking for the best deal the next time they are in a market for a vehicle.

If you want an example of a company that relies completely on its story and the pride in its products, look at Apple. With every product announcement, they stand on ceremony and focus on how beautiful their products are and how they will improve your life. You never hear them talking about how inexpensive their phones, watches or other technologies are. They aren’t the cheapest and people still pay for them. They believe in the story, the fanfare and the quality of the products because everything Apple produces speaks to that and that alone.

This is why Co-op advertising is truly important. Not only will the OEM reimburse you for a good portion of your marketing costs, but they will ensure that your marketing is of good quality and will mesh with their national campaigns. By reproducing the message of our OEM, it adds legitimacy and value that costs us little to nothing and rides their much more expensive advertising campaigns’ coattails.

Make your ads similar to the manufacturer’s, show the value of your dealership via your staff, your commitment to your community, etc. and don’t focus simply on price. Taking advantage of these funds not only increases your marketing budget without any out of pocket expense, but it ensures a higher conversion rate because of its similarity to the manufacturers’ national ads. Tell the story of your dealership instead of focusing on price and see what happens with your monthly sales.