Posted on by: Adam Stone

The top 5 priorities when making your 2016 Marketing Plan

It’s that time of year again. You blinked your eyes and it’s halfway through November and you are scurrying to finish the year strong. But don’t blink twice because before you do it will be February and 2016 will be well underway. The car dealers who consistently win in their market are either in the process of making or just finishing their sales and marketing plans for 2016. As the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, then plan to fail.”

So NOW is the time to set aside some time and map out your roadmap for 2016. By doing it now you will be more prepared to succeed and you can also go to sleep knowing that while your competitors are stuck in the “30 day” grind and continue to be REACTIVE, you are stepping up your game and being PROACTIVE.

Here is a list of what I believe to be the top 5 focal points for making a winning plan:

1) Goals:

If you have read my prior posts then you know that I am a firm believer in goal setting. No matter how strong the strategy or tactics, if you are not squarely focused on achieving a business goal, then most likely you will have trouble measuring success. When setting your goals make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reachable and Time Bound; or more succinctly, SMART goals. For a car dealer you should be doing a forecast on a financial statement. Forecast out you car sales (new and used) units, sales gross profit, service revenue, service RO count and service gross profit targets. If you don’t know these before you make your marketing plan then you are likely to waste a lot of time and money on inefficient strategies and tactics. Once you know these end goals then you can start to figure out how many people you need to reach (and how frequently you need to reach them) to drive enough traffic to ultimately close enough business to hit your forecast.

2) Budget/Resources:

One of the most common questions I get is, “how much should I budget for my marketing?” There are multiple ways to determine this, but whichever way you choose, it should be based on spending toward your goal. A lot of dealers just carry forward their prior budget. If you project that you are going to grow your sales but you don’t grow your budget you are counting on operational efficiencies to get you there. If that’s the case make sure you know what those are and aren’t just going through the motions. If you are running a tight ship, then in order to grow you will have to grow your budget too. For sales I recommend targeting either 7.5% of your gross profit forecast or $250-$350 a car (depending on the market) as a place to start. As far as what mediums to prioritize I recommend the following order:

  • Google paid search targeting in market shoppers
  • Google and Facebook retargeting
  • Direct Mail with a Personal URL that collects leads in your CRM
  • Database Email (monthly specials and newsletter)
  • 3rd party inventory listings
  • Social Media contest (email collection)
  • Facebook Service ads
  • Facebook Boosting
  • Local philanthropy (grassroots)
  • Outdoor or out of home (billboards, venue sponsorships etc)
  • Local Print (if applicable, better in smaller local papers)
  • Radio
  • TV

Not everyone will have room in their budget for traditional marketing. If that’s the case, it’s ok! You will be better served with digital, social, email and direct mail because you will be able to trend and measure their effectiveness.

Also, make sure you clearly outline all of your resources to produce the different marketing executions whether they are internal or outsourced. Figuring out the most efficient way to budget your resources will ensure that everything gets out on time and is of the highest quality.

3) Timing/Calendar:

Marketers are always focused on reach, frequency and consistency. Take the time now to plan out not only who your target audience is and how you will reach them, but also when you will reach them. By using multiple media channels you have the best chance of stacking branded impressions and effecting your audiences behavior. Put it all on a calendar and colorcode the different mediums. If you don’t, it will be easy to miss the right time to get in front of your customer.

4) Measurement:

Marketing attribution is never black and white, but just because it can be challenging, you still need to have a measurement system in place. When planning out each execution ask yourself how you are going track the effectiveness of each execution. Can you measure impressions, clicks, onsite engagements (VDP views, SRP views, Map and Directions) showroom ups, phone calls, internet leads and online service appointments? Do you have a scorecard and are you trending Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to ensure that your strategy is working?

5) Reporting:

Once you have your scorecard in place make sure you try and review monthly but respond quarterly. There are very few, if any, silver bullets when it comes to marketing. Most strategies take a minimum of 90 days to truly gauge effectiveness. Take the time to report weekly, monthly and quarterly with your sales teams and don’t be afraid to report less than stellar results. Seek continuous improvement and look for opportunities to learn something new every time you report.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any questions please reach out and I will be happy to spend more time with to discuss the best way to plan for SUCCESS in 2016.

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