Using TV Smartly To Generate Customer Leads
Monthly vehicle sales figures used to be a barometer of a healthy consumer economy. Much like we look at things likes job growth figures, sales of new cars and trucks were closely-watched as they were reflective of the health or sickness of the economy. But in recent years, that particular monthly report has become less significant.
Vehicle sales are seldom up from month to month, and have lost their place a key to economic indicator. And car advertising reflects that problem, as ads compete with one another on TV constantly.
Do you in the new vehicle industry feel good about the way you’re marketing your product? I suspect not.
TV advertising for vehicles almost always falls into two categories: a small amount of national corporate “image” advertising, and a huge bombardment of price/promotion ads that are maybe national or—more likely—local. And the airways are flooded with them. The clutter is enormous, and has the effect of negating much of the impact of what are often very well done ads and campaigns. So companies spend more in an attempt to stand out. The result: more ads by more companies and dealers seeking to get an edge over the competition. This clutter and price dealing problem is one of those “everyone talks about it but no one does anything about it” situations.
There’s another new sameness element in vehicle advertising today. It’s the Internet. Today’s consumer has an appetite and propensity to “shop online” for both manufacturer information as well for consumer reviews and “other data”—translate that as “what is the wholesale price?” Taking the job of selling the product out of the hands of the dealer is a new popular pastime of web buyers seeking to improve the buying experience without having to go the showroom. While maybe it provides some customer satisfaction, is it really making anyone feel better about the process?
Something seems fundamentally wrong in all this. Letting the consumer gather some small bits of information from thirty and sixty second TV ads and then running to the Internet for price data turns your new vehicle into nothing more than a commodity. Driven by price promotions and supposedly impartial reviews and pricing tools, you’ve lost a lot of the opportunity that you use to have to better acquaint prospects with the value of your vehicle lines.
We have a solution we’d like to propose to you. It combines the power of television’s visual benefits and the Internet’s ability to provide lots of information.
The solution? The television infomercial.
Why not combine the best of both media worlds and use it to your advantage? Educating the consumer smartly while taking some quality and quantity time to show your vehicles gives you much more message control than the present environment provides. Since you likely know best about how to present your product, why not do so instead of letting third party Internet providers take over that role with consumers?
And there’s other good reasons...
Infomercials generate leads. Not every advertiser who uses infomercials is selling directly via toll free numbers. The Saturn was launched—in part—via a powerful infomercial. Many high end purchases (expensive exercise equipment, for example) are marketed via infomercials that are designed to generate interest and not necessarily sell directly via that program exposure. In our work here at Zephyr Media, for example, we were able to generate significant leads for Liquid Metal Golf, driving interested prospects to pro shops and dealers to make their purchases. Inform the curious viewer and let him or her make up their own minds in your showroom.
Infomercials generate “as seen on TV” residual success. Retailers today know that marketers who use infomercials are really helping their in-store selling effort. Consumers digest TV advertising as a way to learn more about products before purchasing them at retail, and then supplement it with their own Web activity. Wouldn’t you prefer they learn about your product in an expansive way with you controlling the message content? You can talk price in an infomercial, but you can do so in smart, meaningful ways—maybe it’s through comparison pricing or other informative tactics.
Infomercial viewers “opt in” to these programs. Whether in full half hour viewing or in channel surfing extended stays, TV watchers devote significant minutes to infomercials if the content is relevant and compelling. Someone shopping for a vehicle will take the time and evaluate your message, just as he or she would in that Internet search and exploration. They’ll do it on TV if that opportunity is there for them to experience.
Infomercials are clutter free. Commercial breaks routinely feature one or more vehicle ads, sometimes several. The “cancellation effect” in a half hour series of breaks renders the impact of your ad potentially insignificant. With an infomercial, you get the entire half hour to yourself, customizing the time to best suit your needs and objectives. Your message is the program, and you eliminate competitive clutter.
Infomercials are becoming mainstream marketing tools. Once dismissed by major marketers as inferior television advertising, giants like P&G, Clorox, Microsoft, Pfizer, and others have jumped on the DRTV bandwagon in recent years to launch new products, generate leads, or build awareness for items they want to create excitement for at the retail level. If the big guys are starting to discover the power of direct response TV even with all the choices their ad budgets give them, doesn’t this tell you that that the approach works? How long before your competition discovers the benefits and takes the first step?
Infomercial experts can handle the whole process for you. If you’re thinking of exploring the idea, don’t turn to your usual marketing agencies and suppliers. Companies like mine, Zephyr Media, are veterans in working with both large and small companies to create powerful infomercial campaigns that work. It’s a specialty marketing business, and you need specialization and talent that works in this space. It’s no different than the supplier in the auto business: you find someone who knows the market and can get you what you need, and you get it done the right way. Take the same step with infomercials.
A final word about your product…
Since I travel widely, I often rent cars and SUVs. My “test driving” tells me that that your vehicles are better than ever, in terms of handling, comfort and features. But I’m not sure you are really getting that story across to the average consumer. And the existing barrage of short TV ads stacked on top of each other that scream about discounts and savings is certainly not doing the trick. While we’re in the infomercial business and have a vested interest in promoting what we do, we believe we’ve got a way to make an impact with a smarter approach to reach your present and future consumer in an efficient, sales oriented environment.
Television advertising has long been a stalwart of the auto and truck industry’s marketing. It has become cluttered, fragmented, expensive, and under assault by new technologies like the Internet. Maybe it’s time to use this powerful medium in a smarter way—one that takes advantage of its ability to influence customers, while adding some of today’s new technologies’ benefits.
It’s time to change the rules.