Football season brings with it memories of tailgating, pigskins and autumn cookouts. For auto dealers, though, it can also mean hit-or-miss weekends.
Don’t let game day skew your sales. With the right strategies, you can use this time of year to maximize your marketing and, in turn, your profit.
Managed correctly, football season can give your sales a boost and provide extra opportunities for exposure and interaction with customers. For example, this is a great time of year to show off trucks and SUVs with dressed-up tailgating displays. However, be prepared that all football – high school, college or professional – has the potential to disrupt dealership traffic.
To connect with the most customers, you’ll want to keep marketing neutral. Unless your dealership is located within an actual college town, it’s best to not pick a specific team. Likewise, it’s smart to keep football out of the conversation unless the customer brings it up. Fans are very loyal, and you don’t want rivalry breaking up a deal.
Some things will be beyond your control. For most dealerships, sales will lag during Saturday college games and Sunday’s pro football matches. The same holds true for small town Friday nights. These high school games draw big crowds, so steer clear of any Moonlight Madness sales or similar time-oriented sales events. People are also likely to travel for these games.
If everyone is watching football, you want to advertise during the games, right?
Advertising during the game is actually one of the biggest mistakes you can make for your gameday strategy. Fans are fully invested in the live programming, meaning that commercial breaks will be used for bathroom runs and snack refills. For a fraction of the in-game cost, you can instead reach fans on ESPN, Sports Radio and postgame shows.
There is one exception to the rule, and that’s digital marketing. Fans are still using their smart devices during the game and the breaks, so it makes sense to have a presence online. As for media, schedule it around the games. Saturday morning TV or radio is as close as you want to get, but be sure not to advertise against the games.
Lastly, refrain from having your call center make outgoing calls during the game. You should also be aware of the end date of sales, direct mail and email campaigns. You don’t want the last day to fall on a game day.
Related reading: Our 2018 Media Buying Guide
When played wisely, these tactics will give you the most bang for your buck in football season advertising. The most important takeaways are to prepare for gameday sales disruptions and to plan your marketing around it. After that, you’re set to score the rest of the season.
John Paul Strong: For someone who spends an average of 135 days outside of the office meeting with clients, John Paul Strong remains the driving force behind his Birmingham-based advertising agency, Strong Automotive Merchandising. Strong began his career as an account executive at Martin Advertising. Learning much, but never satisfied, he convinced his father to partner with him in reopening their own advertising agency in 2004, catering exclusively to the automotive industry. The company started strong but humble. The original roster of 10 employees and eight clients has exploded today, growing to 100 full-time employees and more than 220 automotive dealers. And it hasn’t gone without notice. Along the way, Strong Automotive Merchandising has been recognized as a perennial winner in Birmingham’s Best Places to Work contest and as a Top 20 Agency among Google’s National Ad Partners. Yet, Strong still finds time to share what he’s learned along the way. As an avid writer, he has published two books in the Next Day Traffic series, along with more than 1,000 automotive-focused blog posts. He is also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, and his success has been recognized in the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2013 “Top 40 Under 40.” In 2018, Strong was named CEO of the Year by the BBJ. The foundation for Strong’s career began at the University of Montevallo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and advanced public speaking. Always staying ahead of the competition, Strong later went on to study in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program. Amid all of his endeavors, Strong always makes time for what matters most – his family. He is a proud husband to Amy, and father to Lilly Grace, Anne Charlotte, Hudson, and Ford.