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The Conquest Marketing Guide

A couple of years ago we wrote a post about conquest marketing, and there has been so much interest in the subject, we decided to build on what was previously written, and create a complete guide.

Recapping the original, by definition conquest marketing takes two main forms. You are either convincing someone to buy the same brand product from you or convincing them to buy a different brand product from you. Either way you look at it, all marketing, outside of your current customer base, should be considered conquest.

Some people might consider a person who owns your product, but purchased it from another dealer, a non-conquest customer, but they are not part of your customer retention program, so for our purposes, we will consider it conquest.

Going past the definition of conquest marketing, we will be looking more in depth at creating conquest strategies and how to use different tactics. Then we will review some successful conquest campaigns we have used in the past.

How to create a conquest marketing strategy

How to create a conquest marketing strategy

Whether it’s a competing business or product you should definitely do your research, so you know what you are up against. This seems like a pretty basic step, but can often get overlooked.

Understand the customer

The key to defining the customer is understanding their plight. You need to walk a mile in their shoes and know the problems they face or need to overcome. You can begin by segmenting your customers into buckets based on demographics or similar interests and then reorganize them by common problems.

Focus on solving the problem

Once you have clearly defined the target and the problem you hope to solve, now you can begin crafting the message. There are two important things to consider when creating a conquest message.

First, if the customer currently owns a product you sell, your message should be more focused on the benefits of buying from you.

Second, if the customer owns a competing product, you will also have to include features and benefits that address a problem and solve it for them.

In either case, this is the most important part of the conquest marketing strategy!

Consider the buying funnel

You should also think about the buying stages when creating your message. If your target is in the awareness and research stage, you can focus more on features. If your prospect is farther down funnel, price and value will come into play.

Most importantly, don’t forget about people in the post-purchase part of the funnel. If your product requires post-purchase service, then you have an opportunity to create a relationship, and at the end of the day, people buy from people they like.

Source: Deloitte Digital Democracy survey April 2014

Conquest marketing tactics:

Your strategy can often dictate the tactics, but there is certainly the freedom to be creative. These are just a few of the ways you can execute on a conquest marketing campaign.

TV and radio

Traditional marketing tactics are as strong as ever. Delivering a consistent message through traditional channels can help with the people still in the awareness and research stages of the cycle. More importantly, it can help set the table for your other tactics.

Content marketing

Custom content marketing is so important to a conquest campaign because it gives you the opportunity to create information-rich landing pages, and present a clear, concise case to would-be shoppers. With both written content and video content, you can easily expand your influence and provide similar information in two mediums. Options are good when you hope to educate someone. Plus it gives you the added benefit of promoting the same information in various places.

Paid search

Paying for traffic through Google and Bing can be both effective and expensive. The keywords you target will make all the difference in a conquest campaign. You will want to start with searches that are higher up in the awareness and consideration part of the funnel. Your ad copy needs to create interest, and offer to solve the perceived problem. If you are fishing further down funnel, you will need to bring price into play. Once people leave the consideration phase, you will need a very compelling argument to bring them back.

*In some cases manufacturers have trademarked their “make model” keywords and Google will not show your competitive ads based on the search. Google is incredibly inconsistent at enforcing these trademarks, so it’s always worth a try.


It is important to make sure you combine visitor retargeting with your paid search tactics. Since you are not targeting someone at the very bottom of the funnel, don’t expect them to convert on a 1-to-1 basis. Consider the average time customers spend shopping for a vehicle prior to purchase. Some people spend months researching before the purchase. You will absolutely need to remarket to these potential customers with targeted messages.

Behavioral display

Like paid search, banner ads are an easy way to get in front of a targeted customer. The benefit with banner ads, placement costs don’t take into account a conquest message, but your click-through rate will affect your cost per click. You can run a consistent message based on behavioral targeting, designed to create brand awareness and preference.

Video pre-roll

Especially if you are advertising on TV (you already have the creative), you should be utilizing online video advertising as part of your conquest campaign. The cost is extremely low and engagement can be great.

If you take the extra step of creating specific spots for your video pre-roll campaigns, you will see much better results.

Email marketing

Email marketing seems to be the forgotten step-child of conquest tactics. Given its age and relative lack of technical innovation over the years, it is still such a powerful marketing tool. You can reach an exceptional amount of potential prospects in your market with broadcast email campaigns. You can take two approaches.

One way is to buy a targeted list and market to them in small groups. This takes much more time and effort but can lead to some really fantastic results.

The second choice is to purchase a general market list and play the percentages. The idea is to reach out to as many potential shoppers as possible and try to insert yourself into the conversation. If your conquest message is compelling, you will create incredible traffic surges to your website.

Keep in mind, these lists will likely include more out-of-market prospects than in-market prospects. So don’t expect to see 1-to-1 conversions. But don’t be discouraged. You are planting seeds and creating a much larger customer funnel for the future.

Social marketing

Using social channels to amplify your conquest marketing campaign is an incredible way to improve results. On a basic level, simply promoting your conquest marketing content through social media will help you deliver the message. If you really want to leverage the power of social channels, you can find and engage small groups to create advocates.

You can also leverage the power of paid social ads. These are highly targeted techniques that can help you take your conquest marketing plan to the next level.


This is inherent to your paid search and display campaigns, but it can also be used more strategically. Not only can you research where your competitors are selling their products to target your advertising, but you can also use geo-targeting around your competitors’ stores. With a geofence installed, you can pre-program your ads to deliver to customers whenever they step onto your competitor’s lot.

Conquest marketing campaign ideas:

Service campaign

Your service department is absolutely the most effective conquest opportunity you have. In fact, there is an entire industry dedicated to this customer need. You can service almost any car at your dealership. Target the customers you want. Obviously it makes sense to target people driving the cars you sell, but what about targeting those you wish to sell to.

For instance, a Honda dealer can target a current Kia customer with an incredible service special. Once they get to the dealership, you can try and determine their equity position and make them an awesome deal. If they don’t bite, no problem. You are creating an extremely valuable marketing list. If they do, you traded on a competitive make, and you could also be building up a used car fleet for another conquest campaign (more on that in a minute).

Going back to conquest strategy development, think about how you can solve a problem. Look at competitive sales within a short distance to your dealership. Convenience is a huge factor when it comes to servicing your car. Think about what you can offer to make people’s lives easier.

Service Campaign Tactics: TV and Radio, Paid search, Display, Direct Mail, Email, Social, Geo-Targeting, Content Marketing, Video Pre-Roll


Partner with local businesses, and offer their employees perks and benefits for doing business with your dealership. Now, this isn’t a new or revolutionary strategy, but I am surprised how few dealers dedicate resources to developing a good B2B program. The caveat to creating a fleet-tail program is commitment. You probably won’t see immediate results from a program like this, but long-term you can really reap the benefits.

Fleet-Tail Tactics: Direct Mail, Email, Personal Relationship Building, Social

Trade campaigns

Trade Value campaigns are an absolute goldmine. It is easily worth 1 – 2 leads per day. Most dealers think that having a “Value Your Trade” page is enough. If you put a little paid search budget behind this, you can absolutely kill it.

The key to success is to create a custom form that requests the least amount of information possible and still provide you with enough to have a meaningful conversation.

Trade Campaign Tactics: Paid Search, Display, Direct Mail

Used conquest

This is an interesting concept because it provides you with two main benefits. The first step is to acquire a small fleet of target used cars. Using the previous example, as a Honda dealer you may be trying to conquest Kia Optima sales. Through your trade and service campaigns, you can be creating a cache of used Optima’s to use as your bait.

First, the bait. Using paid search, target all new Kia Optima searches in your area. The goal is to offer a much better deal on a Used Optima. Create a custom landing page that focuses on the benefits of buying from you, but still shows off your inventory.

Benefit #1: Since you are targeting a similar search, your CPC won’t be nearly as high.

Benefit #2: There are no compliance rules regulating what you can price and sell another brand for.

Now the switch. Give them all the info on the used Kia they wanted and offer a competitive deal on a new Honda. Either way, you can sell a car and get the opportunity to retain the service.


*Again, in some cases the manufacturer has trademarked the keywords and Google will not show your competitive ads based on the search. Google is incredibly inconsistent at enforcing these trademarks, so it’s always worth a try.

Used Conquest Campaign Tactics: Paid Search, Content Marketing

Special finance campaigns

Like the trade campaigns, special finance campaigns are great because the potential customer isn’t looking for any particular brand or vehicle. They have a need, or a problem, and you can provide the solution. There are a lot of dealers who are not interested in special finance business. Certainly, for different reasons, that is understandable.

A certain percentage of people who need financing help are good customers and can become great customers. The question is, will they be your customer, or do you want your competition to get that business?

If you want to take it to the next level, you can create a program to help coach these people back to good credit standing. Not only will you create a good long-term sales funnel, but you will also be creating brand advocates and get a lot of local PR from it.

Special Finance Campaign Tactics: Paid Search, Display, Content Marketing

Competitor events

When your competition spends money to create awareness, it presents you with an opportunity to ride the wave.

Some examples include product refreshes, new product launches and grand openings. While they are creating interest for their product and/or brand, you can provide a competitive option.

Create a specific landing page that highlights the benefits of your product or brand over the competition. Don’t forget to provide your visitors with a logical next step, “Call Brian today at 555-555-5555 to answer any questions.” Or “Download our complete guide here.”

Competitor Event Tactics: Paid Search, Display, Video Pre-Roll, Social, Content Marketing

(I’m sourcing this idea from Tad Miller and his team at Marketing Mojo)

Next steps

When originally written, I didn’t include the campaign ideas thinking that readers might skip the research part and go straight for campaign execution.

(I don’t blame you… I would too.)

Before you launch your first campaign, take a little time to go through the research and setup process. It will seriously improve results.

Now don’t wait around for your competition. Get started using these strategies and tactics to win your market today!

John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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