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Grassroots Advertising to the Foundation of Your Market

Guest Blog by Dennis Johnson

How do you bring nearly 1000 people into your dealership on a cold November weekend? Bill Penney Toyota in Huntsville, AL, did it the weekend of November 21-22, 2008.

When General Manager, Zack Penney, decided to donate free turkeys to area military families, he knew it was the right move. Every salesperson on his team has several customers from Huntsville-based NASA operations and the Redstone Arsenal.

Promoting the campaign via radio and email blast, word got around in a big way. Over 50 guests were in line an hour
before the giveaway began. Each was offered the choice of a turkey voucher, an oil change coupon, or the opportunity
to have a donation made in their name to the Downtown downtown rescue mission logo
Rescue Mission. Bottom line – over 570 families received
turkeys, over $1000 was donated to the Mission, and
dozens of coupons handed out.

The investment was significant, but as the Bill Penney sales team worked the line handing out cards and talking about Toyotas, as Zack’s mother and wife, along with office staff, worked at the registration desk, it was obvious the goodwill achieved was priceless. 

Poignant moment! An elderly man using a cane and assisted by his wife arrived. Zack met them and offered to take them to the front of a lengthy line. As they walked to the front, Zack asked the crowd, “Do you mind if I escort this World War II POW to the front?” To a person, they broke into a round of applause, and the gentleman returned their courtesy with a salute.

World War II Veterans Memorial

Now do the math! Over 1000 visitors, and if only a small percentage of the many who said they would be back returned and purchased a vehicle, this grassroots effort would provide a profitable harvest. It certainly made for a Happy Thanksgiving!

Dennis Johnson is the Creative Director at Strong
and has over 30 years experience in Retail Automotive Advertising.

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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