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January 2013 Newsletter



So much for the Mayan calendar! Now it is time to look at 2013. One question that merits immediate attention is “What is your plan for conquest marketing?” I touched on this in a December blog, but as a new year begins, conquest is a challenging priority.

One of the biggest buzzwords in our industry today is “conquest.” It’s on the tip of the tongue of factory reps and nearly every vendor who walks into your store. It’s a way to intrigue you into listening to their take. But the more I observe and track day-to-day marketing executions across all of our dealerships, the more I find that many people talk about conquests and how to target conquests, but very few really understand what it means and what the results are. From the Strong point of view, this is my insight and definition of the true conquest customer from two perspectives.


You have won one of the fiercest battles when a customer stays with their brand, but switches to your dealership. This victory can be achieved just as easily through the service department as it can be through sales. When you deliver a customer who bought his or her last car from your competitor, it is the best conquest you can get! The conquest in the service lane, especially for the stores in military towns or with high turnover in population, happens every day because you can pick off people who have recently relocated to the area. They have no choice but to find a new dealer — this is the number one source of same-brand conquests.

There is an ever-changing pool of customers out there with minds that are wide open. The relentless pursuit of these customers involves sending them message after message, with a reason to buy and a reason to buy from you! The results, for most dealers, reflect the percentage of the budget they spent directly targeting same-brand/other dealer registrations in their market. In addition, the strength of digital and traditional media presence each month results in a  higher return rate — the more aggressive the plan, the better.

As I said, this is not only the best conquest source, but a true reward for well-planned results-based marketing. The more months you remain consistent with the plan, the more you will watch your conquest share increase and your competitor’s share decrease.



A conquest customer who gets out of a vehicle brand that you don’t sell to purchase one of your vehicles is a “switch” conquest. Even though he or she has never bought from you before, this customer has either grown tired of his or her current brand (for any number of reasons) or has seen a product that you sell that is more appealing and provides what he or she aspires for in their next vehicle.

This customer is a product of what happens in the traditional sense of the purchase funnel process, which first involves  awareness of the brand, then consideration of competing models, and finally, intention to purchase within the next three to 10 days. Success in acquiring the “switch” conquest is mainly driven by the tandem execution of your traditional media efforts and your online digital presence. In most cases, these customers are not aware of your store because they have never done business with you or had reason to pay attention to your advertising before. But now, because they are no longer loyal to their current vehicle, they are once again open-minded, with new awareness, new considerations, and new intent to seek out the dealer they feel will best serve this new desire. This “switch” conquest is the result of making the public aware of your brand in conjunction with the manufacturer’s tier one and two ads.

2013 is here and is waiting for no one. The fleet is still over 10 years old, and loyalty is a waning element in the buying process. Your marketing plans must have a good combination of tools focusing on these two types of conquests. To be effective in conquest, you must allocate budget dollars to obtain your fair share – the largest share!


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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