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Navigating a Marketing Dead End

Posted on Sep 20th, 2007
Written by TopRank Marketing
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    A few months ago my husband and I were spending our free time cruising dealership lots after the dealerships had closed researching cars. However, we kept running into dead ends with dealerships who close their lots in the evening hours. Some of you might be thinking, “Why not shop for cars after hours online?”. We did that but still wanted to see for ourselves.

    This got me thinking about how much business a dealership might be losing by not letting people cruise the lots in the off hours. We certainly didn’t take the time to go back to the dealerships during business hours, we just assumed they didn’t have what we wanted and kept on searching.

    Assuming that the dealerships close their lots due to a company policy, I pose this question: “What are you to do when there are obstacles in the way of marketing to prospects?”

    My immediate thought was for the dealership to put up a customer mail box near the entrance with a weekly flyer advertising their new and used cars along with prices. This would have helped us tremendously by knowing whether or not it was worth coming back. Not having an idea of what used cars they had on the lot, we weren’t willing to drive the 20 or 30 miles again to see the 1 dealership that was barricaded for the night.

    The same problem/solution scenario has applied for the tactics we deploy for our marketing and public relations clients. The solution to making sure you’re navigating the marketing dead end is to think outside the box and be prepared to use a mix of tactics.

    For example, while email marketing is cost-effective and results flow in quickly, not all business professionals live and die by the Internet as people in the online marketing industry do.

    One of the client accounts I manage had this exact challenge. Their prospects don’t spend much time in front of their computers during the day. As a result, inquiries from email campaigns generated less than desirable results. Realizing the target market’s behavior differences, we recommended a series of direct mail pieces that leveraged a client success story as a way to engage prospects in a format consistent with how they consume information. The direct mail campaign was initiated in conjunction with an email campaign. That offline marketing effort for our online marketing client resulted in double the number of inquiries – all from the direct mail program.

    The cost to execute the direct mail campaign compared to email alone was more, but the potential return on investment increased substantially with a great number of leads.

    Situations like this do not in any way mean we’ve abandoned email marketing. It simply means that in some cases it makes sense to leverage alternative channels, in this case direct mail, in conjunction with email marketing to create more awareness – and an increased likelihood of a conversion.

    It’s very important when working with clients to have a work around in hand when presenting a problem like our situation with the closed car dealerships. The circumstances may seem improbable, but there if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the internet marketing business and marketing in general, there are many ways roads to the same destination. The trick is to not let a dead end keep you from finding those other routes.