Marketing from the Ground Up

ADP Cobalt

By Joe Tarell

If you are in the car busi­ness and con­trol your dealer adver­tis­ing bud­get, most likely you believe in mar­ket­ing. So where do you spend the first dol­lar and why? For years, we’ve had this debate when build­ing mar­ket­ing plans.

The con­cept goes back to my days as a child in a candy store. If candy bars are a nickel, bub­ble gum is a penny and a Squir­rel can be had two for a penny, how do you decide what to buy with the quar­ter you got for your allowance? If you remem­ber those days (or for you younger folks, the same debate at much higher rates) then you prob­a­bly got your first dose of Zero-Based Bud­get­ing.

If a car deal­er­ship were going to build the bud­get from the ground up with zero pre­con­ceived ideas and no untouch­ables, the debate could get heated fast. We could start with the sign out front, or the build­ing and land we sit on. After all, isn’t “Drive-by” the favorite entry on our Up Log? The fact is that today, after these bare neces­si­ties we should prob­a­bly look online for the next dol­lar of expenditure.

Since every­one would agree that you are not in busi­ness with­out a dealer web­site, we can look at that like the sign out front and leave that out of the debate. So, we have a sign out front and a web­site online. Where do you go next? My phi­los­o­phy is that I want to spend money first to catch peo­ple that are already look­ing for me. In the old days this meant the Yel­low Pages, but today this means the search engines.

And if we are going to spend money on the search engines, the first dol­lar goes to SEO, search engine opti­miza­tion or organic search. It has much more sus­tain­ing value than paid search and it forces us to really dial in who we are and how we make money. If you are think­ing that this is free, then you must be run­ning a deal­er­ship in your spare time while you study search engine opti­miza­tion dur­ing the rest of your day. We should con­sider this paid adver­tis­ing and make sure it is done well and done with integrity.

And since I did not grow up dur­ing The Depres­sion, we are going to spend some more money real quick to make sure we get this right. If we stick with the con­cept of being where peo­ple are look­ing for us, then we need to get all the direc­to­ries and review sites dialed in and opti­mized. Another one of those things that many think are free, but requires time effort and exper­tise. Make sure when they find you, you and your store mea­sure up.

For more tips on how to coor­di­nate your mar­ket­ing chan­nels in a mul­ti­chan­nel mar­ket­ing plan, down­load the eBook Mul­ti­chan­nel Mar­ket­ing: Coor­di­nat­ing Exist­ing Media for Max­i­mum Expo­sure.

Joe Tarell, Cobalt Direc­tor of Sales, may be reached at