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Research: Make Your Advertising Work Harder Than Ever Before!

Gus Gustafson
Research Partners

Your dealership has a wealth of information walking through the door everyday. Starting your own in-house media habits research program can help you turn your customers' media preferences into one of your best secret marketing weapons when buying media in your marketplace.

Whether you are selling 25 or 250 vehicles a month, there will be no useless, wasted data because your research will be based on the habits of your actual buying customers. These are consumers who represent a massive collective group of car-buyers within your own marketplace.

As you probably know, you could easily spend $12,000-$20,000 or more for a professional one-time research study. However, an in-house sampling of customers on service drives and in the F&I office at the time of delivery can be conducted by your own staff at a fraction of that cost.

This research system will offer you an effective tool in determining and supporting media buys based on age, gender, customer zip code and previous buying experiences. Meanwhile, you won't have to sift through often-useless overly technical data that must be analyzed by marketing professionals.

To streamline the information gathering process, you may want to consider hiring a person to handle the acquisition of information and analysis of this survey material. Someone on your staff could also act as the greeter, although a fresh face and attitude from outside your store often works best.

When people are approached properly, they will often gladly answer questions that don't require more than 3 or 4 minutes of their time. Obviously, a customer that has just made a purchase or is a regular service customer is going to be more cooperative than a customer just entering the shopping process who may question the purpose of such information gathering.

You may also want to consider offering all customers a small gift or the opportunity to win a larger gift for their cooperation in completing survey materials.

When formulating questions, be sure to ask the customer for their home zip code, which will help identify their local cable system. Determine if they use cable and/or satellite service. Ask customers which parts of the day they are most likely to watch TV. Inquire which local news stations, if any, they prefer and which newscasts they are most likely to watch.

Your greeter should also ask your customers which three radio stations they listen to the most and, of those three, which is their favorite. Confirm this by asking which station they listened to on their way to the dealership this morning!

When questioning newspaper habits, ask if the customer receives the newspaper at home. Which days they are most likely to read the paper? Do they canvass the paper or just read certain sections? Did they read display ads, classified ads or both? Before visiting your dealership, did they check newspaper ads to find their vehicle of choice?

Be sure to analyze the data scientifically. Don't just thumb through a stack of surveys and jump to conclusions. After your data collection is complete, you will see one of two things: either you will find new media trends in your marketplace or confirm that your existing buys are on track.

Research Partners can show you how some of America's Most Successful Dealers benefit from our customized research programs. For information, email directly at





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