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21st Century Media Buying

Thomas Ayers
Ayers Advertising

To make the most efficient and effective use of media in your advertising plan, you need to better reach today's buyer. You can do this by using market research, your own customer research and owner information.

Using market research lets you key-in on who your real customers are, what their media patterns are and how to match them with the vehicles you want to sell. This information will save you money on your advertising and will be invaluable to your management and your sales staff. By closely targeting your customers, you will gain their continuing satisfaction and future business.

You can get this market research in several ways. The most comprehensive way is to have a research company gather information from both your store's buyers and also from people who shopped you store but bought somewhere else. You can do your own survey of your own customers. This information is not as comprehensive, but you will find out a lot about your own customers. It is also possible to gather information from "free sources", such as local chambers of commerce or community colleges. This would be more generic information, but it would give you a good idea of what's going on in your local market.

The most important information you need to effectively place your media is the "patterns and habits" of your customers and potential customers. You need to have the demographic and psychographic information on these customers. You can obtain this information through customer research, general information through manufacturer's research and by using common sense. Demographic information is a breakdown based on various characteristics such as age, sex, education, income and marital status. Psychographics is a breakdown of characteristics based on lifestyle.

Media patterns are shifting - things just aren't the way they used to be! Partnerships are being formed by various media, such as AOL, Time Warner and CNN, and mega-groups are being formed especially in radio, such as Cox Radio Groups and Clear Channel stations. Media needs to be found that complements each other and the lifestyle of the person you want to reach.

Purchasers of different vehicles tend to have different media patterns. To follow are a few examples of the various differences for four different vehicles - Ford, Honda, Buick and Lexus. These are compilations of surveys for several dealerships for these vehicles - your customers' patterns may be different, but these examples will show you things to look for with your own customers.

Survey: Random Markets
2673 Buyers of New Vehicles

  Ford Honda Buick Lexus
18 - 24 years 6.9% 9.4% 0.4% 1.1%
25 - 34 years 29.1% 25.9% 1.1% 7.9%
35 - 44 years 40.9% 18.9% 4.3% 13.5%
45 - 54 years 29.9% 17.8% 12.1% 25.8%
55 - 64 years 13.3% 12.0% 20.4% 25.8%
65+ years 13.9% 16.1% 62.1% 25.8%
  Ford Honda Buick Lexus
Some high school 2.0% 1.1% 2.5% 0.6%
High school Grad 11.6% 10.9% 23.0% 7.9%
Some trade school 3.1% 2.6% 2.7% 0.0%
Trade School Degree 3.8% 3.1% 5.4% 1.1%
Some College 27.6% 22.6% 23.2% 21.9%
College Degree 29.7% 31.7% 19.2% 27.5%
Some Grad School 7.2% 8.9% 7.0% 7.9%
Graduate Degree 15.1% 19.0% 16.9% 33.1%
Own a Computer & Subscribe to On-Line Services
  Ford Honda Buick Lexus
Do own & Subscribe 60.7% 50.8% 50.0% 72.4%
Do Not 39.3% 49.2% 50.0% 27.6%
Local News Programs
  Ford Honda Buick Lexus
Do Not Watch 20.8% 16.9% 8.5% 21.7%
Early News 66.5% 75.3% 85.9% 61.3%
Late News 44.2% 55.5% 61.8% 49.4%
Radio Listened To
  Ford Honda Buick Lexus
Do Not Listen 9.7% 7.3% NA NA
Adult Album Alternative 1.7% 5.6% 1.6% 3.7%
Adult Contemporary 25.8% 33.3% 14.2% 3.7%
Alternative 9.3% 7.9% 1.1% 3.0%
Classical 6.2% 3.2% 10.2% 12.8%
Classic Rock 13.7% 14.1% 5.1% 5.5%
Country 25.0% 17.2% 13.3% 3.0%
Jazz 6.3% 5.5% 1.3% 1.2%
Mix 7.3% 0.7% 3.0% 10.4%
News 4.8% 4.2% 37.6% 25.0%
Nostalgia 1.4% 6.6% 14.5% 8.5%
Oldies 19.3% 8.0% 9.9% 7.9%
Public Radio 1.9% 3.9% 0.8% 7.3%
Religious 3.4% 6.5% 2.2% 0.0%
Rock 15.3% 9.0% 0.8% 1.2%
Sports 4.3% 1.8% 9.9% 4.9%
Talk 13.1% 13.2% 10.8% 2.4%
Top 40 19.2% 19.1% 3.8% 0.0%
Urban Contemporary 9.9% 7.9% 0.0% 0.0%

These are just a small sampling of the information you can get with good customer research. The research may be expensive, but it is definitely worth every penny you spend! There are so many diverse media choices today that unless you have unlimited funds for your advertising, you need to carefully target the media that will best reach your customers. This information can be used to plan your buys using any media - from Television to Radio, from Print to Direct Mail and even the Internet. Use the customer research information you have and most important of all, use your common sense!

It is just as important to gauge the success of your media buy after it runs. Have a method to accurately track the customers that come to your dealership during a sale. Use a zip code analysis to track where your customers are coming from and check to see that the media you are using is reaching those areas. And use your sales results to see if all your efforts came together and you were successful!

Click here for a sample customer survey you can use to gather basic customer information. It really won't take the place of professional research done with your customers and non-buying customers, but if you don't want to do the market research for whatever reason, at least you will have some basic information to start with.

Nothing will tell you more about your business than your own customers' opinions!

As a college major in speech and broadcast, Tom's first job in radio was at WSUW-FM in Whitewater, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Connecticut School of Broadcasting. He was both a D.J. and music director. After a three-year stint in the U.S. Army, Tom worked in retail for six years managing stores in California, Connecticut, and New York. He has over 23 years of automotive advertising behind him, with 30 years total advertising experience. He has worked with over 750 dealers on over 8,000 campaigns in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, South American & Australia.





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