One Voice versus the Mixed Message Syndrome that Plagues Automotive Advertising
Last week, Buzzfeed published a article about the New York Times‘ “dire digital picture” and how the news giant is in disarray with their online plan of attack. Newspapers have been dying for a decade now and the irony was not lost on digital giant Buzzfeed that they had to be the one to address the issues happening at the once-proud journalism mainstay. Of note is the fact that the Twitter feed for the NY Times is run by the editorial department and the Facebook page is controlled by the business end.
The same basic premise is happening to car dealers today. There seems to be very little solidarity in the messages they are putting out through the various channels. In most cases, the traditional advertising doesn’t match the digital advertising and even the individual components of each don’t seem to be talking to each other. Search isn’t talking to social. Television isn’t putting out the same message as print. There are times when diversity is a strength in marketing. Messaging is not one of those circumstances.
The message needs to be consistent. It needs to resonate through harmony rather than through diversity. In my travels looking at the various companies offering both traditional and digital advertising to car dealers, it was strange that so many of them failed to focus on consolidation of message. One in particular, WorldDealer Automotive Advertising, did have a strong message, at least on their homepage.
This is the future of an industry that is so lost sometimes in the options. Compared to other industries, the car business is loaded with more choices in every direction than just about any other. There are over 50 viable website companies that service the automotive industry exclusively. With around 20,000 franchise dealers and another 25,000 independent dealers, it’s definitely an over-served market. Getting lost in the options is a clear truth: a unified messaging program is far superior to a diversified one.
Some may argue and there is one valid point made during my research. Ad agencies have all jumped on the digital bandwagon and digital marketing firms are branching out into traditional. The problem is that the majority of them fail to really “get it” when it comes to the benefits of consolidation. It’s not about offering the services. It’s about letting the services talk to each other and to guide each component based upon singularity in purpose.
The argument that can be made against the concept of consolidation is the advantages of specialists. A PPC company that focuses strictly on PPC is usually able to deliver a better product within its own individual focus than a company that does many things, including PPC. However, the advantages that are gained by using better PPC software are often lost if the messaging in the advertising is completely different than on other channels.
This is the key for the industry (and pretty much all industries that rely on both traditional and digital marketing). It’s better to have a great message broadcast pretty well through all of the channels than multiple messages broadcast better. The point at which people make a decision to consider purchasing from a particular dealership is often made when the message finally resonates. This requires harmony. If multiple instruments are playing the same song, the sound can be amazing. If they’re playing different songs, even if they’re playing them well, the results can be disastrous.
This does not mean that dealers must have the exact same message on each channel. What’s said on Facebook might not fit on Twitter and might make little sense in a television ad. However, when the overarching message is unified and the different advertising venues are utilized to promote the message through their strengths, it becomes the most powerful way to get the attention of buyers.
Whether you agree or disagree, please leave your comments below.