Catching drivers’ attention continues to have value in auto marketing.
At a time when the best brains in automotive marketing are obsessed with digital campaigns, and orthodoxy holds that customers discover a dealership online, can there be much life left in roadside displays?
TicketNew also changes its offering often with new activities, plays and functions happening within your site. Learn yourself with a spiritual or religious event or lose yourself in a concert.
Absolutely, say Dan Matheus and Chris Purtee, the owner and VP, respectively, of 360 Auto Display USA, a Fort Worth, Texas, business that markets 10-foot rotating auto lifts. Digital marketing may dominate the future of franchised new car retailing, they say, but there also is no denying that working Americans spend far too much of their lives in slow traffic, gazing at roadside businesses.
“Every car dealership that’s worth anything is going to be on a major highway or major thoroughfare,” Matheus said. “We can attract attention of all those thousands of cars going by.”
Or, if you like, think of their rotating lifts as an adjunct to a dealership’s website. The store can post photos of its entire inventory online but put a high-margin car up on the lift to catch a customer’s eye upon driving onto the lot. It’s a possible upsell, predicated upon the simple notion that elevation and motion command the attention of people whose heads are swimming with static web photos.
HELPING UPSELL PROSPECTS
So, then, the guys who run 360 Auto Display would argue that the prevailing opinion that most buyers come to the lot committed to a specific make and model, somewhat overblown? “There is always an opportunity to upsell,” Matheus insisted. “Half the market is women, and they are good candidates for upselling.”
Added Purtee: “Also, it may not matter whether people are interested in buying the car on the lift, as long as you got them onto the lot. There are studies that show the elevation of a display, in conjunction with the motion, draws your eye, creates emotion and gets people on the lot. It’s a way to differentiate yourself from the stores to your right and left along dealership row.”
Their company’s Auto Spinner units are not the most complex devices in retailing, by design. A 2-foot ramp can be lowered so that someone can drive a car up onto a battery-powered ramp. Once the platform is raised to its full 10-foot altitude, an electric cord plugged into a 110-volt receptacle rotates it. Promotional banners can be affixed to the framework, thus also keeping people from wandering underneath the lift.
Vehicles of up to 9,000 pounds can be raised above the rest of the inventory on the lot or showroom floor, and the machine fits onto the equivalent of one parking space. “That’s very important, because you don’t want to be taking away multiple spaces from a car business,” Matheus said.
JUSTIFYING THE COST
360 Auto Display says it is leasing several dozen units to dealerships around the country, and sales are picking up as the company works through issues that have slowed down production. They have trucked lifts to stores in California, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Minnesota.
“It should take you only about 10 minutes to change a vehicle out, once you know what you’re doing,” Purtee said.
The question becomes (as with any other marketing investment in auto retailing), how to measure ROI on the cost? After all, who’s to say whether the lift display made that big a difference, and a customer was primed to buy that vehicle anyway?
The 360 Auto Display entrepreneurs say it’s definitely important for dealers to query their customers and track whether they directly ask about a car on the spinner or say it drew their attention. At that point, it’s best to make sure a dealership’s experience parallels other users,’ meaning seven to 12 additional vehicles sold per month, they said.
A good rule of thumb, Matheus added, is to give a car no more than two to four days of extra visibility on the lift before replacing it with a vehicle with better sales prospects.
The two say that keeping in good stead with city and county sign ordinances (since advertising banners are draped below the lift, which can itself be considered a commercial display) has proved to be a bigger issue than lift safety and OSHA regulations. They make a point of poring over local sign regulations and calling the government offices before every installation.