Stop using new car marketing tactics to promote your CPO vehicles. Here’s why.

POSTED BY Ian Cruickshank

As Automotive Marketers, we spend most of our waking hours thinking about how we can better promote the vehicles that we have on the lot, in transit, or on the manufacturing line. Whatever your situation, you or your business is likely spending more time thinking about marketing New Cars as opposed to selling used cars.

Now, I’m sure that there are a few of you reading this thinking… “No, I’m a Used Car Manager”, or “I lead the certified pre-owned (CPO) team”. Well goodie, for you, but without knowing it you are likely still thinking about selling new cars and I’ll explain why that is.

When you think of marketing the vehicles that you are responsible for selling, are you thinking about promoting the favorable interest rate that you can provide? Or maybe you want to tell customers about the 155 point inspection you put your vehicles through before selling them. No? Well perhaps it's the warranty - gotta tell them about the great warranty.

All of the attributes mentioned above are NEW car sales tactics that have transposed to the USED car sales world, and they just don’t get the job done. As a generalization, new car buyers are looking for a specific vehicle that there are many of, and they want the best price - they focus on Rates and Incentives. In fact, there are entire companies based on aggregating and communicating the rates and incentives available from every manufacturer (OEM) in the market. Additionally, there are Dealer Groups who’s entire strategy is besting the rates and incentives offered by the OEM so that they can have the best rate in town.

Used car buyer’s decision matrix (written or mental) contains a list likely containing the year, make, model, trim level, features (like Navigation and Comfort Package), range of the odometer, and the condition of the vehicle, oh and at the end of the list is...a fair price. Did you see the words, Rate? Did you see the word, Incentive? How about the word, Warranty? Nope. They are looking for the right car or truck for their needs and wants. So why would we market these used and CPO vehicles to them in the same way that we market new cars? Really, why?

Well, as I said before, that’s all we’re thinking about all day long. The lion’s share of marketers who are responsible for marketing both new and used vehicles, spend 75% or more of their time and budget marketing new vehicles. In this article, we don’t have time to discuss the difference in gross on each of the two options. But I’m sure you know the difference.

So let’s talk about what you can change next time you plan to market your used or CPO vehicles. The first thing I want you to consider is the facts. This is a link to some research that the team at COX Automotive put together. The most important criteria for vehicle purchase are (In order of priority): make, model, year, body style, condition (new, used, CPO), and lastly warranty coverage. So why the heck are we starting our CPO messages with the least important information?  

Since we have established what the most important things are to the consumers of your used and CPO vehicles, how should you be promoting these vehicles to your potential buyers?

In the most simple of terms, like Jeff Smith of Jeff Smith’s County Chev always says, “The Car is the Star!” It’s all about Inventory Marketing. Being major inventory marketing nerds, we have a ton of experience with VIN specific marketing. So let’s have a look:

Inventory marketing in search is called Dynamic Inventory Search (DIS): With DIS you can automate the creation of highly-relevant, VIN-specific, search ads for your inventory of used and CPO vehicles. The goal hear is to make it easier for you to deliver super relevant, long-tail search ads in real time. Find an agency or friend to help you with this and give it a try.

Next you should look at (and you likely are already if you’re reading this in the Customer Newsletter) is Dynamic Display Advertising (DDA). This is the equivalent to dynamic search in the display ad world. Most inventory display ad companies will take a feed of your inventory and dynamically insert the inventory into a display ad server on the web in all sorts of automotive hot spots. For Speed Shift, we have taken this ability to new heights with the use of a powerful Data Management Platform and the native ads that we are able to serve among our preferred publishers.

The last ad type and the most recent to come onto the inventory ad stage is the use of Inventory ads on Facebook. Facebook carousel ads and other Facebook inventory ads have been improving their functionality over the last year. Facebook is working hard to improve the options for vehicle marketing and in particular for dealers, and it’s making an impact, so check it out.

So - the next time I see a CPO or a used vehicle ad, let me be proud. Don’t show me the warranty, the rate or the inspection. Show me the most relevant car that you have for me to buy. I can guarantee that you’ll get my attention more quickly.

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