The Essential Advertising Playbook For Dealerships: Find The Right Media Mix To Get More Traffic Leads And Sales

If you want to sell more cars, the first thing you have to do is get more traffic. And the secret to more traffic is tested, results-generating, traffic-driving advertising. But that is easier said than done. You see, consumers are exposed to over 5,000 advertisements per day, and with that much noise, it can be difficult to break through the clutter and get people to listen to you. But it can be done.

And we can show you how.

Effective advertising means being creative, writing and producing campaigns, promoting offers, scheduling media, measuring, adjusting and optimizing to get the best ROI. The worst part? Before you know it, that campaign has become stale, and you have to start the whole process over again. Keeping up with effective media strategies can feel like a never-ending battle.

But imagine if someone took all the struggle and guesswork out of advertising and made running your dealership ESP—Enjoyable, Simple and Prosperous®. That’s exactly what we’ve done for you with this advertising playbook and interactive guide.

In the next few pages, not only will we show you which platforms you should be using based on your dealership’s specific goals, but we’ve also compiled a few simple, actionable steps you can take to get more traffic, more sales and better ROI from your advertising. So if advertising has been a hassle in the past, if you’ve felt disorganized, or if you’re just looking to spice things up, this plan will help you grow your dealership in the coming months.


Lately there seems to be a lot of chatter about radio being a dying advertising platform. This perception is probably because of the increased use of digital platforms like Facebook and Google. But while online platforms are important, they aren’t the only option for successful marketing campaigns. In fact, recent Nielson research confirmed radio reaches more than 243 million people each week, overall reaching more consumers than social media, television and every other medium out there.

But radio advertising comes with its own set of challenges. The rhythm of the road often sends drivers into a trance-like state, which mentally stops them from hearing radio commercials. Think about it, have you ever set out on your routine trip to the dealership and gotten there without even remembering much of the trip along the way? The key to breaking through this trance is running your campaigns at a high frequency. High frequency mixed with the right message will help you break through the static of other commercials on the radio and get you noticed by a wider audience.

In addition to high frequency, if you want to ensure your message gets heard, you must carefully craft your campaign to attract attention. The most successful way to do this is by making sure your creative ties into the current conversation that’s happening in the marketplace. This makes people more likely to listen to your message because you’re tapping into thoughts and feeling they’re already having in the moment.

Another way to cut through the static is to voice your own commercials. By voicing your own commercials, you start to build a personal connection with the listener. This personal connection builds into a feeling of trust. Eventually you’ll be known in your community as a dealer who’s trustworthy and personable. Customers want to work with people who are trustworthy, and if they already feel comfortable with you after hearing you on the radio, they’re more likely to choose you first.

In short, radio isn’t a dying medium. If used correctly, it can be a game-changer for your dealership. And if you’re looking to reach even a fraction of the potential customers in your market and drive a ton of additional traffic to your dealership, you should consider running radio.


Facebook is a powerful tool due to its versatility. Because Facebook has more than 2 billion active users and a large selection of ad objectives, formats and placements to choose from, effective Facebook advertising strategy can double foot traffic to your dealership overnight.

The key to using Facebook advertising effectively is choosing an ad objective that aligns with your dealership’s business goals. Whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness, boost community engagement or generate leads, Facebook has an ad option that can help you. Additionally, each ad objective includes tools that will help you reach the right audience.

One of these tools is the diverse set of targeting options that include demographics like age, gender, relationship status, education level, location and job title. By using these targeting tools effectively, you can ensure your ads are served to the prospects most likely to interact with you. This is important because having the best advertising in the world won’t bring you traffic unless you target the right audience with the right message.


Five years ago, having an active digital presence might have been negotiable, but with each passing day it’s becoming more and more deep-seated in the fabric of who we are and how we function. But Google is making it more and more difficult to rank above the fold in the organic search results. So paid search through Google AdWords is becoming the bread and butter of many businesses, including dealerships.

One reason advertising in Google is so important is that Google has increased the number of ads featured before organic search results, making it harder than ever to rank organically. That means that even if you have the best SEO in the world, if you aren’t running Google AdWords, your website could be the fifth result or lower.

This is a big problem because on all mobile screens and some desktops, the fifth search result ranks below the fold, forcing the user to scroll to see additional results.

For the most part, ranking below the fold is like falling off a cliff—no one’s ever gonna see you again. Think about it. How often you scroll past the first couple search results when you Google something? Our bet would be not often. And if you’re not scrolling past the first couple search results, chances are neither are your customers.

Add to this the mounting danger that one of your competitors could be running Adwords to pirate your traffic, and you’ve got a BIG problem. Think of the traffic you could be losing before a customer even makes it to your site.

Meanwhile, developing a strong Google AdWords campaign will let you rank above the fold, increase website traffic and make it easier for customers to find you. But digital platforms aren’t the only option out there…

Direct Mail

With email being fast and relatively cheap, many dealerships have used it to replace direct mail. But in a society where consumers are bogged down by promotional emails, direct mail can leave a lasting impression on your customers, if used correctly. The secret is developing a strategy that generates good ROI without breaking the bank.

First you need to develop a creative campaign. If you’re already running a creative campaign in other mediums, like radio and TV, it’s important your message be cohesive across all platforms in order to build trust and increase recognition. You’ll also need to create a message compelling enough to not only hold their interest but drive them to action. Adding exclusive offers such as coupons or small gifts is one way to drive traffic in direct mail.

Once the letters have been sent, you must make sure you follow through with the promises you make in the campaign. If a customer comes in with a coupon from your direct mailer, you need to make its importance known to the customer. This will reinforce your message, and make the customer feel special, which helps drive sales overall and increase CSI.


Television is widely considered the most common leisure activity in American households. Making advertising on Broadcast television, which includes basic television channels such as NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS, a great opportunity to reach a wide audience and drive more traffic to your dealership.

Television advertising offers both visual and auditory stimulation to your audience. The unique ability to capture sight, sound, motion and emotion create an atmospheric experience unlike any other advertising medium.

But when it comes to auto advertising, broadcast television is over-saturated with car commercials, for proof just tune in to the six-o-clock news.

Because of this saturation, if you want to be heard and gain attention, you need to produce commercials that are unique and interesting enough to break through the clutter and be recognized. But if done correctly, the use of Broadcast television will increase your dealership’s exposure to a variety of demographics, including older adults who don’t typically use online platforms as commonly as younger generations.


While many believe the popularity of online subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, Roku and Apple TV may be killing cable subscription services, studies show cable television is still relevant to a large audience. Live events, such as sporting games and award shows, are still shown almost exclusively through cable providers. And to our benefit, unlike those online subscription services, in TV you can’t fast-forward through commercials.

While you can’t necessarily skip TV commercials, the popularity of smartphones has changed the way we create commercials and the way consumers view them. Many people eat, sleep and breathe within an arm’s length away of their phone. And yes, that includes while they are watching TV. In fact, one study found that 94% of respondents reported watching TV with their smartphone in hand. That means that in an instant they have the power to do research about any subject that captures their interest.

This has TWO POWERFUL impacts on the way you advertise on TV.

First, you’ve got to get through to your audience. The majority of second screen in the United States are using it for a purpose unrelated to what’s happening on TV. So you must create compelling reasons for them to sit up, listen to what you have to say and take action.

Second, if you’re advertising on television your website needs to be ready to receive the traffic your TV commercials will direct towards it, which might influence your position on Google AdWords and speaks to the importance of building a website that is mobile responsive. But that’s not the only thing to keep in mind when building your website.


You may be wondering why we included a website section in this advertising plan. The reality is a properly optimized website is a game changer when you start using the methods we’ve talked about in this plan to drive traffic. Of course, all of these methods will increase foot traffic dramatically, but we live in a digital world. Nowadays, the first thing many of us do when we hear something that interests us is to Google it and click on one of the top few results.

If you’ve done a good job establishing your online presence, hopefully this action will get them to your website. But then what happens?

The post-click experience is just as important as the work that you’ve done to drive traffic to your site in the first place. Unfortunately, most dealership websites are poorly optimized to convert this additional traffic to something that will develop into real value and more sales.

If your goal is to sell more cars, the easiest way to do it is by getting more leads. Because the more people you can talk to, the more opportunities you’ll have to bring them in and help them find the car they’ve been dreaming of.

But that means your site must be optimized to collect leads.

But How Do You Do It?

Optimizing your website for leads is simple because it’s already a hub of valuable information. But if this information is accessible to anyone who visits your site, you’re missing a great opportunity to generate leads. Instead, take a small portion of this valuable information and reward it to visitors after they’ve shared a small portion of their information with you.

Throughout years of testing, we’ve found customers are more than willing to share small bits of information about themselves if they feel the information they gain in return is valuable. So when you offer valuable information, you gain trust and earn the lead.

And once you’ve earned the lead, you’ve earned the opportunity to talk with this customer and show yourself to be the expert with the answers they’ve been looking for.

By making adjustments like these simple we’ve improved dealership’s conversion rates from the industry average to over 20%. And so can you.

Finding The Right Media Mix For Your Dealership

In actuality, you shouldn’t be asking yourself which advertising platforms you should be running to get more traffic, because the truth is, you should be running all of them all if you really want to take control of your market and grow your dealership.

But that might seem like a pipe dream. And that’s probably why this is where a lot of people mess things up.

It’s easy, and common, for dealerships to take a piecemeal approach to choosing how and where to advertise. They put a little bit in online listing services, a little bit in radio, some in Google and throw in a dash of TV just to be safe. In fact, this is probably the most common method for determining media budget allocation.

But There’s A BIG Problem With This Approach

You see, most advertising requires that you reach a certain critical mass before you’ll really start to be effective and see results, and most local advertising fails to ever reach this threshold.

So if you don’t have enough budget or bandwidth to reach this level in multiple mediums at first, don’t. It’s better to choose one and then dominate that media before you add a new one.

That means you should start with whatever platform you are best equipped to implement well. Run advertising on that platform at high frequency and test different methods until you find a formula that gives you the best results. Once you’ve found success and have developed a system that continually brings you more traffic, max out that media before you move onto the next platform.

Where you start with this is largely based on your market, goals and budget. Luckily, we have experts in house that can help you determine the best course of action. To get started with a customized Plan Of Attract, click here to schedule your appointment with one of our advisors.

But the truth is, now you are loaded for bear with ideas, methods and strategies you can use to get more results from your advertising.

It’s best to be guided by someone who understands how to use these principles and by someone who has used them effectively in the past. Get connected with a group of like-minded dealers who will share ideas and compare notes. You’ll learn and grow faster when you learn and grow with others. One successful group that has done this well is Rich Dealers®.

Now you’re armed, you’re informed and you’ve demonstrated your willingness to seek out real solutions. You no longer have to be at the mercy of the market. You no longer have to sacrifice profit just to survive. You no longer have to be a victim. In us, you have found the solution.


Bottom line, we’ve got a formula for doing all this, and we can do it for you and make it very easy. Or you can do it yourself using the methods we’ve laid out here.

If you feel like you’re the kind of person who would benefit from being connected with us and with other like-minded dealers, this is the time to get involved.

Every member starts with a complimentary Traffic Scale Report, which compares the quality and quantity of your traffic with your competitors and shows you just how big the opportunity for growth is in your market. To get started, request your FREE Traffic Scale Report here.

In the meantime, you can start developing a plan on your own using the following Roadmap To Traffic.