P.T. Barnum was talking about the circus when he noted that the first thing you've got to do is get 'em into the tent.
Well, the closure rate has to be a lot better when the people stopping by the dealership are actually interested in buying a car.
That may be the trouble with General Motors' big Hot Button contest, which is giving away 1,000 cars and trucks.
The folks who walk in the door might not be interested in anything other than a chance to get a free vehicle.
I hear that the floor traffic hasn't been all that outstanding; the folks who drop by to push the OnStar button aren't sticking around the showroom to talk about buying a car.
You have to admit that incentives and rebates have a certain beauty. First, the manufacturer doesn't have to pay them unless a vehicle is sold. And second, everyone that responds to an incentive is visiting the showroom to talk about buying a vehicle. That makes it pretty easy.
The trouble with other traffic builders is that the people they attract simply might not be interested in buying a car. They'll show up to take advantage of the promotion, which doesn't always have anything to do with buying a car.
P.T. Barnum thought that all you had to do was get 'em in the tent and the rest took care of itself. That may or may not be true. There is no doubt that the GM contest has drawn millions of folks into dealerships.
GM threw a wide net and got some folks who had no interest in anything other than winning a free car. Since they weren't in the market for a vehicle, many of them would never have responded to an incentive. But when they saw that sparkling new car or truck in the GM showroom, some of those couldn't resist and ended up buying. Now that's a plus.
Incentives may have spoiled GM's dealers. Anyone who walks in clutching a newspaper ad has to be a real prospect, not just a tire kicker. But traffic builders, by their nature, simply build traffic. It's up to the sales department to separate the wheat from the chaff and get those sales.
No one said it's easy. But first you've got to get them into the dealerships.