ORLANDO, Fla. -- Lincoln Mercury dealers are looking for better profits and increased floor traffic.
Parent Ford Motor Co. needs to make new products more visible, said Bob Federico, dealer council chairman, following the make meeting.
"The bottom line is that what cures profitability (problems) is selling cars," said Federico, dealer principal of Courtesy Lincoln-Mercury in Bronx, N.Y. "Lincoln Mercury dealers can do the job when customers come in the door."
Smarter use of advertising dollars is one way Lincoln Mercury intends to improve showroom traffic, said Al Giombetti, president of sales and marketing for Ford and Lincoln Mercury. The overall advertising spend is likely to be flat in 2006.
Lincoln Mercury also will target its marketing efforts more specifically to individual regions, he said.
"We're very, very close to turning the corner," Giombetti said.
Mercury sales were up 1.2 percent in 2005. But Lincoln sales fell 11.4 percent last year.
In 2006, Lincoln will have a full year of sales for the Zephyr entry-luxury sedan. That car debuted late in 2005. It will be renamed MKZ for the 2007 model year, when it gets a new 3.5-liter engine and all-wheel drive. The name change is part of Lincoln's new alphabetic naming strategy.
Lincoln dealers also get the new 2007 MKX crossover late this fall. A reengineered Navigator and the new extra-long Navigator L also go on sale this fall. Even though the LS sedan is being dropped this spring, dealers are looking for a sales increase out of the new models.
Those entries should give Lincoln Mercury a better chance for improved results than past efforts at targeting marketing.
"This time with Lincoln and Mercury, we have new products," Giombetti said. "We like a lot of the stats we're seeing on people who are buying these products. If I can bring more people and different people into their showrooms and I can hold on to who I have, then I start to grow."
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