Web surfers who Googled "Toyota Corolla Torrance" last week were in for a surprise. At the top of the first Google page was a link to a video from Scott Robinson Honda in Torrance, Calif., which just happens to be the hometown of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
In the low-tech video, a smiling salesman stands in front of a Honda Civic and says: "Hi, guys, it's me again. Sorry to keep popping up on you. But the fact I'm popping up on you tells me you're still looking. You're probably looking for a Toyota Corolla. You may want to consider a Honda Civic."
The salesman lays out the virtues of the Civic, including fuel economy, design and an IntelliChoice recommendation. He urges customers to "come on down for a test drive." Then he waves goodbye. The whole thing takes just 37 seconds.
Sean Bradley, CEO of Dealer Synergy Inc., a Philadelphia consulting and training company, helped develop the campaign for Robinson Honda. Bradley says it's no coincidence that the campaign targeted Toyota's backyard.
The dealership started running the campaign well before Toyota's current troubles. The video was distributed to 17 search engines, says Bradley, who conducted a seminar on such tactics at the recent National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando.
Says Bradley: "This is a very, very powerful way to conquest other franchises."