Cable Dahmer Automotive Group has shifted heavily into digital marketing, including for fixed operations, over the past four years.
But it hasn't abandoned old-school marketing tools such as direct mail.
To the contrary, the six-dealership group in Kansas City, Mo., spent about $500,000 last year to buy a print shop, enabling it to produce direct-mail pieces in house, says chief marketing officer Jeff Vaughn.
"We've married our traditional direct-mail campaigns with digital strategies," Vaughn says. As a result, he notes, mail pieces aimed at retaining service customers that used to get a 1 percent response now show response rates of 8 to 15 percent. He adds: "Plus, we're saving about $50,000 a month in printing costs."
About half of the group's marketing efforts are aimed at service customers who declined dealership-recommended maintenance and repair work.
Within 24 hours of a refusal, the dealership emails the customer a message with a link to a video that reminds them of the importance of the declined service — replacing a dirty cabin air filter, for example. The dealership follows up with a direct-mail piece including a coupon for the recommended service, Vaughn says.
If there's no response to that approach within two weeks, those customers get another email with a video link and another mailing with a discount offer.
The group's dealerships use a decidedly low-tech system to decide which of its service discounts work best.
"We put cardboard boxes behind all our service advisers, and when customers present coupons, the advisers toss them into their respective boxes," he says. "Then we count to see which coupon got used the most.
"All those shiny [marketing] toys are fluff if they don't drive additional traffic," Vaughn adds. "You just need to own the basics and do the basics."