An Automotive Marketing Makeover For Price-conscious Dealers

Image, brand, awareness, “getting your name out there,” exposure…

This whole marketing thing seems very complicated, doesn’t it? It’s supposed to. That’s how advertising and design firms make their money – charging small businesses, like car dealers, a lot of money to manage a process that seems very complex.

In truth, maintaining a quality image and building a strong brand is actually pretty simple. We’re going to walk you through the process.

But first, why should you care? You sell used cars. Does anybody really care about your logo?

Here’s the skinny. Much of what people believe to be true about brand and image is bunk. What really matters is that you sell cars. More cars next month than this month. And spending a ton of cash on a high-end design firm most likely won’t pay off. And launching an ad campaign to convince your market that you’re a nice guy will almost certainly be a waste of money.

But having a professional and polished image can make a big difference in developing trust with potential prospects. And a spiffy appearance can help you look bigger and better than you really are.

With the information you’ll learn in the article, you’ll be able to freshen up your look and makeover your entire image,including your logo, business cards, stationary, web site, and brochures in about two weeks for not much more than a 99 Taurus at the auction.

Here are a few principles to consider:

Good Enough Is Good Enough

Nobody will care about your logo or web site more than you will. So don’t get frantic and obsessive about the process. When redesigning your corporate image, go for a polished, professional and simple look. Hire a professional to do with work.

Brandscending

Yes, we made this word up. It’s a hybrid of branding and transcend. What we mean by brandscend is to rise above traditional branding strategy.

Most people think branding is something that is accomplished over a long period of time with a lot of effort and money.

But that’s not the only way to achieve a strong brand presence and a solid image. Developing and maintaining a polished image and consistently using that image in all of your efforts signs, commercials, mail, print ads, shirts, letters, web site will go a long way toward promoting the value of your brand. There’s no need to spend a lot of money running ads that only serve to “get your name out there” for the sake of building your brand.

Simple Steps To A Newer You

Corporate Identity

The average street price for a corporate identity package from a reputable design firm is about $3,000.

But did you know that many very talented graphic designers moonlight as freelance entrepreneurs? And without the costly overhead of running a firm, their rates are MUCH less. And by much less, we mean as much as 90% less.

Yes! You can get a complete and professional corporate ID package for as little as $300 by working with some online outlets. Simply search “corporate identity” on google and you will find a long list of options.

One such firm we recommend is www.logoworks.com. They’re not the cheapest, but they’re a lot lower than the traditional alternatives.

Usually these online design firms send your project to several designers who all make several proposals to you. Then you get to choose from a page full of concepts. Almost all of the companies will make unlimited revisions until you’re 100% happy. Big design firms don’t work that way. It’s truly amazing!

The only drawback is that you’ll be communicating primarily by email and you’ll never meet face to face.

Printing For Pennies

We’ve never revealed this source to anyone, but we were asked to hold nothing back, so here goes.

This company, www.netprint24.com, offers the lowest cost business card printing we have ever seen. We’re talking about 5,000 full-color, 2-sided cards for $75. Try getting that from your local printer.

For stationary, we recommend www.printingforless.com. Their prices are significantly lower than most local printers and their service is unparalleled.

Web Site

This is a secret of some of the world’s top marketing experts. Many web professionals from around the world are interested in picking up some extra dough in their spare time by taking on personal jobs.

It just so happens that a company named www.elance.com has created an online environment that allows you to interact with and receive bids from thousands of freelance designers and programmers. You can see references and samples of past work. And you’re able to pay the person for their work directly through the web site.

It’s not uncommon to find ultra-professional web designers who will work for 25% of normal rate and be glad to take your business.

Maintaining a web site with ever-changing inventory is a nightmare. Plus, the job of your web site should be to get people to the dealership. If you post your entire inventory, you allow customers the chance to decide for themselves whether or not you have the vehicle for them. That’s like letting ups browse the lot unattended. And you know what happens then.

Everything Else

Once armed with your new look and logo, you can hire a local graphic designer to apply that logo to your signs and banners. You can visit an embroidery store and have your logo added to golf shirts and hats. You can visit ww.naagtag.com to get unique name tags with your new design.

Who This Doesn’t Apply To

If you’re the type of person who will require an executive board meeting to decide on new logos and the headline for your website these ideas probably aren’t for you.

You have to be prepared to be flexible and somewhat patient when dealing with people via the internet. That’s the trade off to buy a brand new fancy look for your business for dimes on the dollar.

But what if you can’t tell a keyboard from a mouse? No problem. Surely someone at your store is familiar with the computer. Put them in charge of the project. Then you can spend your time improving your sales and marketing process so you sell more cars.

Advanced Concepts: Creating a Super Stellar Selling Environment

So what do you do when the “re-branding” process is done?

Take it to the next level. If you’ve developed a professional and unique corporate appearance, make sure that appearance isn’t only skin or paper deep. Make sure that appearance is maintained when people arrive at the lot and when they interact with your staff.

Let’s be honest…many used car lots have little space to work with and can be pretty ugly. Does this equate to fewer customers and less gross? At some level yes!

But by setting yourself apart from your competitors through your image (on paper and in person) you can effectively reduce the occurrence of commodity shopping.

One way to remove yourself from the commodity car game is to make your dealership sensational. You go to your dealership every day so you take the environment for granted. Think about the first time you go to a new place a new restaurant, a friend’s house or an amusement park. Your eyes are opened wider and your brain is processing new information. You notice everything. It’s just what we do. Many of your potential customers are seeing your dealership for the very first time and their eyes are wide open and taking it all in.

First impressions are made in fractions of a second. What does your dealership say?

Which vehicles are on the front line? Do you have banners and signs that match your image and marketing? Is the sale you promoted in the paper actually taking place?

Here are a few ideas you can use to spiff up the place and make your dealership a stronger closer. Clean It Up: This may sound obvious, but is so often overlooked. People like clean environments unless they live in a cave.

Generally people are only comfortable in their own dirt. So hire a cleaning service and get the place tidied up. Don’t forget the carpets, windows and concrete too.

Ask Sherwin Williams: A nice coat of paint can do a lot to liven up the place and make your dealership more professional and friendly. A fresh coat on both the inside and the outside of your building every few years can do more than you would think on the mental state of your customers. But don’t take our word for it…next time you see Sherwin ask him.

Your goal as time goes on should be to strive for a congruency, a sameness, between your advertising, your image, and the reality of shopping at your store.

As you achieve a consistent level of professionalism in your marketing, your image, and the experience you provide, your brand will begin to increase in value, making your job of selling and closing easier every year.

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Make Your Car Looks Great By Changing The Car Interiors

If your car’s interior looks dull and worn out and you are not comfortable riding in the car, there are a few things you can do to repair the problems without having to invest in a completely new vehicle. With the price of cars, trucks, vans and SUVs going through the roof, the easiest way to save money is to spend a little extra money on the car you already have.

The interior of a car should certainly look pleasant if you want to enjoy your car rides. Before you start your car interior work, you should be clear in your mind what you propose to do and having the right auto parts needed for the job. You can check with your local auto parts store on what you may need for redoing your car interior. This can be the auto parts that hook the interior to the ceiling as well as any brackets that you may need for your interior work.

What is of utmost importance when doing car interiors is getting the look of your seats right. You must select the right fabric and of a color that will blend well with the paint color of your car. Most car owners feel seats are very hard to set right and so it is better to your seats done by a professional consultant. Doing the roof cover on the car also calls for some expertise. The rest of the interior work you can probably do on your own. You have to bear in mind that you have to do it right the first time so that you are not having redo the whole thing. The work can be frustrating and you may find it tiring. Spend some time to find the right auto parts as well as locating the right person to do the job, if you are not going to do it on your own. This can be a difficult proposition if you are not experienced with doing interior work on a car.

The total automobile interior comprises of passive safety equipments, gear shifter, dashboard and various kinds of ancillaries such as stereos, air-conditioner, car phones, global positioning systems, cup holders, refrigerators etc While few of these equipments are indispensable part of a vehicle’s interior,, others are for mere entertainment.

The interior of certain automotives are designed keeping in mind the safety and comfort of the driver. For example, a layer of stiff padding is given over the gauges and switches that are grouped and enveloped by the dashboard. Electrical fittings, lights and alarms help in detecting low fuel level and alert improperly closed doors. Bucket seats or individual rounded seats are very comfortable to sit on. Being close to the floor, they provide extra riding comfort to the rider. Air-conditioner or heaters help to restrain the internal temperature of the vehicle and provide a very cool driving environment.

Make it a point to replace any missing or broken trim pieces. If your vehicle is fairly old, you are bound to have some missing or broken trim pieces. Replacing these will make a big difference in the overall look of your vehicle interior. Get new floor mats as it is the floor mats that are subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Merely changing the floor mats quite often provide the appearance of a new carpet. If you spend some time and money to improving the look of your car interior, not only will you enjoy your vehicle, but the value as well. You can easily set right your car interior and put off the need to buy a brand new vehicle.

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Trends In Interior Customization

While the outside is what most people notice, it is the inside that matters most, since that is where the driver and the passengers spend most of their time during the ride. Customization and adding a few elements of style to your car is not just limited to your body paint, the hood, and the wheels. Revamping those floor mats, seats, stick shifts and stock dashboard covers are just some trends of interior customizing.

Most people think that getting the car’s interiors customized means simply getting a set of custom seat covers. Over the years, however, remodeling the interior of your car has come to mean more than just replacing your old floor mats with personalized ones. Nowadays, seat and dashboard covers are becoming more diverse in terms of specifications and designs, while amplified audio and visual entertainment system installations are also getting quite popular. Personalized detail services for custom seat covers are also stacking up.

Giving the whole interior of car that customized look does not come cheap; but the finished product is well worth the money. Having a car rigged with a new theme using seat covers and floor mats are compulsory, but the following trends give the car’s insides a personal touch:

�Car PC / entertainment combo system � basically a computer inside a car, with the motherboard, 1 Gig memory and a CD-RW/DVD drive. Works best with a Touch Screen LCD
�Car audio installation � consists mostly of speakers, tweeters, amplifiers and equalizers. This customization is highly recommended for audiophiles on wheels or for those who like live and loud music while driving
�Satellite Radio installation � comes with exclusive programming with almost non-existent censorship, this interior addition to give your car an extra oomph for those long rides with no iPods needed to provide the sound
�Car DVD/Game system � allows you and your passengers to play a DVD or do some video game skirmishes while snaking though a traffic jam
�GPS Navigation system � very useful for those long drives. Helps you locate the nearest motels or gas stations. Points you to the right direction if you get lost, too
�Bluetooth connectivity � another hot trend in car interiors, having a Bluetooth system inside your car gives you and your passengers the experience of going totally wireless

Speaking of customization, you can’t really count out the following materials. They might not be as highly technological, but they will still give your car some boost and help assert your individuality:

�Customized steering wheels � you can either pick from a long range of custom-made steering wheels or even create your own details
�Custom-made shift knobs �adds spunk to a car’s interior, replacing that stock shift knob with a customized one is a good option as far as personality assertion is concerned
�Racecar seats � if you still have the need for speed yet your car does not look the part, having your stock car seats replaced with racecar-themed seats might just do the trick
�Set of custom engine pedals � you don’t see them much, but you use them every time you drive. So it’s also nice to give them the feel that you want
�Custom gauges and dials � you look at them from time to time, checking the speed and the fuel you still have in your tank. Changing the way they look can to fit your specifications is one way of getting an interior some boost

From any standpoint, if you decide to change the interior of your car, it is always best that you know exactly what you need, what you want, and what you expect. That way, you can achieve the custom feel that you desire.

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