Auto Marketing Evolution

05 January 2016,   By ,   Leave a Comment

Auto Marketing Evolution… From Advertising, Flags & Banners To Empowering Buyers With Research, Blogs & Social Media

Adapt or Fail…

The retail auto industry has changed drastically since I started my career in 1989. In that time auto sales was a cut-throat, price-driven business, with no social media, websites or online presence. Today the business has grown into a hyper-competitive industry with evolving technology, and a variety of highly advanced vehicle models and choices to choose from.

All time low interest rates and various highly creative incentive programs dominate the ad waves. In fact, in some respects, with so many types of deals available, it seems more difficult to sell or lease a vehicle today than it was twenty years ago now that customers’ have access to more information and online tools than ever before.

Automakers were among the first to recognize the value of an online presence, creating websites and car configurators to attract the online shopper. In recent years, many dealers have fallen behind when it comes to interacting with their customers online, instead still focusing the bulk of their marketing and managerial resources on traditional print and broadcast media.

That Was Then . . .

Prior to the rise of the Internet in the mid-1990s, there were four traditional marketing and advertising avenues to build business in the automotive and retail sales industries:

  • Walk-in or drive-by traffic: Location, location, location, whether in an auto mall, or high traffic exposure on a busy street, location of a dealership was a big deal in the 80’s and 90’s, and still is today.
  • Print media: Includes newspapers, flyers and magazines. As a dealership, if you weren’t in the weekend newspaper or wheels section along with multiple other dealerships in your market area, it was as if you missed the gravy train that week.
  • Electronic media: Radio spend is most common, and TV reserved for established or high volume dealerships with bigger ad budgets. High energy, catchy radio and TV ads focussed on deals, price and payments at key times during the year.
  • Outdoor signage: Billboards, bus signs or bus mobile signage. Travelers on mass transit are a great target on the move.


Fast Forward to Today . . .

Advertising, auto-mall concepts, and location are not the answer, alone!

Think about it! Dealerships today spend so much time, money, and resources advertising, but still fall short of expectations. Why is that?

According to Nissan’s CMO, Roel de Vries, 80 to 90 percent of the car-buying experience now starts online. Car shoppers already know exactly what model they want before they step foot into a dealership, he says. With the advent of online research, consumers are well informed of their choices and make their own decisions before they seek the help of a sales rep.

This means that dealers need to actively engage consumers with relevant content both online and via traditional marketing, as shown by this C-4 Analytics infographic.


Although location, marketing and advertising are key for any retail business, ultimate success in today’s modern, fast-paced retail environment comes down to one thing – relevance.

  • Using advertising, blogs, and social media – requires engaging your prospects in a relevant fashion. First you have to empower them with information to help make the decision.
  • Owners and dealers who are most successful believe and practise the philosophy that customers must be treated in a relevant fashion, which begins with acknowledging their needs and research.

Transform your sales career using Everold’s Blueprint for Achieving Sales Mastery. Visit and sign up to receive weekly Sales Mastery blogs.


Everold Reid is a trailblazer in the Canadian auto sales industry. Over his 26 year career, not only has he succeeded every sales target at Toyota and Lexus, Everold has been actively involved in some decision making and policy changes, helping to shape many Toyota and Lexus dealers nationally. Read through Everold’s tips, advice, and strategies for sales success in his new book “The Reid Method” A Blueprint for Achieving Sales Mastery available at