“I’m trying to put together a marketing schedule, where do I even begin?” a dealer asked me after a recent National Dealer Meeting. It can be overwhelming to decide where to spend your marketing money. The stakes become even higher when you don’t know what you are trying to achieve with the budget. Spending marketing money to spend marketing money is a bad plan, but these are the steps I walked through with the dealer.

  1. Come up with a plan

The first thing we have to do is have a plan. So many dealerships only spend marketing money when they are forced to by their manufacturer or when they feel like sales need a quick boost. In those moments, your hard-earned money won’t be fully utilized. The focus of a plan is to see if your marketing money is producing the results you need.

Step one of a truly cohesive marketing plan is forecasting (or taking the best guess based on the past few years) what will happen in your dealership, by department, every month for the next year. This is a process we do with our Dealer Success Group members for the upcoming year each November.  In addition to giving us a picture of where we will most likely have growth but how we can add fuel to the fire by strategically utilize our marketing money during those times.

Once we have forecasted each month,  we create a time table for marketing money expenditures. One key thing to keep in mind is that marketing money needs to be spent six weeks before you need to see the sales happen. As an example, we are projecting that 20% of our wholegoods sales are going to happen in April. We need to make sure that 20% of our marketing money is spent at the end of February to help prime the pump for those sales.

  1. Partner with non-competing dealerships

As a dealer, the idea of both the money and time needed to be spent on marketing may feel overwhelming. Do you know a dealer that carries similar lines that could share marketing material and insights with you?

For example, if you are in Iowa and there is a similar dealer in Washington and you are both doing winter service specials, why not share the graphics in order to reduce the cost to each dealership? Think about how you can implement a strong marketing campaign while taking some of the financial and time load off of yourself.

  1. Utilize all of the tools at your disposal

There are a number of different tools available to small businesses that makes marketing easier! Don’t overlook some of these tools.

  • Canva: Canva is a design tool that allows you to use templates to create social media posts, flyers, presentations, and more. It’s user friendly and free!
  • Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a social media scheduling tool allowing you to create and schedule your social media content while Hootsuite does the rest. There is a small monthly fee to utilize Hootsuite.
  • Fivver: This is a site that connects you with freelance designers, copywriters, and more. The price for services starts at $5.
  • Elemeno Design: Are you looking for someone who understands dealers and can take the majority of the marketing off your hands? Elemeno Design has a number of dealer-specific packages available; you can find more information about them on their website. https://elemenoweb.com/

Regardless of where you currently are with your marketing plan, if we can continue to plan off our projections, we will be able to market for the growth we hope to see.