In the June 25, 2007 , iMedia Connection reviewed an online commercial that Mazda produced to showcase their new CX-9 crossover SUV. Called "The Scramble," the ad uses a "Chinese Fire Drill" to illustrate how the vehicle brings out the inner child in every adult, a concept Mazda ingrained in most minds with the phrase "zoom-zoom." While the online commercial is entertaining, what really struck me was a comment by one of the Creative Showcase panel members, Kate Tomlinson of Ripple Effects Interactive: "When I first viewed the Mazda banner ad, I had the moment marketers' want all their audiences to have in an integrated campaign: 'Ah, I remember that ad!' I had already seen it on TV and recognized it."
This is a perfect illustration of why you need to form cohesive messages and then integrate them across all your marketing channels: cohesion plus integration equals a lasting impression on your target audience that will drive leads and sales. Numerous marketing studies support this idea, showing that a consumer needs to be exposed to an advertisement or marketing campaign five times before they recognize and then act on the message. So how can you craft cohesive messages and integrate them across channels for maximum impact and consumer action? Following are a few tips:
Be a brand
Mazda has done an exceptional job of branding their vehicles as those that "zoom-zoom." Although their ad concepts may change, that phrase remains constant. You may not have Mazda's budget, but if you're not branding your dealership in the same way in all of your marketing materials, you're missing a huge opportunity. Your logo and graphics should appear on your website, at the top of your e-newsletter, in your print communications and any other places that are consumer-facing. You may want to consider adding a catchy tagline under your logo or adopting a mascot that is instantly recognizable as belonging to your dealership.
The power of marketing across channels comes from a consistent and cohesive message and brand. While your brand and logo should always stay the same, you will be continuously running different promotions and specials. The point to remember is that when you run a promotion, run it across all your channels using the same language. What would this look like? Let's say your monthly e-newsletter includes a special on one of your makes and models, and alongside that special you run a short, streaming video of the vehicle. The first page of your website should also include the same special and video, and your TV, radio and print advertisements should highlight that special as well. When you communicate the same message through different media, your customers will be more likely to see it, read it and act on it.
Think of additional opportunities that can generate goodwill towards your dealership and help keep you front-of-mind with consumers. For example, is there a non-profit organization or group in your local community that you feel strongly about and can support? Many cities hold annual events -- such as the Race for the Cure to raise money for breast cancer research -- that can become your dealership's flagship event. Helping that organization can then become an ongoing effort.
What would this type of marketing campaign look like? In the months leading up to the event, you could include articles in your e-newsletter about the organization, their mission, their local chapter in your community and how your dealership is committed to helping by donating a percentage of monthly or yearly profits, for example. These articles can also be posted to your website, and you could include a tagline in all email communications identifying your dealership as a committed sponsor. The month of the event you could run a special offering to donate $100.00 from the sale of every new vehicle that month to the organization. You could also offer a service special to anyone participating in the event. The important point is that you tout this message in all your outreach components, in all media: TV advertising, radio advertising, on your website, in your e-newsletter and in email communications. After the event, you can prolong the value of the campaign by running articles about how much money was raised, inspirational stories from participants (maybe even a dealership employee), how much money your dealership donated and more.
Take a lesson from the Mazda campaign and consistently integrate your brand and cohesive messages across all your marketing channels to reap more consumer interest, leads and sales.
Brian Epro is director of automotive services at iMakeNews Inc. .