By Jim Cunningham
How familiar are you with the Rule of 7 as it pertains to marketing? It might be considered an “old school” marketing methodology, but if you take a moment to understand what it is, you’ll appreciate the fact that it’s a sound concept that works and should be followed.
In short, the Rule of 7 is a basic principal that addresses the consumers need to hear and see a marketing message several times (at least seven) before they consider buying from you. Why seven? I don’t think the number really matters, as much as the message. In order for consumers to really hear and retain your message, they need to be exposed to your marketing enough times so it resonates. So, when the time is right to buy your product, your business is top of mind.
As a 20+ year automotive marketing veteran, my observation with dealership marketing has been dealers have a tendency to roll out a lead generation campaign for 30-days and if it doesn’t produce an return on investment within this timeframe, they move on to something else. I like to call this the “On and Off Marketing” strategy.
It’s my belief that dealerships are missing the point of marketing. As a general rule, prospects are in the pipeline for 90 to 180 days, which for many dealers could be 3 to 6 different campaigns that are completely missing their targets due to a constant strategy changes. Consumers are not having enough exposure to the same message in order for it to adhere. Each month, Dealers may run multiple campaigns with multiple messages targeting different people. This is problematic because prospects only get the opportunity to see one or two of the campaigns one time, if you’re lucky, and they are not exposed to the message long it enough to remember.
My assessment for the quick changing marketing practice is simple, dealers are paying a lot of money to multiple vendors to drive new leads through the door. With the average dealership spending between $7,000 to 12,000 per month on marketing (much more for larger metro area dealerships), it is understandable that instant ROI is desired. The question is: are you setting yourself up for failure due to the short term strategy?
With the advancement in marketing data analytics and the success digital marketing delivers; dealers have more robust resources available to them, which don’t cost a fortune or leverage multiple vendors to achieve the end goal. Automotive marketing partners are available that can provide insightful business intelligence, manage all channel marketing, and most importantly deliver real buyers with a $3,000 to 8,000 monthly savings. However, don’t miss the point, inexpensive doesn’t mean you will be successful by rapidly changing strategies. You need to create a campaign that is consistent and has a shelf-life to target all your prospects multiple times (following the Rule of 7) in order to allow the message to stick.
If you find your marketing isn’t working and you are throwing darts to see which message will bring customers to your showroom, it’s time to take a new approach. Consider this, stop wasting money by blindly targeting individuals whom you have no true business intelligence on. As you know, this approach gets expensive and can lead to low ROI. Incorporate solutions that provide predictive analytics which identify consumers who have a high propensity to buy within the next 90 to 180 days. Follow the Rule of 7 by communicating consistent messaging that speaks to these known buyers over the time they are in your sales funnel (typically 90 to 180 days). Continue to utilize all forms of media – email, text, digital display ads, retargeting ads and direct mail – but consider using one business partner as oppose too many, which can save on expenses.
Be repetitive and persistent to the right audience as it is proven to pay off in dividends.