At a young age I experienced the classic experience of my dad setting up tin cans at my uncle’s farm for target practice with a pellet gun. You can rest assured that the squirrels were safe that summer, as I didn’t even hit the cans my dad set up for me. (I was young… okay?!)

So no… I didn’t turn out to be a olympic biathlon gold medalist, but I now work in an industry where we toss words around such as targeting and “the shotgun approach”. The shotgun approach being an approach where an advertiser throws a wide net with the hope of a sale. So with this approach in mind, why do we still spend money in such a large spread with traditional techniques such as radio and TV?

Because you should always be where the customer is… But anytime you do anything, it should align with your objectives.

I asked one of the guys at our office what he thought of advertising on TV, and he drew on a whiteboard how segmentation on TV works. If a dealership wanted to advertise to their audience, it would be wise to hedge those spends on generalized broadcasts such as the news or the local football game. With such a large net, the dealership was bound to spark the interest of a vehicle purchase with a few viewers. People still watch these broadcasts, and if the dealership’s objective was to start capturing high funnel buyers, advertising on TV would be one of the best methods. This meets two of our criteria we just mentioned: it’s where your customer is, and it aligns with your objective.

However, let’s question the objective about targeting high funnel buyers. Many dealership’s business objectives revolve around lead generation, and capturing high funnel buyers can yield results in that direction. But what is the quality of this result? It’s this question that leads us back to our initial illustration of the shotgun approach. Most people that watch football don’t see a car commercial, and suddenly realize they need a vehicle. I won’t bore you with the typical sales funnel rhetoric about the identification stage of the funnel, but I will ask you to question what those high funnel ad dollars are contributing to. TV, radio, and print cast a wide net. These mediums also make your ad spends extremely difficult to track results on, and even have the capacity to land in your competitor’s pockets.This is why I’d argue to have a marketing mix that is laser focused on your low-funnel high-opportunity buyers, and this is typically found with digital marketing techniques.

But there is a cautionary tale with digital marketing that you can fall prey to. Especially if your digital strategy is using a dated methodology.

As digital marketing has advanced and become more precise, big stories like Snowden quickly put digital privacy on everyone’s mind. Which has led us to a new era of digital marketing. One where the segmentation that traditional faces does not exist, but where keeping your dealership top of mind has almost become akin to something such as a car commercial. You spend some money, knock on some wood, throw some salt behind your right (or was it left?) shoulder, and hope for some results. Although i’ve seen solutions that offer demographic data on leads, I want you to answer this question: does knowing your lead is a 40-something dad of two that has a mean income of $70,000 tell you what you want to know? Aka… is that guy going to take that $70,000 and divert some of it into your pocket… This modern consumer also has privacy in mind with a sentiment against filling out lead forms. (Only 26% of shoppers are willing to consider filling out a lead form fill – according to one Google study on the automotive industry.)

So what’s next then? Should I turn off my TV ads and invest in digital because you want me to Mr. digital agency man?!! No… But I do recommend you invest where your customer is. And a large majority of your customers will start the buying process online. Investing in your low funnel opportunities shouldn’t come as an afterthought while traditional eats the lion’s share of your budget.

Ok – so maybe you’re convinced or already heavily digital… Mediums are changing. Young *cord-cutting generations are becoming today’s customer. With IP-address restrictions, consent for cookies, and anti-lead form sentiment, digital advertising is becoming a complex subject. You need to evolve your digital strategy to be laser-focused on your sales opportunities no matter where they come from. Limiting yourself to standard Facebook or Google technologies that everyone has access to won’t cut it for much longer. Seek out technologies that give you more than an off-the-shelf approach.

Watch for my next post, when I’ll discuss our new approach on how we are analyzing the market using data-backed solutions.

Cord-cutting: The act of “cutting the cable bill” and only using ad-free streaming platforms for visual entertainment.