Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Shift Your Marketing into High Gear

Race track pit zone sign
Car racing seems so simple on the surface, especially on oval circuits like Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the prestigious Indianapolis 500. The drivers just jump in and drive in circles for a couple hours, right? How hard can it be?

The reality is that propelling a highly-technical machine at speeds of more than 200 mph around an oval course is an extremely difficult (and expensive) venture. For more than 100 years, car builders and race teams have pushed the envelope of technology and human endurance in search of more and more speed at the Indy 500.

Winning one of the world's most famous auto races takes a complicated combination of people doing their jobs right and machinery making it to the end (500 miles, to be exact). Much like a great marketing campaign, everything has to come together if you're going to be celebrating in Victory Lane.

We've written about the relationship between marketing and auto racing before, but as we gear up for the 100th running of the Indy 500 this month, we realized there are a few things we can learn about dealership marketing and sales from this big race.

Learn How to Gauge Success

For many IndyCar teams, victory is the only mark of success. But did you know that just three teams have accounted for 11 of the last 16 Indy 500 victories? Team Penske won five of those, including the 2015 edition of the race, and holds the most Indy 500 wins of all time with 16. When certain teams are so dominant, even a top-5 finish for less-resourced teams can be considered a huge success.

IndyCar teams have a pretty easy way to gauge their success since a top-5 finish is certainly better than a top-15 finish. But how can you gauge the success of your marketing efforts when there's no clear way to see how a particular campaign is performing against another campaign or an expected average?

Applying unique toll-free numbers to different campaigns and tracking the resulting calls will help you understand which campaigns are generating leads and giving you a quantifiable return on investment. Doing so will help you know if you have a contender for the podium or a campaign that's heading for the pits early.

Always Try to Improve Your Service

Being on a team's pit crew is much more challenging than simply changing a tire occasionally. Even one minor slip-up can cost a team precious seconds and positions in the running order. Being a strong, cohesive pit crew takes a ton of practice and training. In fact, IndyCar even holds a pit-stop challenge before the Indy 500, rewarding the fastest crew with $50,000.

Much like how one mistake in the pits can cost a team a win, one mistake by your sales rep on the phone with a customer can cost you that sale and thousands of dollars in the process. Stack those mistakes over time and you would be looking for a new sales rep. Recording and reviewing calls will help you identify when these mistakes happen so that you can not only make an effort to save the potential lost lead but also improve your training programs so the reps know what mistakes to avoid.

Take Advantage of Technology

Gone are the days of sticking a big engine in a lightweight chassis and sending it around the Speedway's oval at insane speeds. Today, engineers at Chevrolet and Honda Performance Development spend millions of dollars designing aerodynamic parts for the cars to increase downforce and make the cars round corners as fast as possible. While the qualifying speed record hasn't been broken in a few years because of changes to the rules, the application of technology is helping teams inch closer and closer to the mark.

Being on the forefront of technology can help boost your marketing as well. Don't get any crazy ideas! We're not suggesting that you put a bunch of aerodynamic parts on the cars on your lot (as much buzz as that would generate), but rather that you use technology as a tool to deliver your message. Social media advertising is a great way to take advantage of technology since you can target exactly the kind of customers you want to bring into your dealership. If you're struggling to find the sweet spot on social media, check out these tips.

How do you get your marketing campaigns to Victory Lane? Let us know in the comments.