Automakers nationally use tier 1 advertising to enhance their brands. 

Zone dealer groups then spend in tier 2 to collectively promote specific-brand dealerships in a region.

Finally, on the tier-3 level, local dealers advertise to get consumers into their individual stores.

This is the traditional marketing model for the industry. But a higher tier of marketing is coming about. It’s called tier zero. Why would we need this? 

Because today it’s important to have a direct relationship with people in a market who actually buying during a particular week.

Industry statistics indicate many buyers are shopping for 70 to 90 days and then buying within 72 hours after reaching a decision. Dealers don’t have a lot of time to court a “now” buyer when they are moving fast. 

Some people would have us believe going to a dealership is terrifying. The reality is that consumers give many car dealers rave reviews. 

Some dealers and dealer groups are using tier zero in an attempt to generate local-market sales leads. 

Over the last ten years the amount of options for buyers to get car pricing and inventory locations has ballooned.

The National Automobile Dealers Assn. says that because of online shopping, buyers now physically visit just an average of just 1.5 dealers before buying. That’s down from five dealers about a decade ago.

That gives one pause. Today consumers are shopping you based on how they view your Tier 3 advertising and they may never even visit your store before buying elsewhere.

Tier zero is a marketing principle that says even in a situation where dealership ads are not running constantly, a dealer can still be in the game.

How? By coordinating ads to coincide when people are most likely to buy, using information about their shopping and buying behavior.  

The first step to a tier-zero campaign is to review sales statistics and buying patterns, business development center online and phone-call data , buyer appointment times and days and finally desk and delivery days and times.

For example, some stores are high-volume promotional weekend traffic dealerships. Others skew towards digital customers who shop other days entirely. 

Once you have this simple data, you can begin to build a proper regional tier-zero campaign that is timed for today’s on-the-move buyer.

Essentially, this analyzed information tells you the best time to advertise because it tells you when your customers are likely to be ready to buy. Coinciding your message to their readiness is the key to getting more buyer phone calls, email inquiries and dealership visits.

Your message will need to promise positive experiences and offer compelling reasons to buy now and buy directly. Simply saying to a shopper: “You’ll love buying here” is not enough today.

You need to bring all of the relevant buying points into your message including exclusive offers, added incentives and option packages.

A tier zero campaign makes finding your store simple and fast. You can make buying a car fun again. After all, isn’t that what the customer really wants anyway? 

Adam Armbruster is a partner in the business growth firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Company located in Red Bank, New Jersey and can be reached at adam@esacompany.com or 941-928-7192.