Casestudy-Horrible Messaging From A Car Dealer

Alan Belniakbusiness, General, Marketing, media2 Comments

bad car dealer advertising (as seen on

I got this spam message the other day from the auto dealership where we bought our car.  You probably get these, too, either in your email inbox or via postal mail.  This one really made me stop for a moment.

The dealership is undergoing construction to build an even larger building and showroom.  They are still open during construction, though (every sign on the physical site reminds you of this, lest ye forget).  Of course they’re open – they need to continue to generate revenue for the huge, added expense of a new building.

So when I see this ad, I became embarrassed…. for them.

What in the world does new construction have to do with offering me savings!?  Nothing!  What a great way to celebrate the construction of a huge building: naturally offer me 20% savings on a tune-up.  These go hand-in-hand. </sarc>

I realize that some of the email experts like DJ Waldow might bristle at my claim here (and I genuinely invite them to educate me, because maybe I’m just missing it).  I can kind of see the “sorry we’re putting you out” angle here.  But aside from that, this is like most other automobile ‘sales’ events: they are tied to the most artificial reasons in time, merely as an excuse to get in front of your face.  And it’s annoying.  It’s more annoying , since the excuse (a construction event!) is particularly lame.  Here are three other better hooks (and I don’t work in advertising):

  • Spring – rebirth, snow (“Snow? What snow? This is New England, right?”) and salt are gone, get your car tuned up for spring and summer driving, …
  • Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are around the corner – Get Mom or Dad an early gift and get their car in tip-top shape
  • New Grads – get them something other than a Cross pen

None of these ideas mention construction.  All of these ideas tie back to an event that we all can associate with, and some of those are even gift-giving (read as ‘revenue-generating’) opportunities.


Takeaway: stop using lame messaging tactics.  Skip the stuff that your competitors do.  Be different.  Connect with your customers instead of alienating them… and embarrassing yourself.


update: I received another email from them.  They got it right!  


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