The Four Cs of Automotive Advertising & Marketing

Anyone who’s ever been in the market for an engagement ring learns the lingo pretty quickly. Grooms- and brides-to-be can recite the Four Cs of diamond quality – carat, clarity, cut, and color – from memory. All of those factors figure into what the affianced couple are willing to pay for a given diamond ring.


Interestingly, though the “C-words” are not all exactly the same, you may be aware that there are also four Cs also commonly referred to in the areas of sports performance, business, education – even auto retail advertising and marketing. They give us a simple way to think about all the elements required for a successful media campaign, whether that’s television, broadcast radio, or cable.


To get your message across and to stay top of mind, learn what the Four Cs of Automotive Advertising & Marketing mean for you.


Content. This is your core message. You might be trying to position yourself as the dealership that can best handle the credit-challenged. Or you might want to be the dealership known for service after the sale. Regardless of your niche, you need to identify what makes you the best choice for someone searching for a new or used vehicle. If you can’t explain your unique selling proposition in 15 words or fewer, intenders won’t know why they should choose you over the dealership five miles down the road.


Creative. Your unique selling proposition will fall on deaf ears if it’s not presented in a compelling way. This is where the actual artistry comes in. Good advertising spots will get the listeners’ attention with a memorable, persuasive message – one that differentiates you from your competition. The best creative is clear, original, and attention grabbing. Don’t underestimate this C. It’s one area where you absolutely need an experienced and talented group to direct your messaging.


Constituency. Your demographic. The people you want to buy your cars. “Of course,” you’re saying, “but that’s everyone. I want everyone to buy my cars, so I want everyone to hear my message.” Well, yes and no. Unless you can afford to advertise on every radio and television station in your metro area – and not many can do that – you need to identify your most likely buyers and the people for whom your message resonates most clearly. If you’re selling high-end sports cars, you won’t be advertising on a radio station that young moms listen to. Conversely, if you sell a lot of family-friendly minivans, you’re going to skip those stations with a high percentage of listeners over 65 years old. Here’s where veteran media buyers are crucial. They know how to match your unique selling proposition with the constituency that needs to hear it. Most importantly, skilled media buyers will get you that air time at rates you couldn’t negotiate alone.


Consistency. The fourth and final C is the most important. You can have the best inventory and financing, the most compelling creative and the most motivated buyers, but if your message isn’t heard over and over again, it won’t matter a whit. Plan your flights and stick to them. Humans are creatures of habit and tend to listen to the same radio station or watch the same channel at the same time every day. Jumping from station to station might extend your reach, but it certainly won’t make you memorable. Frequency is the only way to become the green gecko of car dealerships. As with constituency, consistency requires a top-notch media buyer who can get you both the reach and the frequency you need at the best point per spot.


Endless studies show that proven, traditional media is the number-one way to drive traffic both to your website and to your store. But a spaghetti-on-the-wall approach to radio and television advertising just won’t work. You’ll need to cover all four of the Four Cs to be sure your message is the one would-be car buyers remember.


JKR Automotive Advertising: The car dealer ad agency.