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What Constitutes an Effective Automotive Core Product Offering?

By Chris Maikisch, Consulting Department Head, CEO & Founder

To design an effective "core" automotive product offering you must first know what are the newspaper's product priorities, the revenue responsibility of the category, and what the end result of the core product offering should be to advertisers.

First, let's make a list of all the advertising products auto dealers invest in to drive traffic that helps them sell cars that a typical newspaper would offer. 

1) Newspaper - In-Column Ads

2) Newspaper - Display Ads - Core Product / Special Sections

3) Online Inventory

4) Online Display Ads

5) Direct Mail

6) Pre-Printed Inserts

7) Event Sponsorships

8) Non-Daily Rack Products

9) Job Listings Print

10) Job Listings Online 

The above would be a list of the most obvious products a newspaper could offer. 

Second would be to determine which of the above products the auto staff should focused on.  Not all newspapers offer products like direct mail, event sponsorships or non-daily rack publications.  For most newspapers it would be the first four products on the list.  Knowing what the product priorities are will enable sales staff to be successful and contribute more. 

Third, determine how much revenue each product contributes to the newspaper to ensure your "Core Product Offering" is maximizing the revenue potential.

Next is to consider what the end result of your "Core Product Offering" will be.  Basically a core product offering should mostly be aligned with the ad department.   Goals like delivering value to advertisers by driving consumer traffic, phone or email leads to advertisers, to help them sell more of their products and services.  In short, sell products that work for advertisers.  I have personally met with clients who offer products they know are not cutting it for the advertiser but continue to waste man-hours trying to turn them around.  I can think of some TMC products in certain markets that have seen their better days and should be allowed to exit gracefully from the rate card.  By and large, the core product mission should be to drive traffic and contribute the majority of revenue to the category.  It only seems fair that something labeled "Core" should be central, front and center on the revenue report. 

Lastly, It has to be simple to understand and sell.

Here's my recommendation for an automotive "Core Product Offering".

1) Newspaper - In-Column

Newspaper In-Column or Liners, performs one task.  Features used car inventory is a searchable, chronological fashion...usually an alpha sort, enabling readers to quickly find cars based on interest and affordability. 

This sets up perfectly for used cars.  Since a dealer's used car inventory is unique to other car dealers, readers can scan the sorted headers and get to the cars they're interested in quick and efficiently.  New cars are more commoditized, so for a reader to see endless pages of new Ford Fusions with the same specifications adds no value to their new car search. 

Goal:  Targets the Used Car Inventory


2) Newspaper - Display 

Display advertising is the most missed appropriated product a newspaper has ever sold to car dealers.  The nature of a display ad is based on it's size and call to action, it should get the readers attention to create interest in advertised product or service.  For car dealers, display works well creating interest in special new car financing incentives, brand and image awareness, new product launches and service specials.  Since display tends to be paginated in a fragmented manner (meaning they appear randomly based on space availability) they add little value to readers who are searching used car inventory.  Nonetheless, most dealer display ads feature used car inventory in their display ads.  This inventory, which should be positioned in a searchable format, typically accounts for a third or more of the display ad space.  Sales staff should advise their automotive clients of the specific benefits display advertising afford them with their new car models and direct their used car inventory to more appropriate products, like in-column, or "Make and Model" sections.

Goal:  Targets new car models, provides competitive distinction...(Why buy a Toyota Camry over the Nissan Altima), and closes the deal with exciting offers from the manufacturers.


3) Online Inventory & Display Placements

Much like in print, online inventory replicates in-column and tower or box ads in fixed positions or rotating replicates print display. 

Once the core product bundle has been designed, the staff educated and trained, and the marketing materials have been generated, you should realize all the things that come along with solid ad planning and management.

If a sales rep can approach a dealer and one conversation discuss a core product offering that includes key ingredients that add value to all facets of the dealer's sales department for one fixed monthly investment....newspaper auto revenue is moving higher.

Want to accomplish the above quicker?  Click here to see if Cloud Pagination for Automotive can assist your newspaper in establishing an effective Core Product Bundle.