“It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?”

As a child of the 70’s and 80’s, I remember a local news station would broadcast this message every night at 10pm. A little creepy, but effective–after all, I still remember it. I think we could reword this type of ad to apply to General Managers in the automotive vertical on the first of each month.

“It’s the beginning of a new month, do you know where your marketing budget is?

Vendor after vendor, call after call, and still there is confusion as to where the budget is being spent, how much should be spent, and what results you are getting.

When PCG Digital onboards a new client, we are confronted with these concerns of past vendor relationships. I believe these concerns were caused by deficiencies in two areas: client education and vendor communication. What I believe will alleviate these concerns is data as the guiding force partnered with education to understand what the data is telling you.

So as a General Manager, how do you get back on track? How do you locate your marketing spend? My suggestions are to have a discussion with your internal and external marketing team to review these three things:

  1. What are we trying to accomplish with each of your marketing campaigns?

Don’t be general. Be specific. Break you marketing down into the targeted campaigns you’re running so you can easily measure your success. Every campaign you launch should have a specific target audience, a spend associated with it, and a consumer action you’re trying to trigger.

For example, let’s say you are a Nissan dealer who needs to sell more Sentra models. Before you fire up the marketing, you need to discuss with your team who buys the Sentra in your market. Maybe it is a student or first-time car buyer. You decide to focus the campaign on this person. Now you can move to the second point of discussion with your marketing team.

  1. What is the best channel for this campaign?

What channel does your target audience spend their time on? Radio? TV? YouTube? Facebook? Instagram? You must be present in any channel with a specific campaign built for that channel based on cost in your area.

By having these discussions both sides are educating each other on what may work in their market.

For example, I was recently in a town 45 minutes outside of Dallas. It is a bedroom community, so many people are in their cars going back and forth every day to work. On the surface, radio seemed like the natural channel for a marketing campaign, however, when the client and their agency were discussing radio as an option, the agency shared that the town did not have their own local station. Therefore, all the radio would be from Dallas and the cost is too expensive. Radio was not an option.

So, we pivoted to Social Media. We could use Facebook ads, YouTube PreRoll ads to begin an awareness campaign to share specific creatives (images and messages) targeted to this age group or in some cases parents of these groups.

My point here is that two-way communication alongside targeted data to deliver the campaign will have both sides involved with the marketing strategy and General Managers will feel more in control.

  1. What are the results we are looking for?

All marketing campaigns are not designed the same. For some ads on Social Media, views of the video are the metric we measure for success. For others, it will be form fills or clicks to a specific landing page. Knowing what metrics we are measuring will help reduce any stress.

Too often, the answer to this question is “leads”. (You know my feeling on this word).

Not every person who sees your marketing is ready. If only a small percent of people are ready to buy a car today, then your marketing has to be an ongoing presence, moving them through a funnel until they are ready to contact you.

Every month, both sides should review the following:

  • What campaigns did we run last month and how did they perform?
  • What campaigns are running this month?
  • What campaigns should we build for next month?

By reviewing the data and discussing how to adjust your marketing, effectiveness will improve.

If you are unsure how to answer the question, take a breath and understand you have to get to the answer. If your vendor partner will not participate or pushes you away, then I would question if you have the right partner in the first place.

Follow these three steps and I guarantee your marketing spend will no longer be lost. It will be a part of your daily business and you’ll be surprised how liberating it is.

When you hear the question, “Do you know where your marketing budget is?” you can confidently answer, “Hell yes I do!”

Glenn Pasch

Glenn Pasch is a Partner and CEO of PCG Digital. Glenn continues to author articles for multiple industry publications, blogs and forums as well as continuing his writing online at www.glennpasch.com.