Getting Car Buyer’s Attention in 2020

Getting a car buyer's attention right now may be more difficult than it has ever been.

By Kenny Atcheson

Getting a car buyer's attention right now may be more difficult than it has ever been. American headspace is being taken up by an unprecedented pandemic, racial tension, and a presidential election. Getting attention will get even more difficult as we get closer to November. 
Even if America was able to pump out the fastest vaccine in history along with therapeutics to treat the virus, and all races were singing Kumbaya in the streets as everyone got along, it is still an election year. Unfortunately it will be ugly, and the media will be all over it. 
Politics will continue to dominate the news, social media, and conversations. There are a ton of emotions involved, which divides Americans' attention. 
Originally pundits thought that 2020 would be the biggest turnout of voters in the history of United States elections. Although the pandemic may hurt turnout (mail-in voting or not), people are paying attention to the election. There are only so many things the average American consumer can pay attention to at once. 
Everything written here so far is about earned media or “free” media. Journalists and everyday Americans on social media choose to refer to politics. Then there is paid political advertising.
Advertising space will be sucked up by paid political advertising. 
In a recent Forbes article, one company predicted political ads will reach $10 billion for 2020, an increase of 59% from the 2016 election year when an estimated $6.3 billion was spent. This affects your business because there is only so much ad space. 
Most people realize that there is limited space in print or television advertising. Digital advertising is also limited. Facebook, Google, and other digital platforms know that if they offer up too much advertising space, people will cut back on using those platforms because they are annoyed by so much advertising. Think about email and the unlimited space inbox. Email marketing still works when done right, but it is more difficult than it used to be because so many now do it. Not all emails get opened. So the digital advertising of email is not necessarily unlimited. 
The good news is: there are solutions 
In the past you may have advertised to the masses profitably because there were enough buyers to make it work. That is more difficult as ad space dwindles and/or consumers are distracted so close to the election.
Better targeting should always be a goal, but even more so now. It's easier to get someone's attention who is already thinking about buying a vehicle. The reticular activator causes someone to notice something that they were already thinking about. As the November election approaches, you are better off targeting potential customers based on “intent” to buy. In other words, put your advertising in front of people that are searching for what you have to offer instead of ads for the masses. 
Google Search and Google Ads are places to put your dealership in front of customers with “intent” to buy. They demonstrate their intent based on their behavior and words that they type into Google. If someone is watching television and sees your advertisement, there is a small fraction of a chance that they are in the market right now. If someone goes to Google and types in “car dealership” they probably have intent to buy sometime soon. If they type in “buy here pay here dealership” they probably have intent to buy and they fit the buy here pay here model (if that is what you offer). The targeting is more narrowly defined. 
Putting your ads in front of potential customers based on the word they type into Google also allows you to target your messaging to a specific person. Using the examples above if your ad shows to someone that types in “car dealership” the searcher has not told you much about what they are looking for. If their search keywords are more narrowly defined such as “buy here pay here dealership” your ad copy can say “Bad Credit Welcome” or something to suggest that you offer specifically what they need, vehicles and financing for those vehicles even if they have bad credit
In addition, use media and strategies that won't be bombarded by political advertising. For example, television is bombarded by political ads. Interruptive-driven digital advertising may also be bombarded by political ads while the attraction marketing ads like Google Ads will not. Postal mail will be used by politicians but the mailbox is generally empty so it can work too. Either way, get strict with who you advertise to by narrowing your advertising to people that are ready to buy now versus launching branding ads hoping someone will buy later.
Kenny Atcheson is the founder and president of Dealer Profit Pros and author of Marketing Battleground: How to Deploy Under-the-Radar Strategies to Explode Your Profits. Kenny teaches workshops and speaks at conventions and 20 Groups. His company offers several marketing and advertising programs, customer service and sales training. His website can be found at


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