By Lethbridge Herald on April 4, 2020.
LEAVE IT TO BEEBER
City auto dealers are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 crisis like everyone else in our community, our province and our country.
They’ve been forced to lay off staff and take extraordinary precautions to protect staff and customers from the evil that is the coronavirus.
They’re hurting and struggling to stay above the tidal wave of disaster that keeps slamming into us every single day.
But auto dealers do have a lifeboat they can turn to in these troubling times. That lifeboat is this newspaper.
Since taking over from former Herald staffer John Grainger in 1988, I’ve put my own spin — so to speak — on The Herald’s auto section.
Every car review I’ve written has come from the heart and truthfully spoke about my feelings. Since my earliest days doing the auto section, I vowed I would never compromise my professional integrity by giving false praise. As astute readers know and have correctly pointed out, if I don’t like a vehicle I write a short, barebones story and run it with big photographs.
That is my trademark way of showing personal disapproval of a vehicle without angering an advertiser or a sales representative. If I am truly enthralled by a review vehicle, I’ll almost write a small book. That’s how enthusiastic I am about all things four-wheeled, and two, for that matter, being a motorcycle buff.
I know for a fact my reviews sell vehicles. Multiple people have told me over the years they purchased a car, truck or sport utility vehicle because of my review in the paper. One car dealer even told me he sold two models of a car I reviewed to one customer the same day. That was about $80,000 in sales for the price of one Herald ad and some gasoline so I could do a thorough test on city streets and the highway.
With high-end vehicles costing that much for one, if car dealers do the math they can see the benefit they potentially could get by purchasing one ad, putting gas in a tank and having me do a review.
And advertising here is a better bet for gaining customers and attention than advertising electronically, which is akin to sportfishing.
When advertising with any electronic medium, advertisers have to hope the bait will be noticed when it passes by potential customers who only have 30 seconds to see it and that will only happen if customers are present when the bait is shown. It’s the same as trolling for pike or walleye. If you pass above or below or nowhere near fish that don’t see the bait, you won’t hook anything.
Advertising in the paper is like jigging from an anchored boat. The bait is stationary, waiting for people to see and take interest. The paper doesn’t disappear off a coffee table or the internet in 30 seconds. It is visible to many for long periods of time which means advertisers have a better chance of reaching an audience and paying their bills.
It’s a reality that could help auto dealers lessen the toll COVID-19 is taking on their businesses. After all, as anglers know, quality bait catches quality fish.
We have a talented sales staff at The Herald who can professionally assist dealers to create a compelling ad that, along with my story, will attract customers. My stories are a proven commodity as is Herald advertising. We have shown over the years we can sell vehicles.
It’s time for auto dealers to consider The Herald for their advertising if they never have before or return to the fold if they’ve left. Their staffs and their families will appreciate it.
We know how to sell cars here and after writing about them for more than three decades, I know how to give customers a compelling reason to buy.
And just so you know, Herald sales staff are seeing this column for the first time when the paper lands on their doorsteps today. We are in this business together and we owe it to each other to give a helping hand when we can.
Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.