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Setting Marketing Goals that Will Make a Difference for Your Dealership

New year, new dealership? Find our guide for setting clear goals and micro goals to help you achieve big things more effectively and start planning!

At this point in the game, you really should have your 2019 marketing plan in place. With that being said, we’ve been in the dealer world for a long time. We know that it doesn’t always work out so smoothly, and that’s alright! Whatever the reason, we’re here to help you make plans based on your goals and desired outcomes.

Know your Goals and Create Micro Goals to Get You There

I could write an entire novel about goal setting (it’s addicting), but I’ll save you the deep think. When you’re building a marketing strategy, it’s important to know what your actual goals are. Not just your overall or long-term goals, but your goals for each channel and the smaller steps that you need to take along the way. The biggest goals can often be broken down into more individual, shorter-term goals on your path to success.

If your goal is to obtain leads from Facebook, what goals do you have on the path to conversion? You can’t use awareness techniques such as reach ads in hopes of completing a conversion action! If your end or long-term goal for these ads is more (setting a specific number is best!) leads, you’re going to need to set micro-goals along the way.

Here’s a simplified example of how to get to a “bigger” goal, such as leads:

Goal: Leads, leads, leads.
Micro goal: Gain awareness.
Action step: Use reach and awareness ads!
Micro goal: Find the right audience of interested shoppers.
Action step: Implement an ads pixel to track who interacts and remember those users.
Action step: Retarget and market a more lead-driven message (compared to your awareness and branding ads) to users who have interacted and shown interest.
Action step: Optimize each set of ads as you go, filtering out users that don’t show value on the site from your ads and capitalizing on those who have returned for a second, third, or even fourth visit.
Action step: Narrow down their interest and provide them with a truly valuable offer.
Result: High-quality leads. Goal, check!

You won’t get to the “big” goal as often without meeting the smaller ones: plan smart!

Don’t Forget the Funnel or the Buyer

When you look to inbound experts and the highest-regarded marketing resources out there, there are a few methodologies that ring true to the “old school” marketing techniques taught to many of us back in college or university. The concept of a marketing funnel is not dead and we need to understand this now more than ever to truly harness the power of the incredible tools at our fingertips.

"The concept of a marketing funnel is not dead."

Buyers follow a personal journey through a funnel that roughly looks like this:

Awareness: of the problem or need they’re trying to solve/fulfill (sometimes brands enter the funnel during this stage).

Consideration/research: shoppers are considering their purchase. They are looking at brands, comparing prices, locations, and features that matter to them.

Decision: They have made the choice to purchase or act on an offer or specific vehicle.

Purchase: They buy your vehicle—great!

Loyalty: Are they loyal? You better hope so! This is how they act after the sale is complete.
Each step is different and requires its own approach to reaching the buyer while they’re there. Meet them where they’re at, don’t just wait at the finish line.
Note: some sources and businesses have different funnels, which is completely okay! This standard funnel is used to demonstrate the concept at hand.

How Does the Funnel Relate to Sales Goals?

The methods you use to gain awareness simply can’t be the same as those that you’re using to create conversions. Having an awareness approach and a conversion goal means that the action and goal are misaligned. Heck, Facebook ads won’t even let you run an awareness ad with a conversion goal! So why are so many people still looking for conversions from awareness plays?

Usually, this comes down to a few different factors. These are money, co-op, and lack of awareness. Often, OEM co-op agreements require dealers to run “tactical” ads that ring true to the example of an awareness ad. 
You’ll see them everywhere you look, from Superbowl ads to the full spreads in your local newspaper. 
Do they really expect me to see that and then immediately run to the dealership and purchase a vehicle? No. 
These ads are meant to pique interest and eventually move me in the direction of a purchase.

Digital should be treated the same way, but with one distinct advantage: we’re able to insert brands deeper into the buyer’s journey or marketing funnel. Think about where your goal fits into the buyer’s journey, or if other steps are required to get there. 


"Re-engineer the way that you're looking to find sales by tackling each step of the funnel."


Re-engineer the way that you’re looking to find sales by tackling each step of the funnel. HubSpot has some excellent material that speaks to how to create content that caters to different stages of their ideal funnel. Determine what this looks like for your dealership and you’ll be armed with a true strategy for creating sales.

On the journey to an online vehicle lead, your efforts, actions, and goals could look like this:

Macro goal: vehicle lead

Buyer’s journey step: purchase decision

Micro goal: “I want people to know we sell motorcycles”

Buyer’s journey step: awareness step of the buyer’s journey

Action: run awareness ads to gain eyeballs. This can eventually move to the purchase decision step, but they aren’t the same thing.

Consideration step: shoppers looking to compare trunk spacing of suvs

Suggested micro goal: insert your brand into their research

Action step: create blogs that compare the trunk space and other features to that of other suvs

Loyalty step: shoppers who have purchased from you before

Suggested micro goal: make them into a repeat customer

Action step: create small, memorable touchpoints with your brand until the next time they need a vehicle through email marketing

Try it for yourself!

Goal: ______________________________________
Micro goal: ________________________________
Buyer’s journey step: _______________________
Action: _____________________________________
Buyer’s journey step: ________________________
Goal: _______________________________________
Action: _____________________________________


Trying this exercise goal-first and buyer-first can be an eye-opening experience. Once you figure out how to meet your unique market’s buyers, you’ll be ready to set clear, actionable goals that will make a difference for your business. 

It’s important to think both about your goals, as well as the buyer’s journey when creating marketing initiatives. Not sure where yo start? Our team is always eager to dig in and create buyer personas, conduct competitive analysis, audits, and help businesses achieve their goals. Reach out: we’d love to put our heads together.

Whit Norrad      

Whit Norrad      

Whether she's in the dealership rocking USPs with clients or behind the screen, Whit's on mission to scale your local business. With over 10 years of experience in marketing and biz dev at the height of tech expansion, Whit supports individual dealerships as they navigate changing landscapes and grow their businesses.

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