Man's forearms on a brown desk with a tax machine, antique phone, various papers, a lamp, a cigar, and a pen on it

Will Car Dealerships and Manufacturers Make the Most of Tax Changes?

Unless you’re a survivalist living off the grid (in which case you wouldn’t be reading this piece online), you’ve likely heard about the new tax changes coming down the road. As a direct result, plenty of powerful employers, including Comcast, AT&T, Boeing, and others are promising to pass the breaks onto their workers. Not only should this excite the employees, but it should spark a fire in the creative agencies of all the major car manufacturers and dealerships across the country.

Thus far, though, the automobile industry has been surprisingly quiet. Instead of actively trying to woo new buyers to their brands, they seem to be advertising as-expected. What they should instead be doing is mapping out the smartest routes to snagging as much of those bonuses as they can.


Striking While the Iron Is Hot

To be fair, automobile manufacturers and dealers regularly dabble in trying to attract buyers at or around tax time. They recognize, as do all businesses, that almost 80 percent of Americans receive tax refunds every year. Thus, the automakers and sellers want to grab their piece of the pie.

Yet why have those same companies been silent for the past month or so? In essence, they are allowing all businesses competing for those same discretionary dollars to get a head start on them. That’s simply bad for the sales funnel, as it leaves them at the mercy of the drips and dribbles.

A better approach might be to take some direct routes to encourage workers who receive bonuses–and who may eventually pay a smaller portion of their income to local, state, and federal tax collectors–to dream big and bold with their newfound monies. It doesn’t take a new strategy, but re-purposing of several marketing tactics that work.


Get on workers’ radars early and often.

Currently, the promises of bonuses haven’t been fulfilled, but they’re on the horizon. Once the checks hit consumers’ bank accounts, chances are strong that most people will spend and not save those dollars.

Automakers could easily put a few suggestions in buyers’ ears by pushing out online advertising that sells the excitement of owning or even leasing a new car. A boldly worded video wouldn’t be necessary to whet the appetites of car enthusiasts; instead, a simple video that played on the beauty of treating oneself could do the engagement trick.



Be bold with Google Adwords campaigns.

We’ve all had the experience of being “followed” around the Internet by sites we’ve visited. What if those advertisements were customized to attract people who just got “promoted” or enjoyed a “bonus” in their paychecks? The auto manufacturers and dealerships wouldn’t have to be blunt about what they were doing to get the message across.

Over time, we all–even those of us who are stubborn as mules–can be moved by constant branding. Quite honestly, that’s why it works so well and why corporations repeatedly use it as a way to market their products and services. If a dealer were to actively take this route and then analyze the sales results, it would prove a fascinating study.



Woo corporations offering bonuses to their employees.

Is this a bit of a shot in the dark? You bet. At the same time, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thanks to the mainstream media, we already know which companies have announced bonuses. It’s all over the Internet. So why wouldn’t a savvy automaker figure out a way to get to those workers?

The answer could be to offer test drives in a large conglomerate’s headquarters or to partner with the business to provide deeper discounts to their workers who purchase a specific new model vehicle. Really, the opportunities are endless to reach out to people in a customized, personal, even transparent way. An automaker doesn’t have to come out and declare: “I want you to spend your money with us,” but the idea is understood. And consumers like the idea of being courted and offered deep savings.



Teach salespeople to talk about relevant news relating to bonuses.

Obviously, this strategy is more at the dealership level but could impact auto manufacturers as well. Wise dealers could train their people to not just talk about cars, trucks, etc., but to discuss the latest news. Why not bring up something like corporate bonuses based on the tax plan? A browser today who expects to get a bonus in six months can be turned from a cool to a warm prospect in a few conversations.

Of course, sales personnel will have to be directed to do this with grace; otherwise, they’ll meet irritation and buyer resistance. With some upfront training on the best ways to navigate a sale to learn more about the customer, they may be able to create new sales avenues for the future.



Offer highly essential tax help and content pieces in dealerships.

Many people are baffled by the tax changes because the message sent out by politicians and media anchors is understandably confusing. A dealership, with the help of its branded auto manufacturing partner(s), might want to offer free classes around tax time to answer taxpayers’ questions. While not a mechanism for direct sales, it encourages people to think about refunds while they’re surrounded by new vehicles.

In addition, it’s a community service that could provide a significant payback. People remember the businesses that helped them when they had inquiries about a topic. That feeling makes them more apt to consider purchasing from those same companies. It’s a win-win all the way around.


Which Auto Maker Will Emerge Victorious?

At this point, it’s going to be a race to see which automaker is going to see the tax changes as a chance to market its newest makes and models. Will it be Ford? Chevy? Toyota? Or could a less well-known company pull the rug out from under their noses with savvy marketing? Time will tell, and we’ll be watching eagerly to see what happens.