3 Essential Tips: Marketing Your Dealership During a Downturn


With 2021 well underway, we know that many of the challenges we faced throughout 2020 will continue due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. By extension, the market will remain in a downturned state for a while longer until vaccines become readily available to all.

Though this remains a tough time for many dealerships, there are plenty of steps (ongoing or otherwise) that can be taken to keep you in good shape until a more sustained market returns.

In this article, I will touch on three key areas worth focusing on when it comes to marketing and running your dealership in a downturn:

1) Your online presence and marketing

2) Addressing common consumer pain points

3) Giving customers something to look forward to


Not enough can be said to state the importance of having a strong online presence in this day and age. Even when putting aside the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, an online presence is paramount to running a successful dealership.

An active online presence will allow you to reach people you otherwise wouldn’t if ignored. In particular, if you want to reach younger audiences and secure sales among Millennials and Generation Z, then you’re more likely to find them online than through traditional marketing and advertising platforms.

But an online presence isn’t just about being able to reach younger people. More and more people, in general, are online these days. On Facebook alone, there are 2 billion monthly active users – in other words, 1/4th of the world’s population are accessible on a single platform.

In the US, 7 in 10 adults use Facebook every single day. And when it comes to general internet usage, the vast majority of Americans are online – approximately 90% of the country’s population.

Whether they’re on social media or just have a general online presence, you cannot afford to ignore the hundreds of millions of Americans who jump online every day. Suffice to say, this is even more relevant and essential as more and more people remain indoors and online right now.

Remember that, just as you would seek to differentiate your dealership from competitors offline, you should do the same online. If you have special offers or unique perks for customers that your competition don’t, make sure you promote it. Put it on the front page of your website, share regularly on social media, and even consider putting some money behind a few online ads – be it Google search ads, social media ads, promoted posts, etc. Make sure people see what makes your dealership unique when stacked up against the competition.

Addressing the Unique Pain Points

During economic downturns, no matter what causes them, the key concern many dealerships and individuals have is how to manage their finances on a more stringent budget. As a company, you need to consider what you can do to make your products and services more appealing when people have less money to go around.

More importantly, you need to address these pain points head-on.

Introduce alternative payment plans (e.g. monthly payment plans, layaway, subscriptions, etc.) so that customers don’t have to deal with large one-off sums; and add value to your products with unique perks and rewards (e.g. promotional electronics, travel offers, etc.) that will catch customers’ eyes.

In downturns that are caused by unexpected circumstances, such as with COVID-19, also remember that people may be under additional or unique stress.

In a Forbes article penned by Christian Thomson, he mentions the importance of understanding consumers’ emotional states – not just the default demographics they fit into. These emotional states can include:

• Frightened and vulnerable – consumers who are likely to face greater financial hardships during an economic downturn and/or health-related concerns that make them hesitant to do business – especially face-to-face.

• Cautiously optimistic – consumers who are cautiously optimistic for the future – be it in financial physical, or personal terms – but may still hold off on larger financial purchases until the dust has settled.

• Reasonably well-off – consumers whose finances are not as heavily impacted by a financial downturn. They’re well within their means of riding out a downturn, will happily take their time in researching what products they want, and often know they have an advantage (financially) over others.

• No-worry – consumers who tend to be almost entirely unaffected, financially, by a downturn. They may delay significant purchases, but otherwise they tend to still be able to do business with companies and purse their usual investments. This usually only changes if they find themselves out of work in the midst of a downturn.

Understanding the various ways in which a downturn can impact consumers – financially, mentally, physically – is just as important as understanding how a downturn impacts your dealership.

Not only can you account for those who are facing financial constraints, but you can also identify those customers who have accumulated more money due to ongoing employment (e.g. they can perform their job working from home) but face reduced expenses as a result of being inside more often and not spending as much money while out and about. With larger stockpiles of money, these customers can be an ideal target for unique promotions focused on rewards and incentives in exchange for larger purchases (e.g. buy a car, receive X reward in return).

When you know their pain points, you can more effectively formulate solutions that cater to them and your company.

Something to Look Forward to

vacation-getawayWhen downturns hit, whether they’re the result of faltering markets or – as is currently the case – the impact of a global pandemic, what people often want is something to look forward to. Not only looking forward to a time after a downturn has ended, but also the general joy and excitement that can come from having something to look forward to.

Perhaps this something is a long overdue vacation for after the downturn or it’s a tech product that helps make life easier in the short-term/during the downturn itself. If you can offer customers something extra, something that will truly enrich their lives as they navigate a downturn or once the downturn has passed, it will benefit your customers and your dealership.

A valuable gift or purchase reward can bring a smile to customers’ faces and make them feel like they’re truly getting their money’s worth – especially during times when they likely need to stretch their money further. By giving them more value and showing your appreciation for their business, it can go a long way in helping you and them navigate tougher times.

Let’s Talk

If you need help with securing more sales during these uncertain times, Odenza is here to help.

We offer a wide range of incentive products that bring customers over the line. You can offer them the latest tech, Staycations, or a wide range of national and international getaways that they can redeem once the pandemic has passed.

For more than 20 years, Odenza has specialized in experiential incentives that bring real value to businesses and consumers alike.

To learn more, contact us via the form below, on our Contact page, or by calling us on 1-866-883-2968.

About David Murton

David Murton is the Senior Editor for Odenza’s blog, where we share stories and insights about travel incentives, marketing solutions, client success stories, and the latest developments within our company. Odenza has delivered 3420 promotions in the last 3 years with 1140 clients in 43 industries throughout North America. Odenza is a three-time recipient of Carnival Cruise Lines' "Pinnacle Club" award for sales excellence and a member of Funjet Vacations "500 Club" of travel agencies. Odenza was recognized for providing superior customer service, demonstrating expertise in Funjet vacation destinations and ensuring that customers receive the best vacation value available.