A Quick Guide to the Three Tiers of Automotive Marketing

Automotive marketing history tells its own sweeping story of societal trends, economic conditions and consumer concerns.

Automotive advertisers have always spent big and have produced some of the most innovative marketing campaigns of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Three tiers of automotive marketing – the manufacturer, the regional dealer association and the local retail dealer – are responsible for the different types of automotive advertising people encounter every day. Each tier approaches automotive marketing from a slightly different direction, though all three tiers ultimately align. A cohesive marketing effort has a strong influence on automotive reputation management.

Tier 1: The Manufacturer

Auto manufacturing warehouse.

Automotive manufacturers market differently than dealership associations or individual dealers.

Car manufacturers have the biggest budgets among the three tiers. The goals of automotive marketing at this level are brand awareness, brand identity and the introduction of new products. Manufacturers tend to spend big on television and radio advertising, and use other marketing methods, such as product placements in movies, and major sponsorships such as sporting event sponsorships. The approach of tier 1 automotive marketing is broader and less individually targeted than that of the other two tiers.

Tier 2: Regional Dealer Associations

Regional networks of dealers, such as Southern California Toyota dealers, pool their marketing resources to broadcast regional deals and highlight industry accolades. Their purpose is to create greater brand consideration among regional customers and to drive traffic to local dealers. Ad agencies working with tier 2 automotive marketing may be the same as those working with manufacturers, or they may be local agencies with connections to the specific regional market. Tier 2 marketing targets TV and radio, but increasingly online video and digital display as well.

Tier 3: Local Retail Dealers

Local dealer advertising used to focus on local branding and promotion on local television, radio and print. More recently, however, more than half of local automotive retailers have shifted their ad spending to internet advertising. Local dealers still advertise on television, radio and in print, but they increasingly choose online advertising because of the ability to measure the impact of online ads on their bottom line. Furthermore, online advertising allows for more precise targeting of audiences, so ads are more likely to appear in front of people who want to see them.

Row of automobiles.

Local automotive dealerships have shifted resources toward online advertising.

Automotive Marketing and Automotive Reputation Management

Each tier of automotive advertising has its own roles and techniques. When all three are integrated strategically, they can maximize impact by delivering more sales. Multi-tier advertising drives awareness of vehicle make and model while reinforcing that information with local and regional promotions. What does this have to do with automotive reputation management? Plenty.

A regional group of associated dealers, for example, must engage in reputation management for the association as a whole and for the individual retail dealers.

Group of people meeting around a table with a laptop.

Like coordinated marketing, coordinated reputation management is most effective.

Attention to automotive reputation management at the manufacturer, dealer group and individual dealership levels can help local dealers attract customers, drive positive online ratings and ensure business listings are correct and complete at all times.

Third-party reviews, surveys, social media engagement and business listings all influence overall reputation, and managing digital presence and online reputation is complex and ongoing. When automotive businesses at all three tier levels engage using proven online reputation management tools, they work together more efficiently to maximize the impact of automotive marketing and are able to spot consumer trends and sentiment early.

In other words, automotive reputation management helps ensure that online reputation works in synergy with automotive marketing and doesn’t detract from it.

Online reputation management guide.