Edmunds.com is doing a dealership "takeover" -- and not just digitally. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based auto shopping and research site is going to hundreds of dealerships in the Northeast and California with a branded program to drive traffic to dealers while touting its own Price Promise upfront pricing model, and its own brand.
The hybrid grassroots and digital effort, running the week of June 9, includes includes advertising, signage, and real-time shopping assistance provided by Edmunds staff.
Avi Steinlauf, CEO of Edmunds, says the company piloted the program last year when it sent Edmunds staff into four dealerships in Los Angeles, St. Louis, and a dealership in Stephens Creek in Northern California with something like a "genius bar" setup. "After that, we started thinking about how we could scale it up."
The new program, "CarWeek," includes a live advice line in Santa Monica, dealer-sponsored collateral events with participating dealers getting point-of-purchase material, social media tools, and the benefits of the radio advertising that Edmunds will do in the markets. Edmunds.com is also working to securing Adam Carolla as a spokesperson to help kick off CarWeek with a June 9th event. Assuming that happens, he will appear on Carweek video content and will also answer the Live Help line, per Steinlauf.
He tells Marketing Daily that the collaboration is both with dealer groups (tier 2) and individual dealers (tier 3) "But it's heavily focused on the latter." He says Edmunds is using it in part to build the brand. "It's about awareness for us and the dealers. It's a way to get our name out there and a great dealer message. It builds Edmunds.com name recognition, and makes shoppers feel that they are transacting at the dealership in way that's fair and upfront."
He says that if it CarWeek proves successful, the company will likely roll it out to other markets, generally in metro areas. "[The pilot program] was hugely successful over the course of 2013.
Edmunds.com also rolled out its first national campaign this year, which ran through the end of March. That included its first national TV buy. "Awareness is pretty good, but there's room for growth," says Steinlauf. The company has relationships with over 10,000 dealers nationwide.