New cars might be able to park themselves but they have yet to become self-selling. Fortunately for manufactures, newspapers have proven to be valuable partners in this effort and public relations professionals have a lot to learn from that process. In a study based on a survey of 487 Canadian car buyers conducted by Totum Research—and commissioned by Newspapers Canada—print and online newspapers have been shown to be push shoppers to visit dealerships and book test drives more than any other form of media. While that may seem like news for the advertising industry, the research highlights key lessons for crafting successful calls-to-action like the use of long-term campaigns and understanding your target audience that PR professionals can translate to media pitching.

media-1Consistency matters.

Understanding the length of the sales or media cycle is key to success. It is never enough to get a single headline and hope that it will strike your intended audience like a lightning bolt pushing them to your client’s doorstep. It takes repeated mentions to keep the brand top of mind.

The survey found that Canadian car buyers take about two and a half months to move through three phases on their path to purchase; thinking about buying or replacing a vehicle, researching the purchase and actually buying a vehicle. Respondents ranked print newspapers first when asked where they would find information about vehicles, compare prices and where to buy their new car.

A single ad won’t do that and one headline won’t either. Establish your client as an authority through repeated print and online newspaper editorial by pitching different angles and ways they can be a source to future editorial.

Understand your buyer persona and target accordingly.

social - mediaEvery channel has its own strengths and weaknesses demographically. When you know who—and why—you are targeting a certain group, you can choose the right media channels. Respondents ranked social media as one of the least influential mediums during the buying process and 25 per cent did not use social media at all.

When clients ask about something new and shiny, don’t jump into it blindly ­— think about the demographics, user experience and path to action. Respondents to the survey indicated that newspaper ads motivate in person visits to dealerships, while a manufacture’s website helped them narrow down vehicle specifics. At the same time, 20 percent never visit automotive websites but rather are entirely influenced by news media advertising and the dealerships they visit.

Learn more about how to convert your audience, register today for our newest webinar 6 Steps to Developing a Content-First Marketing Strategy.

About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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