If a time traveller arrived from a temporal jump launched just five years ago, he would find that the automotive world is upside down. Toyota is on the ropes after being rapped for poor quality control, while Hyundai (gasp!) is a market leading brand hewing a reputation for quality. You can stroll into a Chrysler-Dodge dealership and find pocket rocket Fiat 500s hunkering in the shadows of hulking Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Duallys, and you can stroll into a Pontiac, Saturn or Hummer dealer and find… nothing at all. Most of your automotive dealership’s customer base is disoriented by all the upheaval and you can help clarify, educate, update and pacify them through your email marketing campaign with the “hook” of popular music! Five years may have been an eternity in the automotive industry, but to the consumer already overwhelmed by the foreclosure, unemployment and credit crunch crisis it might have gone by in a flash. Simply expecting the average motorist to be completely up to the minute on the recent wild paroxysms of the auto business is an erroneous assumption. Launching an email newsletter series, perhaps keyed to popular song standards, can help take your customers through the rectification of the industry and reinforce your role as an ongoing provider of superlative automotive vehicles, products and services. Elton John - I’m Still Standing The first aspect to impress on your customers is that your dealership is still there, and plans to be there for the future. Especially if you were one of the “you’re fired… you’re rehired” GM or Chrysler dealers, you have to clearly demonstrate to your customers that you’re still standing and intend to keep on keeping on. Christina Aguilera - Stronger Than Ever Survival is not enough in this oscillating market, so you need to prove that you’ve come through the shake-out stronger than before. Show how the vehicles in your showroom are more competitive than ever and how your own dealership has made changes to improve every aspect of its operations, from the latest technological training for your mechanics to the brand of coffee in the waiting room. Elvis Presley – I Understand Just How You Feel Empathy may not be the first aspect taught at Auto Dealer School, but it may now be your most valuable asset. The customer who was forced to sell his Viper and now is pricing out the base Caliber on your website shouldn’t be browbeaten into a costlier, more “appropriate” ride. Recognize that some motorists are embarrassed about trading down and help them cope with their new realities. Tower Of Power – Credit The days when anyone with a pulse could plunk $500 down and drive home in a new Escalade have gone the way of The Sopranos, Lost and Heroes; but a new and more pragmatic attitude towards auto credit is slowly evolving. Leasing is making a tentative comeback and the reality that even foreclosure-ravaged FICOs of 520 have to be financed somehow is finally starting to dawn on the institutional lenders. Nobody believes “everyone is approved” any more, so proposing that your Credit Manager will reasonably and sensibly work with them to find some feasible financing resolution will be appreciated by the overstretched motorist. Avril Lavigne – I’m With You Motorists don’t just want to buy cars, they want to buy a relationship with a dealer who will be there for them. It is time to heavily promote your customer service personnel and how they really do care about each and every client. Pull out all the stops and send birthday and holiday greetings, invitations to special VIP-only elite events, heavy discounts on parts and service, free optional accessory packages and anything else you can do to prove to your customer that they are important and that you care about them. Engaging your customers in a realistic conversation about the state of the industry and your dealership will ensure that you’ll be Black Eyed Peas – Alive, and 50 Cent – Straight To The Bank; and won’t be Limp Biskit – Broke or My Chemical Romance – Dead.