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All Signs Point to Mail

 

We think it’s safe to say that none of us has seen a sales environment like this. But one thing is for sure, those in the market for a new or used vehicle are still in the market. The question is, what is the best way to appeal to them?

Obviously, we are dealing with a smaller overall new-vehicle market. TrueCar’s latest forecast predicts “total SAAR to decrease 16% from a year ago from 16.7 million units to 14 million units. — Used vehicle sales for July 2020 are expected to reach 3,759,781, up 9% from a year ago and down 1% from June 2020. … This is up 31 percent versus July 2019.”

Current buyers in the market or those sitting on the fence need a good reason to make a move. Initially enhanced factory incentives and a glut of new vehicle inventory as reported by the press were enough of a reason to spur new vehicle sales. However, at the same time, used-vehicle prices dropped as uncertainty for rental car inventories and anticipated slow new vehicle sales caused processes to plunge.

Now, it’s August and new vehicle dealerships are running out of inventory, and production isn’t quite up to speed. Used vehicle prices have rebounded, and dealers need used cars to bridge the inventory gap.

Mail presents your greatest opportunity for the current situation. Service Mail drives dependable traffic to your service lane. Equity Mail attracts owners in equity purchase or lease maturity positions. Sales mail attracts customers who may need to downsize or upsize in the current environment. All these strategies allow for personalization of the message, giving prospects a reason to buy or trade now.

 

Why Not Email?

Each year, the Ponemon Institute releases “The Most Trusted Companies Study,” a list of overall top-performing companies and federal agencies that are perceived to be most trusted. What these organizations have in common is a strong orientation to respecting their customers and providing the best possible customer service.

The research is an objective study that asks consumers to name and rate organizations they believe are most committed to protecting their privacy. Participants are asked to apply the following definitions when determining the companies they trust:

  • Personal information – Consider only data about yourself and your family. This information typically includes name, address, telephone numbers, email address, Social Security number, other personal identification number, access codes, age, gender, income and tax information, shopping information, account activity, and many other pieces of data collected about you.
  • Privacy trust – Your belief that the company or federal agency is honoring its privacy commitments to you, and keeping your personal information safe and secure. This includes its commitment not to share your personal information unless there is a just cause or you have given your consent.

More than 100,000 adult-aged consumers were asked to name up to five companies they believe to be most trusted for protecting the privacy of their personal information. Every year that’s been surveyed, the United States Postal Service has made the list. The truth is that people trust regular mail more than digital mail communications. Especially when it comes to information such as their vehicle financial status, payoff, and lease terms.

Every dollar counts. You need to squeeze every ounce of profit you can from every department. At this point in time in our industry, mail represents your greatest opportunity. More trust, more value, more traffic.

Top Ten Reasons To Use Mail To Advertise Used Cars

 

Direct Mail still provides one of the highest ROIs in marketing when it comes to reaching customers. Check out this list of the top 10 reasons to use mail specifically for used cars.

1. Dealers have a historically low inventory of used vehicles.

2. The media is now reporting that there is a used vehicle shortage, making mail or advertising more credible when asking to buy their vehicle.

3. Dealers need to be super sharp digitally and in their communications with customers during this shortage. Finding out what their current car is worth (63%), and locating a dealer or getting dealer info (46%) are the top consumer shopping destinations (AutoTrader).

4. Even if every dealer in a market is advertising “we need your car,” your dealership should still advertise it. Customers will always shop more than one offer and you want your dealership to be included.

5. It takes 6 to 8 weeks to receive a new vehicle once ordered from the factory. Current dealership inventory is probably less desirable than inventory your dealership had 4 to 6 weeks ago. Traffic sells cold product.

6. Dealers need the inventory.

7. A “trade-in” is almost always better than a vehicle obtained at auctions. Trade-ins are unique and therefore represent a greater profit opportunity.

8. Used vehicle auction prices are on the increase. On a year-over-year basis, most major market segments saw seasonally adjusted price increases in the first 15 days of July. Luxury cars and pickup trucks outperformed the overall market, while most other major segments underperformed the overall market.

9. The easiest customer to convert is an existing customer. Dealers at a minimum should be mailing and emailing their owners.

10. The CARES ACT. If the CARES ACT is extended, you’ll have consumers possibly looking for a used vehicle based on enhanced unemployment income. If the CARES ACT is not extended, you may have consumers looking for cash or lowering existing payments.

The Legality of Direct Mail Marketing

The FTC and many state-level regulators have made auto finance and dealership advertising practices their priority enforcement areas. The FTC says the rules are straightforward, but some are not very clear.

“In the past six years, the FTC filed about 40 enforcement actions related to auto dealerships,” said Nikhil Singhvi, a staff attorney in the FTC’s Division of Financial Practices, in an article with Automotive News. Singhvi said enforcement areas include deceptive advertising, deceptive and unfair finance practices, title loan fraud, debt collection, privacy and data breaches, and credit reporting violations.

The FTC also increasingly seeks to hold individuals accountable and is including them in its enforcement actions when it can show that they knew of deceptive practices, Singhvi said.

The FTC receives dealership complaints through consumers, other law enforcement or state partners, consumer advocacy groups and even former employees, he said. The FTC in its 2018 report tallied more than 100,000 auto-related complaints.

Singhvi said the FTC’s rules are easy to follow for dealerships. “The baseline that we enforce at the FTC is don’t deceive consumers. That’s a pretty easy one,” he said. “That covers things like advertising for incentives that are not actually available or that have such onerous limitations that they’re effectively not available to anyone.”

The FTC also scrutinizes bait-and-switch advertising for vehicle offers that don’t exist but are used to draw people into the dealership.

“The specific rules for financing advertising have not changed dramatically in a long time, the specific financing terms that must be disclosed,” Singhvi said. “These aren’t very complicated matters, and they are things that compliant dealerships should be able to handle.” The FTC also monitors social media advertising, where it can be difficult in limited space for a dealership to make the required disclosures, Singhvi said. (Automotive News)

NADA has provided guidance for advertising. In 2015, the association created a guide for dealers, manufacturers, finance companies, and dealership ad agencies on ad compliance that covers 41 topics and provides examples of good vs. bad ads. Those guidelines can be found here.

Dealership ads need to disclose triggering terms required by the Truth in Lending Act and the Consumer Leasing Act, said Randy Henrick of Mosaic Compliance Services. Leasing also requires many additional disclosures such as the number of payments and security deposit, and some states require excess mileage or allowed mileage disclosures or the cost to buy at the end of the lease term.

“What gets dealers in trouble is advertising the payment amount, or advertising a low APR for a certain number of months and not saying anything else,” he said. “Or putting it in mass type in color that bleeds into the background that’s not clear and conspicuous.”

Other problem areas are teaser terms, undisclosed balloon payments, false $0 upfront leases, undisclosed lease terms, hidden rates, fake prize promotions and credit and leasing violations. (Automotive News)

In addition to the FTC, dealerships need to know their state regulations covering deceptive and unfair advertising. That’s where Prospect Vision comes in. Prospect Vision’s integrated software ensures accurate pricing and includes all disclaimers. Your mail pieces are then archived for future audits. The team at Prospect Vision is specialized in communication compliance.

Enjoy a Visit to Olde Hickory Station

Old steam train, vintage locomotive on train station - retro photography

The tracks that run through Hickory once helped shape what the city would become. Now the old station no longer receives train cars arriving from afar, but it has been lovingly restored by Olde Hickory Brewery. Whether you’re looking for a fine meal or some top-quality groceries, you’ll be delighted with the restaurant and market at the Olde Hickory Station!

The Restaurant

Guests from Hickory and beyond have raved about the Olde Hickory Station restaurant, with popular items like their house-made pastries, seasonal soups, and more. The restaurant has become a hot spot for brunch with classics like shrimp and grits, sausage and eggs, candied pecan buttermilk pancakes, and regional benedicts.

The dinner menu changes with the season, with steaks, burgers, and masterfully prepared seafood served fresh and flavorful. In the warmer months, you might see grilled asparagus or bright red tomatoes accompanying the mainstay proteins, while in the fall and winter, you might enjoy a honey bourbon-glazed pork chop with brûléed sweet potato, skillet corn, and candied pecan.

If you’re sticking around long after sundown, the restaurant’s late-night menu is sure to satisfy any after-hours cravings. Even after dinner is wrapped up, the kitchen can still provide savory snacks like cauliflower fritters, tortilla chips and multiple dips, pulled pork nachos, chicken wings, and a charcuterie board of delicious cured meats, cheeses, and finely-matched jams, mustards, and pickles. If your appetite is at its strongest late at night, you can opt for a hearty burger, grilled chicken sandwich, or pizza.

You can always quench your thirst with one of nearly 50 beers on tap, or complement your meal with a wine from their carefully curated selection.

The Market

The adjoining market is home to a wide variety of baked goods, beer, charcuterie, cheese, and other local and imported items. If you’re looking for fresh deli meats, a bottle of wine to pair with their flavors, and all the materials for a fine dinner or pleasant picnic, you can find it all at this well-stocked shop.

Make Your Plans

The Olde Hickory Station is open seven days per week. From Sunday to Thursday, its hours are 7 a.m. to midnight. On Friday and Saturday, it runs from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. The Station is located at 232 Government Avenue Southwest, Hickory, North Carolina 28602.

You might also like: Beer, Wine and Grub: Check out the Selection at Olde Hickory Tap Room

Learn More About Prospect Vision

Since 2001, Prospect Vision has helped automotive dealers reach their audience with proven marketing tools and techniques. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, we invite you to contact us.

Hickory Holiday Tree Lighting And Parade

blue background with Christmas tree

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes the traditional lineup of festive events and annual must-dos. Hickory residents and visitors alike enjoy welcoming the jolliest of all seasons with the city’s highly anticipated tree lighting and parade. Scheduled for Friday, November 22, this year’s event – and the spirited socializing that follows – is sure to coax the holiday spirit from even the Grinches and Scrooges among your crew.

The Holidays Come to Hickory

Downtown Hickory serves as the hub of holiday fun on the evening of the city’s annual Christmas parade and tree lighting. Sponsored by Lowes Foods, this sixth annual parade kicks off at 6 p.m. and invites spectators to welcome the season with decorated floats, music, twinkling lights, and excitement. The parade route begins at the intersection of 4th Street NW and 1st Avenue NW and heads along 1st toward City Hall. The procession will turn right on North Center Street, right on Main Avenue NW, and continue through Union Square to exit on Main Avenue NW. Get there early to secure a great viewing spot!

Post-Parade Tree Lighting

Santa and Mrs. Claus will hop out of the parade crowd at Union Square to carry out their honorary duty – lighting the breathtaking Union Square Christmas tree. Alive with sparkling lights and adorned with dazzling ornaments, this town centerpiece will signify the official arrival of the holidays in Hickory.

After the Festivities

Stick around after the tree lighting to enjoy some of the best offerings downtown Hickory has to offer. Many retailers will remain open late and offer enticing specials to encourage Christmas-spirit-fueled holiday shopping. Grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants, enjoy music by Hickory Music Factory, and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus until 8:30 p.m. Make sure to stop by the Hickory Downtown Development Association’s table to let the kids write their letters to Santa and mail them to the North Pole.

The Gift of Prospect Vision

As the holidays turn our attention toward a year well spent, it’s also time to think ahead to how you want your dealership to shine next year. Prospect Vision is here to help you create a customized and effective plan that will target and retain more customers. If results are what you’re after, Prospect Vision is here to help you get them. Our tried-and-true marketing methods include direct mail, e-mail, and digital marketing, service drive, and conquest approaches – all custom-tailored to your needs and designed to help your dealership thrive. Ready to learn more? Contact us or stop by our convenient Hickory office, located at 920 Tate Boulevard SE, Suite 102. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about taking your business to the next level.

Don’t Miss TEDxHickory 2019 This November

Rear view of man gesturing with hand while standing against defocused group of people sitting at the chairs in front of him

 

Ideas worth spreading – that’s the driving force behind TEDx, a series of independently organized TED events designed to educate, inspire, and initiate deeper conversations about important issues. Coming to Lenoir-Rhyne University on November 23, 2019, TEDxHickory is your chance to see what all the buzz is about.

What Is TEDxHickory 2019?

This marks the seventh year of TEDxHickory, a TED-licensed event taking place at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Belk Centrum. The theme of this year’s event is “Connect,” and attendees will enjoy an informative and inspiring lineup of live speakers and TED Talk videos carefully selected to expand upon and navigate the many important aspects of this overarching theme. The event will take place from approximately 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ready to Connect?

Tickets for TEDxHickory are on sale now through November 15 and cost just $40. That’s a bargain price for a full day of thought-provoking presentations you can use to enrich your professional and personal life. Tickets include coffee, snacks, and a catered lunch to keep you energized and engaged all day. During your 90-minute lunch break and throughout the day, you’ll have time to mix, mingle, and network – putting your TEDx knowledge to good use on the spot by connecting with other attendees.

Free parking is available onsite – just look for signs pointing out the designated areas. Registration starts at 9 a.m., so get there early to ensure you have enough time to check in and find a seat.

Show your support for this exciting event by purchasing the official 2019 TEDxHickory red polo shirt – a wearable reminder of all the valuable information and ideas you are sure to get out of the conference.

Prospect Vision

TEDxHickory promotes the power of making connections, creative thinking, and sharing valuable ideas – all concepts that we at Prospect Vision embrace in our business approach. We know how important it is for your automotive dealership to make connections with prospective customers and the community at large, and we know the best ways to help you do just that. Our team of marketing experts is happy to share with you the tools and techniques that will help your dealership rise above the competition and thrive. We’ll help you get familiar with the lay of the land when it comes to digital marketing, email and direct mail campaigns, media, and other services that can take the success you’ve established and enhance it beyond what you ever imagined. We invite you to contact us or stop by our office at your convenience and let us get started on a plan to make your business shine. We’re conveniently located in the heart of Hickory, North Carolina, at 920 Tate Boulevard SE, Suite 102.

Get Spooked At Lake Hickory Haunts

Zombie walking out from abandoned city. Silhouettes illustration about Halloween concept.

Halloween will be here before you know it, and with it comes all things creepy and crawly, ghoulish and ghostly, chilling and thrilling. In the spirit of scary-good fun, Lake Hickory Haunts invites visitors to experience what has been voted one of the best spooky attractions in the Carolinas. Get your tickets and gather your guts for this scream-worthy, bloodcurdling adventure.

Award-Winning Scares

Lake Hickory Haunts is not your garden-variety haunted attraction. It’s a fully immersive theme park experience with creatures and horrors lurking around every corner to get your heart racing and your blood pumping. This year is gearing up to be the best one yet, with tons of new surprise scares set to thrill and terrify.

Here’s what’s new for 2019:

  • Extinction: Area 51 Edition
  • Evilation in 4D
  • Axe Throwing
  • The Further
  • Alien Experimentation Chamber
  • Nightmare Factory Morgue
  • Lair of the Undead 2.0
  • Big Top Circus: Viscous Edition
  • Lake Hickory Haunts Museum

The Midway of Mayhem is the hub of the action, which features music, celebrity guests, freak show entertainment, concessions, creepy carnival games, and much more. The main haunted attractions – including Nightmare Factory, Shipwrecked, and Slaughterhouse – are situated around the midway, and touring them all takes approximately 45 minutes.

Admission, Parking, and Hours

Lake Hickory Haunts is located at 520 Carolina Avenue, Hickory, NC 28601. Tickets are available online, so you can skip the wait at the box office and get right to the fun stuff when you arrive. Parking is $5, and you can purchase a parking pass when you buy your tickets. General admission is $25, a Fast Pass is $35, and a VIP Pass is $50. Check the schedule for hours of operation, special discounts, and ticket details.

Gather your courage and your friends (there’s safety in numbers, right?) and celebrate Halloween the way it’s meant to be celebrated: with bone-chilling terror – the fun kind, of course.

Scary-Good Marketing Results with Prospect Vision

Promoting your automotive dealership on your own can be frightening business. Never fear – Prospect Vision is here to help. Our team is excited to use all of the tools in our stockpile of successful marketing techniques and strategies to expand your reach, enhance your visibility, and draw new customers to your dealership. Ready to learn the secrets to success through digital, email, and direct mail marketing? Get in touch with us today, or just stop by our conveniently located Hickory office at 920 Tate Boulevard SE, Suite 102. Let us help you put your business on top!

Who Dunnit? 1920s Murder Mystery Dinner

Vintage detective looking through a magnifier

 

This September, you can step back in time to the days of detective noir and help solve an immersive mystery at the 1920’s Murder Mystery Dinner! In addition to a being treated to a fantastic meal, guests at this event will work together to track down the culprit of a murder most foul, guided by their charismatic hosts from the Charlotte Murder Mystery Company.

When and Where

The Murder Mystery Dinner will be held at the Lake Hickory Country Club on Thursday, September 26. It will begin at 6 p.m. and end by 9 p.m. Tickets with fees are $53 each. The country club is located at 430 17th Avenue North West, Hickory, North Carolina 28601.

A Dinner to Die For

On a cool Thursday night, the Charlotte Murder Mystery Company will host their annual dinner, and this year’s theme is “Murder on the Beach.” Set in the roaring ‘20s, dinner guests will sport period attire, from Gatsby-esque coats to elegant flapper accessories. When the crime has been uncovered, guests must search for clues, question suspects, and put all the pieces together to determine who’s behind the seaside slaying. Along with the night’s entertainment, your ticket will also cover an unforgettable dinner, a signature beverage, a raffle, and more.

Benefitting the Women’s Resource Center

The dinner’s proceeds will support the Women’s Resource Center here in Hickory. This nonprofit organization endeavors to aid women through enrichment programs, community partnerships, workforce development, and other advocacy initiatives. The group has served women across North Carolina for over 25 years, utilizing a variety of different programs to meet specific needs. They offer support groups for a wide range of challenges, and they provide opportunities for personal growth and community.

You might also like: Shop Local at the Hickory Farmers Market

Learn More About Prospect Vision

We understand that effective marketing can seem like a mystery, so we specialize in helping auto dealerships make a statement exactly where they need to. At Prospect Vision, our team excels in direct mail marketing, digital marketing, and E-mail marketing, utilizing custom strategies to reach potential customers with valuable information. If you’d like to learn more about our services, we welcome you to contact us.

Don’t Miss the Hickory Comic Con

Cosplayers pose for a selfie at the Yorkshire Cosplay Convention

You don’t have to wait for Halloween to suit up in your favorite costume, because the Hickory Comic Con returns this September! Bring the whole family out for a day of recognizable characters, merch, comics, and more!

When and Where

The convention will occur on Saturday, September 7 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center. It will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entry is $5 for adults, and $3 for children ages 13 and under. The convention center is located at 1960 13th Avenue Drive South East, Hickory, North Carolina 28602.

Getting into Character

No comic con would be complete without cosplay. If you want to put some real imagination and effort into your costume, you’ll be in good company, as fan organizations like the 501st Legion, Klingon Assault Group, and Star Trek Independent Fleet will be in attendance. These groups each prepare screen-accurate costumes with incredible attention to detail, and you’re bound to see hordes of stormtroopers, cadets, and interstellar warriors roaming the convention center. The 501st Legion typically focuses on replicas of villainous attire, so feel free to don your Jedi robes to bring some balance to the con. Before the end of the day, there will be a costume contest to reward the best efforts.

What to Expect

The comic con will cater to a variety of tastes and interests, and you can expect to see a wide range of comics, collectibles, games, and memorabilia from beloved series and franchises. You may encounter authors and artists behind some imaginative works, and vendors will be present with various wares. Bring your best deck, as there will Yu-gi-oh card tournaments as well.  These conventions always bring out some surprising features, like last year’s appearance of the Ecto-1 hearse from Ghostbusters. You can expect another four-wheeled star to park at the con this fall. For the 2019 comic con, look out for the original Batmobile from the Adam West Batman TV series.

You might also like: Beer, Wine and Grub: Check out the Selection at Olde Hickory Tap Room

Get to Know Prospect Vision

We are an auto industry marketing innovator serving dealerships with proven resources and insight. To learn more about our services, feel free to contact us.

Beyond A House: The Biggest Purchase We Make

 

You’re considering one of the biggest purchases of your life and you get – wait for it – an email.

But it’s just like the hundreds of emails you get for everything from drug stores to dental appointment reminders.

If you’re asking someone to make the second biggest purchase of their life (behind housing), shouldn’t you at least take the time to make it personal?

 

Letters and handwritten cards have greater importance now more than ever. These days, our email boxes can feel flooded with junk mail every day, and missives from companies are sometimes automatically filtered out, if not thrown in the junk mail folder immediately. On the other hand, hard-copy letters are fewer and further between now, and each one gets a little more attention than before.

Everyone gets mail. It’s not just seniors, either, as more and more young people are opting out of the web and focusing on life away from screens, phones, and computers. Using traditional mail is still the best way to contact everyone. Forty-four percent of millennials pick up mail at least six days a week, compared to 60 percent of Gen Xers and 73 percent of Baby Boomers.

Finally, according to the USPS Office of Inspector General, the decline in mail volume may be more nuanced than some realize.

“Take the drop in First-Class Mail (FCM), for instance. FCM decline varies widely by location… For example, in Dallas, the percent of First Class Mail (FCM) volume lost was greater than in Charleston, WV – where it was close to zero. Moreover, the rate of decline is slowing or has even stopped in many of the areas that have lost the most mail volume. Declines in U.S. Postal Service mail volume vary widely across the United States.”

Mail providers and the U.S. Post Office ensure that your letter gets to the mailbox of the person written on the envelope. On the other hand, digital documents can easily bounce back for a number of reasons, from misspelled addresses to full inboxes or out-of-office situations to spam folders.

When you come right down to it, paper mail just means more. The key is feelings. Seventy-five percent of the inspector general’s survey respondents said receiving personal mail “made them feel special.”

Doesn’t it make sense that if you’re asking a person to make the first or second biggest purchase decision of their lives, you should at least take the time to put it in writing?