Good direct marketing gets you to open a mailpiece or read the postcard. Great direct marketing takes it a step further and creates a keepsake, a memory or spurs you to take immediate action. Specifically in automotive marketing, I’ve noticed a lot of unique and traditional methods that have caught my eye over the last several months.

Using Intrigue

The goal of many automotive mailing is to get you into the dealership. The other day, I received the following attached to an automotive mailing.

This glowing code held the key to winning a car, a television or "gold coins!" Although a little gimmicky, the trinket caught my eye and my wife’s. She was enamored with the prospect of possibly winning one of the big prizes, but was satisfied with the “Gold coins” (three Sacagawea one dollar coins) she was guaranteed with the promotion. Off to the dealership she went. Thankfully for me, she only returned with coin currency. Three dollars and a direct mail piece are worth every penny of getting an interested buyer to your dealership.

I also recently received a mailing that was in a brown paper bag. I didn’t recognize the sender, and the package caught my eye. Inside was an invitation for a free lunch (hence the lunch bag), a scratch-off area (where one of the potential prizes was a Subway gift card), and a key that could turn on a new car. None of these items by themselves was particularly creative, but all of the items together created an intrigue that led me to digest the entire mail piece.

Using a personal touch

From Mark Monahan’s blog “The Pursuit of Perfection” - After a direct mail piece inspired additional research, and then to a visit to the local dealer for a test drive, Mark had the following experience:

“Yesterday in the mail I received a shiny self-mailer from my local Lexus dealer.  On it was a picture of the car I drove, along with copy that addressed the two main objections I gave to the salesperson.  The personalization was not over the top; just enough to get me to think about the car again.  And, there was an added incentive to get me to take action this week – a doubling of my trade-in for my 2004 model.  Direct Marketing basics were followed to get me to take that next step.”

Sometimes, combining traditional direct marketing, personalization and a personal touch can take a very small investment into a VERY big investment from the customer.

Using Humor

Take a look below, and see how a little creativity and humor can turn what could have felt like a disaster into having a customer that is "In on the joke."

Included in the mailing was, you guessed it, a chocolate rose, a roll of duct tape and a can of Spam. Wonderful execution combined with a personal touch from a company that is known for being lighthearted. Goes to show that each individual mailpiece you send has the ability to impact the recipient greatly and turn some bad PR into some great PR.

Using Technology

One of my favorite examples of automotive marketing comes from Lexus. We have covered this technology, "Cinepint" in several blogs and a video blog, but take a look if you haven't seen it yet - truly amazing.


And by far my favorite example, BMW rigged one of their cars with ink spouts and lined a track with card stock, to send truly one-of-a-kind mail-pieces to potential owners. Watch this print miracle in action:

All of this shows that print and automotive marketing really go hand in hand. When shooting for a big ticket item, like a car, it really pays to use a channel that takes a little more investment, in direct mail and print. 

What examples of great automotive marketing have you seen?