Case: Interim CMO

Interim CMO for a multi-state vehicle dealership

The CEO of a $600M publicly traded, multi-state dealership group needed CMO support during an external search for a permanent marketing leader.

The company had grown through new dealership acquisitions, but the flagship location had recently struggled in a highly competitive geography.  In addition, although an early digital pioneer in its industry, the company still relied on significant broad-reach media to drive lot traffic and leads.  The CEO wanted a diagnosis and plan for both the flagship location and the overall marketing budget.

A review of the flagship location uncovered two findings: uncompetitive pricing and lower vehicle assortment vs. the prior year.  After real estate, item and price are the fundamentals of any retail business and the company was missing on both.

An analysis of the marketing budget showed 30% spent on TV, radio and out of home.  With industry household penetration below 10%, the broad-reach media hit a lot of uninterested households and, with typically thin retail margins, the interested households did not generate enough profit for the spending to pay out.

After the 30-day diagnosis, including CEO and Board alignment on the findings, a marketing re-plan was commissioned.  Price communication on the website got much more aggressive and the TV and radio spending was 100% redeployed into digital.  More rigorous inventory planning for the new model year leveraged the diagnostic findings as well.

Following 12 consecutive months of share loss and double-digit sales declines, the re-plan produced growth in leads, sales and share in its first month in market.  Sales conversion has been consistently stronger since the re-plan, indicating much higher quality leads coming into the sales funnel.  The 2020 marketing plan was built on the re-plan findings and principles and the beginning of the year is off to a tremendous start!

As a post-script, revenue and share growth continued through the final four months of the year – +2% vs. market decline of -6%.  For the first two months of the new year, growth is up double digit vs. continued mid-single-digit market declines.