Expanding the Market

How The Fayetteville Observer is about to push the envelope in the transportation vertical

When we last saw Trevor Collins, we discussed how EveryCarListed.com was revolutionizing The Fayetteville Observer’s interaction with the local car market, generating an astonishing amount of leads in very little time. Today, he is happy to report that dealerships are continuing to see an increase in leads, and the analytics show that these leads are mostly coming from relisting sites. Inspired by the results of this new partnership, he has decided to undertake another exciting enhancement to the transportation vertical. This spring, The Fayetteville Observer will be adding the EZAdsPro Advertising Platform to their list of offerings. This will allow the paper to offer dealerships the ability to market and manage their inventory through one easy-to-use interface and includes a printed publication, social media, mobile platforms and analytics. It will also push the listings to any paper’s online partner — in the case of The Fayetteville Observer, EveryCarListed.com — allowing the original listing to be relisted over and over again and to be seen in an astounding number of places.

Collins hopes that the addition of the EZAdsPro Advertising Platform will allow the paper to give better visibility to underserved areas of the local automotive marketplace. Fayetteville, N.C., is home to one of the nation’s largest military bases, Fort Bragg. As such, there is a large military population — and a large number of used car dealerships. Collins plans to target this audience by launching an auto magazine this April with the help of the EZAdsPro. The printed publication will embrace a digital-first point of view, by utilizing the Connect capabilities and including both SMS text codes and QR codes for branded mobile sites. Collins also plans on taking advantage of the Facebook and Twitter social integration, which will focus on marketing an individual car rather than the dealership. Why is this good for the dealership and the customer? Well, we got together with Collins to ask him just that. Here’s what he had to say about it.

Above the Fold | You are using a combination of both online and print advertising. How do you see this as being beneficial to both the dealership and the consumer?

Trevor Collins | Using this product, dealers, especially small dealerships, can give their inventory exposure through channels that they haven’t found and haven’t had viable options to in the past. The relisting model makes inventory available in more places. Currently we are partnering for this vertical with EveryCarListed.com, and are seeing more lead responses to dealers coming from relisting sites rather than our core site. Consumers are able to find cars in a variety of different places that follow their buying patterns more than having to go to a destination site.

AtF | You’re focusing now on small used car dealerships. Do you believe this market to be underserved?

TC | The focus of the publication would be on any used car dealership, or any dealer that sells used cars: franchise or small. It’s a unique market, because one of the major demographics of this region is military. So we have found that we have preponderance of used car dealerships and inventory. This product allows us to approach smaller dealers that we haven’t had a product for in the past.

AtF | How did you determine that there was a need to create a product for such a niche market?

TC | Cross Sell Vehicle Expiration Reports (or Cross Sell), which is now owned by Experian, basically sells the information back to media about who has bought cars in your market and is sliced and diced in different ways for vehicle registrations. Our region has a larger number of Used Car Dealerships compared to a similar-sized market because of the demographics. The area has roughly 50 to 70 Independent lots or in a 10 county area, probably around 100.

AtF | Does this product help with the sales strategy for the dealership… maybe in the form of lead generation or individual brand management?

TC | It’s definitely about lead generation, but eventually gets them into branding.

AtF | How many dealerships have you approached and what has their response been?

TC | We have quadrupled the size of dealers in our vertical since we’ve upgraded. The pre-distribution used car publication is still in beta phase, but prototypes have been shown to larger, more influential dealerships and they are interested and have had lots of questions. We have gotten a strong response.

AtF | What’s your distribution calendar?

TC | We plan on distributingbi-weekly, with the aim of weekly.

AtF | How do you see this publication benefitting the consumer?

TC | Certain demographics thirst for as much information as possible when it comes to purchasing cars. They will look online, in person and in a vertical publication. Giving them this suite of products will make searching for a vehicle easier with better results.

AtF | How do you see social media playing a role? Do you see it playing a role in brand management or individual product incentive?

TC | I firmly believe people shop for individual models. So, the model we’re pushing now is centered around an individual product by putting units on a Facebook or dealer Facebook page with a feed of their vehicles, thus creating a branding opportunity.

AtF | For the mobile platform, which directs consumers to a mobile dealership page or listing, are you using QR codes or SMS codes?

TC | We are using both.

AtF | Are you creating portals for individual dealerships, or one portal that serves as a larger database?

TC | We currently have a relationship for our main vertical data, but will probably inquire about individual dealership mobile portals.

AtF | What are the price points for this product?

TC | Price point is ill defined; the used car publication is targeted for a March 12th launch. The upgrade of our automotive vertical has a standard price point of $799 per month.

AtF | With the EZAdsPro Advertising Platform, are you more interested in driving consumers to a dealership with this product rather than an individual car?

TC | People search for a specific car, which then funnels them to a dealership, though the dealership would prefer to keep them within a closed universe. The philosophy is: serve the customer’s needs and then the advertising will come. If you build an audience and build users, then ads will come. Put user needs first.