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[column] The company car: a challenge in every respect

The “van marketing” has thus become a kind of second level activity. More like the junior to put it a bit disrespectfully. With a few good exceptions, of course, because sometimes there is quite a nice bus advertisement. As a marketer, however, I remain tirelessly enthusiastic about campaigning for company cars. In fact, I just like this ad and perhaps these much more rational vehicles have better opportunities to come up with a really cool concept. As the creative director of an advertising agency, I would certainly know and that’s why I would definitely put some brainwaves in a nice company car concept. Surprise my automotive customer enormously with B2B inventions.

The agency that manages to conjure up the golden idea for delivery vans, in any case, has the attention in the market and can thus attract a great success.

And deliver his or her client a top result. Because the sales of company cars are currently not automatic and marketers are worried about how to sell those company cars to men or women. Good company car marketing therefore offers opportunities now!

All time low

Not only the sales of the vans are difficult at the moment. The number of media activities for the commercial vehicle market has also decreased significantly in 2020. Nothing new, of course, because COVID is hacking everywhere when it comes to the sales of new cars. Used cars do run smoothly though. Those pluses month after month, but if we look at sales of new, bus or sturdy SUV, almost every brand or model scores a good minus. A handful of smart brands, by the way. It is therefore not surprising that media spending for the commercial vehicle market was about 61% lower than last year until the end of August. At least, that is how market expert Adfact calculated.

That is a decrease that is almost twice as much as the decrease noted for the media pressure for passenger cars. Apparently, little is advertised for vans until the first 8 months of this year. The only brand that advertises its commercial vehicles more is Ford. The brand that has been steady and calm on its way to the top position in the van market for a few years now. And with success, because Ford is gaining market share. The rest of the brands invest less money in company car advertising. Much less in fact. We know from experience that interrupting media pressure for a long time does not make the marketing challenges any easier after such a stop. It is therefore a point of concern and part of the reason that fewer vans are currently leaving the dealer business center.

Much less in fact. We know from experience that interrupting media pressure for a long time does not make the marketing challenges easier after such a stop.

Cute vans

And yet there are more marketing elements that could boost commercial vehicle sales. Creativity is definitely one of them. After all, a van campaign does not often excel in impact. Most brands do not get further than high discounts and one-liners such as “immediately available”. Pack shot online and a dry story on radio. And that while the work buses traditionally have a high cuddly factor and are perfect for storytelling.

Go to any festival and you will undoubtedly see a few nostalgic buses as a food truck. All cars with a great favor factor and an experience-rich life behind them. They’re almost cute, those HY buses, Volkswagen’s T2s and T3s, or those old Ford Transit’s with a nose for the windshield. But the Renault Estafette and the Peugeot J9 also still make mankind happy and give me, as a marketer, direct inspiration for the best advertising concepts. Again, if I were the creative director of a large advertising agency, I would know and tonight I would be drawing playful Volkswagen vans in a cool concept. Company buses have had a rich life, offer numerous starting points for striking campaigns and are more than once part of the story of the entrepreneur himself. Marketing inspiration on all sides.

Again, if I were the creative director of a large advertising agency, I would know and I would be drawing playful Volkswagen vans in a cool concept tonight

Cocktail

Reality is different. Much less is advertised for a company car. This week, Adfact reported Fiat as an advertiser and this morning Volkswagen was on the radio. We will see that in the report next week. Incidentally, “VW” was on air with a very nice spot. A commercial that will touch the target group in terms of tone, but certainly also with a smart and positive offer in the current context. Because if I buy a Volkswagen bus now, I get a 50% discount on my financial lease. At a time when entrepreneurs are struggling, this is a nice offer. Pay for your new bus per month and receive a nice discount on it.

Look, then as an entrepreneur you will also start calculating in these difficult times, that new company car might come after all. A smart move by the German brand, because you can give huge discounts in the current situation, the current cash flow of enterprising Netherlands makes the financial lease construction much more attractive. And if you do something (really) extra there, you get customers. It could therefore just be that the company car market can still make a nice final sprint if the company car brands link good financial lease propositions to catchy creation. Listening to the market plus creating the right conditions for purchase together with raising awareness is in any case the cocktail that brings van manufacturers sales. In any case, more orders than have been written per month to date. Especially if the advertising agency also provides this opportune brew with a really creative flavor.

Delayed buying

Finally, there is something else that can make the order books for company cars open more often. Since the beginning of this year, many companies have put the purchase of a new van for a while. Cash flow was the priority. In the meantime, the existing buses continue to run. Many companies active in construction, installation technology, catering, logistics or retail have recently been unable to work from home. After all, you don’t build a house remotely and the leaking rain gutter does not close with telecommuting. The company cars have therefore simply driven the necessary kilometers, have come closer to the convenient replacement time. And with three hundred and seventy thousand kilometers on the clock, the daily work drive may start to get a bit exciting.

The automotive industry can thus respond further to this in the coming period with smart marketing. After all, postponing can still take a few months, at a certain point buses that have been in use for five or perhaps six years will start to show signs of repair and the moment of replacement, economic contraction or not, is really near. Also because of the postponed replacement, opportunities are on the horizon for commercial vehicle sellers. Opportunities that can be converted into van orders with smart propositions in the spirit of the times and striking advertising. That is another reason why it pays to resume B2B marketing. The creative brain of the advertising agency will soon have something on the top idea. The right business to business marketing cocktail was probably already figured out.

Jos van den Bergh (1973) worked for almost 20 years in various PR & communication positions in the automotive industry and nowadays advises with his company MediaMondo automotive and media parties in the field of marketing communication, PR and media. He is also a dealer marketing advisor to BranchePartners in Houten. For MarketingTribune he critically follows the developments in the automotive world. Do you also need marketing advice? Mail Jos without obligation at jjbergh@gmail.com

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