Nashville Niche Auto Dealer Nets Nice Results With Radio

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(By Rob Dumke) When you walk into a Global Motorsports showroom, General Manager Larry Thorne wants it to be a good, memorable experience. From the “boutique hotel” lobby feel to the attentive staff who will host a customer through the full purchase, Thorne strives to convey that experience in his radio campaigns. He tells Radio Ink that he has found his “niche” with the Cromwell Radio Group Nashville cluster of stations — especially with Sports Talk and Sports radio.

Radio Ink: Global Motorsports is not your typical car dealership. How are you different?
Thorne: We specialize in late model, high-end imports that are pre-owned, two to three years old. Most of our inventory are one-owner lease returns with a factory warranty balance. Sold brand new, a lot of our cars were 40 to 80 grand, and we sell them from 20 to 40 grand preowned. That’s our niche. We are in affluent communities that are value-minded. If a person can invest in a two- to three- year-old car and save 40 to 50 percent off what the car would cost new, that’s a good opportunity for them.

Radio Ink: Sports Talk, Sports, and Talk radio have been successful for you. Why do you use those formats for your message?
Thorne: I think people listening to [music] radio will quickly go to another station when a song ends and a commercial comes on. I think that Sports Talk radio or a game will hold listeners. You know, if I’m just listening to music, I’ll bounce all over the place when a commercial comes on. With Sports radio and Talk radio, I stay engaged and don’t change the channel.

I think that sticks true to the success we’ve had with people hearing our message. I think if I was just putting my ad in the middle of a regular playlist at a specific time of the day, I don’t think we would have the success that we have experienced.

Radio Ink: What Nashville stations do you use, and why?
Thorne: 102.5 WPRT-FM, The Game. I like their message — they have local guys, local athletes, and shows that are engaging and that you don’t want to leave. That was what motivated me to do something with them. Also, we participate on the radio with the Nashville Predators NHL team, with the postgame show, and the “Predators Report” the following day. We have an attachment to the hockey community that has really grown down here.

The other Cromwell Group Nashville station we use is 102.9 WBUZ-FM, The Buzz. We advertise during morning drive on a show that has a consistent audience and a good following. The show keeps me interested and engaged. Also, from an industry standpoint, we advertise on a local Talk radio station in town. That has given us the same kind of success that we see from our Sports Talk radio affiliations.

Radio Ink: What do you like about working with Jana Hampton and her Cromwell Radio Group Nashville team?
Thorne: The thing about Jana and her team is that they are engaged and involved in our business, almost like a business partner. They are almost like an advertising manager for our dealership. You know that they are part of our team, working with the team to make sure our message is heard the way it should be. I don’t get that from anybody else I deal with. They are so far ahead of the others in our community. They all call on me, but her team is the best, and no doubt I think Jana is the reason why.

Radio Ink: How do you know your radio ads are getting results?
Thorne: We did a campaign with me having a conversation on the radio with the customer; it was just me talking to them. So many people started telling me that they heard me on the radio. Or I would be talking to someone in the showroom and a person would say, “I knew that was you because I recognized your voice from the radio.”

Just that feedback, that word of mouth from the customer, made me realize that radio was working well for us. People recognized me, our brand, and that we were reachable and part of the community. That had great value to us and our business. Jana and her crew were instrumental in making that happen.

Radio Ink: How important is it to have a good, top-of-mind, awareness type of message on the radio?
Thorne: Time is a valuable asset, and we recognize that our clients are incredibly busy. We cater to a busy family, a family that doesn’t want to spend the good part of a day buying a car. That is our message that Jana helped me develop and that convinced me to go forward with radio advertising.

We put together a campaign with us sitting in front of the production guy and just talking about what we sell and how we do it. In one commercial I said that we recognize that time is very important to our customers, so once we have selected a vehicle, we can have someone out of the store, enjoying their car, in 20 minutes or less. That message became stuck. Within days of that, I had people coming into the showroom telling a salesman that: “All right, I’ve picked out a car. You’ve got 20 minutes.” Feedback like that shows you that people are hearing and paying attention to our ads on the radio.

Radio Ink: What is your advice to people considering radio advertising?
Thorne: Get involved with a local radio station or group. It means a lot, being a local business owner. They stay engaged with a lot of charity events. You see the same faces, and you know the people who are there. Being locally owned and invested in the community, being involved, creates a level of reciprocation that I think clients appreciate. There is a trust level there that you want them to do well because they want you to do well.

I know that local business owners that buy cars from us share that with us all the time. I’d say to give it a try, with a consistent and persistent effort to let radio do what it is capable of doing. Give it a sufficient time window to actually give your voice time to be heard.

Thanks to Jana Hampton, Market Manager, Cromwell Radio Group,
Nashville; 615.399.1029, [email protected] cromwellradio.com

Larry Thorne, Global Motorsports, Nashville, 615.661.5512 [email protected]
motorsportsinc.com

Rob Dumke is Associate Editor at Radio Ink.

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