Operation Desert Storm
“What do you do…You’re in the middle of the biggest retail campaign of the year and Mother nature decides to unleash with one of the most extreme weather events on record?”
Picture this, it’s late Friday afternoon and I’m starting to wind down as I chat with my client Todd Collie on the phone. Todd is the GM at Far West Auto in Broken Hill and we’re discussing the progress of their Annual Clearance Sale campaign. Todd is very happy, with 34 cars sold in 11 days. The campaign message is really resonating, thanks to a successful media mix including TV, Letterbox, Press and Social Media marketing. The campaign finance offer of 4.95% is proving a real hit and they’re in the running to give their all-time record of 83 cars a shake. Everything is going to plan, and as we end our conversation, I look forward to the stress-free weekend ahead.
Enter Mother Nature.
It’s around 7pm when I hear the phone ring. It’s Todd calling. As I answer the call, I can hear the devastation in Todd’s voice.
“The Sale is over. Everything has gone to sh*t. We’ve just had billiard ball sized hail smash our cars”.
One of biggest recorded hail storms has just passed through Broken Hill causing extensive damage to the town and leaving thousands of homes and businesses without power. Not only does it look like their Annual Sale is over, but they now have 113 hail affected cars. Who is going to buy them?
Cool heads prevail
The phone call from Todd certainly wasn’t one I was expecting. I’d be lying if I said I had the all answers for Todd right then and there. What I did know was that we needed to work through this situation methodically and advised the client to keep calm.
Once I had my head around the issue, we identified the need replace their Annual Clearance Sale campaign with a new campaign focused on the hail affected vehicles. This new strategy also relied on Far West Auto being the first hail affected dealer to market, so that we could get first access to a limited pool of potential bargain buyers. We were confident that with aggressive discounting the stock would appeal to these bargain hunters. We also wanted to capitalise on the ‘buzz about town’ by launching the new campaign while the freak weather event was still a hot topic in Broken Hill.
The clean-up begins
Within two days we had a full-page press ad in the paper, a Facebook paid campaign, an Email campaign to the customer database and an MMS campaign to the customer’s mobile phones alerting them of the big savings for those who acted quickly.
Within four days of the hail storm hitting, we were on TV with a media buy including 6pm news, prime time drama, live sport and the breakfast shows (Sunrise & Today).
Our client was inundated with inquiries and sold a further 83 cars by the end of November, achieving a total of 117 vehicle sales for the month – a new record.
What did the client have to say?
“The guys at our agency were terrific. The calmly mapped out a plan for us, and then they got us to market 2.5 weeks ahead of the other dealers in town. They were really agile and turned our work around very quickly. We had sold 60 odd cars before the others even got going”.
Todd Collie, General Manager
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