Running a Print Ad Campaign for Your Car Dealership

The Thrills, the Chills, and What Not to Do

It’s tough to stand out from the crowd. This is particularly true in the world of automotive dealerships, because so many consumers are convinced by car commercials that it’s what you buy, not where you buy it, that counts.

Standing out is so challenging that it can sometimes make us do crazy things, like agree to get hit in face with cream pies, or decide that having top salespeople rapping about our great deals in a commercial is a fantastic concept. In fact, we might even decide that a little edgy political or religious satire is just the thing we need to get the ball rolling…

Fortunately, there is a better way.

Visually compelling print advertising can go miles towards putting your dealership’s image at the forefront of people’s thoughts without the risk of scandal or national attention for doing something like declaring “a jihad on the automotive market.”

Recently, marketplace watchdogs have noticed a troubling trend in dealership advertising: despite the fact that car manufacturers’ go to great lengths to brand their vehicles in attractive, appealing ways, car dealerships all seem to do the same song and dance, with no eye whatsoever towards creating a unique brand for their business.


The most economical and effective way to begin branding your dealership is through a print ad campaign. Print ads are much less expensive than TV commercials. You can create an entire branded print package for the price of one 30-second commercial, and the money you save can go towards advertising online – another area where you can no longer afford to be left in the dust.

To get started on the branding process, find a print designer to work with you on developing things like graphics, slogans, and even color schemes that will, from now on, be synonymous with your dealership.

Think about how you want customers to perceive your business: as laid-back and funny, or as slick and trend-savvy? Are you best represented by bold, bright colors, or by cool shades of blue and silver? By a cartoon lion driving a Mazda, or ultra-chic models cruising in BMWs?

All these choices translate into a statement about who you are and the values you represent, and they can all be conveyed through print advertising like banners, brochures, posters, stickers, and even more unorthodox channels, like table tent displays at clubs and restaurants, or hang tags that can go just about anywhere.

Vehicle Wraps

Another cool trend is to pimp out the company cars with full-color vehicle wraps. Vehicle wraps are traveling advertisements. They look as slick as custom paint-jobs, but they can be changed whenever you like.

Maybe the idea of a vehicle wrap doesn’t seem to make sense when what you're trying to sell is the car that has now been covered up by the wrap, but if you get serious about branding your dealership, you’ll be selling so much more than the car – you’ll be selling a whole lifestyle, an experience that only YOU can provide.

Imagine a vehicle wrap that is designed to look like the inside of a car. It shows all the parts under the hood, all the storage space in the trunk, and maybe the kids in the back, play-fighting or watching DVDs on the in-car player. What’s the message? It's that at your dealership, transparency is the word of the day. No tricks, no hidden agendas: what you see is what you get.

You’ll also want to make sure that your website address is well-displayed on all your print advertising. The internet is, after all, where people go for information. If you don’t have a website yet, stop relying on the sites of car manufacturers to do the work for you! These guys won’t send customers to you over any of your competitors!

One Smooth Move

Beginning to brand your dealership can sound like a lot of work. After all, how are you supposed to coordinate all these designers, printers, and web programmers? Fortunately, there are print and design services available that do it all. For example, Hot Cards is not only your best source for low cost printing on the web, it’s also an award-winning print design AND web design service.

That means that you don’t have to worry about your brand ideas getting messed up by a middle man. With a design and printing service like Hot Cards, you can get it all done in one place, with the help of one friendly team. And it still costs less than a commercial!

This series of articles is being published by Hot Cards as a resource catering to our amazing variety of clients. If you have a printing question or interest specific to your industry or specialzation, let us know, and we'll work on featuring it here.