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How true is the slick, oily car salesman stereotype? As a dealership marketing manager, you know that your sales people are trying to get that commission – but you also know that sales staff works hard to get customers into safe, cost-effective vehicles that provide value for the price.

Of course you want to provide great products for your customers. You know as well as anyone that if you fail to do so, your lots are going to be empty. Between the internet and word of mouth, a few bad transactions or bad products can lead to several hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Even if you work at a large, high-quality dealership, you may feel hit with that car salesman stereotype. The way sales people in general are viewed makes it difficult to cross that barrier when you’re trying to develop marketing materials that really bring in the right kind of customer for your dealership.

So, how do you deal with the car salesman stereotype in marketing materials?

Make fun of it.

Few things work the way humor does. Imagine an oil car salesman in cartoon form being chased around your lot by your company “mascot”, should you have one. If you use an image like this in your marketing materials, you can communicate trust to customers in a very interesting, engaging way.

Creating a separation in a consumer’s mind about good versus bad, and assigning your staff and products the role of “good” communicates trust. If you think that customers don’t latch on to these kinds of images and store them subconsciously, think again. This is how marketing works. What you see and internalize, sticks with you.

Communicate good value.

If you make a list of all the bad qualities of a stereotypical car salesman, you’ll also see potential for another list – one where you communicate all the qualities that are OPPOSITE of a stereotypical car salesman. These are qualities that you can use in a value proposition to engage your customers in trust.

Set a precedent.

Get your competitor’s ads and see how they’re addressing this issue. Do they mention the role of the car salesman? How do they deal with this issue? Take note of what your competitors are doing, and go one step above that. You may be surprised to find that many of your competitors aren’t using images of a car salesman and his/her role in the selling process at all. This may be a great jumping off point for new campaign advertising.

Whatever you decide to do, you’re going to see more people come through your doors if you understand how to cross commonly held stereotypes and build trust with your customers. By engaging them to see your sales people as engaging folks who really care about their customers, you’ll buck the stereotypes and increase your bottom line.