When it comes to auto loans, marketing to consumers has never been easy. Manufacturers spend the last five seconds of their car commercials putting monthly payment estimates and interest rates in big type against a sea of fine print. Banks and consumer finance companies mention auto loans in the same breath as mortgages, credit cards, and other products on their menus. We recently wrote about Navy Federal Credit Union's auto loan commercial, which was the first time in a long time that we'd noticed a financial institution touting its auto finance program to consumers.
It's always been easier to dangle a cool new car as a means of enticing consumers rather than a loan application. And compared with mortgages and credit cards, auto loans generally do not make up a significant portion of most lenders' lending activity.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't opportunities out there for lenders to use unconventional marketing tactics to promote themselves.
Even the most prolific advertisers are looking for new ways to promote their products to consumers. Take Pepsi, for example. One of the world's largest spenders on advertising, Pepsi recently rolled out a new campaign to promote its Pepsi Next product. But rather than pay a celebrity endorser, or compare itself to its largest competitor, the company went a different route. It partnered with TaskRabbit, a start-up company that runs errands for people, to give them an hour of free time. Pepsi chooses 50 winners each week, and they receive an hour's worth of errand running and a free case of Pepsi Next.
"We're going to do an hour of your chores so you have time to enjoy Pepsi Next," the ad reads.
This is an example of a great campaign for auto lenders. Instead of picking winners to enjoy drinking Pepsi Next for an hour, a lender could offer to do chores for someone who wants to fill out a loan application. Or for someone who wants to talk about getting an auto loan. Giving customers the gift of time is a great idea. Let them go to a dealership and ask questions instead of worrying about the dry cleaning or laundry.
I remember being at a bank marketing conference a number of years ago, when everyone was in love with Umpqua Bank. The bank was using a lot of retail techniques and strategies to woo consumers, and the banking industry had started to take notice. I don't remember who the speaker was, it may have been the CEO at the time, but he said that if Umpqua saw an idea it liked that someone else was using, the bank copied it. "I think that it always pays to look at what is happening in other industries," said CEO Ray Davis in this article.
If giving people an hour of time is working for Pepsi, maybe it will work for auto lenders, too.