The Best Investment a Car Dealership Could Ever Make: Customized Freebies
A while ago, my girlfriend bought a brand-spanking new Honda Fit. It was the first car she ever owned, so needless to say she was pretty excited about the purchase. The sale went off without a hitch, but what struck me most was the free teddy bear that came with the car. The dealership included a cute little brown teddy bear that was wearing a teddy bear-sized t-shirt with the name of the dealership. My better half had dropped tens of thousands of dollars on this brand new car, but for some reason she got attached to the little bear. She refused to throw it out and kept it in the back seat of the car. It has since migrated to the trunk, where it greets us every time we load up groceries.
I always thought it was odd that she wanted to hang onto the teddy bear, but now that I look back on it I think I understand her reasoning. Basically, she came to associate the excitement of buying a new car with the teddy bear, so every time she looked at it she got that exciting new car feel. Image source: Stephaniecirihal.com
Amazingly, the teddy bear was the one freebie that she remembered the most. It wasn't the warranty or the offer for discounted transmission tune-ups that stuck with her the most -- it was a goofy-looking stuffed animal. That's the power of freebies. They may set car dealerships back a few bucks, but it's well worth it if it can purchase the enthusiasm and loyalty of a lifelong customer.
But as great as the teddy bear was, I really think that the car dealership missed out on an opportunity. The teddy bear just doesn't have a lot of marketing power because there are only two people who ever see it. They really should have given her a custom t-shirt. That way, she would have kept the positive association with the dealership while also advertising the dealership to the public every time she put on the shirt.
Dealerships could also hand out hats, jackets, polo shirts, or any other type of customizable clothing. It certainly wouldn't be as weird as some of the other oddball promotional deals out there -- an Alabama car dealership made headlines earlier this year when he offered a free gun with the purchase of a car.
If you own a car dealership, then you should really take a look at custom clothing options. Including freebies with part of a purchase can help secure a lifelong customer as the happy car owner recommends your dealership to friends and family. And unlike other freebie items, custom hats and shirts are the best way to advertise your brand through consumer-driven word of mouth marketing.
Think of custom clothing as an investment for the future. Including a free hat or a free shirt might set you back a measly five or ten bucks, but it will more than pay itself off in the long run if you can win a repeat customer.