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JUNE 14, 2021

Tier10 helps Honda dealers outperform national amidst the pandemic

Leading advertising agency leverages innovative strategy to help Honda and Acura dealers overcome challenges wrought by the global pandemic.

The year 2020 perfectly fits the annus horribilis moniker for many reasons. In the automotive industry, the global pandemic and the stringent measures to curb it had a devastating impact.

In a spiral effect, the disruption of exports of Chinese car parts, large-scale manufacturing interruptions across the world, and the closure of assembly plants in the United States crippled one of the biggest employers in the country.

It was against this backdrop that Tier10, one of the premier auto marketing agencies collaborated with Honda and Acura dealers and dealership associations in an innovative pivot strategy that helped steer these auto businesses through the tumult.

Speaking during a review of the industry, Dave Waikem, co-owner of Waikem Auto Family and president of Northern Ohio Honda Dealers Association (NOHDA) was grateful for the partnership with Tier10. “Looking back on 2020, change was the only constant and disruption was the new normal for the auto industry. We take pride in Honda’s being built in Ohio but all of a sudden production lines came to a halt,” remarked Waikem. 

“Dealerships were mandated to close and inventory began to thin. Our business had to adapt and evolve in pace with consumers and Tier10 channeled their talented team and many resources to help us through this challenging time,” he added.

“Without skipping a beat, Tier10 had impactful creative replacing our standard Sales Event messaging to kick off selling season, keywords that educated customers on home deliveries, deferred payment and shopping online, reworked budgets to anticipate declines we were not anticipating when we planned 2020,” Dave concluded.

The Tier10 Survival Strategy

Like other businesses, dealerships were in turmoil amidst the unpredictability of the COVID-19 guidelines. It was a fluid situation where dealers had to survive in a backdrop of regularly changing guidelines.

Tier10 came in as a Godsend with a strategy to continue the dealership’s relationship with their clients. One of the first strategies was in changing the messaging to the customers. For instance, in handling the expiring leases, Tier10 doubled down on the dealerships’ lease mailer strategy where budgets allowed.

The marketing team shrunk the expiring lease pool from 12 months to 6 months. Sometimes they also included same-brand models rather than the typical just conquest models.

Another innovative strategy was to quickly adapt to the changing consumer needs by dedicating more funds on Used Car Sales and CPO sales. The consumers’ financial crunch caused a change in lifestyle changes and this was one reason Honda/Acura new cars fell 26%.

With more consumers resulting to used car and Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles, the team at Tier10 -which normally does not spend on this market – channeled more funds here. The goal was to drive revenue upwards for the clients and reduce the effects of the pandemic.

While Tier10 had just kicked off a massive National Campaign Dream Garage campaign in 2020, the marketing leader quickly realized this was not appropriate for the times. This called for a quick review, which resulted into a change of the marketing message.

An alternative approach with more empathy was launched with a series of “Let us take care of you” campaign. The idea was to create a connection between the Honda and Acura dealerships with their customers.

The marketing agency used localized footage which emphasized caring measures such as the 90-day deferred payment, safe health practices and clarification on business opening status or availability of home deliveries.

Ultimately, the change in strategy was an enormous success for Honda and Acura Tier 2 Dealers and also for the marketing agency. Tier10 leveraged its versatility, creativity, dedication to clients and an ability to pivot daily/weekly, monthly as pandemic situation unfolded.

By working closely with dealership managers to determine how state rules were affecting dealerships operations and inventory levels, it was easier to deploy the best strategies for the client. Tier10 also helped dealers connect to their communities with donations, sponsorships, and other community/social activities.

The Maine Honda Dealers Association and NOHDA were able to outperform Honda National and also increase their share of zone during this tough period.