Why do dealers advertise cars they don’t have?

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picture: Jason Torchinsky/Jalopnik

Welcome back to Ask Car Buying! Send us your questions about how to navigate this complicated market and we’ll do our best to help. This week we’re discussing why dealers are putting ads on the air for cars they can’t sell you,

“I was curious to get your opinion on this. I have seen and heard many ads on TV and radio for summer sales, financing deals, etc. For example, toyota is running ads for finance deals on the new rav4 hybrids, just come down!

I’m in the market for a car and know for a fact that there are no Rav4 hybrids available on dealer lots anywhere in my area and no inventory coming in that hasn’t already been sold.

Why bother to run ads?

If you have people knocking on your door to pick up cars, why bother doing any of this?

I have been puzzled by this very much especially many of the dealers in my area have a handful of cars in their place. still, I still hear their commercials on the radio. It seems like a waste of money from a business perspective to keep paying for these slots. However, there are some explanations for this.

The first of which has to do with how local businesses secure and pay for advertising. There are usually several media companies in an area that control advertising on various radio and television stations, so if you want to get the word out about your company, you should use one of these agencies. Often these agencies will sell advertising– packages of different time games based on time periods that can be several months or up to several years. If a company locks in an advertising campaign for several years, they get better rates for their ad spots. Since car dealerships are a staple of local advertising, they will usually enter into these long-term deals with better rates, plus if they were to turn their ads around at times like this, they could be putting businesses at risk. others to take electronic games. So in some respects, while marketers don’t really need to run ads now they are playing the long game when the market changes and their airtime will be more critical.

Of course, that doesn’t explain why a dealer would advertise a finance offer on a car they don’t have, but dealers have agreements with automakers to mention those “specials” in their local ads. So if Toyota is running a national campaign for low financing in April for the RAV4, the local shop will use it in their ad regardless of whether they have a RAV4 to sell you.

The bottom line is that marketers want to sell you SOMETHING even if it’s not what you want. They know the RAV4 is the most in-demand car, so by focusing advertising on that model, they’re more likely to get buyers in the door. Remember, many car buyers are not as internet savvy as the readers on this site and may not double check online inventory. Some people still buy cars the “old school” way and go to the showroom because they heard about a sale on the radio or TV. Of course when these people show up only to find no RAV4 available, the salesperson will do their best to convince the customer to buy what is actually available.

Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. It takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. Have a question about buying a car? Send it to [email protected]

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