I was in Bristol last week to run some focus groups and I got there early enough to stretch my legs round the city centre. I couldn’t miss the massive Mercedes promotional set-up in the middle of the main shopping area, complete with three or four cars, a big event structure thingummyjig and a lot of staff. It was obviously one of those brand-on-tour activities that is hosted by different dealerships around the country. But something didn’t seem quite right, so I sat down on a nearby bench for a good nosey.
I’d imagine that a good car salesman can suss out the potential of any buyer almost as soon as they walk through the door of the dealership with a fair degree of accuracy. Planners and researchers probably have a similar skill set thanks to years of figuring out respondents and more general people watching. Believe me, at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon in the less glamorous end of Bristol the luxury hatchback target audience was very thin on the ground.
But the promotional girls just weren’t sharp enough, assertive enough and/or experienced enough to weed out the gawpers from the potential buyers. Yes, I’m quite sure they were hired promotional hands as they all had matching hairdos (just call me Sherlock). These girls also needed reminding of the PM basics like not taking their breaks wearing full uniform or spending their time on duty chatting to each other <sigh>.
The thing is, these sort of events don’t come cheap. Taking into account the six promo girls (all armed with iPads), four Mercedes staff, getting the vehicles on site, ground fees to the local council and paying a share of the stand build and project management fees, I think each day of activity would cost the best part of £3-4K.
Which means that each dealership probably needs to sell two cars for each day of activity just to break even. I don’t know what the test-drive-to-sale conversion rate is, but you’d better hope those promo girls were doing the rest of their job properly.