10 Creative Auto Dealer Promotion Ideas to Sell More Cars

With everyone glued to the Internet these days, it’s become increasingly more difficult for car dealers to capture people’s attention by traditional means. Wild and exciting tactics of the past don’t cut it anymore in today’s instant, on-demand society. While the inflatable tube man on the side of the road is eye-catching, it fails to explain why your dealership is different or unique to the general public. That’s where the creativity comes in.

10 Creative Auto Dealer Promotion Ideas to Sell More Cars

The best deals today are born out of creativity.

But all is not lost! Increasing dealership visibility just takes some fresh ideas and a little bit of creative marketing to pull off, and you’ll be on your way to capturing more eyeballs in a flash. ActivEngage has curated a list of 10 creative promotion ideas for you to try at your dealership.

These incentive ideas can result in increased sales across dealership departments, helping you reach your goals.

Anytime you try something new, you’re bound to run into challenges along the way. But the most significant upside to giving any of these new ideas a shot is the response you’re going to get back from your customers. You’ll learn more about what they like and what they don’t, and you’ll be able to use that new insight to craft even better promotions in an ever-escalating process.


#1: Hot Ticket Raffle Incentives

Certainly not a new concept, raffles are a proven marketing tactic that has stuck around the dealership since cars had wheels. The reason? They’re exciting! Who wouldn’t want to win a big screen tv or the hottest new Apple gadget? The gamification aspect of a raffle is enticing, and if you include a hot ticket item as the raffle prize, that’s a recipe for success.


#2: Offer Free Car Washes for Lease Deals

A Car Lease with a Bonus? Yes Please.

Simply put, customers who lease vehicles want a great-looking car with all the upgrades. They value that new car smell and are always looking towards the new models. So why not incentivize them to sign that new lease deal with unlimited free car washes? It will not only keep customers coming back to your dealership, but it will continually make your customers look and feel great too!

10 Creative Auto Dealer Promotion Ideas to Sell More Cars

#4: Give Free Gift Cards with Test Drives

Car shoppers love the test drive, but getting them into the driver’s seat isn’t an easy task. Once they get past that point in the purchase process, they are more likely to become customers. So why not incentivize the test drive?

The Best Car Deals Right Now Aren’t Always Deep Discounts

One of the most popular promotions for ActivEngage’s behavioral-offer tool ActivTarget is the gift card test-drive offer. Dealers have found that online shoppers convert on an offer (typically a $25 gas card) and book a test drive appointment typically for the same day. These kinds of simple deals are proving to be a real asset for car dealerships today.


#5: Themed Car Sales Events

Customers and prospects alike love a well-done theme. From winter wonderlands to tropical islands, a well-done theme can transform the look and feel of your dealership, making it a more welcoming place to do business.

Tie in rock-solid promotions with your theme, and you’ve got a hit (hint: share themed posts on social media for an extra boost in foot traffic). Who wouldn’t love to crack open a coconut for a special offer during your Summer Surf n’ Sand Sales Event? Sign me up!

Be the dealership that pops up when someone searches for ‘car sales near me’

When you do a big themed sales event, make sure you put considerable digital marketing out in advance so that people who are searching for car sales will find you quickly. You wouldn’t want to put together a big event just for it to pass by without anyone experiencing it.

#3: Host a Social Media Giveaway Promotion

Showcase your new car deals on social media

What better place is there to get visibility these days than on social media? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it - your customers are on it. Like raffles geared towards specific promotions, leveraging social media adds an extra element that can help increase your reach dramatically.

People will engage for a chance at your best car deals

By requiring people to interact with your giveaway posts (likes, shares, retweets, etc), you increase your reach as your offer appears in front of an entirely new customer audience. Additionally, because it’s also a relatively low cost, you could run several social media giveaway campaigns at once for things as simple as a car wash or oil change.


#6: Holiday Season Bonus Incentives

Holidays are Prime Opportunities for Car Deals

Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and others are the best car dealership opportunities around. Not only are customers looking for deals to take advantage of, but they’re also a great time to test out marketing ideas and events.

10 Creative Auto Dealer Promotion Ideas to Sell More Cars

Use the holiday seasons to try a unique bonus incentive like extra money off of a new car purchase, free at-home delivery, or maybe even a free car giveaway! Because the holidays are the times when customers are looking for major car sales, that makes them the perfect option to try some new deals or offers.


#7: Customer Appreciation Events

Customer acquisition costs are very high. So why not avoid some of that heartache and take care of the customers you already have? Not many dealerships are offering customer appreciation incentives, and it’s an opportunity that can really boost sales.

Fixed ops is ideally the place to focus heavily on since current customers likely aren’t in the market to buy a vehicle again just yet. You can increase your service sales by treating customers to a free car wash or a free tire rotation with their appointment. Why? Because they’ll more likely be a return customer if they continually feel valued by your dealership.


#8: Free Rental Car for Service Appointments

Incentives that Keep Customers Coming Back

People lead busy lives. From soccer practice to appointments to work, nobody has time to sit around at a dealership while their car gets worked on. A simple gesture like a free car rental can take your service experience from good to great.

Rental Car Sales Anyone?

And if you use a nice new car as your rental, customers may also be interested in making a trade for that new model car too. It could almost serve as an unofficial test drive!


#9: Offer a Cash Bonus for Vehicle Trade-Ins

More than anything else, customers want to feel valued. A great way to show your commitment to customers is to value their trade-in higher than the average value. You can boost the car value up by a percentage or by a dollar amount. Still, however you choose to do it, you need to make customers aware that you included those savings into their deals.

Customers will appreciate seeing that extra cash as a line item in their deal. Giving them a printout at the end of the sales process showing all their savings is highly recommended.


#10: Service Package Giveaways

The best sales driver for your dealership is your service center, so anything you can do to increase business there will impact your dealership in the most significant way. A great way to get engagement here is to enter customers into a special service giveaway only if they book an appointment.

Brainstorming similar promotion ideas around fixed ops has two main advantages. First, it shows customers what kinds of bundled services you offer at your dealership, and second, it gives customers a reason to book an appointment beyond obligatory vehicle maintenance.


With great incentives comes the need for great reporting.

After you’ve implemented a new promotion, you have to know if your ideas truly made a difference for your bottom line. Surveys are an increasingly important tool for uncovering marketing successes.

You need to know specifically if the promotion was a contributing factor to the customer’s decision to visit (and ultimately purchase from) the dealership. If you find that the promotion wasn’t a factor among most customers, knowing why becomes the next important element to uncover. Your customer’s direct feedback should become the ultimate roadmap for your next promotional campaign since customer preferences tend to vary by region and brand.


Ultimately, the best car deals for you will be the ones you can implement into your sales process.

You know your dealership better than anyone and are in the best position to make creative marketing decisions for your brand. From free offers to seasonal events and beyond, creating a successful promotional campaign is all about continually working out new ideas and then listening to customer feedback.

ActivEngage is here to manage digital communications with shoppers and customers alike throughout the customer’s buying process. We also work with you to showcase dealership promotions or events during our conversations and even have the capabilities to book complete service appointments.

Give us a call at 1-888-970-0177 to learn more about how ActivEngage can help!