Car Commercials Don't Sell Cars

And Why That Matters More Than Ever

Car commercials don’t sell cars.

In fact, they’re not supposed to.

The job of a car commercial is to get you to the lot.

Once you’re on the lot, it’s the job of the sales rep to sell you the car.

Why does that matter?

Because what you say in a car commercial to get someone to come to the lot is a lot different than what the sale rep says to get you in the car.

Mastering Messaging Hierarchy

Messaging hierarchy is a simple marketing strategy whereby we outline our key marketing messages across the purchasing process, ensuring we are effectively evolving our message as prospects progress.

In the case of buying a car, it might look something like this:

  • The car commercial focuses on outcome, showing you someone living a rich, rewarding life and implying it’s because of the vehicle they’re driving. Along the way, they hit on one or two key value propositions (“2021 MotorTrend Car of the Year”) and introduce a sense of scarcity (“Now through March, starting at just X…”).

  • Once you’re on the lot, the sale rep focuses on tailoring the features and benefits to you, by probing to better understand your motivations and obstacles. Their primary goal is to get you in the car for a test drive, at which point they rattle off features and benefits and positively reinforce your building emotional attachment.

And it doesn’t end there, as the message will continue to be evolved as you negotiate a price, decide to buy, meet with their finance department, etc.

Putting It All Together

When it comes to whatever you’re selling, how are you evolving the message as your customer converts?

If car commercials don’t sell cars, it might just be time to revisit your own marketing to ensure you’re meaningfully evolving your message as a prospect progresses through the decision making process.

Editor’s Note

Kanahoma is an education marketing agency based in San Diego, California. We live, work, and play at the intersection of beautiful brand creative and effective direct response marketing. 

You can learn more about what we do and how we do it at

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