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Dealerships take a northern approach to marketing.

Dealerships take a northern approach to marketing

Marketing to Northern Ontario consumers requires a specific approach, according to Doug Murdoch, owner and manager of Tilden Rent-A-Car in Kirkland Lake.

Two years ago Murdoch decided the Montreal-based company's advertising plan did not reach the market he and other dealers in Northern Ontario serviced. The north has 30 dealers in 24 communities.

"We wanted more local flavor in our advertising," Murdoch said in a telephone interview, "and with the blessing of the head office we went ahead with the idea."

The current marketing strategy for Northern Ontario dealerships was developed and implemented by Lakehill Advertising and Design Inc. of Sudbury. Kirk Petersen, co-owner of Lakehill, said the new strategy gives the region's dealerships more say, greater flexibility and more effective use of their advertising dollars.

"In the past there was a mass duplication of effort on the part of the dealerships and the national campaign," said Petersen. "There wasn't the congruency that you need for a strong, effective advertising campaign."

Murdoch agreed the new system offers better use of the dealerships' advertising budgets.

"We didn't have a concerted effort," said Murdoch. "Now all the advertising bookings are done through Lakehill."

"In the past, national campaigns divided the market on a scale of A to G and Northern Ontario usually fell somewhere near E or F," Petersen said. "Advertising efforts here were very peripheral.

"Now the managers have so much more say in where the dollars are going and what they do."

Under the marketing plan developed by Lakehill's creative forces, the region's Tilden dealerships received a new slogan "We know the North," as well as product advertising in print, radio and television media, plus point-of-sale and direct mail material.

According to Petersen, the strategy took about five months to develop and launch. The initial thrust of the campaign was to heighten Tilden's profile among businessmen in Northern Ontario.

"One of the toughest things about the campaign was to reach the business market in Northern Ontario in the most cost-effective way possible," he said. "The problem was that we were working with such a vast area. There are 25,000 businesses and the major population centres are all spread out."

Lakehill's media-buying program includes North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay, as well as other communities.

Murdoch noted the change in marketing strategy did not mean the northern dealerships had broken away from the main corporate structure.

"The advertising still has to meet the criteria set down by the head office," he said, noting that there are other regions in British Columbia and Quebec which utilize similar strategies.
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Title Annotation:Auto Leasing Report; Tilden Rent-A-Car
Author:Krejlgaard, Chris
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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