Setting Your Dealership Marketing Budget for the new year

December 19th, 2022

It’s that time of year again. Time to look back and evaluate what went wrong, and what you did right. No one can really tell you what next year will bring, but somehow you’re expected to know and plan for it. A dealership marketing budget doesn’t define itself, you do.

Even if you aren’t a novice, it’s always good to review your process.

Evaluating 2022 Results

  • Do a retrospect of your total spend for the last year. Break it down by marketing channel and department (don’t be afraid to get into the details).
  • Create a spreadsheet to log your site traffic, appointments, leads, calls and sales together in one place. This will help you identify trends and correlations between these metrics.
  • Review your spend by month so you can identify months where you changed spend, added or removed advertising, or had sales initiatives or events. This will help you correlate website and sales activity with any changes. Quick tip: graphs are your friend here!
  • Take a look at where you won. Every win counts! This is a good indication of where you should continue to spend and evaluate channels you thought were doing better than they actually were. Don’t forget to evaluate parts and service marketing if applicable.
  • Having challenges assigning marketing credit for your sales? You might want to consider a measurement strategy that includes an attribution platform in your 2023 budget.

Once you have completed your evaluation, ask yourself…”Did you meet your goals and objectives in 2022?” ‘Was the budget enough?’ You will have new core objectives to consider for 2023, and if they include reaching more customers, increasing car sales, keeping up with the competition, and developing brand strategies to achieve exponential expansion… you may need to either increase budgets, or get more efficient. 


This used to be a lot easier. Now we have to contend with delays, allotments, chip shortages, inflation, cost of borrowing, technician shortages, aged inventory, and the used pricing rollercoaster. It’s a lot. Will larger budgets or different platforms for marketing be necessary to overcome these challenges? (Social seems to be getting less efficient.) Or will you need to shrink budgets to get through?

Start with the ask – what are the projected sales and revenue for 2023? With that goal in mind you can comb through 2022 results to get a handle on how much you’ll need to get there. If you have a budget shortfall for your goals, time to shake the trees.

Vendor/Internal Marketing Evaluations

This should be an ongoing process, but many dealerships make big sweeping decisions and live with them for the year. Instead, consider adopting a good measurement strategy for your marketing and vendors. Avoid locking into long contracts (unless they are a measured and proven supplier) so you have the flexibility to make changes when needed.

Performance isn’t the only metric. Are you comfortable with your vendors, are they good partners? There’s value in having a vendor partner who understands your role, your objectives, and your business. 

The beginning of a new year is a great time to set expectations and objectives with your vendor partners. Then you can evaluate together throughout the year (we recommend quarterly) to identify any shortcomings in your relationship or their performance as a vendor. 

Teamwork makes the dream work

Consult your internal teams, assess your resources and needs accordingly, and solicit feedback. You’ll get less pushback and complaining from stakeholders if they feel like they were involved in making your dealership marketing plan. Learn how they measure success and work to find a unified measurement strategy everyone can agree on.

It’s never too late for business-ready data

If your dealer isn’t using an attribution platform, take the leap. Measuring results and making data-backed decisions throughout the year will save you budget and time in 2023, and make planning 2024 way easier! 

There are many platforms available, but we invite you to take a look at DataSherpa. There are some very important and unique advantages to the platform:

  • DataSherpa will audit your analytics & website to identify data integrity issues and then fix the problems in implementation. You wouldn’t build a house on a foundation of quicksand, don’t build your measurement strategy on top of inaccurate data.
  • These audits can be done monthly at no cost. (Websites change!)
  • DataSherpa is completely customizable to your goals and objectives. Track the conversions you want to, not a cookie-cutter list. 
  • DataSherpa evolves with you. Every month you can change one of your conversion goals. 
  • We consider our clients – partners. Their feedback is helping us improve the platform with regular updates and new reports.

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