How to Build a Successful Digital Media Plan

By Amber Cruickshank

Trying to keep your dealership top-of-mind in the ever-evolving world of digital automotive marketing can get complicated. There are so many options out there, making it hard to figure out the perfect recipe to make the secret sauce that inevitably puts you on top. As a Dealer trying to navigate the intricacies of digital marketing, being organized and having a well-crafted media plan is crucial to drive your success. 

What is a Media Plan? 

Think of a media plan like a roadmap for your dealership’s advertising and promotion. It’s a strategic plan that helps you figure out where, when, and how to reach your target audience with ads. Imagine you’re planning a big party, and you want to make sure everyone knows about it. You’d need to decide things like where to put up posters, when to send out invitations, and which social media platforms to use for spreading the word. A media plan is kind of like that but for advertising. When building a media plan for your dealership, you decide which advertising channels to use, like TV, radio, online ads, or billboards. 

How Do I Start Making a Digital Media Plan? 

To start building a successful digital media plan, it’s helpful to use the AIDA model, which can help you make the most of your advertising efforts. What exactly is AIDA? AIDA is a classic marketing funnel model that stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. It outlines the stages a customer goes through in the buying process:

  • Attention: Grab the prospect’s attention with a compelling message or advertising.
  • Interest: Once you have their attention, pique their interest by highlighting benefits and solutions.
  • Desire: Create a desire or need for the product or service by showcasing its value and unique selling points.
  • Action: Encourage the prospect to take action, typically making a purchase or another desired conversion, sealing the deal.

First Step – Grabbing Attention 

The first step in building a successful digital media plan for automotive dealers is to figure out how to grab your customer’s attention. Here, the primary objective is to create awareness through a variety of channels, including display, social media, and video marketing.

  • Objective – Awareness (Ad impressions, video views, website visits, etc)
  • Channels – Push marketing channels (Display, social, video)
  • Creative Strategy – Inspirational (Eye-catching, captivating, “I want to be that person,” “wow” factor. The goal is to grab your customer’s attention)

To effectively capture attention, car dealers must adopt an inspirational creative strategy. The content should be eye-catching, captivating, and evoke the “wow” factor. The goal is to make potential customers see something they’ve never seen before and make them want it. For instance, showcasing the latest car models in stunning visuals or highlighting innovative features that set the dealership apart from the competition can effectively grab attention.

Second Step – Piquing Interest

Once you’ve successfully grabbed your audience’s attention, it’s time to move them further down the funnel. This stage focuses on engaging potential customers and nurturing their interest. This stage is all about research, where push-and-pull marketing channels like display, video, social media, SEM, and remarketing come into play.

  • Objective – Engagement (key page views, time on site, number of pages visited, $/engagement, average video view length, etc.)
  • Channels: Push-and-pull marketing channels (Display, video, social, SEM, remarketing)
  • Creative Strategy: Discovery and exploratory (Showing/explaining the why, helping in research, features, etc)

In this stage, your creative strategy should provide content that assists potential buyers in their research, including videos or articles explaining the “why” behind your dealership, exploring various features and offerings, and addressing common questions. By delivering valuable information, you’re building trust and credibility, which are essential for turning interest into desire.

Third Step – Cultivating Desire

As potential customers progress through your marketing funnel, they start to develop a desire for what your car dealership offers. You want your audience to take concrete steps toward becoming customers. This is the time to employ pull marketing channels, such as highly targeted display ads, video marketing, social media, and SEM.

  • Objective – Action (leads, calls, sales, etc.)
  • Channels – Pull marketing channels (Very targeted display, video and social, and SEM)
  • Creative Strategy – Action-based (e.g. pricing, rates, sale, “limited time offer,” shop now, etc.)

At this stage, your creative strategy should be action-based. For example, you can promote pricing, financing rates, limited-time offers, and clear calls to action like “shop now” or “contact us today.” This is the moment when your audience is actively seeking information on how they can try, buy, and seal the deal. Make it easy for them to take the next steps.

Fourth Step – Take Action

The ultimate goal is to prompt your potential customers to take action. This action could be buying or leasing a vehicle, signing up for your newsletter, requesting more information, or any other desired response. You need to provide a clear and compelling call to action (CTA) that tells them what they should do next and how to do it.

  • Objective – Encourage the potential customer to take action, like scheduling a test drive or making a purchase.
  • Channels – Search, Display, and your website
  • Creative Strategy – Clear, defined CTA (“Schedule a Test Drive,” Contact Us,” “Start Your Deal,”…etc.)

Provide clear and easy calls to action (CTAs) in your digital ads and on your website, such as “Schedule a Test Drive Now” or “Buy Now.” Use retargeting ads to remind potential customers who have shown interest but haven’t taken action yet. Make the purchasing process straightforward and user-friendly.


In the fast-paced world of digital automotive marketing, staying ahead of the curve and being the top dog can seem daunting. However, a thoughtful and meticulously designed media plan can help you make that secret sauce that will give you that competitive edge you’re looking for. By staying attentive to the evolving needs of your customers, embracing the AIDA model, and adapting to emerging digital trends, you’ll find your dealership thriving in the digital automotive marketing arena.

So, just like planning a party, it’s all about making sure your advertising efforts are as effective as possible, reaching the right people in the right places at the right times, and ensuring everyone shows up. Good luck!

Does all this seem like a lot of work? Call Leadbox, building successful Digital Media Plans is our specialty. 


Dealer Marketing