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I will try to explain without calling out suppliers or car companies by name... But the point here is to seek out opinions as to when is it appropriate for a senior executive at a supplier who does not like what he sees posted in an ADM forum or blog to contact another executive at a car company for the purpose of censuring and impacting an individual's employment? If you are reading this, then you probably have also read other forums or blogs where individuals discess what they like or do not like about an OEM sponsored or mandated program... My question is this, if a supplier does not like what they read here at ADM, is it a morally and ethically sound practice to exert pressure on an individual by writing an email that complains to a car company and asks that car company to enquire at the individual's employer about the appropriateness of publishing such criticism? Because, I am experiencing this right now and it feels like my rights to freedom of speech are being squashed through an attempt to get me disciplined by my employer using undue influence on a major car company!

Am I complaining about something that is just part of the game? Should I just chalk this up to the heat in the kitchen? Why didn't that same supplier and competitor executive post their response on the forum that offended him? Why wouldn't that same supplier who competes with my employer simply stick up for his own program and write positive commentary about it?

Now that I have vented, more than ever before I know the difference between a good competitor and a whining piece of s*** that prefers back door politics instead of competing on a level playing field!

On Sunday I received a message and then spoke by phone to the Chief Marketing Officer at one of my employer's leading competitors, and a competitor to the same company that is trying to exert undue influence against this ADM website using a car company's influence... The conversation was great... We discussed where each of us were going with online social networking, and despite being rabid competitors we had a civilized discussion and agreed upon what would be considered mutually appropriate and acceptable, and what would not... One of the issues we each agreed upon was not to try and use our customers and OEM contacts to get each other into trouble for aomething we write on a website like this one... How ironic... Within 48 hours the nastiest, dirtiest pool player in the auto industry tries to exert undue influence using manipulative statements made to a car campany and mutual customer.

Tags: ADM?, When, a, appropriate, at, car, censor, company, criticism, infIuence, More…is, it, made, on, supplier, to, use

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Well Ralph the issue you have here is that you are still dealing with the old school to a great extent in this industry. The world of web 2.0 in this industry is fledgling and the old players are not getting it. As you well know I have also received undeserved pressure from my employer based on my review of a product and practice.

In this world blogging and online discussions can not be controlled by outside influences, even by the the ones being discussed. The best thing that companies can do when they see people expressing their opinion about their product is to join the conversation and get involved. Unfortunately people on the inside of our industry do not understand this concept. They rather rely on back door tactics and try to squash a voice instead of learning how to improve their product and practices and gain acceptance in the marketplace.

That practice will cause them more harm than good in the long run. It is just not dealers that have to worry about their online reputations anymore. The vendors need to get in the game too. That is why I like the concept of drivingsales.com it will force vendors to hear what their customers are saying about them and contribute to the conversation.

The industry now is reaching this century in its online initiatives, it is not just about marketing cars anymore. It is also about the conversation with customers. Not just retail but also on the dealer services side.

At the end of the day, the activities you have described may change them, you and their overall acceptance in the marketplace by those in the know. There are a lot more lurkers than contributors my blog traffic is a good example. The post that changed my direction forever is still getting over 200 uniques a day, that one post, and just a handful have jumped into the conversation. Contribution rate is less than 1% that means many others have seen the message and chose not to contribute for fear of reprisals. We are their voice until they join in.

Continue to be a 1% 'er and encourage the conversation!!
Paul,

Thank you for such a well thought out and effectively written commentary. And, thank you for calling me today, I enjoyed our conversation but I do need to learn about not being rude to my wife when i am on the phone with a colleague! Anyways, I want to say that I do not always agree with your posted opinions, but I truly respect the effort and time you put into out indsutry and livlihood we both derive from it. In this particular case, you and i are in 100% agreement. And I have learned over the years that if 2 committed, responsible and highly motivated professionals are always debating each other, and then something comes along that they both instantly agree on, then you better place your bets on whatever it is that those two hard heads actually see eye to eye on, because it is most likely the real truth and the rest of the story (see, I am using your "famous quotes" SEO tip already!).

Keep on rocking, my friend, and I am looking forward to our next topic debate, whatever it is!


Ralph it was my understanding when I joined this group that this was to be an open forum where ideas and opinions could be openly shared,products and services critiqued, and a meeting of minds on a professional level be acheived.
To that I complimented you on your vision and daring at such forward thinking.
It is a sad setback to professionals everywhere if someone without faith in there products or services nor backbone to refute in this open forum the concerns their patrons have whine that they are being treated unfairly.
Is it any different than the snot-nose kid in the schoolyard who whines to the teacher that the other kids aren't playing nice,when in fact it is that he can't compete at an equitable level?
I for one hope that this forum will continue in the vein that I beleive it was founded upon as a place where we can all find ways to better serve our customers, promote our ideas, and create an openly COMPETITIVE yet mutual beneficial relationships.
Hang in there and if you need someone to dig up "dirt" on your irksome juvenile-minded competitor, I'm sure there is an unflattering image or comment that he posted somewhere that could be dug up! lol
Bryan,

Thank you for your comment... It put a smile on my face and inspires me to know that as long as people manage their activities based on the right principles, ethics and a sense of constinuous improvement, even if it involves healthy criticism, there will always be professionals like the majority of ADM members who are going to recognize that method of operation and reward it.

Almost everyone that gains access to AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com has something to sell... Some of us sell cars, some of us sell websites, some of us sell professional services (especially the Russian Dating Site ladies), and all of us have to sell ideas and strategies, almost on a daily basis. The ironic part is that it seems to me that the more you focus on selling good ideas, ROI concepts, transportation strategies and digital marketing tactics, etc. that you know will help a car company, a dealership, or the next up that comes on the lot, the easier it gets to sell a car, a dealer website, a CRM tool or Ralph's next weird online advertising scheme to put your dealership's ads inside online dating sites that people have to pay to get in, because that means they must have a credit card and we can probably get them bought.... Whew... Anyways, THANK YOU for brightening my day and putting a big smile on my face!
I imagine that after reading your post, the words "oh yeah? well, watch this" were uttered as they started using their back door politics. Those words are also uttered at the skateboard park right before some over confident kid cracks his head on the concrete.
Luckily, this kid (me) was wearing his helmet! The support I am getting from senior executives at ADP is far greater than I ever could have expected. One of the top 3 big whigs told me he was proud of what I am doing, and to keep pushing my team's development and growth.

It seems that part of my mission in this business is to tell the emperor when he has no clothes on. Fortunately for me and a lot of the people I work with at ADP, we have executives who are actually LEADERS and will cover our backs when the bullets start coming in from unexpected directions!

Now, THAT is how you build employee loyalty!

Although... My boss did draw my attention to the lack of professionalism that is perceived when I call people names and refer to them using inappropriate curse words in my blog posts... And, for that reason I know I did cross the line in a few of my rantings online. So, for anyone out there, especially the ADP competitor who went whining to a car company executive in an attempt to push me in front of an oncoming bus, instead of contacting me directly (the term chicken*&%$ comes to mind) Oops, there I go again... OK, I am sorry I called your people a derogatory curse word term that refers to people who do not know who their father is... I have since deleted the comment that uses this term so you, Mr. Chicken*&%#, will no longer be offended by the nasty words that showed up ON A BLOG! However, maybe you should consider NOT wiping out thousands of hours of work done by hundreds of Internet Managers when you roll out a new version. After all, just because you treat dealers like nuisances instead of customers because you have your forcefed solution mandates from OEM's does not make it right to abuse the dealers... Yes, I know you do not consider dealers your customers, because you get OEM forced march mandates which eliminate the annoying requirement to actually serve the dealers in a manner that would make them WANT to do business with you... But, did you ever consider simply doing what is right, or ethically sound, even if you have a monopoly with a particular car company? Seriously, destroying other people's work is just plain mean and unnecessary. And, if you have even a shred of personal character, or an iota of honor, how about calling or emailing me directly so we can discuss how I hurt your feelings or offended you with my blog and forum postings, before you start trying to get me fired!

Yes, I am sorry that I used a bad word, but I stand behind the point I was making! So, if you have the guts, call me on my cell phone at 505-301-6369 and let's talk about how we can work together or make improvements instead of trying to get your critics in trouble with their employer. GGGrrrrr, you make me feel like the Johnson Automotive Badger!
I love the fact that you have passion in everything you do.
Ralph,

It seems more and more there is back door BS being played for either calling somebody out for something they legitimately did (or illegitimately in some cases ) or for something somebody said in a forum such as ADM.
It has been part of the game forever, except the rules have changed because that person or persons can be called out for their back door politics. The ramifications can be huge because if it hits ADM, then it goes to drivingsales.com. dealerrefresh.com, ismintraining.com, and soon it is all over. So being transparent….as my friend Jared Hamilton so eloquently said is paramount in being a stand up person, company etc…

This poppy cock that you and others are experiencing is very disturbing on so many levels. Guys like us are doing our best to take this industry to the next level. It is little small-minded incidents like these that yank us back to the guy in the plaid suit, orange tie, white shoes, belt, sun glasses and a stogie sticking out of his mouth. There is a decorum and professionalism expected and I think required; however, the PC junk has to end and calling it like we see it is mandatory for ensuring clarity in what we believe, where our journey is taking us, and making us better than we are today.

Keep on keeping it real!
Here,here. Well put.
Ahh....the politics of the car industry.....

I agree that the clarity and transparency of ADM is what makes it what it is. To see anyone trying to censor any one person or group is utterly outrageous. Maybe it’s just the country upbringing or living in Seattle too long, but if someone has something to say, let them say it and then respond like an adult.

If they can't play nice, they should stay far, far away from the playground with the big boys.
Doug, Bryan, Gil and Heath,

I appreciate your comments and remain committed to the transparency that we have achieved by delivering unfettered and open access to over 1100 automotive professionals in this forum, as well as the many others like it... What our industry truly needs at this point is to experience a correlation. a connection or some type of cause and effect that relates to revenue impact. At the dealer level, when we deploy a better process, or marketing that connects with more customers, or anything that is superior to what we have done in the past, we are rewarded by consumers who show up and buy cars... However, when we start dealing in the ecosystem of OEM's, suppliers and dealers, this is not always the case... Although I have seen a lot of pretty bizarre things in this business, I do not think I will ever forget the pilot program we put into place at Reynolds Web Solutions for an online service appointment scheduling application. After months of use by 5 dealerships, the system was mothballed BECAUSE IT WORKED TOO WELL! As strange as that sounds, the competency of the product and the negative impact this had on other products compelled the then-VP of RWS to pull the plug on it because, as he put it; "This will distract the salespeople from selling websites to NEW dealers by allowing them to go to existing dealers who will all want it, and my deal does not reward me for additional sales to existing dealerships, only for adding new rooftops to our total customer base..." or something to that effect (it has been 5 years). The pilot dealers went into a panic and offered us outrageous amounts of money to let them continue using the online service scheduling application... Some of them had experienced a 40% increase in daily R.O.'s! Their please only exacerbated the situation and the VP became ever more convinced of the necessity to kill the application.

So, in the end, the app was sent to the guillotine, the woman who had been in charge of it was so devastated that her 12 minths of work had been destroyed because her team had done TOO GOOD OF A JOB in creating it... She resigned, along with a few other members of her team... And the VP of the division earned his big payout, left Reynolds and started a very successful business of his own... Bottom Line, the politics had trumped competence and quality... And, what was working for our dealer clients. It is my hope that as an industry we will somehow move beyond that level of political destructiveness... But, maybe I am a hopeless dreamer!
Keep dreaming big brother.In this oft jaded world, we need more visionary romantics that back up their ideas with ACTION.

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