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ADM is a community of technology, application and process driven Internet professionals. I know that because I am one of them!

Auto industry social networking sites like ADM, DrivingSales.Com, DealerRefresh.Com and yes, even my own AdAgencyOnline.Net have all prioritized technology and applications with little focus or credit paid to proven old school wisdoms. It is natural for us to talk about our shared knowledge and experience in areas like SEO, SEM, Microsites, CRM, VOIP Telephony systems, etc..

I could go on to convince you all that I am on OUR side with the importance of these tools to extend our messages and maximize the efficiency of our staffs, etc. Just read some of my own blogs on ADM if you doubt my resolve that the Internet and technology is the future of the auto industry.

BUT - I also value the first 25 years I invested as a dealer and the last ten as a "conventional" automotive advertising agency and I still see a STRONG R.O.I. on old school wisdoms that get little attention by most of us because they aren't new and exciting. The problem is that most dealers need us to help them survive right now and in many cases they don't have the time or money to turn their ship in time to catch the Internet and technology wave.

Those dealers may not be members of ADM but they may be paying some of our bills so this forum is for them. I will list a few FREE - or very inexpensive - NON Technology or Internet based solutions to selling vehicles and service in a down market with the hopes that some of my fellow "car guys/gals" will add some of their best practices as well.

NOTE: Please refrain from suggesting that even these practices can be improved by technology driven processes - I KNOW THAT! The problem is that so many dealers are in "techno shock" or "budget-it-is" that they won't even hear you.

1) Point of purchase merchandising - flyers posters, etc. - on sales and service writers desks or customer waiting areas for vehicle sales, F&I and fixed operation products and services. (Yes, ABN - Automotive Broadcasting Network - can place a private TV station in your waiting rooms to do this better but that would revert back to technology so see my note above!)

2) Dialing for dollars between floor ups to make appointments with previous customers - sold and pending, lease lists, service R.O.s,, vendors for business to business sales and service offers, newspaper and online for sale by owner ads to purchase their vehicle or trade it in for the same payment or less based on new finance and rebate incentives, community groups like churches and civic organizations that your staff is involved in, chamber of commerce networking and rotary like clubs, fraternity lists and alumni lists from staff in all departments - not just sales. All of these examples simply suggest that you network with the people that you know before you presume to call a stranger! (Yes, CRM and integrated Telephony systems with data based email blasts drawn from your DMS or online social networking sites like CarFolks.Com can do this better --- hah - I beat you to that point but see my above note!)

3) Leveraged relationships to cross market with area businesses to "share customers' in various venues like tent sales, community advertisements, charitable events, etc..

4) Early bird schedules for salespeople to meet and greet customers in the service drive.

5) I could go on - but John McCain is about to speak and it is your turn!

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Replies to This ADM Discussion

I bow to the east to salute you! All the tools are there we just need to be the messengers to spread the word.

Thanks for the reminder we have many arrows in our quiver and we need to dust them off and get back to the basics.

Mike
Philip,

Great insight and passion as usual. I enjoy your stong advocacy to everything tech, trends and common dealership sense. I agree totally when you say "The problem is that most dealers need us to help them survive right now and in many cases they don't have the time or money to turn their ship in time to catch the Internet and technology wave".

I feel the issue goes way beyond that. I feel many dealerships know they should be dedicating budget, resources and future into the Internet and technology but few STILL do not know where, what, when and how, but feel like they have no choice but to try a little of the technology out there, and fail most of the time. However the tech/internet process has been a trend for a few years now and for the dealers that caught the waves early it has been a salvation as they maintain their share in the market, and some have increased growth and profits, but on the flip side it has been a disaster for the dealers that caught the "under-tow" for those riding the waves too late.

It still amazes me the "Old school" approach to sock 99% of the budget into print, magazines and lame behind the times advertising. I still feel there is a call for that, but that should be a minimal investment in todays day and age. The dealership group I am at socks 75% into internet, website, SEO/SEM, technology, CCC, trends and future trends, because they understand, research and listen to the people that have made a living pushing, educating and being strong advocates of change to tech/internet/trends.

The funny thing is 2 years from now we will be all be talking in this forum about the latest trends, and having discussions what we have done to implement those and there still will be dealerships not budgeting money for new tech, and e-commerce advertising. Baffling!!

Keep educating Phillip and bring it!!
Tim I really have to take some exception to some of your comments.

Being on the "Internet wave" since the late 90's when I concentrated how to make my website work with other channels I using at the time and not really worrying about tracking results but just knowing my clicks were going up so it must be working. At that time is was a small portion of my integrated marketing campaigns with the lions share going to TV, Radio, Print and out of home.

In 2000 I went to the other side when I joined AutoTrader.com then took the perceived step backwards when I went to the magazine. Over 8 years I just as you and the rest on here have seen the Internet grow more and more important in the mix. I don't have to give the benefits we all know those.

I have to take exception to the "old school" "lame behind the times advertising". Admittedly I make my living with Internet and print as packaged offering that is still very effective in the market place. I would expect you to have the thinking you do and if you didn't you wouldn't be doing your job correctly. When you look at your customers do they all look the same? Do they all want the same make, model, year, color and equipment? Do they all do the same job the same way everyday? Do they all live in a 2000 sq/ft house with 2.3 kids, a dog and 2 cars in the garage? Do they all use the Internet the same way? Do they have 3 HD flat panels in the house and watch the avg of 2 hours of TV each day? Do they buy magazines at in the shopping line? Are they buying new or used cars? I know that may come off as contrite and it was not meant to. The point is depending on the market demos, education level, income levels, homeowners or renters, hobbies, kids or no kids, comfort level with new technology or just a preference for other media has alot to do with finding customers.

We as professionals cannot fall into the trap that just because we make our living in a particular media that our customers don't use other media to find future purchases. I would submit to you that the old school lame behind the times advertising will not only help increase your web traffic, floor traffic but will also greatly increase your brand recognition in your market. The big difference with TV, radio, Print and Out of home is the message and the call to action.

I just heard of a study done in my market the was done at the beginning of the summer they found certain print magazines and a website bearing the same name compliment each other very well with the print actually having a better cume rating than the website. According to the study, there was only a 7 point overlap in the users between print and Internet.I'm trying to get my hands on a hard copy of that to use in my market.

Don't discount other advertising just because it old school and lame. Develop it to capture more traffic for your site and your showroom. You may be surprised with the results.

As to what Phillip was talking about above. As in anything we do when the challenges are growing the money is not there, I like to back to pre-2000 methods. Use the lot as an advertising billboard with banners, mirror hangers and posters. I always liked putting salespeople in cars to go to the shopping center, the local softball park and park and talk to people. Have to make sure the car has signage inviting people to look. It keeps them from getting bored waiting for the next up or going crazy dialing the phone.

I think if dealers haven't been using there customer database on a monthly basis for specials, events, service or just to send out maintenance tips they are way behind the eight ball so to speak. We spend so much money to get these people into our dealers/websites but we let them slip out of our grasp by not using the permission they gave us to keep in touch with them. I remember having to do it with pen and paper in the past. I have to admit this new IBM 386 definately makes it faster and easier!

Have a great weekend!
Mike,

I can appreciate your point of view, as you are correct in saying that some of the traditional advertising still has a place in auto sales. I never said it didn't as you will see my dealership group does 25% print, media and other forms. There is still a whole demographic that doesnt surf the internet and traditional advertising does capture that arena. We still do signage, balloons, cars in the mall at Christmas time and some of the local Chamber events...You do still need to have that exposure.

My statement was towards the dealers that budget the majority in the older advertising trends and still do not grasp the technology trends. I know that there are many in the Chicago market that still do that for some reason. But the facts are our children and their children willl be 100% internet saavy and will conduct all research online for everything they buy, so my point is that there has to be and for some time has to be a huge swing where budget is going for advertisment and that is the WWW and technology.

I view what you are saying as customer fundamentals and a nice touch to reach out to that customer from the human side of things, I feel that should never change. I feel the human element should never fade. Regardless of what is out there in trends, the bottom line will never change and that is:

Customer> Dealership> Vehicle> Sale> revenue> Long term relationship

Regardless of how you achieve that.....
Thanks Guys, it is nice to see that you "get it."

No need to throw the baby out with the bath water when new technologies and applications become available. Also, you can't put all of your eggs into any one basket, real or virtual, so even my original point assumed that there would still be technology driven solutions and conventional advertising in the mix. I advise 60% conventional and 40% Internet and technology/application driven internal marketing processes.

My focus was meant to be on those assets that have already been paid for - like using your staff by managing and monitoring their activities to keep them productive and profitable for everyone's benefit - expecially theirs since employee retention precedes customer retention and a rich salesperson is less likely to roam away from home! Many dealers are in survival mode and FREE has a pretty strong R.O.I. equation and any added value to existing investments just adds to the profit side of the same formula.

The concern remains that dealers that haven't seen the Internet light are still good people who need good people to show them the way. The problem is that they still have to be in the business in order to catch up with the other good people who already "get it." Those Internet and technology savy dealers are more than willing to absorb the other dealesr customer base when they die but many of my old friends are on both sides of that shift.

Survival of the fittest applies to the car business but I still believe that a rising tide floats all boats and I would rather compete with a friend than some corporate giant that dosen't share my roots in the Tent Sales that used to draw crowds loking for the free hot dogs!
Philip,

Great idea. Here are some of the things I had in place at the dealership:

Each new employee got a profile to complete a listing of close friends and associates he/she could mail an introduction letter to. We also had him/her list any organizations they were a member of and places they do business to help them get referalls.

Whenever someone completed factory training we ran it though the newspaper. All community partnerships got a press release, site links, an email blast to our customers and we would try to get the event listed in the paper's calendar.

Park your service shuttle at a nearby mall or heavy traffic area when not in use-they are great billboards. Provide rides after hours for community events and elections.

That's a few inexpensive marketing ideas...
Tim, tell me about Internet savvy, 3 kids, 5 laptops, 2 desktops, 5 smartphones, wireless network with repeater later we still have 5 TVs, 2 stereos and at least 10 subscriptions to monthly magazines. With all of that I still find my family enjoying the trips to the Mall, Walmart or the grocery store and making impulse buys.

I agree the Internet is part of the future not the complete future. I won't go through the old example of newspaper, then radio ,then TV, then Internet. I will say I think the word "then" is fundamental in the argument that Internet will not be the panacea it is touted to be. Just as you make the argument about putting more budget into WWW I would submit since we are human, sensory interaction will always have an important place in advertising. Spur of the moment decisions based on site, sound and smell will always be important. How do you get that with the Internet 100% of the time. 50% of the time?

Let's look at Las Vegas (my favorite place) and the sensory overload in that town. They are doing it perfectly with the Visual Stimulation on the strip, in the rooms with magazines acting as guides to shows, meals and sightseeing tours, online with wireless is a majority of rooms. out of home billboards (computerized of course most of the time), Dedicated TV stations and radio. They totally immerse the comsumer in the experience, build the "heat" and present the case to gamble, eat and party. The Internet cannot do all.

When you look at Traditional PLUS Internet for automotive advertising, the dealer can duplicate that total immersion in the product and more importantly for dealer branding. Realistically speaking we all sell the same commodity with different nameplates, what we need to sell these days is our service, our people and the value of doing business with us overall. Of course you maybe to decrease you total ad buys and lower overall budgets but cutting to save money usually ends up costing us more than we saved.

Immerse them in your value propostion using all the senses with interruptive and non interruptive methods. Let them choose how they find you and ultimately buy from you.
Thanks Mike, Scott and Tim,

I guess that two plus two can equal five if the right people are doing the math! I decided to focus my "Lunch With Phil Discussing Automotive Advertising" show today on some of the points raised in this forum along with my frustration of some of the "smoke" being placed by managers thinking that they are "covering thier butts" into what would otherwise be perfect selling processes.

As always, crap in gives you crap out and that goes for people too!!

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