Brian Pasch recently uploaded a very useful PDF document into the Presentation File Exchange Forum on ADM. A comment I made in response to reviewing this document is shown below. However, the primary reason I wanted to give my comment its own Forum Discussion thread on ADM is the very last section of my comment below... What would YOU, as an ADM Professional Community member think about the concept of using this community as a starting point to building a tree non-profit professional trade association dedicated to improving the skill sets of its members and furthering the status of our chosen profession as one which merits increased demand and respect from dealers, similar to what they now consider for professional roles such as Comptroller, Accountant, Finance Director, General Sales Manager, IT Director and such?
I have a vision that is really what many of wanted when the AAISP organization was founded and several hundred of us went to the first Digital Dealer Conference in Nashville, which was actually more "AAISP" than "Digital Dealer" to most of us at the time... I would love to see some opinions on this subject... Including, what if Mike Roscoe let us reinvigorate AAISP by giving control over to a non-profit professional association? However, please do not respond with anything negative about the history of AAISP or any disparaging comments about Mike Roscoe because, well, quite simply, I have a ton of respect for Mike Roscoe and in many ways his bull headed persistence on Digital Dealer Conferences being profitable and self sustaining is why they are still happening. Plus, I want to include Digital Dealer 8 in my unbroken streak of having been a speaker at every Digital Dealer Conference to date, so don't get me on Roscoe's s*** list with nasty comments... please.
Brian - Thank you for a well written and insightful overview of automotive microsites, however I disagree with several of your assumptions and assertions that are stated as facts... Regarding the history of microsites; I was marketing, selling and installing microsites before TK Carsites was in business! In 1999 when I worked for the HAC Group based out of Wynnewood, PA and they acquired Automark of Norfolk, VA we began selling microsites to Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers, then expanded those offerings as we worked with Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota dealers. Our approach to microsites included a strategy around what we called "Model Franchises" and "Profit Centers". For example, Ford dealers would often times do so well with the Ford SUV lineup at the time that we would build a full featured microsite focused on Ford's SUV models... Other dealers would invest in an F-150 Microsite. Profit Center microsites initially started with Special Finance and then went on to include Fleet and Commercial, as well as a few other variants.
As the companies were sold and purchased, other acquisitions made and new Vice Presidents ordained and put in charge, I repeatedly found myself put in a position of defending microsites as an effective dealer marketing strategy... In fact, the disputes I had with what eventually became Reynolds Web Solutions after certain key acquisitions, and the eventual dismantling of Automark, weaighed heavily upon my decisions to leave what had now become a division within Reynolds and Reynolds and go to work for Courtesy Chevrolet. Again, while certain key people were leaving BZ Productions (Results) and TK Carsites was being formed as a result, I was at Courtesy Chevrolet building and launching a microsite strategy while ramping up an eBusiness Operation that leveraged the traffic and opportunities from this network of microsites into a 400+ Unit Sales per month Digital Marketing and Sales Operation. Even though there is a lot of bad blood between David Jackson and me at this time, I would like to point out that he built a business around the model I designed for him which at the time was called Fresh Start Studios and is now called Fresh Microsites. Due to the problems I have had with David, I am loathe to recommend or promote his business, but for the sake of historical accuracy, his automotive microsite business and examples of his work going back to long before the "Power of 5" was offered by TK Carsites can be seen at http://www.freshmicrosites.com/
You have no idea how much it chaps my hide to put a link to David Jackson's business on my comment! But, for the sake of historical accuracy and in response to the incorrect conclusion that TK Carsites was first to market with a dealer microsite strategy, I am compelled to do so... In fact, at Digital Dealer I in Nashville, TN in early 2006, I presented a workshop on dealership microsite strategies and showcased over a dozen microsites that I designed and Fresh Start Studio built to my specifications... After my workshop ended, the leaders of TK Carsites approached me and we discussed how they might develop a microsite platform and supply Courtesy Chevrolet with microsites. At the time, I was still partnered with David Jackson in a relationship where I helped him secure dealership business outside my market area in exchange for work he would do at little or no charge for Courtesy Chevrolet building microsites, so I passed on TK's offer to build them for Courtesy Chevrolet... In hindsight, I wish I would have worked something out with TK Carsites because David Jackson turned out to be a traitor and I believe the owners and leaders at TK Carsites to be ethical and trustworthy... Despite the fact that they compete with my own team at ADP Digital Marketing, I have no problem acknowledging and complimenting them on the work they have done since that conversation in Nashville in early 2006. In fact, when TK first went to market with the "Power of 5" several of my team mates at ADP came to me and said "this looks like they productized what you did at Courtesy Chevrolet", and I would agree with their observations.
Additionally, although my own team's full scaled dealership websites did not make the cut in your Pasch Consulting Group report, we are hard at work building an entirely new dealer web site platform that I believe will be as good or better in many respects (including SEO) than the platforms you reviewed in your report... By starting with a clean slate and using ADP's development resources in Portland, OR, Houston, TX, Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Coventry, RI we have devoted more brain power, development experts and coders than any previous effort that I am aware of specifically focused on building a dealership website platform from scratch... And, despite the temper tantrums I have thrown and the meetings I have walked out on because of the debate around core architecture and feature structures within this new platform, I believe that ADP will go to market with a dealer website platform and design architecture that is more effective at serving dealer digital marketing objectives than anything that is being marketed and sold to dealers right now. In fact, I have convinced senior ADP management to allocate budget to hire independent consultants to review our team's design and architecture before we go to the next step of launching the prototypes on development servers... Why? Because it costs less to make changes before the prototypes are built than after... Brian, hopefully you will take Bill Reilly up on his offer to hire PCG to review our new dealer website design architecture and make change suggestions...
Finally, I would like to say that in addition to correcting the "History of microsites" that you wrote in your document, there are several key components that I have previously and continue to describe in building effective microsites. These components include:
1. Table of Contents on the index (home) page of the microsite, along with descriptive text based (anchor) links pointing to the dealer's various other microsites, eCommerce sites and Social Network or Community site.
2. Index page title should lead with the same first two or three keywords that comprise the microsite's URL.
3. Photo Gallery daughter page accessible from the index page via text based link, with vehicle model or other relevant photos that have file names accurately descriptive of their content. ie; "2010-Ford-Mustang-GT-Rear-Quarter.jpg" or "Courtesy-Chevrolet-New-Showroom-North-View.jpg" for example... Here's an example of a microsite photo gallery daughter page from before TK Carsites Power of 5 was brought to market: 2008 Chevy Malibu Photo Gallery
4. Product Specifications daughter page accessible from index page via text link which contains multiple H1 and H2 section headlines describing the product specification category, such as "2010 Ford F-150 Frame and Body Specification" or "2010 Chevrolet Corvette Engine and Drivetrain Specification". Obviously, the relevant specifications detailed below the section headline. Here's an example of a microsite product specifications page: 2008 Chevy Malibu Specifications
5. News and Reviews daughter page accessible from the index page via text based link. This is a page within the microsite where road tests, press releases, articles and news stories relevant to the microsites focused subject matter. For example, on the original www.Malibu-Chevrolet.com
microsite, the "2008 Chevy Malibu Press"
link from the index page goes to a microsite page with multiple articles, road tests and reviews authorized for reprinting to the OEM, and via franchise, Courtesy Chevrolet.
Obviously, there are many more daughter page concepts that would serve a dealer's microsite well, and because the examples above were built several years ago, I am certain that extensive improvements could be made today, but the fact that the examples I cite are so old, they further corroborate my objection to you giving credit to TK Carsites for the first car dealer microsite offering... Please do not mistake my request for historical accuracy as a criticism of TK Carsites or their Power of 5 dealer offering, in fact I truly admire what TK Carsites has brought to market. But when it comes to historical statements such as what you assert, I take objection to giving TK credit for something that may have been influenced by my previous work.
Here's a few microsite examples that were originally launched well before TK Carsites conceived of the Power of 5:
I do have to make a disclaimer type of statement... Each of the 4 examples shown above was originally built by David Jackson at Fresh Start Studio. When David betrayed me, I took my designs and had Jonathan Monterecy at BZ Results duplicate them and host these microsites on BZ Results servers. David Jackson is upset about this, but I have my original designs that I sent to David in their pre-production Microsoft Word drafts, so I have proof that each microsite was my personal work. I don't like plugging Jackson, because I now believe him to be unethical, but he did build the original microsites for Courtesy Chevrolet and he did do a great job of working with me and listening to my instructions, then executing them well.
Again, all of this was done long before TK Carsites developed their Power of 5 offering! Why does any of this matter? Because, as I have previously stated, if as an industry and a profession we want to encourage the sharing of ideas, strategies, tactics and best practices, it is important that we acknowledge where these tools originated when they are used further dowstream as part of a new implementation or publication. My own personal mission is to establish automotive digital marketing as a respected profession with practitioners and thought leaders. I would like to see the subject become courses at colleges and universities, and am also committed to the original concept behind the AAISP, a professional non-profit organization dedicated to certifying those who meet skills and knowledge standards and providing certified members with the ability to earn more income and be more sought after in the job market.
Which brings me to another idea... What would you, or anyone reading this think of transforming the ADM Professional Community into a federally chartered non-profit organization dedicated to the cause of improving our profession and providing knowledge and skill sets?
In addition to Brian's post on the ADM Presentation File Exchange Forum, Brian Pasch's Microsite Document is available for download below... I have also uploaded a couple of articles in support of my request for historical accuracy around the use of microsites by car dealers.