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I wrote this as a blog post, but wanted feedback so I figured I would post it in the discussion forum as well...



I received a call today from one of S.M.A.'s participating dealerships regarding their website. The owner had upgraded from basic html to a flash website and was eager to get my opinion and show off his investment in updating his site. S.M.A. Alliance generates website traffic for the dealership and will always encourage dealership's investing on website upgrades and re-design, although that is not our specialty. While on the phone, I typed his dealership URL in a new browser, as he is excitedly telling me his favorite features and new menu options.




The page pulls up and then I saw and heard it...the horror...the horror.



I was hearing the owner of the dealership talking to me in two places...one on the phone and the other on his website. He had made a video popout that jumped out at you on the main page. It was loud. He was selling to the customer as if the customer was on the dealership lot, and I pondered in my mind whether the simplicity of html code prohibitted what I would consider a marketing catastrophe. But I am interested to what the community thinks regarding this issue, that is only growing as Internet marketing technology increases.


In my humble opinion, a dealership's website should reflect its product and have as little to do with its sales team as possible. Potential customers are searching for a car over the Internet to research before they drive on the lot. If they wanted to be sold or talked to, chances are they would have driven to the dealership lot. When a video pops out and immediantly begins selling, it breaches a line between Internet Lot and Dealership Lot and I am not an advocate of combining the the world wide web with the physical world of interaction.


Get the customer in your dealership door. Show the product. Rather than have a video pop out of a man in a suit selling, have your sharpest car drive over the screen. Customers are viewing the website to see the dealership's inventory and I do believe there are great and flashy ways to do this to impress the customer and show hints of the dealership's personality and artistic spirits.



I suppose I just find these video salesmens as an unnecessary risk. What if your video rubs a customer the wrong way for WHATEVER reason? Why would you risk the possibility and increase a margin for error that you can neither explain or control. I am a firm believer that facts speak so much louder than words: stick with your product and overwhelm the customer and entice them to take a test drive. Then if they don't like the personality of a salesmen or a particular whatever, YOU HAVE THEM IN THE DOOR and can swip and swap with the necessary adjustments to make a sale!


The owner of the store had a business call and never got to hear my reply, which is why I am eager to see all angles of this (I know I will be getting a phone call tomorrow). Like I had mentioned, this is not my speciality and I have no knowledge on it or its success rates. I just know that when I see a dealership's website with the video popout, I always shudder and attempt to make it stop and when it doesn't, I just click that red X on the top right of the screen and enjoy the silence. It is easier to exit then it is to find a pause button on this video popouts and that is one of the risks that comes with these video pop-outs.


The unwritten do's and don't's of the Internet are always developing and it is good to stay focused and learn as much as you can. If a customer searches for a car and sees your website and clicks on your link, you have done a great job getting that customer there before any other dealership website. But as quick as you can click in, you can click out and unlike driving from lot to lot in search of a vehicle, going to the next store in Internet land is simply just another click away...

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