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As we wind down another year, it's increasingly important to go into each New Year with a strategic plan that sets you apart from your competition.  In our dealer goup, 2011 finally saw us make the move out of the newspaper.  This was a huge step for a group that had traditionally spent hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in print. 


For me, 2012 is going to be focused on three areas: training, data mining and video. If we don't do a better job of training our salespeople, they will eventually be replaced by order takers.  We have to restore our value to the car buying process.  Do you remember people saying "I know someone in the car business, they take care of me."  I bet you don't hear that as much as you did in the past.  We need to get back to the basics and train our people in the lost arts of salesmanship and follow up. Salespeople cannot have a successful, long-term career in auto sales without these skills.


Data mining is an untapped wealth of deals for most stores.  Do you know how many of your service customers can get into a new vehicle for $25 less a month?  If you don't, you are missing out on a huge area of opportunity.  As things become more competitive each day online, we can no longer afford to ignore the opportunities in our own DMS.  Truecar has shone a spotlight on how valuable the information is in our DMS.  This is the year we need to put that information to work for us instead of against us.


Video is the new SEO!  Remember when you couldn't have a conversation without SEO coming up?  From video taping testimonials in the showroom to be placed on a customer's Facebook page to sending customized walkarounds to inbound Internet leads, the more we can incorporate video into every customer touch point, the more success I think we will have in 2012.  Who is sending out videotaped thank you messages after the purchase?  How about videotaped Happy Birthday wishes?


These are a few of the areas I will be focusing on in 2012.  Please share with our community what you are planning.  I truly appreciate how much everyone is willing to share.  We all run on the 30 day hamster wheel that is the car business and while we love to compete, we also have a huge capacity to share.  Have a happy and prosperous 2012!

Tags: 2012, planning

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1. Convince my dealer clients to shift more advertising budget away from offline media buys and into Online Display Advertising (ODA) using Behavioral Targeting, Retargeting and Quantcast Profiling

2. Convince my dealer clients to shift more advertising budget away from offline media buys and into Social Media Advertising (SMA) using Facebook Audience Targeting, LinkedIn Advertising and YouTube Advertising

3. Convince my dealer clients to shift more advertising budget away from offline media buys and into Search Engine Advertising (SEA) using Google Adwords

Hi MIke,


You have covered three central areas to focus on so now the next step is how.  Of course people are part of the process and sharing your vision with a professional self motivated team is job one. 

However ecomonic, political and social influences beyond your control have resulted in reduced profit margins, budgets, sales volume and staff.  The solution to providing a cost effective path for your team to follow is to provide them with processes and systems powered by today's technology based solutions specializing in each of your focus areas - training, data mining and video.

Fortunately, I happen to represent three cutting edge vendor partners which provide platforms custom designed to address your needs.  (No, that is not a coincidence -- I simply agree with your needs/ opportunity analysis and I acted on my observations before you did.)


Training is best done by example on a regular basis as part of your daily sales process. IntellaCar is a mobile sales presentation platform that provides a road to the sale for your novice or experienced sales person using best practices in a repetitive manner that trains your staff every time it is used.  It resides on an iPad providing trusted information that is relevant to your customers and sourced from your sales person. The people part of the process remains but the efficient delivery of information educates both your staff and your customers simultaneously.


Data mining is an extremely efficient way to target the most cost effective customers in the market - your own! DrivingLoyalty is an enhanced platform that identifies inequity customers and delivers them a semi-automated - but personal - message with vin specific information on instock vehicles that they can purchase for the same payment or less than they are driving now. 

They do not rely on boiler plate trade-in / trade-up messages but rather offer similar vehicles to the one the customer is driving with OTD figures including tax, tag, title and dealer fees as both cash and payment offers.  They also have unique "Alert" systems that "does the doing" for your staff insuring that the messages are timely and relevant with superior conversion rates to even the best CRM.


As far as Video and VSEO - the only automated and scalable video production vendor with an approved patent is SiSTeR Technologies; yes, another vendor partner that I found before you did.  Their unique Vshock platform ties posted individual vehicle videos to a micro-site sourced back to your dealership site with a comprehensive list of similar vehicles to control your customer's online shopping.  They boast the largest inventory of online videos with the VSEO that their online presence deserves.

You already have the right idea as to where you should focus your efforts in 2012 so I hope that my suggested solutions will help you achieve your goals in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and I hope to see you at NADA to discuss the many technology based vendor partners that I am proud to represent.

After all, what are friends - and ADM - for!


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