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From the Trenches - I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet.


In the year 2000, I said,  "I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet." to the dealership I was leaving.



I was talking about the Internet.


If only we could go back in time like Marty McFly from "Back to the Future"....

Marty had the right song for the time.  But he had cultural changes that he hadn't anticipated.


Now we face a change so much more profound than the Internet.  The Internet affected almost every industry and business on the planet.  It was a technological change that had cultural implications. We all had to adjust.


But now we face a true cultural change, partly based on technology, but also based on cultural changes that have affected technology and its uses.


The Internet produced Social Media, Reputation Management, Transparency, Mobile Connection, Always ON, Always Connected, Wearable Computers, and on and on.


So you think you finally have this Internet thing down.  You have an Internet department or BDC that answers leads.  You have hired companies to do SEO and SEM even though you don't really understand them.  You EVEN have a company that takes care of your Social Media and Reputation Management EVEN though you think they are useless and have no ROI but have been told you need them. 


You are even talking about targeted marketing and BIG DATA!  My, my, my... You've covered all your bases...




Because until you understand that these things are all in their infancy and are leading to cultural changes so profound that in 2080, people will be regarding us as having lived in the 18th century prior to mass production.


The technology and the culture of today is demanding of three things and three things only.  Those three things are VALUE, CREATIVITY, and CUSTOMER SERVICE.


The ability to offer those has become critical not only to our industry but to all.  In fact, we are demanding them of our vendors as well. 


  1. Serve us well. 
  2. Don't play games. 
  3. Be transparent. 
  4. Give us our money's worth. 
  5. Respect us.


These are prerequisites but no guarantees for success.  But when I look around at many dealers, I have to say, as Marty McFly did:


"I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet."

Time to look beyond next week's profit and begin thinking of next year and the years beyond.  Are the attitudes and processes at your store in synch with the technologies you are using?




Written by
 Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community

Views: 614

Tags: BDC, Big, Data, Digital, Marketing, Media, Mobile, Reputation, Reviews, SEM, More…SEO, Social


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Comment by Gary May on May 10, 2013 at 8:11am

Well put.

Comment by Cathy Nesbit on May 10, 2013 at 7:58am

Love this Tom! Value, Creativity, Customer couldn't be more right. :)

Comment by Tom Gorham on May 10, 2013 at 7:56am

Joe Tarell, thank you very much!  What your good friend and mentor once told is very on the mark.  I wrote in a previous post, "From the Trenches - You Are The Message", that marketing has come full circle.  I suggested that, "In the beginning was word-of-mouth marketing.  It is now the Alpha and the Omega."  Global has become local and local has become global.  And yet we have personalized our business experiences through reach on the Internet.  I appreciate your comments!

Comment by Tom Gorham on May 10, 2013 at 7:45am

Ralph,  I understand the phrase, "What are the other dealers doing?", but only in the aspect of doing something different or better.   Once you know what other dealers are doing, you must ask yourself some questions. 

  • Why are they doing it? 
  • Is it effective for the short-term AND long-term?
  • Is it ethical and in line with the cultural attitudes and expectations in the marketplace of consumers?
  • Can I do it differently in a way that improves or differentiates my business?
  • Can I do it better?
  • Is there another way to do it more effectively?

I suppose you could add to that list, but knowing what other dealers are doing is not an end in itself.  It connotes whether a dealer wants to be a leader or a follower.  Leaders succeed and followers survive (maybe).  And those that don't ask any questions get left behind and die.

While we debate whether or not Google Glass and wearable computers will catch on, there are those that are dreaming of implantable computers.  We're not talking decades here and the implications for the marketplace are not only challenging and overwhelming but true opportunities for those who can anticipate and utilize them in their business and process and workplace culture.

Thanks for commenting.  As a thought-leader in this industry, you have always been a forward thinker (and doer).  I appreciate your opinion.


Comment by Joe Tarell on May 10, 2013 at 7:33am

A good friend and mentor once told me that a big part of what the Internet is really doing is taking us back in time.  Back when towns were smaller, customer service mattered because everyone knew everyone.  That transparency, value, creativity and customer service that you speak of is not original, but the Internet is making it much more visible to many more people.  You are very profound Mr. Gorham.  Hopefully those that would not listen in 2000 are listening now and more importantly... changing.

Comment by Tom Gorham on May 10, 2013 at 7:01am

Bill, thank you!  I agree that value, creativity and customer service have always mattered. But the Internet has intensified the expectation for all of the above. Each of those attributes is a very broad term and allows for broad interpretation.

My point is that we are not just going through a technological revolution but massive cultural changes.  We're now going through them globally and, as you said, at warp speed.  We can't just "keep up with the technology" and be successful.  We must understand the changes in attitudes that are altering the landscape of our marketplace.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 10, 2013 at 6:56am
Tom, I can relate to your article and advise that we each let your ideas be a reminder that innovation never sleeps... Car dealers are for the most part loathe to try new approaches to any aspect of their business model, asking things like "What are the other dealers doing?", yet the dealers who innovate successfully are the ones with a consistent competitive advantage. None of us can get ahead by staying behind...

Comment by Bill Cosgrove on May 10, 2013 at 2:03am

Knowledge is power and the flow of information on the internet and the technologies that were born of out of it has empowered both commerce and the consumer as never before. Those empowerments have produced a more sophisticated consumer that has forced industry to be more transparent (accountable) and prove their value proposition as never before in order to compete.

VALUE, CREATIVITY, and CUSTOMER SERVICE have always mattered but are now being demanded from the bottom up instead of from the top down as in days past.

Those who were not ready then will probably never be ready whether it was in yesterday’s marketplace or in the warp speed of changing markets of today and always be the last to adapt or NOT.

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