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SEM and the Car Business (a.k.a. Beast and the Beast)

(From my blog at

While writing my last entry, it made me wonder what dealers think of the business that I have chosen, the one that I have such great passion for, online media and search engine marketing. I tried to put myself in the shoes of a GM or Internet Manager/Director. Here is a summary of the conversation I had in my head…if I was in the car business, an industry which is being forced by consumers to adopt tactics that I was trying really hard to understand, and all the while I had kids half my age talking to me like I was an idiot, I don’t know that I would embrace it all too quickly or warmly. I know there are a lot of savvy dealers and groups out there, but for the most part, the auto industry seems to be playing catch up with a lot of the industries that make up our diverse economy. That's ok, and I'm not saying anything that hasn't come up in EVERY meeting I have had with dealers all over the country. They know. They are in good company. My husband is an architect...his industry is the same. So are the real estate, higher education, home building and food service industries.

So, in attempting to feel their angst and fear of the unknown, I get so discouraged when I hear about other SEM firms and agencies who give everyone a line similar to, “For $2,000 a month, we will make you visible on Google. Plus we will create your own landing page for you so you don’t have to worry about it.” There is STILL so little transparency that it blows me away! Why haven’t dealers demanded it?!?!?!?

If there are any auto dealers sitting in their offices reading this blog, PLEASE HEAR THIS! You know that you can demand more transparency, right? You know that you can demand to know exactly how much of that $2,000 a month you are giving your SEM agency is actually going to the purchase of keyword clicks, right? I assume you sat down at the beginning of the relationship with your SEM vendor and negotiated a management fee…or did you? When you agreed on that 15-20% management fee (I hope you aren’t paying more…please tell me you aren’t paying more!) did it seem too easy? Did you feel like you got a great deal? Well, you did ONLY IF you are sure that the amount you THINK is being spent on keyword clicks is ACTUALLY IS being spent!

This industry, the SEM business, is NOT completely full of unscrupulous people. There are honest, above-board companies out there! It is very possible that your SEM vendor is spending what they say they are. But there isn’t any harm in providing you with the proof, right? If they are pocketing the money they claim to be spending on clicks, you need to be searching for a more transparent agency. They will be out of business soon enough anyway, you might as well start now.

Just ask the questions and demand the transparency.



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