Automotive Marketing Professional Community for Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
The Dealer's Brand
You can have all the metrics down. You can know exactly what constitutes the bottom line but if social is just PART of what you do instead of BEING what you do, you are going have a hard time finding a positive ROI. Social is a lifestyle change for the dealership. It's about humanizing the way business is done.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, tradition media is all about the marketing of the business while social media, or new media, is all about the marketing of the people of the business. That's what makes all the difference. How are you marketing the people of your dealership?
Social starts at the top, since it's a lifestyle change it must and if your dealership hopes to harness the true power of social, that is word-of-mouth and customer loyalty, then the dealer principal must project an image of honesty, integrity and a willingness to be social. That doesn't mean the DP has to be out there shaking hands and kissing babies but they must be visible. I know there are dealerships were the DP isn't an active part of the day-to-day, in that case there must be somebody, the GM, who would take over the role of being the brand leader.
No, I'm not talking about your paid spokesperson but somebody with authority at the dealership. The head honcho, the boss, the leader, somebody who can lead the organization, socially, from the top. This can be accomplished through blogging, video creation, Facebooking, tweeting, and of course others. The whole idea is to make people feel that they know the DP, that feeling, of course, being positive.
The new dealership is defined by the collective strength of it's employees' personal brands. People don't want to connect with or be loyal to a brick and mortar business. They want to connect with other people, relationship must be present before loyalty kicks in. Of course, as is the theme of this post, the direction of these personal brands must come from the dealer principal.
Yes, the dealership is made up of individuals. Individuals with different thoughts and dreams, with different ambitions and personalities. Our personal brands are defined by our experiences and the perception people have of us. That's why it's important that a certain direction is given, that an overall vision for the dealership is spoken about and carried out. If the dealership is all about being green then the personal brand of it's employees must also reflect that. The dealership brand is a reflection of its parts. What do your dealerships' parts look like?
Again, this comes from the very top. That's why there must be a brand leader, the higher up the food chain the better. Take a look at Frank Myers Auto Maxx in Winston Salem North Carolina. The dealer principal, Tracy Myers, has a very strong personal brand. He is a best selling author, a loving husband and father, and a christian that isn't afraid to let others know that he is. He stands for high morals and uses social to get his brand in front of as many different people as possible, he understands transparency. He IS the brand leader and because of it his employees have direction and his dealership is one of the top independents in the country.
I bring up Tracy because he's a shinning example of the point I'm trying to drive home, and that is, social success comes from the top. I hear it all the time, "David, I'm not seeing a return on social." Or, "David, I just don't get it." The reason? It's because you aren't doing what you are supposed to do to build a connection with people. Social is the conversation, it's all about the dialogue. If you want people to connect with you and tell others about you then there must be something substantial about you that makes people WANT to connect with you.
Are you listen dealer principals? Are you listening general managers? Stop using social as way to get your inventory seen, you have to go beyond engagement and create a brand that makes it easy for people to gravitate towards. It's time to get your thinking straight, it's time to get yourself seen.