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I still remember the phone call last year. It was Chris Fousek, the e-Commerce Director for the Village Automotive Group wanting to discuss ideas for a workshop he was going to do for the Digital Dealer Conference last October.

 

He used the term “Business Intelligence.” It was the first time I had heard that term, but the way he explained it, it got me thinking about how our industry and the way we market and advertise will change in the next couple of years.

 

I’m paraphrasing here, but the essential idea was that dealerships were soon going to have access to all sorts of data they didn’t have before. And it was going to open numerous business opportunities from a marketing perspective. Data from social media platforms and data resulting from following customers through the entire buying process online as they go from website to website are just two of many areas in which data will explode for automotive.

 

That workshop, I suspect, was part of the genesis for one of the general sessions last week, which included a panel moderated by Eric Brown from Dataium, a company that’s generated a lot of buzz the last several months. (Dataium is able to track visitors to your website – not just where they go on your site, but where they go after your site. Basically, they aggregate the data resulting from every single click on the web).

 

The panel, which Fousek was on, employed one of the newer buzz words circulating techdom – “Cloud Intelligence.” Cloud computing refers to computer services and applications delivered over a network (such as the Internet) rather than an actual computer. Essentially, your computer plugs into the network to access all of the services and applications.

 

I’m guessing here, but I assume “Cloud Intelligence” refers to the large amounts of customer data that is being generated whether it’s online data or data within applications. The idea is that your dealership would access that data as needed – it would pull finance data from a server in Houston while marrying it to data from Polk in Detroit and then applied to data in your customer database – and voila! You have the perfect customer to market to.

 

I admit, that’s a simplistic explanation – but let’s use Paragon Honda as a possible example. Paragon is selling almost 100 vehicles a month to service customers.

 

It’s able to do this primarily because of the data it uses. Brian Benstock, a partner and vice president with Paragon was the featured speaker at one of Friday’s general sessions. (If you ever have the chance to hear Brian speak, make the time to do so. It is an enlightening and enjoyable experience).

 

Here are the steps Paragon uses to sell to its service customers. A vAuto stocking report informs Paragon which used vehicles it needs on its lot – vehicles that have the greatest turn while generating the most profit.

 

That report then is applied to data within Paragon’s database to determine which customers have those vehicles. From there, Paragon, using AutoAlert, is able to determine which of those customers have equity in their vehicles – which makes it easier to do a deal. Paragon then markets to those people using a BuyBack program (We want to buy your used vehicle).

 

TeamVelocity and Tier10 helped Paragon design the program from how to pull the data together in a way that’s actionable to the integrated marketing strategy it uses to pull customers in.

 

The marketing builds the branding – most customers aren’t going to respond to a direct mail piece or an online ad. But when they bring the vehicle in for service, Paragon generates a personal sales proposal for them that reinforces the message they’ve been seeing.

 

That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of what dealers will be able to do with data in the next couple of years.

 

In fact, the real value of social media might not be in the number of followers or fans, but in the data and how it will open the doors for you to market with a laser-like focus in ways you’ve never done before.

 

Google was revolutionary when it burst on the scene, but the fact is, it still is guessing about its users. Yes, the algorithms are sophisticated, but Google is still guessing. Meanwhile, we are telling Facebook what we want, where we work and what are interests are. There is very little guesswork involved.

 

For example, (again a simple idea) a dealer in Mountain View, CA, can use Facebook (or LinkedIn) top target Google employees with special offers. Any dealer can do that – target potential customers at large organizations.

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Tags: Chris, Data, Dataium, Dealer, Digital, Fousek, Honda, Paragon

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Comment by DON GRAFF on October 13, 2011 at 3:47pm
great examples of using data that exists internally marrying it to several software tools and executing on a new level. thank you Cliff for showing this to our community. I have known Chris since the first digital dealer in 2005 and have visited him several times in Boston. He is always doing new things. Brian Benstock shows again why his stores are top performer. He is always pushing the envelope. I am sharing this with every one I know. talk to you soon

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