Automotive Digital Marketing

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This is a blog entry where I will probably irritate a few people.


Those that have known me for any length of time will know that I don't theorize without experimentation.

I personally believe that what has been written so far is true... People are the essence of success in any dealership and a web site provider or providers will all fail to generate any business for a dealer without the myriad of people and processes that must be put into effect... HOWEVER, I believe it is just plain ridiculous for a dealer to have one web site or one web site provider.


At Courtesy Chevrolet I built a sales juggernaut that was supported by over a dozen different web sites from BZ Results, The Cobalt Group, Reynolds Web Solutions, Fresh Start Studio, Network Solutions, 1and1 and a few other minor players. Web sites, when the purchase is negotiated properly are the cheapest form of advertising from any perspective you look at them, that is available today.


Why any GM dealer would pass on The Cobalt Group's GM PowerShift web site for $375 a month is beyond me... And, now they are free! Of course, the conversion rate of Cobalt web sites from a visitor to leads generated perspective is horrible, but take a look at to see an example of a GM dealer using high end Flash based content from BZ Results, injected inside his Cobalt web site to improve the conversion rates. That same store also has AutoFuse (ADP) microsites such as to drive additional organic traffic and be the landing point for their online ads for Corvettes.

Meanwhile, the store banks on their primary site at which is painted in giant letters on the side of their building facing Interstate 8 and over 100,000 vehicles a day.


After getting control of the dealership last April, the GM (Chad Hubler) has used digital marketing centered around multiple web sites from multiple vendors, along with hiring Alvin Newton away from Bob Baker Chevrolet Subaru, to double the store's sales and go from losing money every month to making money for the first time in over 3 years. Yes, call me a heretic, but I recommend that dealers use 15% of their total advertising budget to buy, set up and launch multiple web sites, as many as possible, from multiple vendors with each site targeting different customer segments, different products and different services... Personally, I like being the only dealership in town that launches a new microsites every month! Unfortunately, Phoenix has been ruined because all the other Chevy stores started copying Courtesy Chevrolet before I left and went to work for ADP.

Here are a baker's dozen examples from a single-point franchise Chevy dealership:


All together, for less than $6,000 a month this dealership looks like a dozen dealers online, and gets the leads that a dozen dealers would normally get.

Ralph Paglia
cell: 1-505-301-6369
"Available for speaking engagements and Digital Marketing Power Workshops"

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Tags: Courtesy Chevrolet, Dealer, San Diego, critical mass, micro site, micro-site, microsite, website


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Comment by Brian Hoecht on January 7, 2008 at 7:45am

Any thoughts on what dealers can do to ensure that every market doesn't get "wrecked" as every dealer copies what Courtesy does in their local market.

You did set off an arms race in that market for dealers selling cars online. Kudos to you for getting ahead of the curve. Unfortunately as you have pointed out, the barrier to entry for competitors is next to nothing.

Any thoughts on the design of a sustainable competitive advantage?

You know I sell 30-50 mile franchise-exclusive territories with Ai-Dealer's ( shopping cart ecommerce / transactional website capability for car dealers to sell cars online. This does give a sustainable competitive advantage (at least until there are multiple such services in the marketplace).

Any thoughts on what you would do if you were still at Courtesy or at a dealership and in another market and wanted to do this?

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