Automotive Digital Marketing ProCom

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First Big Takeaway from #DD12 (that has nothing to do with being a digital dealer)

If there's one thing that can be used as a major differentiator between the yearly NADA convention and the bi-annual Digital Dealer Convention, it's a focus on digital technology. At the NADA convention, nearly every component operating a car dealership is covered from washing the cars to direct mail marketing campaigns. At Digital Dealer, it's all, well, digital.

I was listening to many of the sessions that covered different components of internet marketing when I came across one in particular that struck me. Steve Stauning from Dealers United discussed the concept of private dealers having better opportunities than "mega-dealer groups" such as AutoNation.

The amazing thing was that I wasn't as interested in the internet marketing component as I was regarding the concept that small dealerships, just as "ma and pa" stores in other industries, should be focusing on providing the best possible customer experience.

It isn't that they can't compete in digital marketing, but online everyone is on nearly equal footing. To large dealer groups and independent dealers alike, Facebook costs the same. In search, it's definitely possible to throw money at the marketing, but in organic search where the bulk of clicks occur, there is nearly equal footing as well.

Retargeting, QR codes, social advertising - there are all kinds of shiny balls bouncing around but in the end, it's in dealing directly with customers that the real advantage happens at the small dealerships.

If we focus on providing personalized service in ways that corporate dealers do not, we'll have a better chance of retaining them and building life-long customers rather than just sales. Owners should be coming out and greeting new customers whenever possible. General managers need to be shaking hands.

These are activities that do not occur as often at corporate dealerships and they need to be focused on as much (if not more than) the various components of internet marketing.

Yes, I work for a marketing vendor, but if I were giving advice to a single dealership or small group, it would be to return to the concepts that kept the dealership in business for years. The real key to success is in making everyone who buys a car from you feel special. The fact that I was reminded of this at a Digital Dealer Convention was a wake up call for me.

How about you?

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Tags: business, car, dd12, marketing

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Comment by Laurie Halter on April 6, 2012 at 10:06am

JD - great post. It's always good to be reminded that as we go more digital it truly is "back to the basics" of knowing your customers.

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 4, 2012 at 7:19am

JD, itwas great to meet you face to face here at DD12.  I like this article because it says what I've been trying to communicate about word-of-mouth being the king of marketing.  WOM on digital is marketing on steroids.  Thank you!

Comment by Jason Mickelson on April 3, 2012 at 10:26pm

Great point.  It is interesting that the DD Convention triggered this thought from you, but we can buy it.  Many great dealerships are great because they are able to focus on the basics without getting lost in the hype.  Zig Ziglar said it best, "You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want." 

For me, the Digital Dealer Convention is great because of the wide variety of topics that will be covered.  Yes, it is important to take care of the customer.  It is also important to take care of your digital landscape and your response to all email and phone opportunities to ensure that you have someone walking through your door.  It's all in the mix!

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