Automotive Marketing Professional Community for Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
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?