Automotive Digital Marketing

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From the Trenches - a letter from me to the troops

I don't normally mention my dealership by name... but it's not that I am not proud of it.  It's out of courtesy and the fact that ADM is my personal venue, not that of my dealership.  But today I would like to share an email I sent to the troops of my dealership.  It is heartfelt and sincere.  And it applies directly to Digital Marketing.

To all managers and sales staff:

In case you have any illusions about today's car marketing by your dealership, you must know that Apple Chevrolet markets you.

The manufacturer creates vehicles and markets them. They spend millions, maybe billions on branding and marketing their cars. This is not the job of the dealer. The dealer benefits from this marketing. The dealer's job is to market the dealership, as opposed to other dealerships that may be competing for the same customer.

In today's world, you cannot market price. The newspaper ads of old are gone. When you are within $50 of your nearest competitor, price becomes a non-issue. The issue is you, the people of Apple Chevrolet. It is all about people and customer service. "When you find the right car, at the best price, the only thing left is... the people you trust."

Today, as you read this email, you are being marketed on our "Specials" page. How are you being marketed? By how your customers judge you... your reviews. Do you have any? Pay attention. You are the focus of our marketing.

When I came to Apple Chevrolet 11 years ago as Internet Manager, I asked, "What is our hook?" I meant, what makes us special? What differentiates us from our competitors? I heard the words "Customer Service" over and over again. I wondered how I was supposed to communicate that to "new prospects". If you said so in an ad, it sounded so self-serving and everybody says that.

Today, we have the perfect opportunity to transmit that message. Reputation Management? We have always done that. The only difference today is that we want to market it. We want to broadcast it to those who have never experienced our great customer service. Social Media and Customer Reviews FINALLY gives us that opportunity. WE HAVE THE EDGE OVER OTHER DEALERS. Why? Because we have always earned it. Let's take advantage of this opportunity and broadcast to the world why WE are better than the rest!

I've studied our reviews. They don't write about our wonderful building and facilities. They write about our wonderful people. They write about you.

From this day forward, my goal is to tell the world about YOU! I believe in you. I am sincere about that, and people who know me, know that. Believe in yourself; promote yourself. Ask those people, our customers, who love you to write a review. You can increase our sales and your lifestyle by doing so.

I am not a genius, but when I was working on the slideshow of the history of Apple Chevrolet, it dawned on me that the people in the slideshow ARE Apple Chevrolet. I saw the smiles, the sincerity, the dedication and caring that go into everyday life here at the dealership. There IS a cohesive factor of friendship and respect that flows through every one of us. That transmits to the customer that we are real people who care about each other and care about them.

Thanks for reading all the way through.


Views: 752

Tags: de3alerships, marketing, media, reviews, sales, social


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Comment by Tom Gorham on November 17, 2011 at 4:38am

Thank you Glen.  You can't fake it and you can't buy it.  You have to earn it.  But word-of-mouth marketing has never been more powerful. 

Comment by Glen Garvin on November 16, 2011 at 7:02pm

This is an awesome story.  It's true that dealerships that do well with reputation often do well overall... why? because they don't do "social" because it's the new thing to do... it's the thing they've always done!  They just are doing it on-line now.  You can't fake reputation and you can't fake social media.  It's always existed, you can just track it and monitor it now.  

Ironically, when we look at marketing Dealer Specialties the reality for our full service customers is that our service and reputation and value come from the local rep.  It's that person "in the arena" ... the one who works hard everyday that makes the difference.  It's the value we provide... it's all about the people!

Comment by Tom Gorham on November 16, 2011 at 5:37pm

Thank you Aj!

Comment by Aj Maida on November 16, 2011 at 12:24pm

"the smiles, the sincerity, the dedication and caring that go into everyday life"

Sounds like Tom Gorham to me!!!!!

Comment by Tom Gorham on November 16, 2011 at 7:27am

Thank you Edward and Malinda. 

Comment by Edward Shaffer on November 16, 2011 at 6:45am

Tom - this is powerfull insight into the dealership of the future and is greatly appreciated!  I particularly love the statement you make:

"I've studied our reviews. They don't write about our wonderful building and facilities. They write about our wonderful people. They write about you."



Comment by Malinda Terreri on November 16, 2011 at 6:06am

"They don't write about our wonderful building and facilities. They write about our wonderful people."

Tom - that's a great observation.

Comment by Tom Gorham on November 16, 2011 at 5:39am

Thank you Dennis, I am honored by your analysis.  I believe Social Media to be as revolutionary as the Internet was 10 - 15 years ago (and I was lucky enough to be a part of that).  Both have, and will continue to change the way we do business.

Comment by Dennis Galbraith on November 16, 2011 at 5:30am

This is great Tom! If the service provided by your people is your Unique Selling Proposition, then it must be superior and demonstrated as such. Social media provides an opportunity to first enhance that level of service and then provide your customer base with the tools they need to amplify that message for you. It is a great time to be providing great service.

With leadership like this, you may find yourself in that beautiful spiral of increased customer satisfaction leading to increased employee satisfaction leading to even more customer satisfaction. I've seen it work in the luxury hotel and casino industries. It is all too rare in automotive retail, and I deeply appreciate your sharing this with the industry!

Comment by Ted Benchley on November 16, 2011 at 5:11am

Well said!!  The automotive landscape has changed, so much so, that the only thing left that the dealer has control of is their people!

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