Automotive Digital Marketing

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What boxer would step into the ring without having studied his opponent? 

What coach would take his team onto the field without have watched game films of their competitor?

One of the key differences between being a champion or an “also-ran” is knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your rival. The same is true in business. The ability to scout your opponent and then use this information to design and implement a solid game plan is critical to your dealership’s success. As a professional, you owe it to yourself and your team to provide them the best opportunity to win.


When scouting your competition, what is your goal? The primary intent should be to gather as much useful information as possible, so that you can come up with a tactical plan to use which will give you the best possible chance of not only maintaining, but capturing a bigger share of your market.


First, you need to determine what competitors most affect your business. Is it the competing brand dealer next door? Or, is it the dealer selling your brand just a few miles away? Then, what are the key indicators of processes, people, marketing and systems that can most affect success?


In digital marketing, this is fairly clear cut. You have to ask, “Who is saying what and how are they saying it to my customer”? With a study of your competitors you can determine many things: Do they have a BDC or a dedicated internet department? How fast do they respond? Do they have a follow up process? What kind of CRM do they use? Are they using newsletters? Do they send videos? Are they using 3rd-party vendors to communicate with the customer? And on and on. Keep in mind that quite often you are both communicating with the same customer. So, how do they answer the same questions that you are asked?


To gather this information requires behaving as a customer would—by going into your competitors’ websites and requesting a response, collecting all of the responses and then correlating the information into a coherent format. It’s not enough that you shop just your competitors. You also have to examine yourself fairly to get a true benchmark of how you compare to your competition. This is not information that you can produce once a year or even once a quarter and gain the advantage you are looking for. This exercise should happen at least on a monthly basis to effectively monitor your changing market place.


Many of you have heard of the mystery shopping concept before. Some of you have even taken the time to conduct your own mystery shop. OEMs will also provide some mystery shopping data. Unfortunately, it normally only provides grades and none of the actual results that you need to best formulate changes in strategy. Many of these are like getting the score of the game, but none of the player stats or the play by play.


With the rapidly changing environment of Automotive Digital Marketing, which requires active study of changing systems, practices, customer behavior and market, there is less and less time to focus on the most important responsibility of all, which is to sell cars. The practice of studying your competition is much too important for inconsistent attention. With more to do and less time to do it, it is to your advantage to find a partner that can facilitate this study on a regular basis. They must provide reliable data that is readily accessible and easy to understand.


Don’t go into the game without knowing your opponent. Your success depends on it!


Jeff Wardwell

President & CEO

Driving Force Automotive Marketing

For more information email or call 281-866-9180

Views: 261

Tags: automotive, car, competitive, conquest, dealer, mystery, shopping


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Comment by J. Michael Zak on September 20, 2012 at 9:02am

Alert and successful dealers are always looking to differentiate themselves from the competition.  Just seeing their cars on the lot or viewing their website is no longer enough.  In this digital age my competition is not just down the road they are everywhere.  

Jeff's article reminds me to keep pressing on all fronts.  To keep inquiring and networking is crucial in today's market.  If you are not in a dealer association join one and go to functions.  Join a twenty group and go to functions.  Talk to your vendors and pick their brains on what they see and hear in the market place.

Comment by Doug Davis on September 19, 2012 at 5:35pm

I bet I have had a hundred fake email accounts on hotmail and Gmail.  I used to recon the competition every month.  I wanted to see their email templates, prices and determine how long they would follow up.  I even set up a call measurement number routed to my office phone so I could change it often.  It was time consuming but well worth it.  

I have a service that shops the client dealership and several competitors that provides all that information in report form.  You get copies of their emails, response times, how persistent the followup etc. Because it shops the client's store, it rarely comes as good news.    

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