Automotive Digital Marketing

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Throughout #NADA2014 the buzz of dealers was all about trying to understand all things Digital.

I listened and engaged in many conversations and there was a common theme through out them in regards to finding good "digital people". It's intriguing to me because I think it is interesting that we are still trying to figure it out. Is it possible that we still think there's a difference between "traditional" and "digital" customers or salespeople. Here's the hard truth, you can hire and train what you think is the very best "digital" team around. Give them whatever title you want. Internet Sales Consultant, Acquisition Specialist, Sales Consultant, Internet Manager, Business Development Coordinator etc. It doesn't matter because none of them mean the same thing at every store so even if you hire top talent you still have to implement new processes and enforce accountability.

You can have all the desire in the world to succeed and progress but if you train them and then throw them back into a department that hasn't found a balance between the two worlds they will never be truly successful. We have to change the mindsets of managers and leaders. Dealers can't keep picking the person In the store who knows how to use a computer and slapping an Internet manager title on them. Or hiring talented people only to lose them when they become frustrated with the desk or burn out. Even worse is if they just become complacent, throw their hands In the air, quit following up and stop believing in the opportunities. It's a culture change in a store to be progressive but recruiting and keeping top talent requires it.

Next buzzword on everyone's lips - millennials. I'm a big supporter of molding the next generation. That being said, just because someone is young does not mean they are more qualified than your older staff. Its so frustrating to hear people say that. "Well, it's hard for us because we have an older staff". No kidding? Well just throw in the towel then. Close up shop because with that approach and positive outlook you will be in the next few years anyways.

Here's the deal, Garber Buick has a tenured staff, an Internet manager and a successful sales floor. Garber is a history rich Buick store within a company that has passed through generations of real car guys in the heart of the General Motors state. Some of their best "digital guys" are old dogs. It comes down from the top and the managers are bought in. Its not a secret. You have to transform your team. It's unacceptable to teach someone to follow one process for one set of customers and an entirely different one for another.

Don't train them to respond quickly and with accurate information and then make them wait for thirty minutes to get numbers and say things like "Just Get Them In". Stop telling them to prospect the household and focus on the trade and then look at them like they are crazy when they want a sight unseen appraisal. We tell them to communicate differently but then can't figure out why the can't follow the traditional steps to the sale when they are working a deal. Maybe it's time to create a new set of steps. The model is broken.

The crazy thing is everyone needs to go back and reevaluate the managers on their teams. Figure out who is willing to move forward and embrace a new process in their departments and more importantly the ones who want too. I think that too many dealers step over dollars to pick up cents by not investing in keeping their teams current and well trained. Everyone's allowed to answer the phone? Have you listened to an phone call lately?Most will make you cringe. Train them. Decide today to have an expectations meeting with your teams. Support them in their crazy notions. Go crazy, let them drive a vehicle to a customers work and bring back the trade. Just jokes but seriously, Its time to get on board and be willing to change the culture if your truly going to succeed. Like I said before. #themodelisbroken

Views: 788

Tags: Car Dealer, Convention, NADA, The Model Is Broken, Training


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Comment by Alexander Lau on February 5, 2014 at 7:09am

I would do it like Jack Welch. I would analyze where you are, where you need to be and apply the necessary resources to get there. Cut the fat on the individuals who are essentially clueless in terms of digital marketing.

Uhmmm... Bobbi, you need to start looking at the players in this court. 95% of them, if not more, are not dealerships, they are 3rd party providers that fix dealerships' problems. That is a fact. 

Yes, age has nothing to do with it, go ask the youthful characters running the Social Media world, which, again, the players in these waters so initimately love. The proper mindset, with the correct strategy does. 

@Jeffery, I think you missed my posts on staffing and resources, plus that comes from a strategy that works. "Blood, sweat and a hell of a lot of determination, coupled with the proper marketing strategies, both traditional and digital is what will take you to the top. That cold be said of anything, not just the automotive retail business model. This includes the acquisition of qualified digitally-minded individuals. Dealerships need to learn how to cut the fat more efficiently and take on salaries that are worth their weight." & "The point of my post, the proper digital marketing strategy does, in fact, fix the broken process(es) you are alluding to in your post. If you have piss poor people in place, internally at your dealership, that's your fault. With our strategy, whether you decide to outsource it to us or not, we will fix your broken processes and assist in creating internal champions to get the job done." & "Your first paragraph states: "Throughout #NADA2014 the buzz of dealers was all about trying to understand all things Digital. I listened and engaged in many conversations and there was a common theme through out them in regards to finding good "digital people"."

LMAO! Guess what, that's exactly why you need to implement a strategy on where you are now, versus where you want to be and the resources you have in place controlling the sub-processes under the strategy. However, go ahead and believe what you want."

BTW, we support your competition in upstate NY, which at this point of the thread, I find laughable. I can send you an SEO report showing how badly they are kicking your butt, if you like, if you want to take things to the level of granular digitial marketing metrics data (performance and conversions).

Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 4, 2014 at 9:54pm
Great post Bobbie... I especially liked the part about dealers citing the age of their sales team as a reason they won't embrace digitally empowered sales process. You made me recall a meeting I was at with a group that has a dozen GM's and several GSM's in the room. It was the end of day 1 of a 3 day visit. When the dealer used the age objection, I went to a white board and write 4 numbers. The year in which I was born. I asked the room "raise your hand if you were born before this year..." Not a single hand was raised. I then told the owner "that was the year I was born." His response was "I withdraw the objection..." And we both chuckled a bit.

When it comes to digital marketing prowess. Age is neither an advantage nor a disability.

Comment by Jeffrey Tognetti on February 4, 2014 at 7:41pm

@Alexander- your posts all contain infographs constructed by 3rd party companies, nothing original, just templates. Your giving advice on digital strategy? Lol. Anyway I think you missed the point of the post which appears to be evolution of a dealership's core (the staff) during a period of constant change

Comment by Arnold Tijerina on February 4, 2014 at 6:45pm
See.. Now that's a thoughtful and helpful answer from a knowledgeable vendor. Good job, Glenn.
Comment by Glenn Pasch on February 4, 2014 at 6:40pm


First I want to thank you for your passion. It comes across and that is why your group is doing well and should be glad to have you aboard. As one who came to automotive from a training and process background I fully understand where you are coming from.

I am not sure that the process is totally broken because I have seen it work but your point is correct that unless there is buy in from the top, and real accountability to process and procedure then there will be many lost opportunities from all sources both digital and traditional.

You are well aware that every customer is digital but inside some dealerships there is a hesitation to embrace the new. Sometimes the only thing that dealers do want to know from digital marketing vendors is how many cars will you sell and it is tough for a vendor to say, "well i sent more traffic". That may not be met with enthusiasm.

But in my 4 years+ in this industry I have seen HUGE changes in many dealership leaders because they may not understand it but are reaching out to those who have experience and who they feel they can trust to help educate and implement change.

Where I wholeheartedly agree with you is that long term training is missing. I spoke with a dealer who we have been working with for almost a year and even though he has seen his sales numbers truly double, he is asking me to help him design a plan to help grow his team to be effective leaders for his dealership. That is what is lacking in many groups. Short term mindset versus long term investment.

When I was trying to learn golf, my teacher asked me on the first lesson if I wanted a band aid lesson, so I could get around the course or did I want to learn how to play. The second part would be harder, longer and not as much fun but in the end you will be better. I took the second part and never looked back.

I think in the land of vendors there are those who will provide a band aid, pump up everyone, tighten up quick fixes and that will work for some dealers. and then there are a few who believe we have to make sure the basics are in place over and over again until it becomes habit.

So in the end is it broken? I think for many they may not think so. For you, keep pushing, keep training and keep finding vendor partners who will educate your team to be independent of them, not dependent on them.

If I can ever be of service, let me know. Keep up the good work. 

Comment by Edward Shaffer on February 4, 2014 at 3:42pm

@Arnold - well can anyone read Bobbi's original post and conclude that an opportunity to promote a product existed?!? about missing the point entirely...

Comment by Arnold Tijerina on February 4, 2014 at 2:02pm
@Bobbi - well said.
@Alexander - Why don't you let Bobbi have a real conversation instead of being blatantly self-promoting? It's like you saw an opportunity and jumped at the chance to say how smart you are. Think you have enough links back to your website? Go ahead and answer me so you can stick some more in there. Here's a dealer sharing her views in a blog article on ADM (which is in the minority of posts) and here you go showing dealers exactly why they shouldn't post here. Why don't you do something productive other than spamming ADM with your garbage.
Comment by Bobbie Herron on February 4, 2014 at 2:00pm

So, help me out here then.  You just purchased a dealership filled with sales staff and managers that have been there for over 15 years on average.  Its located in the country thirty miles from a large city and within 20 miles of two identical franchises.  Build my business..Go...

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 4, 2014 at 1:56pm

Fair enough.

Blood, sweat and a hell of a lot of determination, coupled with the proper marketing strategies, both traditional and digital is what will take you to the top. That cold be said of anything, not just the automotive retail business model. This includes the acquisition of qualified digitally-minded individuals. Dealerships need to learn how to cut the fat more efficiently and take on salaries that are worth their weight. 

Comment by Bobbie Herron on February 4, 2014 at 1:52pm

Well, I am not going to engage in an argument with you because that resolves nothing for anyone.  I would however restate what I said previosuly which is that I am open to change.  I am always looking to grow and part of that is checking our egos and welcoming change.  My reference to "digital people" was in regards to the staff in the store not the marketing strategy surrounding it.  Although again, I believe they go hand in hand.  We have a strong strategy now and an even stronger one in place for 2014 but our success has been founded on implementing the correct processes and people so that when we execute we are in a place to truly see a return on our investment.  I am not going to pretend that we can't do things better or learn and educate ourselves more everyday.  That is why I am a member of ADM in the first place.  I think you may have taken my text out of context because it seems to have you worked up to a point where you would rather lash out then have an educated dialogue.  Don't get it twisted, I believe Digital Marketing has a very strong value and I agree that many stores need to outsource to vendors to accomplish what they cannot do internally.  However, It would be a farce to believe that you can be successful operating at only half capacity. I also know that selling a dealer on the premise that you can sell him more vehicles, instead of focusing on what it really does which is create more opportunities to sell vehicles, will do nothing more than make you a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Why woudl you want to set that expectation when you have control over the generation of opportunities but have no part in the conversion of the sale. Your products work alongside a dealerships ability to house inventory, provide a complete experience and offer service after the sale.  If a marketing strategy was all you needed to sell vehicles then our business woudl be a whole lot easier.


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