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: 742

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

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Comment by Alexander Lau on February 4, 2014 at 1:35pm

I've read your article. It has everything to do with a proper digital marketing strategy.

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.

Comment by Bobbie Herron on February 4, 2014 at 1:28pm

There it is folks.  Alexander, instead of actually reading the blog and utilzing it as an opportunity to gain insight into the dealer side of the business you simply skimmed and then used it to promote a product.  The conversation was about people and process and had nothing to do with a Digital Marketing Strategy.  It was intended to create a dialogue in regards to the success and failures that a store will go through if they just have expectations with no accountability.  Similar to what you just said in your post.  I also have been doing this for quite sometime both in the Sales Management side of a dealership and in the Digital Marketing side.  I'm not one to attack credentials but if your selling your product to dealers on the basis that buying the product fixes the process then I have to question your longevity in this business.  Basically what you are saying is that if I advertise a luxurious suite and then when they show up I take them to a broom closet that they will just say "Perfect, I'll take it" and smile.  I am completely open to your side of this and I am even willing to alter or change my stance but what I am going to need from you in order to take you seriously is a compelling view point.  Advertising and Digital Strategies work hand in hand when it comes to sales.  One does not replace the other.  Even with an outsourcing option available to get people in the door a store still has to be in a position to close the deal and retain the customer once they arrive.  In regards to your comment "if you have piss poor people in place then that's your fault" I would say ....Um... Hello...That's what the entire blog was about.  Glad to see your catching on.  Maybe go back and actualy read it so that we can have an intelligent conversation focused around a common goal.  If not, thats okay too.

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 4, 2014 at 1:21pm

You develop a digital marketing strategy and you attack accordingly. If it stops working, then you adjust. You always adjust and when you get tired of adjusting, you adjust more until you figure out what works and brings in more leads, conversions / sales.

I don't buy your theory, whatsover. Particularly, because I've been doing it for some time and seeing absolute results.

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.

Comment by Bobbie Herron on February 4, 2014 at 1:16pm

Alexander - It's disappointing because I was truly hoping you would be one of the ones who responded to the blog because you understood it.  Vendors make the mistake of promising a dealer ROI results which is the equivalent of a sale and which you have no control over.  It's the same reason that dealers cancel digital products.  Vendors have to stop promising car sales and focus on opportunities. Manage expectations. Your setting yourself up for failure and leaving no responsibility to the dealer.  Regardless of wether it is Digital or Traditional, the fact of the matter is that marketing is intended to increase opportunities.  You can drive 10,000 people to my site today but I will not gain even one sale or retain even one person with top talent if the process in the store is broken.  Can I accidentally stumble into a sale.  Sure.  Now, I don't know you and I haven't yet reviewed your company so I am in no way intending to challenge your capabilities.  What you are missing though is that it takes not just marketing options but the appropriate people and processes in order to succeed.  Look through your ads below.  All of them are about capturing attention, engaging a customer and allowing both branding and peer reccomendation to play a role in the cunsumers journey.  Ultimately though, marketing isn't what sells a product.  People and process do.  I can spend a million dollars with you today but if the customer shows up to take delivery and we aren't on our game then we still lose that sale.  In addition to that, people are fools to think that a customer doesn't have a choice just because a strong digital strategy is in place.  I agree with you that you need both.  I disagree though that one works without the other.

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 4, 2014 at 1:05pm

It's a matter of laying down the foundations for a proper digital marketing strategy and measuring everything along every step of the way. R.A.C.E. = Reach, Act, Convert & Engage.

You're incorrect, I do have the ability to sell cars for dealerships and have for some time. That's the point of this entire blog.

Comment by Bobbie Herron on February 4, 2014 at 1:00pm

Alexander - Although I fully respect your right to an opinion on the matter you actually bring up an excellent point for what will be my next blog post.  "Vendors who need to manage expectations and set up clearly defined strategies and intended results".  Here's why I say that,  You dont to have the ability to sell cars for a dealership. So stop promising that result. You have the ability to build up and drive in opportunities but if the store does not have a strong culture and solid process then those oppoprtunities are wasted.  The fact that you have the ability to promote your business as a response does not justify why you disagree.  So, Im curious.  Tell me more.

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 4, 2014 at 12:44pm

I wholeheartedly disagree. The model is ABSOLUTELY not broken. The problem exists with the groups running dealer automotive marketing strategies, both traditional and digital marketing.

Hey dealers, check out the following and if you're not on board with this, give me a call. I will gladly fix your digital marketing strategy and steer you straight, showing you a definite ROI.

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