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What is wrong with OEM Digital Marketing Consulting? This is...

Recently I was let go from a company who "specialized" in OEM contract bidding and copied old play books to execute the actual consulting. When I joined this company I was excited to be working with the latest and what I thought was the greatest. What I found? Old fashioned politics that is the core problem with the industry. Before I left I had a conversation with a one time friend online, who I promise to remain nameless who wrote this message to me, now mind you I will not disclose names no matter how many times I am asked:

MR. SMITH WROTE: I had to dumb myself down 400% and settle in. NO dealer does it right or put another way the way I would do it. Had to drop my ego as a National talking head. Why now spend the time? This is the job I worked into for the season. Here is what I have come to realize. Who is the expert in the room? Whoever talks the longest or the loudest!!! 

MY Job 1. Make the OEM love me
MY Job 2. Make the OEM love me, while making my boss look like its all him and love me
MY Job 3. Make the OEM love me, while making my boss look like its all him and love me, Make the dealer love me

I am not made for the politics game. Plain and simple I want what is best for the dealers I know, respect, and love working with. OEM management team say they want partners, this is one of their biggest lies, their don't want partners, they want ego strokers. One time as I was listening in on an OEM DMC call, I heard the "trusted advisor" and "partner" guest speaker spout off inaccurate and rather offensive information about Yelp.com. I audibly snorted and said, "wow, I couldn't disagree with you more but thank you for sharing" after hearing this OEM team continue to work with companies that openly bash another company that they do not understand I began having great reservations about my long term career plans.

What is wrong with the OEM? 

3rd party leads-

They buy them and force feed them to dealers, they blame lead limits and radii as why they fail not the fact that they are actual junk

They don't understand digital-

I attempted to sit through a national digital sales manager presentation, it was like hearing nails on a chalk board, he could not tell you the difference between geo-targeting or retargeting...

Ends Justify the means-

Integrity shows your character and when you have no character you care only about results not the implications of the actual actions. When onsite review generation came up as a topic of discussion and a "best practice" came to present itself where there was the recommendation to find ways to "Game Google" and no Larry Bruce wasn't on the call... The Sales Manager said, well who cares as long as it gets it done.

If you work for an OEM and are looking for a digital marketing partner, please look for ways to help your dealers not for kickbacks from the bidding companies.

Dealers, if you have an oem dmc come into your store ask them who they actually work for and who created the syllabus they are following... the actual one and how old it is. If it hasn't been revamped in the past 3-6 months ask them why not?  Why are they talking about Star rating and volume of reviews and not content of reviews and quality response time. Where is your action item created from negative online feed back?

If you are an OEM DMC DONT DUMB YOURSELF DOWN! Push yourself harder each visit and leave it all on the show floor...

and yes I lost two friends over this entire situation... saddens me and is the greatest regret of my professional life.

Views: 2135

Tags: digital marketing consultant, oem, oem dmc, regional elead consultant

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Comment by Stan Sher on December 8, 2013 at 4:28pm

At this point you need to go to work for yourself.  You cannot be an employee because your voice has become large and respected by many.  You cannot let your voice be heard when you are a frontline employee because employers like to keep things quiet.  Take it from someone who knows and has been there.  Given your background it is time that you go out and do something huge for yourself.  Sit down and create an action plan.  Also, do it for you and your family.  Do not do it with vengeance and to fight back at others.  Make your money and enjoy your success.

Comment by Brian Bennington on December 7, 2013 at 12:14pm

OK Micah, per your comments to Jordan, I’d say you’re definitely unemployed.  For some reason, I thought you were back to work, having been snapped-up by one of your friends in the business.  Jordan’s advice about “leveling off and turning the volume down” is excellent, but my only question is if making “said adjustments” would conflict with who you actually are?  My impression of you is undoubtedly invalid because I’ve never met you, but your blogs and comments make me think you’re an honest, hardworking and knowledgeable car guy whose experience could benefit a lot of the vendors who infest ADM, of which I am one.  This leads me to elaborate on a previous suggestion I gave you for your next career, that is, if you are planning to go back to work?

You really should consider going into business for yourself.  You’d be a natural to rep a lot of the ADM vendors, especially if they don’t have representation in your area.  But, cut deals so you rep multiple products in order to maintain control of what you sell.  That will keep you from having to put up with bad products, bad employers, bad customers, and just about everything you’ve objected to in your past blogs.  You strike me as a guy who, when he believes, is super devoted to delivering for his employer and customers alike.  However, when you don’t believe, you remind me of the leader of the townsfolk, with torch and pitchfork in hand, marching up to burn down Frankenstein’s castle.  I think “volatile” is the word I’m looking for.

An independent rep with your background shouldn’t require any big investment.  Probably just expenses, which would be covered in your compensation.  You’ll be paid for want you know and how well you sell.  (In this age of “sleeping jerk-offs,” that’s the admirable way to earn.)   And, if your bio is accurate, you’ve got a lot of fans to advocate for you and get the word out.  If you took a little time, you could find plenty of other benefits.  Whatever you decide to do, please keep us informed.  I’m sure everyone at ADM is rooting for you!  And, quit wallowing in self pity and deluding yourself that your “observations are actual.”  Remember, everyone’s “suspect’” and this “shining the light on a very dark side” is worse than dangerous, it’s unproductive.  In nearly every case, no one likes a “shit disturber.”  Please, I know you’re a smart talented guy.  Start acting like one and stop the wimping!

Comment by Micah Birkholz-1:16Digital Media on December 5, 2013 at 11:47am

Thanks Jordan!

Comment by Jordan Schooley on December 4, 2013 at 9:05pm

I understand you're not employed any longer, but given your love of the industry, I'm assuming you're going to try to dive back in.  I was just trying to give you my perspective having worked on both sides for years.  And I'm sorry I wasn't clear about the "rude comments" - I was alluding the the episode you related about "snorting" on the conference call, not your post overall.  You're right - I've worked with folks in the Renn Cen and in Dearborn, and what you describe is accurate.  Of course their character is suspect - that's how some of them got to where they are.  But I've also worked in financial services, telecom, pharmaceutical and CPG, and I can tell you that the situation is similar regardless of the sector.  And after more than 10 years of working with dealers I can tell you they ain't all angels either.  

This is where the pragmatism comes in - the integrity you display is admirable, but you need tact to survive.  And if you reach a point when you can no longer be tactful, you have to leave before they show you the door.  If you don't, you run the risk of gaining a reputation as a loose cannon, which is death anywhere.  

Good luck Micah.  I hope you have a better experience in you next adventure.

Comment by Micah Birkholz-1:16Digital Media on December 4, 2013 at 7:36pm

the thing is Jordan I am not employed any longer... It is not rude comments but actual observation... I have worked with many men and women who both led and worked as OEM hired digital marketing consultants. My post was to shine a light on a very dark side that I had first handedly witnessed. It is rather unfortunate that those with political agendas are so powerful and I have learned that their character is suspect. Thank you for adding to the conversation Jordan!

Comment by Jordan Schooley on December 2, 2013 at 7:06am

Micah - I admire your passion.  There isn't enough of that in this business. If I have one piece of advice for you, however, it is to temper your passion a bit with some pragmatism.  Believe me - I've learned that the hard way.  You need to remember that digital marketing is rife with politics within the OEM's, and throwing the dealers into the mix just adds another level of complexity. 

"Making the OEM love me" is not your main role, it is an incredibly important one.  You need to understand their point of view.  The OEM believes tier 3 digital marketing is the dealer's job, and if they do need some guidance, the OEM thinks their zone staff should be able to handle it.  So they will only hire an outside party only grudgingly.  To them, you are a cost - a cost they shouldn't have to incur - so your presence is precarious from the outset.  So you need to do at least one of the two things the OEM's value most when it comes to dealers:  1) Give them more control over dealer operations, or 2) Show them results.  You need to understand this:  The OEM's don't care if your dealers like you.  They don't care if you are showing results your dealers like.  The OEM's want to see results that directly benefit them, because in the scenario you've laid out they're your client, not the dealers - and frankly they're right. 

As I said above, you need to remember you're in the middle of a very complex relationship.  Neither the OEM nor their dealers are saints, but neither is the devil either.  They both have their own agendas, neither of which is altruistic.  They would be light years ahead of where they are and their competition if they figured out how to work together and were competent in this field, but if that were true, we'd be out of jobs, wouldn't we?

Micah, don't lose your passion.  But instead of making rude comments, be the voice of reason. Use ignorance as a platform to show your expertise - that's how you'll gain respect.  And remember that the longer they stay wilfully ignorant, the longer people like you and me will be employed.  They can take your advice or disregard it - at the end of the day, you get paid either way.

Comment by Brian Bennington on December 1, 2013 at 4:16pm

Micah, I’m sorry I digressed into why I love the car business, but it was only in response to why friends are so important to your love of it.  Your last comment brought home to me the sadness you feel about losing them, and it actually sounds like a real burden to carry.  If you’ll allow me, may I suggest a way to ease, or possibly eliminate, the pain you’re feeling?

First, take time to think about why you had them in the first place, blended with an honest examining of what you, deep down, didn’t like about them.  Finally, and you have to be careful with this because it can rear the “ugly head of guilt.”  Ask yourself why they didn’t like you enough to want to maintain your friendship.  Correctly done, you’ll arrive at the final stage (my personal favorite), where you just say “to hell with ‘em.”

But, there’s good news ahead!  There’s a world of friends out there you haven’t met yet, and there’s a great chance many of them will be better than the last batch.  You have my word on that.  Because romance is a type of friendship, my life playing rock & roll in the ‘60s taught me early on that, like friendships, there’d be an encounter tomorrow night that will relegate last night’s encounter to exactly what it should be; a pleasant memory.  If I would have tried to hang on longer then the time allotted for such things, they very likely would have ended badly.  (What a fun metaphor!)

Comment by Micah Birkholz-1:16Digital Media on November 30, 2013 at 8:46pm

Facebook destroyed the the definition of the word "Friend", with that I could agree with you more @Brian, still, those who I lost as connections were people I trusted, respected and consider amicable acquaintances whom I would trust with my children... if that is the definition of a friend then yes I am saddened to lose that connection.

Comment by Brian Bennington on November 30, 2013 at 6:04pm

Micah, I appreciate your commentary, too.  But, the term "friend" has metastasized into a terribly misused, overstated, ambiguous description of one person's relationship with another, primarily because of the estrangement, insecurity and growing malaise our society is creating.  (Is that too heavy?)  Yes, I know we all have our ideas of what a friend is, but I head more towards Wikipedia's definition that it is a "stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association."  Accordingly, I'd believe that our previous exchanges and my concern for your job loss transcended our ADM association, so I'm comfortable referring to you as a friend, even though we've never met.  (Not too shabby of a "recovery," huh!)

The friends I've met in the car business, and really every business I've been in, have little to do with my love of selling.  Although, I did especially like them for their entertainment value.  Every place I worked, my first question about any "new hire" was if they were funny.  Reflecting back on my career, the memories that first come to mind are those of the goofy and hilarious events I had the good fortune to see and sometimes participate in.  But, you'd have to agree they were ancillary to the selling I did.

I love this business for one reason.  The "relentless pursuit" of perfecting the communication (in my case, written words) that build my client reps' relationships with their customers, and doing it "invisibly" so as to convincingly appear to come directly from my client reps.  And, that challenge is as invigorating and exciting to me as it was the first time I began to realize what customers really wanted to hear.  Even now, it's damned near euphoric for me to be told the positive results the letters I ghostwrite generate.  As calloused as it may sound, the foundation of selling is mind control, and the farther you get from it, the closer you are to an "order taker," and to me, that's the height of "boring."

Comment by Micah Birkholz-1:16Digital Media on November 30, 2013 at 9:29am
Brian I appreciate you and your commentary:) Friends are very valuable to me, it may be a weakness for some but to me they lift me up and are the reason why I love the car business:)

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