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Why I Talk About Other Automotive Vendors

I was talking to an internet manager yesterday about their marketing when I brought up Hook Logic. His challenge was that he only gets credit for leads, so while he definitely wanted to help the dealership with our SEO and social media products, he wasn't crazy about the concept of increasing more showroom visitors that did not fill out lead forms or call ahead.

 

As we discussed Hook and other similar products, he wondered about my angle. What was I getting out of it to suggest a solution to his challenge? Was I affiliated with them? Did I get a kick back?

 

As a company, we form strategic relationships with those who we feel are the best at what they do. We know we (and every other vendor regardless of size) can only focus on and dominate a couple of arenas in the digital marketing world, so we like to partner with the best of the best. Sometimes, partnerships aren't practical, so we simply make recommendations of products and services we've heard about "on the street" in order to assist clients and even prospects.

That's how it should be. We have no affiliation at all with Hook Logic, but I've always appreciated what their product brings to the table. When the ISM brought up their challenge, I had no partnerships in place that could solve that specific problem.

Two things I've learned over the years as a vendor are that:

  1. Everyone is fighting for the same share of the dealership's spend
  2. Even indirect competitors are technically competitors if they're taking money that could be yours

When I formed our company, I threw both of those lessons out the window. Everyone should. From the vendor side, much of this industry has been built on kickbacks and relationships. This is the biggest reason that we're in the mess that we're in where the wrong vendors get more exposure than the right ones and the wrong products are forced onto dealers when the better ones are left in obscurity.

To the vendors of the world, please take note. There's plenty of business available for everyone. If you do what's best for the dealers even if it's not necessarily what's best for you, you'll still succeed and will have no problem sleeping at night.

  

To the dealers of the world, it's okay to question motivations. I am glad that I was called out by this ISM. I'm encouraged that they wondered what I was getting out of the recommendation. Sometimes, we recommend partners that we've selected because they're the best at what we do and we do have an incentive to make those recommendations. Sometimes, we recommend non-partner vendors, not because we have an affiliation but because we believe in their product. In both cases, we make those recommendations because we believe wholeheartedly that it's what's best for the dealership.

 

If more in our industry did that, we wouldn't have so many bad products being pushed onto dealers for the wrong reasons.

 

/rant

Views: 572

Tags: DealerAuthority, Suppliers, marketing, vendors

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Comment by Alexander Lau on February 27, 2014 at 12:32pm

My strategy, let the big boys talk their talk, they usually can't walk the walk. Especially based upon corporate pricing. Give me a break... ADP, yeahhhhhhhh...

Comment by Sean Haney on February 27, 2014 at 9:29am

I encounter this daily. I make a suggestion to a prospect based on what's best for THEM, not me, and they look at me sideways with a furrowed brow.  It's a crying shame that those in the dealer world have been taken advantage of so badly that their default reaction is skepticism. All we can do, if we truly want what's best for them, is to keep being as genuine as is possible, and be happy with a slowly turning tide.

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 27, 2014 at 7:04am

Hey, kind of like this, in fact. Two can play at that game!

5 Digital Must-Do’s for 2014, Part II

HA!

Comment by J.D. Rucker on February 27, 2014 at 2:13am

Thank you all for the awesome comments. As all of our partners would attest to, we don't simply take a product and start selling it. We want a deep integration that includes assistance with product development, marketing, and teamwork. We can't do everything well, so we focus on the things that we can master and recommend other companies that have mastered their disciplines.

For example, we do social but we did not have a reputation management component. We talked to every provider in the automotive industry and several outside of the industry. Once we found the solution that worked best with us, we didn't just set up a reseller or referral agreement. We bought into the company and combined our development teams to improve the product before bringing it to market. I'm not saying that out of some sense of pride. It's just a statement of the way that things should operate in this industry rather than the strange deals that seem to pop up left and right.

Transparency. That's really the key.

(This message brought to you by Skittles. Taste the rainbow.)

Comment by Amanda Ryan on February 26, 2014 at 8:07am

Yes! Put the industry first - clients, non-clients, etc. and help them make the most informative decisions based on the information you can provide. Making the industry better, ultimately makes you/your own company better due to the standards rising and expectations being heighten because you've chosen to make the industry a priority!

Comment by Tim J. Pyle on February 26, 2014 at 7:57am

Yes indeed, the inherent conflicts of interest due to Money and Greed and lack of ethics and integrity are everywhere today besides Washington, Wall Street and many other industries. Thanks for pointing this out JD...:)

Comment by Alexander Lau on February 26, 2014 at 7:37am

Also, your point is well taken. Although we claim to do it all, we try and focus on core services, which lies in the Digital realm. Traditional is dying, it's just that we have had so much success with it and there are a lot of dealers still on it, so why deny their money. :-)

Comment by Mathew Koenig on February 26, 2014 at 7:33am
Totally agree Alexander
Comment by Alexander Lau on February 26, 2014 at 7:31am

Partnerships work, they just have to be thought out correctly. :-)

Comment by Mathew Koenig on February 26, 2014 at 7:19am

Great post JD. I applaud what you said. There are advantages to the Dealer when a consultant is in the space that Joe Webb is in where they have no partnerships created and no bias can seep in. There are also situations as you mentioned where strategic relationships are built that may actually offer benefits to the dealer as a result.

IMHO the key to making the latter beneficial for the dealer and not just the consultant, is making sure those relationships are with companies that are the best in their area. Let's face it, some companies hock a million products because they want to get a piece of everything. Some, just focus on being the best at a few.

Either way, I like your style JD and your post is great. Thanks again brother for great information.

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