You'll get a clear playbook, based on hard data, clearly defined tactics and illustrative case studies, for how to make the most of the digital tools that are driving business results.
Speaker: Geoff Ramsey, eMarketer CEO (see below for more info on Geoff)
What: Getting and Keeping Customers Through Digital Marketing Strategies
When: Thursday, February 4, 2010, 1 PM ET/10 AM PT
Geoff Will Brief You On:
- Effective digital strategies used in retention such as e-mail, mobile, social forums, apps, widgets, and webinars
- The wide range of digital tools that are used in acquisition such as search, online video, social networks, and other viral sharing and peer-to-peer tactics
In today's tough economy, marketers need to simultaneously hold on to existing customers and constantly bring in new ones in order to be competitive and survive. New digital technologies and tools can support both these objectives—usually more cost-effectively than traditional media and marketing efforts.
There seems to be a perpetual struggle in the dealer world between the client needing services, needing to change/improve, needing to stay in front of the competition and the vendors needing new places to hock their wares, prove their value, bang the 'we're the leader' drum and pay back their investors. They're both right while not typically paying attention to each other.
In the course of recommending vendors, after assessing the needs of the client, it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint what services will be beneficial. This is more the case today with some providers offering truly integrated, real-time solutions. There are times when, over the course of an engagement, fitting vendors are brought in to do their jobs, but in hindsight it's realized that one larger provider could have done the work. And likely at a lower price while providing a more streamlined experience.
It is always appropriate to push for the larger picture and achieve more but automotive retail has been hit hard over the years with less-than-promised services at outrageous prices and lackluster support. This has been painfully evident with DMS and CRM systems. Many dealers are numb to the pitch today. But have they turned a deaf ear and a blind eye when now is the right time to hear them out again?
Many consultants have the benefit of working with leading-edge and/or forward thinking dealerships and it is a pleasure. In providing best practice recommendations (i.e. the suggestions are honest and the vendor doesn't pay anyone a finder's or recurring fee) it is always necessary to keep goals in mind while ensuring the possibility of exceeding them. Too often the client feels it's the vendors job to 'perform' and the vendor feels it's the client's job to do so as well.
Getting over this 'dealeritis' and 'vendoritis' type of game is essential. and many think it's not happening fast enough. One event started changing things last year and we need more change.
What suggestions do you have to get vendors and dealers together in not-simply-for-large-profits-for-the-promoter forums around the country? Can it be sponsored so the cost is free-to-low for everyone and vendors pitch or should it be a pay-your-way-and-bring-a-sack-lunch event? This is the year of the automotive community: pitch in so you'll win!
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results
You've seen them. You've registered. You've looked a couple times. You've even mentioned them at some of the events you attend to be in the 'know' . But the most you've been involved with what is likely the greatest area of information and opportunity for quicker growth ends with exactly that: not much. Post a comment on a forum? Nonsense. Ask a tough question of your peers? Waster of time. But your processes, results and even poorly rated vendors don't change and the answers are staring at you, through that nice flat screen you convinced your general manager you had to have.
So what will it take to propel dealership involvement in the communities? If we don't change retail, as great as the products have gotten, the fact that new cars are now launched on the web or mobile devices exclusively rather than traditional advertising (about stinking time), the fact that you read reviews of hotels and restaurants on review/forum sites and a list of other valid reasons, the dealer voice online is about as frequent as (fill in your least favorite 80's or 90's pop star here, mine's Cher) appearing on the Billboard Chart's number one spot today.
We can all agree, or let's just say we can, that a lot has had to change in automotive retail. And some are doing it with rewarding results. Even with 'better' results, it's not enough to drop your marketing expense by $50,000 a month compared to a couple years from now, redesign your website and expect cars to fly off the showroom floor. We must share and help each other.
Considering how many have chopped expenses including travel and 20 groups, stopped attending most events and don't even see their reps as much as before, how can you not leverage the online automotive industry communities? That is a rhetorical question considering how many dealers still step over a dollar to pick up a penny.
And let's have real involvement rather the same old list of suspects. A changing of the guard is totally needed, appropriate and refreshing. Does your favorite publication use the same contributors every month? (yawn) Boring! It's no different online.
Dealers, here is the challenge: write down your two or three biggest challenges. Everyone posts them starting tomorrow, for the next 50 weeks. Stupid questions? No such thing! Someone already asked the same or close question? See who else can answer it. What are you afraid of? This is your opportunity to learn while everyone else does. No two people will execute exactly the same so make sure you've got your spin on it.
As an example, after last October's DrivingSales Executive Summit, the comments were consistent not only about the value of the event but the content was more in line with what dealers needed. It was dynamic. The speakers were fresh. The subjects impacted attendees. Then, crickets on the website.
Folks, this is THE year for the automotive online community. Our future success depends on what we do today and for the next 354 days. We have one of the best industries out there, we should treat it as such.
Best Practices: Profession Insight, Powerful Results
In response to further growth and significant prospects for 2010, IM@CS has expanded its consulting team and increased coverage with a Detroit base in addition to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles, CA, and Detroit, MI (PRWEB) January 4, 2010 — Interactive Marketing and Consulting Services (IM@CS) president Gary May was pleased to announce on December 31, 2009 the addition of Jim Elliott to the growing IM@CS team. Elliott, who comes with over 20 years with Ford Motor Company in addition to Web 2.0 startups, will be responsible for dealership and OEM consulting as well as business development for the company. His Detroit-based location also adds flexibility in accessing clients quickly and facilitating increased coverage.
Jim Elliott is known as a pioneering innovator in the areas of e-commerce, sales, marketing and channel management, primarily in the automotive industry. With an interest in collaborative and innovative environments and a special interest in online community start-ups, Elliott’s specialties include e-commerce, interactive marketing, 6-Sigma Black Belt, independent franchised distribution channel management, business development and other hands-on experience in spearheading business.
“I have known and worked with Gary May for most of the past decade, and I lept at the chance to work with him. Gary and I share a passion for winning on the web for our clients in a way that enables them to both grow revenue and reduce costs. Smart dealers know that the web is evolving quickly and they can now empower themselves to compete better digitally. IM@CS brings the tools and strategies to enable them to do just that.”
As an e-commerce executive, Elliott led SmartAuction website management and development of strategic site changes for the online B2B vehicle auction with GMAC. His field expertise, highly developed with Ford Motor Company, continued as Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for Roush Performance vehicles and parts throughout eight states and four Canadian provinces. Elliott has built trusted relationships with dealers in many regions across North America through personal integrity and delivering results.
“Having worked in the past with Jim, he has always struck me as one of the more thoughtful, intuitive marketers. His forward-thinking approach and diligent review of opportunities that have translated to success in very large organizations will easily transfer into our company as well as accelerate our comprehensive services and growth.”
IM@CS, a full-service online branding/marketing, sales coaching and process consulting firm, has offered best practices in online media, Web 2.0, interactive content and targeted marketing since 2007. Clients include leading edge dealerships, automotive manufacturers, portals and service providers. IM@CS also serves other large consumer-facing businesses including real estate, specialty markets and unique/high-end services.
Visit www.imacsweb.com today. Call 310-377-6481 or info(at)imacsweb(dot)com for more information or
contact IM@CS at P.O. Box 3789 Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274
# # #
Interactive Marketing and Consulting Services
Online Web 2.0 Version
You can read the online version of this press release here.
Internet has made apparent that a company's website is an increasingly
important asset, and many businesses are now embarking on website
redesign projects to "improve" their websites. However, in order to
really get the most out of a website redesign, companies need to
construct their website in the context of a greater Internet marketing
strategy. Attend this free webinar presented by HubSpot's VP of
Marketing, Mike Volpe, to learn stategies for a successful website redesign.
This live webinar will cover:
- Before you get started: when and why to do a website redesign
- Keyword research to build out website content strategically
- Building your website's reputation via blogs and social media
- How to measure results from your Internet marketing efforts
Live Webinar: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 1pm EST
Reserve Your Spot For This Free Live Webinar
It's not every day that you come across as example of what you're preaching, especially when it's in the automotive world. To be brutally honest, it almost never happens around social media, blogging, websites and the like. And then, just like in the movies, a kid gives you hope. This is not a typical post at all for us but this much-needed fresh air deserves credit.
A jaunt down dealership social media lane today will reveal about 85% plus of franchises screaming "buy here" and all sorts of offers, incentives, links to inventory and other huge no-no's. Finding stores that are actually talking with the public is so rare you'd think that, even considering the poor reputation car dealerships have, all hope of being real humans was gone.
Enter Scott Mitchell and his online brand: www.IAmAudi.com, or @I_Am_Audi on Twitter. After following his social media moniker for a while, I ventured to his site/blog and was even more impressed. Not being a client (nor his Audi store in Oregon) and never having met, his content comes across purely and without a drop of pretentiousness. This is interesting considering the Audi history, massive brand awareness of late and knowing how aggressive they're being in (old school) offline marketing and (new school) online marketing, Scott's property could have screamed "Audi Is King'.
Rather you get taken along on a ride (drive) through Audi's past, present and future. The articles are engaging and have purpose. With a fair balance of statistics, news, photos and '4 ring' passion, there's not a list of current incentives or begging you to come in to the store.
Have a question about Audi? Find this site or his Twitterperson and you feel like you're going to get an answer without having to sit around a showroom for 20 minutes, let alone have a salesperson hounding you for the 'best deal of the year'.
And outside of the link to and map location of the dealership employing him (kudos to that general manager!) there's not an ad, money generating link or anything else that hints at outside-interest-ladened affect. Folks this might be the wholly grail. Look, listen and learn because there's a new resource around.
Great job Scott, welcome to the 'gets it' club…oh, are you on Facebook?
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results
Two items that we talk a lot around but typically don't address directly are the 'blocking and tackling' in the retail business. One stops people from the inside, the other from the outside. The first limits a broader brand experience while the second keeps customers away. Slowly eliminate both and you'll win.
Dealership firewalls, website blocking, limiting controls and other less-than-trusting measures remove timely access and ability to become involved in what is the greatest area of traffic generation today. Add to that the understanding of what is happening in the market during the time in each person's day that it matters most. Whether posting to Facebook, sending test leads to competitors, scanning forums and reputation sites (likely for what Google alerts notified the store of), or seeing a competitor's site updates and overall becoming involved in the essential aspects of branding and reach, being online is essential.
No, just block everything. Enter the typical excuses for limiting adult access to the web at dealerships: time waste, inappropriate content, non-work activities and more. Wow, great thing that your IT director has that closed down!! Whew, and you thought smoking on the point, chatting incessantly on cell phones, water cooler banter about the dealership's 'less-than-perfects' and simply hanging out for the next up was a time suck. Boy the Internet did change everything.
So all of that other stuff is now ok and some barely negligible photo of a little known celebrity topless on some remote beach in Europe is wrong? It may be but the technology that allows a complete blackout of surfing the web in what can be extremely productive time can also be set up to allow the right use. Have someone violating your store's TOU? Then fire them for the same reason that you would for violating other company policies. Ok, enough about that dealership mistake that is completely circumvented by someone's web-enabled device.
The second issue is blocking the other stuff that your store also needs: customers. If you've not woken up to 2010 (or 2009, or even 2008 and before for that matter) and realized that people are judging you before ever deciding to step foot in your showroom you've got to take the blinders off. The days of hiding aspects of your operation, be it front-end or back-end, and surprising customers when they do decide to come in will kill you.
Dealerships that don't decide it's time for transparency are not only kidding themselves, they're also hurting the next store that dissatisfied customer is going to head to. It doesn't matter if it's tackling the next 'up' because it's your turn, stuffing someone that doesn't understand that you could have actually saved them money, stranding someone in the showroom because the used car manager can't find their keys or a litany of other lies and excuses, mistreat customers and you will have fewer of them. And they will let everyone else know online.
There is an abundance of complete disclosure on the web related to everything automotive. So why pretend it's 1994 at a dealership? Because that's what a GM knows or a GSM pushes? Sorry, that has no place in business and deserves to be eliminated completely from our industry's retail locations. The archaic practices that still exist need to replaced by true business excellence. Customers will build a wall so fast around your dealership it'll make your head spin.
So if these are your challenges for 2010, put new plans and goals into action. The walls inside and outside your store will bring your business to a halt. Removing them and getting everyone involved in building your business is the best course you can start the new year with.
Simply put in the words of John Mellencamp in "Tumblin' Down":
Saw my picture in the paper
Read the news around my face
And now some people don't want to treat me the same…
When the walls come tumblin' down
You don't control your reputation, the factory, area pricing or everything else than happens around you, especially on the web and you'll never again control customers. What you do control is your brand, actions and messages. You can influence your customers and that, my friends, is powerful.
Take down the walls…
Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results