Archives

No, I’m Not Going To Accept Your Invitation. Well, Until You Get It Right

They're there. Every day. New ones. Old ones, Slim ones. Fat ones. Some are red and some are green, many are boring and some obscene. What are they? Well, they're not from Dr. Seuss. Invites, followers, request for follows, join my growing community and more. And most are just plain crap.

As the pandemic of automotive social media, that didn't exist until Q2 or Q3 of last year, bangs on our in boxes and cell phones, it seems that most are happy to take it all in. That is until you actually look at the content, the platforms, the lack of connection and the rampant automation. It's been said before but needs to be said again: There is nothing social about automation, unneeded irrelevant retweets, inventory, prices and more that doesn't promote brand, opportunity, connection, community, events or gosh-I-needed-to-know-that-stuff kind of stuff.

Also, in a world that is supposed to be conscience of terms of use/terms of service, why are dealers still setting up friend pages? Every so-called 'expert' that dealers are listening to must be watching the money and not the process. So here's a free tip: Set up Fan Pages so you don't get the boot when Facebook finally does sweeping audits and you find your page, in technical terms, gone. In simple terms, there are things that you can't get with a facebook friend fage that you get with Fan pages, the correct set up for your business. And once you get to 100 fans, you can change to a vanity URL in Facebook.

If you've set up a Twitter page, please watch your followers. Unless you're intentionally inviting or ignoring the bots out there, you don't want to show the world that you care more about not paying for white teeth, earning $5,000 a week from Google or Stephanie3624236's free naked pictures. Everyone can see your followers and you may be limiting your social media success, at least to a degree, if you don't have a clean welcome mat.

YouTube is a huge opportunity on many levels so why don't you start with the basics? They're out there for free on any blog or support channel around the website. One is to start with is the naming convention of your movies. Another is the tagging. There are more so that you can leverage the network correctly (including embedding your own videos in your own website as well) but the focus here is just get the correct assistance in setting up your social media networks. Attempting to go 'viral' with a car walkaround with 4 visits isn't likely going to happen.

Take the time to set up your presence correctly, get the right advise and simply look around so when you get your answers and they don't make sense, ask more questions.

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Branding, Communication and Process For Dummies (AKA All Of Us) In Time For NADA

If education, reinforcement, results and transparency are the benchmarks of success why are we all not more successful than we are right now? More often than not, in our beloved industry, what has been around for a long time is considered as accepted or the norm and what is new is rejected with rare exception. At the end of the day we're branders and communicators entirely and inextricably linked to the success or failure of process. Well, we need a wake up call.

Recently there has been a barrage of articles on everything from social media must do's for car dealers to self-indulgent bantering among dealership consultants, from incessantly republishing authoritative sources to fill pages and drive traffic to kicking dead horses and old ghosts. And who are we kidding? The whole industry has to wake up to new ways of doing business, engaging consumers that control content, delivering more value than flash to dealerships, learning more than preaching and finally…wait for it…stop talking about what you don't understand.

So what's the difference between ignoring technology because management says "you can sell without it", the Barracuda firewall encasing your dealership is controlled by a corporate yes man who thinks that every 10 minutes on Facebook is one unit lost and your so-called vendors swear they're "all over it" and getting passed by like a 911 GT3 in 6th gear? Not much unless you truly desire to be in business and profitable over the next 24 months.

Every piece of real data out there shows the same thing: brand, communication and process control your path. Not advertising. Not high-pressure salesmanship. Not displacing your cranium under the warm sand. Brand is shared. Communication is shared. Process doesn't need to be shared but without it you won't remember where the brand and communication go (even if you've got really good hair, a tan and bling to win over GMs and dealer principals with).

So, when's the last time you went through your website (and saw keyword stuffing and out-of-date optimization)? Checked out your templates (and saw that they didn't have links in your signature block)? Really customized your 'newsletter' (that is the same as everyone else's)? Checked, double-checked and then triple-checked your third-party lead sources (unless you have no issue with them showing 80 leads and 315 phone calls when you're positive that the real number is half that)? Do you truly know what your site analytics show? How are those inbound links working for you? And your press releases? When was the last blog post you did?

Today I overheard a salesperson getting educated at a dealership. Rather than say trained, we'll go with that. He was asked not to say "welcome to (name of dealership), my name is (his name), how can I help you?". It was explained that by putting the showroom guest in the position of being 'helped' that they will feel put off or less empowered and it was better to offer assistance by saying "how can I assist you?".

Let's not kid ourselves any more. Many in automotive retail need HELP and those that ask will get it from the best sources the industry has to offer, as long as they're willing to go with the new. As you check out all that has to be offered in Orlando this weekend, where is your help going to come from?

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

The Square Peg, The Round Hole and Public Opinion. How Can The Dealer Win?

The factory, the product, the media coverage, the recalls, the blitz of lacking and half-cooked information. When does the dealer get the coverage? When they're closing, exposed as corrupt or so-called environmentalists torch their lots. Welcome to the square peg and the round hole in the automotive industry, if not the perfect storm.

And who's to blame for the lopsided ego-train? Yes, the factory is guilty: plain as day. More than not, they treat the dealer like a flea on the 800-pound gorilla. But so is the dealer base. For the last couple decades, the dealers have waited for the new models, created mediocre-at-best, self-indulgent print and radio ads, greeted fearful (or at least resentful) customers in less-than-desirable locations and then wondered why they have the (earned) reputations they do.

With exception to the leaders in the industry, dealers have not done much to truly brand and distinguish themselves. Don't get 'yer panties in a wad yet: We're not saying that you don't impact your communities, gainfully employ many or that you don't feed tax revenue into your city's coffers. What we are saying is that the dealer brands have not matched, let alone eclipsed, the nameplate and that is sad. Today would be one of those days if you happen to sell one of two import brands…and we all know that the domestics have had their days as well.

There has not been a better time ever to build a sustainable brand aside from what the factory does. And wouldn't you want to do something different?!?!?! Have you paid attention to most car ads? Have you seen the POPs that are created for showrooms? You're better off putting one of those 40-foot high lizards or cylindrical men with billowing arms on your roof! Actually, please don't do that, 1986 called and they want their marketing back.

How does the dealer win today?  Start competing with the factory by becoming your own media. On the web it's more achievable for less money than you'd ever imagine, if you do it right. You might even start working with your customers and actually source, communicate and retain them successfully. There are some OEMs that actually want to take over your CRM and relationships but it's not because they can do it any better than the dealer can. Truth is it's not happening correctly at retail. This evening I was talking to a successful local dealer group that has one of their import stores source nearly every walk-up the same way in their CRM: simply click the first drop down choice. CRAP!

The foundation for winning is simple, it's just not easy: unbreakable processes, management from the top down, complete comprehension of systems and support and a die-hard commitment to the customer. If we don't do that, it's all for naught.

These are still very trying times in automotive (special mention to the banks!). Maybe we can all start by simply trying to keep ourselves from making it any harder. Start internally. Then make sure your 'home' is in great shape. Then concentrate on the customers. Then, alas, take care of the factory.

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results