Can't you just hear it in the background when you try to explain the shift to digital/social marketing from traditional 'push' marketing to a business like, oh let's say, a car dealer? A chorus fills your head from 1978: "Aaahh Freak out! Le Freak, C'est Chic, Freak out!". Scary enough, our sales volumes are near 1978 levels and we continue to advertise as if it were.
From forums on DrivingSales to articles on Advertising Age to the offices of medium- to large-sized dealer groups, there is still a debate. That's' mind boggling! Consumers are gobbling up media at alarming rates. Their chosen media, not advertising. Do you still believe it was the advertisers that killed the newspapers? It's much easier to accept than understand that people don't need to read yesterday's news that they already got online or on their cell phone the day before.
So, people do what people do when they just don't understand: freak out, panic, sweat, worry, bury their heads. Come on, take out the Simple button (thanks for the idea Staples!) and start working and communicating WITH everyone. If you don't understand SEO, social media, microsites, true CRM, integration and the whole list of items that aren't a print, radio or TV ad then simply ask our community. Stop being in love with your advertisements and start being in love with your customers!
Changing the way we generate traffic is not easy, but it is incredibly simple. What is usually missing from any effective digital strategy at dealers is (1) process, (2) stick-to-it-iveness, (3) oversight, (4) knowledge, (5) willingness and (6) a burning desire to succeed. Why wait when you can dominate? The wait mentality really gets my goat. You might as well sell you business if you're going to wait.
Last week while speaking at a NADA 20 Group, one dealer had less than 20% of their marketing budget in digital/online. His explanation? "Hasn't worked!". His process? Buying the same way he buys weekend spot or full-page ads. Folks, online is not a "stick-your-toe-in-the-water-and-see-if-it-feels-good" proposition. All of the transparency and accountability is there, no other media measures like online!!
Whether it's wanting to "own" page one of Google by partnering with a strong SEO company (especially if your website company thinks SEO is simply a typo of CEO), to sharing great content on Facebook or Twitter, effectively engaging service customers with a tool like Driverside, or doing effective CRM with a company like DealerSocket or VINSolutions, it's the same: if you don't know, ask.
If you don't have the best brand possible reflected online, over 60 percent open rates for your emails, positive onliine reputation, inventory that can be indexed by the search engines (you don't if it's framed-in on your website) and a community that communicates with you online, it's time to get your business in order before spending thousands and thousands of dollars every month because someone's convinced you that they can sell more cars for you (if they're that strong, hire them and get rid of your deadwood).
Polish up your Simple button and use it because you should be operating a profitable business and not a charity and blind contribution machine. In other words, make your business right before you continue to help make others right (and more profitable that yours)…
Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results