With the exception to recent Twits (@imacsweb on Twitter) on the state of the auto industry in the form of short blurbs and links, I've steered clear of commenting deeper. This blog's focus (and definitely going forward) is to educate, motivate, inform, guide and challenge…let alone be a positive light rather than a black hole. Maybe it's time to change that for one day since, chances are, it's not going to get prettier anytime soon. So without further ado, here we go:
1. The OEMs are broken (read: all), and retail is more so
With all the focus on manufacturers, loans/bailouts, government intervention, production cuts, layoffs, and the potential disintegration of the economy, no significant focus has been put on the prominent issue (in my mind): where cars are sold. We're still a reactive industry and that's no way to get ahead folks.
2. Brands for most part aren't connecting with consumers, salespeople do even less
Advertising can't happen the way it has: push, force feed, capture, bombard. Marketing has changed: one-to-one, relevant, contextual, timely, engaging, valuable. Get rid of the "when can you come down?!" mentality. You don't want that as a consumer so stop doing it. Why are you doing the same thing and expecting a different result?
Dealers: Oh, here's a new one. It doesn't matter what logo you sell on the piece of rusting metal: start selling your brand and if you don't know what your brand is, create one.
3. Budgets: Want to 'cut and wait'?…ok, in English that roughly translates to 'suicide'
If you want out, an exit strategy is recommended. If you're planning on staying in business, DO business.
OEMs: Why in the world would you cut Interactive for TV today? Don't worry, that's a rhetorical question. Shame on you. Want to stay with a current vendor instead of the newer, agile, lower cost one? Won't take meetings or talk to new suppliers: big mistake.
Dealers: You can have a viable to completely comprehensive marketing program for less than $10,000 per month (larger; less than $15,000, small, less than $7,000). Don't stop spending because it's the flavor of the week. Spend smarter, educate and support your staff (replace those you need to), understand what you're doing, get accountability and do more.
4. While 'news' media is garbage (but sells), the industry does little to battle conventional sentiment
Anyone that watches network/local news could have a better experience banging their head against a brick wall. People (smart and not-so-much) are still watching it. So what are you doing to educate your prospects, clients and others that you have a great brand (NOT the franchise!), have great products and services, have great ways to provide them with your products and services, will exceed their expectations and that you're there for them?
5. Consumers control consumption and engagement…and were still printing and running car ads?
Quit trying to fight a battle we'll lose every time. People consume content they want, when they want, how they want and where they want. Ads don't work: TV, radio or other methods are not effective. Shred newspaper, drop cable, hang direct mail out to dry and cut radio (dealers only: take your conventional ad agency out for their last expensive lunch). Communicate with people on their terms and be goshdarnwhoopdydoopty good at it.
6. Technology is the way, coupled with education and topped with strategy
Yes, new stuff can be vewy, vewy scawey (sorry, that's my best Elmer Fudd). The industry tries something new, early adopters scowl, doubting Thomas-es shake their heads and executives shrug shoulders, everyone quits. The providers get frustrated because nobody gave it a chance and consumers don't get what they want. Other major industries seem to be able to roll just a little easier. No excuses work here, just get over it and do what needs to get done.
We can run and hide, point fingers and continue to run business the way we have. Or we can pick up ourselves by the bootstraps, collaborate (boy would the earth move if that one happened), check egos at the door, innovate and get damn proud about the largest industry in the US that provides 20 out of every 100 tax dollars nationally.
OEMs: Expect more from your marketing dollars: effectiveness, return, creativity and impact. Talk to and truly consider every company that walks in your door. Try it. It might be better than what you think you have now. If you're not sure, ask a bunch of consumers and (yes) listen.
Dealers: Bank tanked? Call your local credit union! Salespeople can't cut it? Don't let your desk manager go, let him/her sell again (chances are they have the chops). Marketing: online, email, mobile (yes, mobile), CRM, one-to-one, social media and more.
This may not have the answers you are looking for. Hopefully, however, it has made you think again about at least one aspect of your current condition and started your shift from 'effect' mentality to the 'cause' side.
If we don't do it, there won't be a 'we'
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Power Results