Tag Archives

Posts with sem tag.
Feedback: So What Exactly Does IM@CS Do?

This post is a long time in coming, even though not our typical cup of tea. Why? Because we want clients and the industry to understand more (and in some cases, even something) and talk about us. Tooting our own horn is a turnoff, and publishing papers, studies and books with mostly repeated content is deplorable. However, after nine years of “what does IM@CS do?”, it’s likely (beyond) time to make it a little more known…

Interactive Marketing and Consulting Services (a.k.a. IM@CS) was founded in September 2007, when the amount of non-vendor companies/consultants dedicated to digital in the Automotive Industry could be counted on two hands. In other words, if you don’t count website developers, ad agencies and the like, you could hire less than 10 entities to truly grow your digital results independently.

Some of our firsts that lead the industry:

  • Website maintenance (developed into SEO Services) started December 2007 and micro-sites in 2009
  • Social Media services started in December 2007 (we launched the first Audi and second Porsche dealership on Twitter, for example, and many of the first-10 on Facebook dealership accounts)
  • Vendor coordination/accountability yielding fastest-in-class response times (with Gary’s background at eVox, Edmunds and izmoCars, nearly all OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 vendors were on a direct, one-to-one relationship with IM@CS before other digital consultants knew them)
  • First OEM-direct relationship (Toyota/Lexus) secured in January 2008, educating hundreds of Lexus dealerships around the country (replaced incumbent and scored highest dealership satisfaction from the summits over a five-year period)
  • Mystery shopping of dealers in 2007 (started in 2004 while at eVox), then introduced lead scoring (rather than mystery shopping for clients) in 2011 and rolled out to OEM programs
  • First 20 Group presentations in 2009 (Porsche US Pre-Owned Forum and Volkswagen Canada digital) yielded transformational changes for dealerships
  • Advocating, coaching and maintaining online reputaiton management since 2008

Not easily known unless you followed IM@CS in the early days, our work resulted in many industry-leading benchmarks as well as brought other consultants and vendors to the forefront and awareness over the past nine-plus years. Gary May has been a sought-after speaker since opening the J.D. Power & Associates Internet Roundtable at Red Rock Casino Resort in 2008. In addition, Gary has spoken at the first six years of DrivingSales Executive Summits as well as dozens of other conferences, 20 Groups and private vendor events. Eric Trytko and the content team have driven industry-exclusive vehicle editorial and content direct from auto show launches since 2010, something that no other dealer provider has done (most repurpose OEM and publisher releases and articles or use spun -software based- content, a search-engine flag).

IM@CS has created over 350 blog posts and has contributed to top Automotive forums.

Our team (currently a staff of nine) touches all parts of your digital presence:

  • Website maintenance
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Social Media content management and marketing (organic and paid)
  • Reputation Management (tracking and maintenance)
  • Creative assets (banners/graphics, landing pages, email marketing)

We carefully vet all dealer digital processes through hands-on assessment, highlight low-hanging fruit as well as build long-term strategies, weigh competitors plus develop strategies around acquisition and conquest, bring unrivaled education to executive and management-level staff and build unmatched results for salespeople.

Some of our competitive advantages and benefits to business leaders:

  • Out-of-the-box solutions (no cookie-cutter/duplicated approaches including content and lead management/CRM/templates)
    • what works in your store, not others
  • Commission-free vendor recommendations (giving up 5-and 6-figure revenue per year in kick-backs)
  • Best-practice approaches influenced by both automotive industry leaders as well as out-of-the-industry strategy and results
  • Six day per week support 6a-6p PT and beyond
    • Most requests receive 24-hour turnaround

We have been a trusted, non-contracted (month-to-month services since day one) partner for dealerships with an average duration of over two years and we have been hired back or advised by 25% of our clients. Our partnerships with stores develop long-lasting results while keeping executive management up-to-date with all digital aspects. Our R.O.I. is unmatched in over 90% of clients.

When you and your business are ready to stop splitting hairs with me-too vendors and are ready to grow your sales, marketing efficiencies and knowledge in order to build sustainable results, contact us for a review call or an assessment meeting. Yes, it can be this simple to stop receiving only slight benefits while paying vendors for their lifestyles. And understand why, in most cases, your co-op OEM-run programs will never serve you to profit and actually only serve your vendors and manufacturers with piles of data about you and your operations.

 

Here’s to your success in 2017!

Transparency, Marketing and Dashboards (But, But, But It Sells Cars!!!!)

There has been more attention to accountability of dealership marketing recently, which is a good thing, however it’s always been important and something we here at IM@CS have been doing for eight years. Simply put, you need all of your digital reporting to come down to your own review, independent of vendors and their dashboards.

History proves (and vendors demonstrate) that anything will be said to a dealer or general manager in order to sell a service, especially first-in-market, fear or competitive factors. Most dealers are unwilling to be  leaders, choosing rather to follow especially when it comes to technology. And the largest factor is lack of time and commitment. If you are paying for something, you must be able to measure it yourself. Yes, YOU must be able to do that, not simply trust a report.

Google Analytics is the best way to measure everything that touches your website, alongside ancillary technologies including heat maps, third party SEO and SEM software, as well as independent measuring tools. We use a fair amount of software monthly to ensure the work we do is correct, viable and effective.

We continue to see (the majority of) dealers that are having the wool pulled over their eyes because of not drilling down a little in reporting, rather relying on a smattering of PDF reports and sales rep visits with alligator smiles talking about how great their performance is all the way to 20 Group comparisons with mediocre benchmarking.

As a senior-level executive (not your Internet or marketing director), if you can’t open Google Analytics and have a basic conversation about performance, you are losing awareness and accountability on a monthly basis. There is no other place, including the sales board in your dealership, where more relevant data comes in, not even CRM (especially considering how underutilized that software is!).

So whether you take some company’s challenge, education course, class, or simply task yourself to learn directly within Google’s own treasure trove of resources, commit to a few hours a month and get serious about all of your marketing.

Recently we’ve seen:

  • Significant drops in effectiveness of Display Advertising, with mobile being a factor as well as incredibly poor content/call-to-action in the advertising (incorrectly bucketed spends = lower R.O.I., fewer sales)
  • More rogue/bot  traffic coming from target cities that have server farms, including Ashburn, VA, Dallas and Austin, TX, and Rome and New York, NY as well as Boston, MA. (click traffic from areas that don’t make sense = non-human clicks)
  • Seeing poorly managed paid Social Media ads/dark posts and resulting traffic/leads due to a complete lack of understanding how to deploy the ads/content (running ads on Facebook and not generating leads = wrong vendor)
  • Huge increases in incorrectly managed/sourced paid advertising campaigns, lacking all of the proper data, including conversions, tied to meaningless text/ads. Part of the is an increase in dealers finally spending on SEM and the greater problem is more companies (including many OEM-approved vendors) managing ad spends that don’t understand what they’re doing. This does not counting vendors that don’t marge AdWords accounts to dealers’ Analytics accounts

All of this staring dealers in the face with no challenge to the vendors selling the services and marketing. When you receive that monthly PDF in your inbox, don’t file it. Instead, print it out, call the vendor(s) to review and have someone in your office that can independently verify that data until you understand it yourself.

Stop buying from vendors, even reliable ones, who sell you a service off of how many more cars will be sold. You don’t need that! Most dealers can sell 20-50 more cars a month out of their own CRM. Your marketing can’t be segmented or in silos anymore so quit buying that way!

 

Do this before any factors present market issues or downward pressure on sales. With more dealers spending money, there are incremental increases in sales with a lot of companies are simply getting fat and happy, laughing all the way to the bank with you money. Call us to find out quickly and easily what you’re paying for and not receiving.

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

What Tough Times Have Taught Us About Digital

Money. Lots of it! Tons and tons and tons of it! So much that for the first time, we're witnessing dealers that have been hands-on since 2008 starting to slip away a little from the stores and enjoy "away" time again. And that's great. Until, at least, you think about the last seven years again.

If "Digital" has taught us anything, it has demonstrated that small can become bigger faster, the big ones often look like Swiss cheese and that up and down markets don't care about much besides presence. After the last fourteen years around the Automotive Web and six and a half in dealerships, what is striking is that digital has shown ambivalence and opportunity at undeniable levels.

And most still ignore the power and upside. Making money can make us stupid.

Even with sales up 3% so far in 2014 and last year's finish around 8% over 2012 (our average client was up over 30% last year and tracking again), there still is a strong desire not to change anything. And most of what we see is still what could be categorized as "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-trust-me-it-works" stuff.

When a tough market hits again, and it undoubtedly will, will we collectively be in a better place or will we still be grasping at straws and dumping expenses to match traffic and revenue? As shared by Jared Hamilton at last year's DrivingSales Executive Summit, we still aren't tapping into service marketing and penetration opportunities right now via digital channels (really any to speak of) while aftermarket still dominates search and revenue save for dealers really paying attention to categories such as tires, Quick Lube and equity mining. Digital covers all of those if CRM and marketing integration is done properly.

Tough times, and the subsequent good times, have taught us that when push comes to shove, no answer and direction is as good as solid ones. Because nearly everyone that was able to hold out between 2007 and 2009 is making money. Yes, the smarter ones are making more, however most are nearly printing money today.

Digital is still the "back marker" in a nearly-completely digital world. And the statistics for the entire market simply don't matter when it comes to your market. So what has digital taught you?

Share what you can about your experiences, good and bad, that steers what you do and don't do in digital today…

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

What’s Not Coming In 2014: The Anti-Prediction

2013 brought us so much change that we thought it would be best to provide you with a non-prediction, non-forecast, non-reflective perspective…just to throw you off (and get a few more reads). Cut to the chase right now? Naw…let's tease you a bit:

So we still live in a world hell-bent on immediate gratification. The perfect report. Flawless analytics. Immediate results. Impeccable product. Amazing customer service. And all for less than last year. Or last week…and our clients' clients want that, too.

Our challenges remain the same as they were over 13 years ago when the Auto Industry beckoned to me, selling cars to customers "over the Internet". Customers want a seamless, enjoyable experience that allows them to receive value, benefit and satisfaction. From consideration to contact to confirmation to courting to contract. We seem to fail at the essential points: reaching then, setting appointments and storing/sorting data.

Better websites and SEO and SEM and social media and reputation management, better products and marketing and incentives all show the glaring deficiencies we have as an industry when it still takes about 24 hours to get back to a "lead", make actual contact less than 40% of the time and sell under 10% (really under 8%) of them…

So our prediction is nothing will change; nothing more than a tick on the needle of progress. Oh sure, more dealers will do a "better job", their OEM and vendor suits will tell them so. Yes, for the most part the pie will shift its slices however it won't grow like it should.

More consolidation of vendors will happen. Manufacturers will continue roll out and/or mandate mediocre programs while not selling more cars or knowing how to actually measure a thing. Some of 2013's stars will fade while others will receive the spotlight. "Of course, that's the cyclical ways of commerce" you say…we say bull hooey.

2014 is the 20th year of the Automotive Internet, however over half of the market is still waking up to their year one. This is not meant to piss on anyone's parade, however it is a wake up call to the still-asleep-at-the-wheel. Those clinging to their manipulated audits while flying the flappy arm blow up man or building-sized animal, swearing that 3,000 people came in with their direct mail piece…

You can buy the new adaptive thingy. Roll out the chat-to-dance app. Boost your presence with the social-speed transmission. Serve mobile burritos to your clients. Then wrap it all up with some pay-per-view ultimate fighting service sauce. Or not change a thing and sell and maintain just about what you did in 2013. Why go through a business existence like this?

We need real education and investment. Not "training" and "cost". Curiosity killed the cat. And fear is the lengthened shadow of ignorance. So what will you do to support success before the next snake oil rep comes in with the "must have" toy or NADA party pass if you sign up?

2014 will not change a thing. Your customers will, if you allow them. Your OEM will not change a thing. Your service manager will, if you allow them. Your inventory will not change a thing. Your new actions will, if you allow them.

#     #     #

Note: we've been quiet for a long, long time here on our blog. The "experiment" is done and we'll be more active again. So if you'd like to see a subject covered, let us know here, on Twitter, Facebook or by contacting us directly (310) 377-6481 or info at imacsweb.com.

A lot is in store for IM@CS in 2014 and we'd love to have you along for the ride. Not making it to NADA? Set up an assessment meeting with Gary, JD or Evelyn (for our Canadian friends), we are honoring 2013 pricing until January 15…

Thank you for reading (and participating on) our blog as we start year six of doing so for the Automotive Industry's superstars: the dealers.

I fought the law and the law won…? Bullshizzle!

From time to time, it’s good to get a strong dose of
perspective or reality, depending who is describing reality. It’s easy to see
why business owners, and especially car dealers, are so confused when it comes
to doing anything, let alone well, in the digital/online space. Diluted
solutions that favor data over results and backed more by marketing genius than
true muscle are more common than wannabe starlets at Hugh Heffner’s gigs at the
mansion.

Our reality comes in doses while checking out new markets, our
client’s competitors, vendors’ pitch materials or the information the factory
eCommerce rep brings around to dealers, from time to time.

The information age is lacking in one large area for
businesses; in correct information! In a day where so called experts are giving
misleading or incorrect directions, ad agencies are still F-bombing (oops,
errant posts to) client social media accounts, SEO companies are still using
offshore link/content farms and studies show, for some reason, that 2009 data
still needs to be shared on stage as new, not enough people are calling folks
out. No, those companies are still getting hired and you’re still using them!

Reality check is you have to consume large amounts of
correct information at breakneck speed today to keep up. Mind you, we’re not
talking about leading, just keeping up. And most dealers aren’t doing
that.

Sure, everyone knows how to eat an elephant. Right? one bite
at a time. But trying to take a sip of the digital waters, for most, has been
like drinking from a fire hose or the bottom of a waterfall. A little
overbearing! Car dealers…get out of your comfort zone and take a big gulp!!

As you prepare to start 2013, here are a few things to think
about and maybe, just maybe, put to action:

  • Your website should not be the same as your
    closest in-brand competitor. This is not a vendor thing; it’s a content thing.
  • Your emails should not be the same as any local
    competitor. This is not a vendor thing; it’s a people thing.
  • Your social network content should not be the
    same as any local competitor. This is not a vendor thing; it’s a smart thing.

In 2013, the manufacturers clearly want their stores to be
as uniform as possible: experience, showroom, content, website/mobile, email
and more. Fight it tooth and nail.  The
majority of endorsed vendors are not there for you, they are there for
them.  The norm sucks…so don’t settle for
it.

The more consumers expect a unique experience, the more our
industry fights it. Why? Because it’s not easy to do things that way; even
though more of you are just giving in.

The smallest portion of the budgets in our industry, still,
happens to be the digital ones. This is a top-down mentality, starting with the
manufacturers. Oh, and don’t let the desire to govern response times and having
your wrists slapped over a vehicle image with the wrong lug nuts stop you from
having a kick ass digital presence and drive more customers to your front door.
Do things right the first time and get wet. Get really, really, really, really
wet from the digital hose. It’s the only way to lead.

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

 

Wake Up! A Call To Arms…Legs, Hands, Feet, Real Products and Decisions

The more things change, the more they stay the same. There
are no shortcuts… Car dealers, when it comes to websites, SEO, reputation
management, SEM and social media stop simply buying services blind or going
co-op “approved” to save a buck. Stop buying enterprise solutions because it's
one check or everything comes on a "proprietary dashboard" and start
getting effective results with accountability. Start being your own dealership
online rather than being like all of the rest. The same is what enterprise
solutions get you. It doesn't work.

Some quick examples: Redundant SEO doesn't stand out and as
a matter of fact it’s penalized today by Google and Bing. Copied press releases
don't get clicked, read or acted upon. Facebook posts (even though, yes, Google
and Bing don't crawl them) that are identical to every one of your competitors don't
gain reach or go viral. And PPC ads that aren’t set up properly and don't have
unique content don't convert.

It is time to drop the vendors that are endorsed by your
brand/OEM that 450, 700 or 1,600 other stores are on; and time to invest
properly, get involved with what YOU put online under your name and get real
about understanding and results. And for business sake, reputation management
and social media are not things you just turn over and don’t watch and discuss,
period. Paying vendors to get reviews and paying someone to put up pictures of
goldfish in adjacent bowls starting at each other with "caption this"
was not acceptable in 2009, let alone 2012. And even if you're not up to speed
with what Google or Yelp are doing (and you need to be), don’t pay for reviews
from someone that’s not a salesperson, service writer or other employee. Your
reputation is your responsibility, not a vendor’s for a couple thousand dollars
a month.

Your OEM-certified vendors don’t understand social media and
for most brand headquarters, the people making the decision don’t know much
more when they sign the purchase orders or endorsements. Most eCommerce heads
had stints in other areas of their brand operations and have no experience or
understanding.  It’s time you knew that because
you are trusting your largest traffic generator, which most dealers flinch at
spending $1,000-1,500 a month for…let alone more appropriate, higher costs, to a
decision someone made based on a relationship, a pitch and/or promises of non-dealer-centric
benefits.

Take ownership and yes, you can and must do and be
responsible for every single thing that has your name on it: advertising,
fliers, sell sheets, hang tags, pictures, video, templates and online
marketing…all the way down to your business cards. If you aren’t on your way,
or at least starting, down your digital comprehension and betterment it is only
a matter of time before you are absolutely, positively passed up.

You will hear this from very few people and places because
it flies in the face of convention. And it disagrees with what you hear in ads
and presentations. And it is an about face from what nearly all of the OEMs
want and believe. And because it’s hard to beat the 800 pound gorilla (vendors);
the gorilla that has no idea what any part of the funnel in their traffic
report is, how to properly maintain website optimization, how to set up a
legitimate Facebook or Google Plus page and just can’t get its hands around how
to actually answer a lead.

Welcome to being back in business for yourself and with the
right frame of mind. Yes, that means the herd you leave just may be heading the
wrong way…

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Resutls

Go Ahead, Keep Rebuilding The Mousetrap. Tip: You’re Trying To Catch A Cheetah

Stop what you're doing. Right now! Look back, quickly. Look back for a while. No, not over your shoulder silly. If you've been at least somewhat involved in the digital realm over the past 3-6 years, take a hard look back. What have you done? Where did your advice come from? How much time have you lost? How much momentum have you gained? How many wins have you had? And how many losses?

Everything changes, we know that. We also know that one man's garbage is another man's treasure. So in your looking back, what have you really learned? This is a little beacon asking you to close the door (or if you're in a cube or BDC or somewhere without a door, pretend to) and think about who, what and to where you were following. This is not a call to go back to basics, which is garbage, however it's a call to think. For yourself.

Too often we go with those that have been penned as the thought leaders, gurus, experts, published authorities, subject matter experts, pros, top of their gamers and the like. So that begs a question: what has been constant in your digital presence for the last three years? Four? Five?

Chances are, not much.

Fact is a lot of people, namely business owners and executive management, are scratching their heads over the past months asking themselves "why did we go down the (fill in initiative here) road?". Is SEO alive or dead? Does social media work or not? Did the new close work or deter customers? Was mobile marketing right or wrong? Great questions. Think about it this way: did your last tent event sell lots of cars? But….that's not digital, right? A tent event or massive offsite lot sale is not, true. Neither should your thinking.

All those things promote traffic, sales, new customers, conquest, retention and more. Of course they do…you can ALWAYS sell. Digital strategies are no different than picking up a good book. They're cause to make you think. Not copy! Short term gains never win over long term thinking. And to think you need to know or be on the path to knowing better.

Sometimes it's funny how operators operate. There's a lot to be said about how dealers are afraid. They're afraid to spend or try new things or go off into unchartered territory. Not to defend them, the truth is they're bombarded. And by everyone that has something to sell from $.02 pens to $20M facilities. And the shiny new thingamabob fits squarely somewhere in between.

So in your reflection, look as specifically as possible at what was done over your foray into the digital world, and what was not done. You see a lot of people are selling new mousetraps and reworking the old ones. Yes, for the most part they work better. You can only be a judge, just like with a book or white paper or study at a conference, after the fact. And quite a few have benefitted over the past years due to their desire and ability to win in the digital realm and congrats to those who have.

Just a heads up that you're trying to catch a cheetah, not a mouse. A cheetah can still run at over 60 miles per hour with a mousetrap clipped onto its paw. That is until it gets smashed to smithereens and the cheetah goes on as if nothing ever happened. There are so few mice in the digital realm today and most have mousetrap detectors.

There are some big things coming. Here is a heads up that the next big thing is not in hardware, software, advertising, marketing, mobile apps, CRM, retargeting or templates. You'll have to think about it. For those that do get it the remainder of 2012 and 2013, as well as going forward, will be easier.

If this was a hard one to understand, keep reading and coming back. And thank you.

If you got this, see you at the DrivingSales Executive Summit October 21-23 at Bellagio in Las Vegas…and please keep reading. We'd love to hear from you, you're our kind of business.

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

 

If You’re Going To Do It, Do It Right…

The special time of the year is nearly upon us, again. From September through February: conferences, expos and 20 Groups with the veritable sales crunch of "you have to get this or you'll be left in the dust!" pitches. You can feel dealers' and general managers' certain body parts tightening up now (not that they aren't pitched every day of every week of every month or every year already).

With very little assistance, which is by choice, direction or information, vendors are chosen and deals are signed. Does that mean dealerships make decisions without "data"? Not necessarily. However decisions made with vendors' own calculators (remember when lead estimating in your market at certain NADA website booths was the fix of the day?????), skewed analytics/search results and by recommendations (you know, what works for a dealer with half the competition and market size one of their 20 Group buddies has should work the same for someone else in a major metro with twice the stores and massive gross degradation?).

What generates results are a combination of relevant data, unbiased information, support, updates and consistency. However what we still see dominating today are dealers using:

Websites:

  • Without any SEO (and sometimes even basic optimization), micro-sites/landing pages and SEM with no/poor call-to-action, heavily redundant non-inventory based content (which Google LOVES! right?!) and the like…

CRM:

  • The "take it as it came out of the box" processes and templates that can't get a call back from a desperate buyer, no management notifications set up, and people with access sending out marketing messages to dealerships' database that are not proper, timely or accurate…

Social media:

  • Left up to companies setting up personal profiles on Facebook, Google Plus, Foursquare, etc. for businesses and/or…
  • Duplicating content on hundreds of dealership social networks and/or…
  • Solely following industry people's accounts and them fanning/following back and/or…
  • Simply buying audiences gaining thousands of eyeballs while most of the paid followers are in different countries (or simply spam accounts)…

…and the list just goes on and on and on. 

If you want to sell cars, you have to do it right. Meet and greet, the walk, the drive, the pencil, the close (yes, the road to the sale to many) that can't exist without process, checklists, audits and accountability. Yet most dealerships' entire digital presence has none of those!!

What we need to do is do things right. Businesses are responsible for everything they do. It's 2012. If you don't understand websites and SEO, get someone that does in your store. Don't think social media is right for your point? Ask your customers where they want you to be and then get someone that does it in your store. And get advice before you hire your person/people or bring on the vendor! You must own every part of your marketing today and not turn a blind eye. And no, it's not too much to do or to get someone in the store or close to you to provide reporting that is not from a vendor's proprietary dashboard (read: manipulation) that can't be validated by another unbiased source.

There are no excuses for businesses today to not know how to do things right and expect results. Sending texts from employees phones without permission based marketing and legal/opt-out included? Having a website for a 150+ unit store that has 800 inbound links and no +1's? Promoting a blog that has the same content as every other (fill in your brand) store within a 1,000 mile radius? It's NOT fine. It's NOT ok. Get real.

Act as if you're a customer to your own business! What are the chances you'd return to your own website if the home page never changed? Would you buy concert tickets from a site that never featured your favorite artists? Would you Like United Airlines on Facebook if every other post from them was two sea lions fighting or two mimes fighting with an intro of "caption this"? would you follow Morton's Steakhouse on Twitter if EVERY post was simply a push from their Facebook account and no interaction with diners? Would you continue to read Marriott's blog if all it contained was posts about awards they were winning from magazines rather than updates on their resort locations that you wanted to travel to? Look it's really simple, it's just not easy.

Own your marketing. The pisser is you've been hearing this for over five years now from a number of sources in the industry including this one. Quit cutting corners and believing everything that the large enterprise-level providers are feeding you. How can one provider claim to be the #1 vendor in an industry and charge half of what everyone else does? It doesn't work that way! You know that…

Look at it this way. McDonald's (as good as some of you may think they are) is not number one in hamburgers. They are number one in volume! Do they serve the best burger? No! Their burger is not the best…and neither is your website/CRM/Social Media if you don't know better.

If you're going to do it, do it right!

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Are You Waiting? Still? Well…..Goodbye!

This is officially the beginning of the end for many. December 27, 2011. There will be a moment over the next couple to handful of years in which you'll reflect back to this post (or others like it) and say "oh crap". Or it may be the longer rendition which usually sounds something like "Why did I allow me to get in my way over and over again? Why did I shut down and refuse to change, giving garbage excuses?"

As time went on from December 27, 2011 Acute Death by Delusional Digital Defiance, we'll call it ADDDD for short, you invested more and more in the comfort zone, allowing vendors to do with you money and brand what they wanted and would essentially squandering opportunities while you were convinced you were actually doing something. Your business was actually disappearing at the same time everything looked the same from your vantage point behind the desk or golf cart steering wheel.

And who could blame you? You read the ads in the trades and took advice from your 20 Group and absorbed the Powerpoint presentations. You wrote the checks. You took the training, however often that someone actually showed up and you attended the conferences. It never dawned on you that everything you relied so heavily on was the white elephant in the room. You took the easy way out instead of asking the tough questions and not believing the hype. Simply put you allowed yourself to fail.

Why did this happen? You didn't take the road less traveled when the paths diverged in the woods. As far as you knew, you believed it wasn't supposed to be about "hard work" anymore: you're senior management or, better yet, a business owner. Add to that the whole "Internet thing" was just too difficult to understand and should be handled by young kids and "people who text a lot and surf the web".

So wind it down now so you don't experience the slow, deliberate march of self-induced death. Ignore the articles from Joe Webb prodding the salespeople that you mistreat (http://bit.ly/rVN66B) and from HubSpot on Harvard Business Review about Google changes (http://bit.ly/ub6iOH) that your website company will not talk about, or some trends to capitalize on (http://bit.ly/rU9VAt) and what's going on with mobile (http://bit.ly/smRSOt) from Search Engine Watch. You've been reading all of these…right?

Nope…"too busy running a business". More like "too ignorant to run a business"

So while you idly wait for the inevitable why don't you ask:

Your website company why:

  1. your pages have the same names and metadata
  2. you don't have model and trim level landing pages
  3. you don't have separate tracking numbers
  4. you don't have original content on your pages (heard of Google Panda?)
  5. you don't have a truly optimized mobile presence
  6. you can't track conversions on Google Analytics or your PPC/SEM
  7. they don't truly offer eCommerce
  8. their proouction team doesn't talk with their marketing team (ie SEO to SEM)
  9. they lack in customer support
  10. they're not up to date on what's happening with Google and social

Your CRM company why:

  1. you can't track email opens, bounces, links, shares, etc.
  2. you can't change headers and footers dynamically
  3. they don't append and integrate for text/mobile delivery
  4. you are still on servers and not on the cloud
  5. they don't offer true mobility
  6. they can't make lead duplication management much easier
  7. data "siloing" still existst (lead based: service/sales/finance)
  8. they're not up to date on what's happening with Google and social

Your social media company why:

  1. they don't actually write content
  2. what they do publish is redundant and automated (ie "Caption this photo" of dogs or cats)
  3. they don't create engagement
  4. they sold you on 20+ "social media sites/platforms" when traffic comes from 4-8 of them
  5. they pitch and don't produce (and not actually active on the networks at all themselves)
  6. they are disconnected from the store
  7. they're not up to date on what's happening with Google and social

Waiting? You've been told your entire life that good things come to those that wait. Well, we're here to set the record straight. Only the leaders thrive. You can wing it today, sure. There will be "those" that still make it with no true effort. However, it is a false existence and leads to ADDDD.

The grim reaper is coming and his sickle has your business' name on it. Are you waiting? Still? Well…..Goodbye!

Thanks to @HarryHaber and @BryanCarGuy for a little insight on the list of dealer pain points… you're great friends and car guys!

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

Are We Just Digital Lemmings?

(Cue the Madonna music) “You know that we are living in a digital world and I’m an automotive digital nerd…” Can you see it now? The musical hit of the automotive digital conference season! Or possibly one more thing that keeps a dealer from making the commitment he or she needs to make that will actually do something great for their business.

Whether acknowledged or not, most of us in the automotive digital realm must have some kind of recessive gene or a predisposition for suffering. But are we the ones making it better or worse? Remember that what drives someone to change is either opportunity or fear. Fight or flight. Survival or death. Being as how we can’t make decisions for others, let alone many times for ourselves, a small percentage of the industry are lining up on a regular basis, strapping our brass cojones on and taking the plunge.

2011 has been an amazing voyage so far and the last four months appear to be no different. If anything, we may experience the dizzying effect of greater immersion. So are we just digital lemmings or do we have a definitive purpose supported by concrete goals? Is our purpose so clear that a dealer can understand both potential benefit and potential loss within 30 minutes?

Let’s ask ourselves just as wide ranging a question as we’d ask a vendor:

“How do we know what value we bring?” Especially since many of the tangibles are so obscure to start with that the ability to define a “good job” takes months or longer.

“How can we define, in lay terms, what we’re attempting to do so that our clients can take over the efforts?” Especially since many times we don’t even understand completely what we’re doing nor expecting.

“How does what we are doing provide the opportunity to create change?” Especially since setting expectations in a “what’s in it for me” environment is at best difficult.

It’s great to participate in an exciting and extremely dynamic part of our business. For many, it has proven immensely successful and profitable. We can all agree that the higher the risk, the higher the reward. At the same time there are days (or longer periods) that can easily qualify as a “loss”.

Being as how this will be read by the leading edge of the force in the automotive digital world, we don’t need to excuse ourselves. But maybe, just maybe, we need to explain ourselves. There is such a high level of blind trust that goes on with relatively significant investments, that defining what we do and don’t do along with what we’re attempting to do and attempting not to do is overdue. There is also a need to be more willing to call bullshit in an accountable, cooperative way.

Remember that if something sounds too good to be true, yes even at a 20 Group meeting, it likely is. It takes a lot to simply take a leap of faith. It’s something entirely different for a vendor to take a client over the edge. No buses or trains here…no company is perfect. Just try not to come off that way (free $100 advice).

So can we lead an industry that’s mostly in the dark collectively? Some of us surely hope so. What’s coming up with three amazing events in Las Vegas in October sure sounds like the right opportunity. Remember that the total amount of people in attendance will likely represent less than 0.001% of the retail industry, OEM and agency staff (less than 1% of just dealer staff). So we need to be incredible. We need to be prepared. We need to show and provide the best information. We need to listen to and respond to the questions and admit when we don’t have an answer. We need to show the way and not just talk about it.

So let’s kick the lemming routine and make the leap a big but manageable step. Let’s give everyone that wants it the secret sauce. Let’s make sure that nobody goes home with a nagging question. Let’s do what is right as if the entire automotive industry depended on it.

And by the way, the entire automotive industry does depend on it….

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results