2018 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for dealerships and their marketers. The list of skills every marketer needs to succeed is growing and it’s leaving many dealers wondering which way to turn. 2018 is the year that every dealership will need to make deliberate decisions about their marketing strategy. We no longer live in a siloed world. A store’s reputation follows it everywhere online and off. Everything is connected throughout the consumer’s shopping process.
The biggest problem most dealers have with marketing is time. And many don’t particularly like doing marketing or have a lot of experience with it. After all, it’s more than enough work to just run the store. In the InfusionSoft 2017 “Small Business Marketing Trends Report”, 71% of small businesses reported doing their marketing in-house. Unfortunately, this isn’t working well. Street Fight’s research on small business owners found that among business owners that either do their marketing themselves, delegate it to an internal team, or outsource it to an agency, the owners who do their marketing themselves are the least satisfied with their results.
Marketing is evolving. Dealership marketers are not.
Social media, search, content, social ads, digital ads (and the strategies that make them successful) have all advanced to a level that many dealership marketers struggle to keep up with. It’s very difficult now to achieve good outcomes without a specialized group of skills. Many dealership marketers may be incredibly talented in a few of the more traditional skills. But in the past few years, those traditional skills have become the baseline. It’s no longer possible to just ‘figure things out.’ In fact, it could be dangerous to your business reputation and future revenue.
7 Skills Every Dealership Marketer Needs in 2018
Whether you’re considering promoting from within, hiring an individual, or engaging an agency, there’s a number of diverse skills every dealership marketer needs in order to survive in 2018.
1. Web Design
Your website is your digital storefront and in many cases, it’s the first thing customers come in contact with during their road to purchase.
- Does your website represent the company and its products/services well?
- Is the user experience positive?
- Are you giving visitors a reason to stay on your site?
- Is the site structure solid?
- Is it being optimized for search?
- Does the content answer their questions?
A basic understanding of site structure is crucial.
2. Writing Ability
Writing skills are vital in today’s marketing and will continue to grow in importance in 2018.Writing for the web requires two separate sets of skills:
- Ability to create content that attracts, engages and converts customers.
- Search engine optimization techniques to achieve site authority.
3. Strategy Development
A dealership reached out to me for marketing advice. They had been bootstrapping it for year and were at a point where marketing strategy was sorely needed. A few months back, they tried PPC/Adwords but said, “Because we didn’t have a strategy, we spent a lot and got very little.”
Goals are at the heart of strategy development.
Many dealership marketers jump to execution of tactics. Some simply take what’s communicated to them by the boss without using their expertise to uncover the true goals or breakdown how to achieve them.
4. Data Analysis
There is a MASSIVE shortage of dealership marketers that are skilled in the art of data analysis. A recent study found that only 3% of marketers are competent in analyzing data.
In digital marketing, every visitor, view and share is tracked. In fact, there’s so much data now that dealers get a mountain of it to review each month. Sifting through that is exhausting.
Marketers often focus solely on the creative part of marketing. Of course that’s important but the skill of measuring and analyzing results is too. Never accept one without the other.
5. Social Media Savvy
Social media has grown up, graduated college, got married, had kids and is staring down the barrel at middle age.
Every dealership marketer in 2018 should be a regular user of social media personally, as well as professionally, which requires being savvy in the social environment.
To be competitive, dealership marketers should possess social finesse, be able to tell stories well and maintain a working knowledge of storytelling components.
If they have a blog or write for online media, that’s a huge advantage because that means they’ve already tested the waters of content marketing.
Social media is not independent from other media now. It’s an integral part of an overall marketing strategy.
6. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.
The marketing automation industry grows exponentially each year. As marketing automation tools continue to improve and multiply, it won’t get any easier to navigate in 2018.
Shrewd marketers command the use of specific tools while also investigating and re-evaluating to discover new and enhanced solutions.
For 2018, as digital marketing becomes even more sophisticated, I advise keeping a consistently-updated database of tools, the benefits of each, and the skills needed to apply them in specific marketing campaigns.
Humans are predictably irrational, readily sidetracked and constantly making decisions.
And the more we make decisions in a given day, the worse we get at it.
Decisiveness is an element of great leadership. I chose this seventh skill because, with today’s dealership marketing, it’s not only what you put out there to attract customers that counts – it’s what you do once they see it and start interacting with it.
I see some dealers still trying to keep a veil up between themselves and their customers. Most of it is habit from the old days of advertising and PR. Those stores (and their marketers) that work at removing this barrier will be positioned for success in the long-term.It’s a skill to interact with customers and to do it well demands decisiveness.Often that interaction requires thinking on your feet, which calls for confidence, patience, empathy, gratitude and courage. All those skills make for better decisions and happier, engaged customers.
Is your marketing moving at the speed of digital?
The skills every dealership marketer needs have never been more diverse. Mastering the complexities that are happening now and those beyond 2018, means upping your skills game. Take control of your business reputation by learning these skills and insisting your marketers possess them.
Author: Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse is an Automotive Social Media Marketing Expert, Blogger, Speaker, Coach, Author and Founder of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people”, Kathi’s passion for the car business spans a 30-year career managing successful dealerships in Southern California. Kathi is the author of “Automotive Social Business – How to Captivate Your Customers, Sell More Cars & Be Generally Remarkable on Social Media”.