I hear this all the time, “If the dealer doesn’t buy in nothing happens.”
Is it any surprise? The vendor or the manager inundates the dealer with all kinds of details he or she can’t process with everything else – and it takes a three-hour meeting the dealer doesn’t have time for.
The dealer’s number one mission is to build effective sales and service organization. The dealer is where the buck stops on organizational issues of dealership personnel, its culture, pay plans and incentives and a myriad of other responsibilities, including the financials and OEM relations.
In short, the dealer is the architect of the dealership’s human network.
With all that said, what should the dealer know about online marketing overall?
First the dealer doesn’t need to know which keywords, or ads were bought, how much traffic is coming from each source, how many different landing pages and experiences you have and are sending the traffic to, which tactics you are using to engage customers or the conversion rate of each individual segment.
All of this is absolutely critical for you as the Internet director to know, but not for the dealer. Throwing all that information at your dealer will create that glassy eyed look you get in meetings when their mind is somewhere else.
What the dealer does need to know is how your dealership is structured to excel at marketing in the new information rich data driven digital marketing world.
- How does your dealership define the different channels of online marketing?
- How do you integrate them into the different departments of your dealership?
- Who is responsible for each?
- What are the mechanisms that optimize across each channel?
- How do these channels integrate?
- How will pay plans, incentives, bonuses and budgets be governed across each channel?
- How and what tools and infrastructure will be placed to support the structure?
- Who will be responsible for the tools’ adoption?
- What is your online strategy?
- How is your online strategy decided and refined? (it will live and breathe changing only with the market).
- How quickly can you adapt to changes in the online marketing environment?
Overall this is the single most important dimension in how competitive / successful your dealership can be online. Get it right your dealership will take off like a rocket ship. Get it wrong it can and most likely will weigh you down like an anchor. Ignore it and your store will most likely become extinct like many others.
You know your online marketing organization is wrong when you see the following situations:
- It takes weeks to make changes, get code placed on and to your website.
- No one knows the structure and layout of your search marketing – only that you’re doing some of that “SEM” stuff.
- Your web site is the only web property you have.
- Your other web properties, if you have them, were built for SEO purposes for your main web site.
- SEO is all your internet director talks about and all you ever hear about.
- Your online strategy is determined by your web site provider.
As a dealer body, it’s time to break through the cloud of smoke that has been pushed at us about online marketing and stop wrestling with the inefficiency of people, processes and providers.
Online marketing providers and web site companies have done a great job of covering tactics that enhance their unique selling proposition – nothing wrong with that. We all have products to sell and besides, it’s the American way and capitalism at work.
But it’s your job to define the strategy first, then engage the provider whose tactics fit your strategy.
It’s time to take your online marketing to the level of “It’s my business,” instead of being another department set up merely to “pick up some extra units.”
Larry Bruce has 20-plus years of retail automotive and technology experience including: partner, MotorTrendsOnline.com; VP, Managed Marketing Solutions Reynolds & Reynolds; founder, president and CEO AIMData; founder, president and CEO ClickBuyDrive.com; president CarmallUSA.com; GM, Sanddollar Autoplex; finance director, Jay Marks Automotive Group.