6. Internal marketing departments will continue to add specialists who focus on their individual areas of expertise. Highly focused automotive search performance officers will become integral members of the marketing teams. Dedicated social media individuals and/or small content teams will continue to expand and work closely with the marketing department, the search team and even the dealership staff to drive the socially aware ecosystem every store should have in place.
Kevin’s semi-annual Digital Dealer Conference Review
It’s early Thursday morning, 5:20 am to be exact, and as I wrap up another Digital Dealer conference, I figure I should start the day with a well-needed cup of coffee after another long night in Vegas. I close the door quietly and head up the hallway towards the elevator when I hear… wait? Is that someone snoring?
Sure enough, I find some strange guy passed out on the couch next to the elevator with his pants pulled down and his shirt pulled up. Wow, looks like another Wolf Pack wannabe had one heck of a good time in Vegas, I only wonder who was responsible for the “de-pantsing” (and yes, I almost took a picture, but I restrained). When I exit the elevator I tell the security guy he might want to go up to Floor 10 for a quick walk-around…
The good news is that the line at Starbucks is non-existent at this hour, and I get a cup of some dark roasted bold and take a seat to try and get my thoughts together when… well, let’s say I am joined by one of Vegas’ finest “hostess” girls, dressed in what looks like the shortest Minnie Mouse dress I have ever seen, and she is plenty friendly at this early hour. I politely share that I am not looking to “party” right now and I make a quick departure 🙂
Then… I run into one of my friends in the industry who I was out with the night before and I realize he is STILL out enjoying the night. Ladies and Gentlemen, ONLY IN VEGAS do you wake up to a morning like this. And with that, I present (cue music now…)
My semi-annual Digital Dealer Review… [Read more…]
Hum along with me – “It’s the Most… Wonderful Time… of the Year!!!”.
Wow, that Kool Aid I am drinking is strong, but I do look forward to seeing everyone for the fall conferences. After the best Digital Dealer yet this past spring, I am looking forward to what Digital Dealer 15 will bring to the table in fabulous Las Vegas.
Here are my humble recommendations on whom I am choosing to see, and of course I look for your input as well on the sessions you are looking to attend. I would also like to personally invite you to attend my session on Wednesday morning at 9:30 – take a moment to see my video preview below. I look forward to seeing you in Vegas…
My Recommended Sessions for Digital Dealer 15
DealerRefresh: Let’s do a meet and greet…Hi, we’re DealerRefresh and you are….?
Aaron: I’m Aaron Wirtz, a native of Wichita, Kansas who just turned 31 years old. I got into the automotive industry through a dynamically worded job posting for a Social Media Manager on Craigslist. I was working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Wichita State in pursuit of my Master’s Degree in Creative Writing–I love teaching– but was in dire need of more income for my upcoming wedding, among other things. I made a video resume on a Tuesday evening, interviewed on Thursday and was hired on the spot, and started work on Monday.
DealerRefresh: I would be lost each day without…
Aaron: My pen and spiral notebook. I love my iPad, digital calendars, and all the rest, but my organization begins with handwritten notes, and I don’t ever see that changing.
DealerRefresh: What if you could invent a product for your department, what would it be?
Aaron: In a perfect world, I’d love to have a social media management/scheduling tool that handled EVERY platform I maintain a brand presence on. This is the reason why I still don’t use tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social very much–because I still have to have other windows open in addition to those.
DealerRefresh: What changes have you seen over the past year at your dealership?
Aaron: The biggest changes over the past year would have to be the transition from Suzuki to Subaru and the addition of an additional Super Car Guys location.
DealerRefresh: In 2 years what will your dept look like? In 5 years?
Aaron: In two years, I imagine my department to be at least twice the size that it is now. Meaning, it will have two people. In 5 years, maybe a virtual reality dealership? Hard to say.
DealerRefresh: Describe the difference that lies between your view on the brand transition and, for example, a sales rep.
Aaron: From a Social Media perspective, transitioning from Suzuki to Subaru was like hitting the jackpot. The Subaru brand universe is diverse, vast, and goes back a long way. The challenge that accompanies this, though, is that there are more voices in the conversation, so we have to work even harder to stand out. As far as the difference between a sales rep’s view and mine, I think they’d be pretty closely aligned. I went through the same Subaru certification process that the sales guys went through to get a better understanding of what makes these cars such an incredible value, and I try to go farther by providing some historical insight into the Subaru line. I am a big fan of old brochures and print ads, so we’ve started a collection of Subaru-themed materials, which I then use for blog posts, Pinterest pins, and so forth. There’s SO much more of that kind of stuff available for Subaru, so I am having a great time with it.
DealerRefresh: Your title is Social Media Manager – how important do you think it is for each dealership to have someone like you? Any reason a dealer shouldn’t? You do more than SM, right?
Aaron: Regardless of what the position is called, I’m convinced that it’s important to have someone in the dealership to tell the story of the organization as it unfolds. It can be effective when a GM or Dealer Principle posts as him or herself for the sake of local celebrity-building, but as far as building a unique tribe, employees need to be able to point at pictures, videos, posts, etc. and feel a sense of ownership in that content. This really became clear to me when I posted a video about our transition from Suzuki to Subaru (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px7wBFs7HUE) and several people who were not even in the video told me it felt like I was telling their story, too. I understand that employee turnover can be a concern, but when employees are treated like they’re going to stay, many times they accept live up to the challenge.
Yes, I do much more than Social Media. My role is evolving in the direction of Marketing Management, and I have the amazing opportunity to work with Scott Pitman and Tom White, Jr. (our Dealer Principle and General Manager) regularly throughout the week. Most currently, I’ve cut some radio and television spots for our used car brand, Super Car Guys, which now has two locations in Wichita and making huge gains (my first commercial is now on the air: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hOunSOWSsQ). I come from a performing arts background, so this is a great fit, and I’m excited about the possibilities of what this could mean for me in the car business. I also help with minor IT issues when I can.
DealerRefresh: Tell me more about the unique culture at SOW and what role that plays in carrying out your daily tasks.
Aaron: Our company culture is pretty much everything, as far as I’m concerned. It’s just been a matter of aligning the stream of fun, helpfulness, and innovative approaches that happen within the dealerships with the online streams of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, Google+, and so forth. I consider myself an actively creative person, but if there weren’t interesting things going on around me all the time, my job would be tough.
DealerRefresh: Do you own jorts? Would you admit it if you do?
Aaron: I actually had to Google the word “jorts,” and I’m not exactly sure what that says about my current level of hipness. To answer your question, though–No, I don’t. I would admit it if I did, though.
DealerRefresh: What nicknames do people call you?
Aaron: It depends on which store I’m at. Here at Subaru, I’m A-A-Ron. At Super Car Guys West, I’ve been given the name “Matrix.” So far, I haven’t been given a nickname at Super Car Guys East–we’ll see how long that takes.
So, there you have it – the insightful thoughts behind a Social Media Manager at a successful dealership.
Be sure to catch Aaron’s session at DSES13!
Kevin Frye’s Suggested DSES 2013 Sessions
Let me first extend my congratulations to the Driving Sales team on putting together a great agenda with superior keynote speakers.
I am very excited to hear Danny Sulllivan, whom I have followed with my SEO research for several years. And as a formal Naval Aviator, I am also excited to see Leif Babin, former US Navy Seal Officer, speak on developing leaders. I have brought the same leadership skills to automotive that I learned as a Naval Officer, and I am certain that Leif will take that to a higher level.
Before attending any conference, I always like to spend some time reviewing the agenda, and more important, choosing the breakout sessions that I feel will give me the most value. Here are my recommended breakout sessions for The Driving Sales Executive Summit 2013:
This is part 1 in a 4 part series about automotive social media strategies that are emerging to help car dealers get true benefit. It’s not just about branding. It’s not about auto-feeding marketing content. With the right strategies in a place, dealers can drive foot traffic and website visitors in a way that can help them sell more vehicles and drive more service customers.
Understanding the Three Stages of Your Dealership’s Social Media Presence
Arguably the most important lesson I’ve learned in the 9 months that I’ve been analyzing car dealers’ social media profiles and pages is that there’s no formula that can be applied to them universally. There’s a plan that can be applied, but every dealer has unique strengths and weaknesses within their presence that requires adjustments in direction to get them onto the right strategic track.
Some have a strong presence that allows them to integrate directly into an aggressive strategy starting immediately. Others have to work the EdgeRank algorithm for a little while before they can successfully post aggressive content like inventory items. There are those who were so butchered over the years that it’s better to start from scratch rather than try to fix their existing presence, particularly on Facebook. Thankfully, the majority of dealers are in a neutral state – not bad, not good, ready to get going.
About a month ago, my friend Alec reached out to me in a private Facebook message. “I feel like a clot for asking,” he began, “but I figured I would anyway. If you ever hear of any openings at your job…please let me know.” Reading this made me nervous.
As it turned out, I had heard of something. That very afternoon, I had written a help wanted ad for an online inventory manager, someone who photographs the cars in stock and writes descriptions for them. I liked this guy and knew he was intelligent, but could I really recommend him as an employee? These situations can be so awkward. What if he got hired and didn’t work out? Would I look bad? What if he didn’t get hired?
Would he blame me?
A Simple Overlooked Technique – Yet so Effective
Last week, Google+ announced that you can use animated gifs for your profile photo, and provided some search results on how to get started. Playing nicely with gifs is yet another feature that Google+ has over Facebook, and I believe gifs should be a regular part of your content creation arsenal.
Because of their incredible longevity (in internet years, they’re like a million years old), animated gifs are one of those internet curiosities that shouldn’t be ignored or dismissed as being just for kids. Yes, gifs can be annoying, especially when there are too many placed in close proximity of one another, but when used correctly, gifs can breathe life into otherwise static posts, and the possibilities for repurposing are immense.
With younger social media users, gifs are as popular as ever, if not moreso — If you’ve ever used Tumblr, you know exactly what I mean.
Twitter’s 6-second video app, Vine, sought to capitalize on the popularity of animated gifs by doing them one better and including audio, but I would argue that audio is the worst thing about Vine. Too much rustling wind and club noise dampens the experience for me.
Google+ makes adding an animated gif as your profile picture super easy — just upload it as if it were any other photo. But, making your gifs work for you isn’t always so simple. Here are a few examples and ideas for when to use them:
Honor the Sacred WIIFM
For decades now, salespeople have been trained to honor the sacred WIIFM Principle (What’s in it for Me?) in everything they do. The rationale being that the more a salesperson can help his customers understand how the product will meet the needs of their unique situations, the more likely the customer will be to buy it.
Knowing that the kind of people who go into sales are often the type who enjoy talking about themselves, the WIIFM principle provides a tool for keeping the presentation on track and paving the road toward that all-important yes.
But that was then, and now, we need more.
These days, customers need a different kind of help to lead them to that yes, so I suggest that we as digital marketers add a new concept to the WIIFM Principle, which I have dubbed The TCBM Principle, or That Could Be Me. This concept argues that many consumers no longer want to be like their role models, they demand the knowledge and resources necessary to become them.
To illustrate my point, here are a few examples of brands and brand personalities who are profitably leveraging the That Could Be Me principle:
We’ve always known about our phone answering problems, but I rarely hear anyone talk about what we’re saying to customers via email.
Did you know that you can measure all sorts of things around email to discover who is doing it well and who isn’t? My favorite is to look at the number of emails sent against the number of emails a customer replied to.
For example: Joey sends 800 emails in a month and only 100 customers reply to him …100 ÷ 800 = 12.5%. When I see this number at a percentage less than 35% I start reading emails.
And what do I find when I start reading the emails that aren’t being replied to?