Best PracticesDealership Marketing

Amazon is Coming. How to Stay Ahead With Outstanding Marketing Tools

If you’re like many of us in automotive, your inbox is full of forwarded articles like this one from the Wall Street Journal proclaiming the demise of car ownership. This threatening disruption is causing much buzz – and much speculation. But although we can’t predict the future, one thing’s for sure: we need to step up to the challenge of innovating for whatever tomorrow brings.

The auto industry has always been a space for explosive growth. Transportation is a core human need that spurs enormous business opportunities – and also leads to game-changing innovation. Think about it from a historical perspective: for 15,000 years, humans have been trying to get from point A to point B faster and more safely.

In the ancient world, this led to serious innovations involving horses and camels, driving enormous economic opportunity: saddles, stirrups, feed supply, roads, and new commerce all emerged as a result. (Who were those Tier 3 camel transport suppliers?) These powerful new transportation models granted ancient kingdoms military superiority and economic superpowers.

With all this potential, it’s no surprise that the most innovative corporations of our time – Google, Apple, Amazon – are turning an eye to transportation. And it’s not just autonomous driving and connected cars that are catching the attention of retail giants – it’s establishing sales models that put them into direct competition with today’s dealership, powered by some of the most sophisticated marketing tools available.

Competing with such giants is a daunting prospect – but if we’re being honest, inevitable. Dealers facing the current landscape will find themselves going head to head with great companies to capture the attention of tomorrow’s car shopper. To be successful, they need access to the tools that enable the likes of Amazon to be so successful.

Cutting Edge Technologies for Cutting Edge Dealerships

When it comes to the marketing and business development side of the equation, today’s most important tools feature the latest developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning, marketing automation, true attribution models, and more. The room for a dealership to improve is endless, the tools stretch on till the cows come home – and the prospect of accessing them, or even beginning to understand them, can seem overwhelming.

But there’s good news for dealers looking to compete: high-powered marketing tools are becoming increasingly accessible to you. Marketing technology may double in sophistication and targeting every two years, but as it does so, it also becomes much easier to use– and much more readily available to dealerships.

In this space you should be looking for tools like: lead nurture automation that reacts one-to-one to user-behavior or CRM flags, data capture and storage solutions, data analytics engines to help you identify buying trends in your user-base, artificial intelligence for automating certain tasks and engagements in the store, and more.

The dealership looking to keep up and be the most effective at digital marketing today must commit to continuously updating its technology. Much of this is cultural. You should build a culture in your store that is proactive. Rather than just reacting to vendors who show up pitching the latest and greatest, aim to reevaluate technology tools every nine months to a year. Have a structured  process for this evaluation where you pick one critical area of your marketing funnel and map out the metrics and the current suite of tools. Look to do some experiments to check your assumptions.

Building a proactive technology self-assessment is a challenge on time and resources. If running this type of process is beyond your current scope, your best bet is to be already investing with vendors that continually innovate and reinvent themselves. In this context, expect your vendors to release incremental but influential updates every quarter; a huge advance once a year; and a revolutionary product shift every two years. This is the pace of today’s marketing technology advancement, and it is what every dealership can demand of their partnerships to maximize their success.

Despite competition with Amazon, today’s environment of explosive growth allows dealerships to tap into incredible change and stay ahead of the curve. With a forward-thinking strategy and the right tools, your dealership can stay competitive in our continuously changing market.

Your Turn

Chime in on the conversation with your thoughts and interests…

  1. Do you believe that Amazon, Apple, and Google pose threats to the future of dealerships?
  2. What ‘high-powered marketing tools’ do you deploy at your dealership?

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