Best PracticesDealership Marketing

“Just OK is not OK”, inspired by the recent AT&T commercials

An “op-ed” piece

As the infamous vendor in the automotive space struggling with the balance of bringing bold innovation while also staying relevant for dealerships, this commercial resonated with me (seriously, watch it). Dealerships have good processes in place– you invest in SEM with an agency, you have a working website (most of the time), and you probably do some kind of training for your sales team to keep them up-to-date with the latest strategies on how to sell to women or how to negotiate a pre-owned deal. You probably get some kind of report that tells you how you’re performing– conversions, CPC, website health metrics, and, of course, how many cars you sold from your current vendors. Sometimes even down to the VIN. You get the drill.

But what happens when there’s a new technology — or revolutionary innovation — in the space that may replace something that’s been working for you for years?

It’s natural to hesitate and be skeptical, and you may just want to play it safe. Because, if something works “OK” and keeps your dealership steadily hitting its goals, why change it?  It’s a gamble.

I’m writing this piece because I think it’s time for us to change this game. There’s too much evolving for us to miss the mark. Automation, for example, has become an integral part of digital marketing strategy. It’s no longer about list building and email blasts; it’s about predictive analytics and real-time decision making that sends out the best message to your potential buyers. If your email blasts get you an OK conversion rate of 5% walk-ins, would you try for the next best technology in email marketing to see if there will be an increase?

Although I’ve heard from recent dealer interviews a hard and fast “no, why change something that works?”, I have to argue this here. As we see in the commercial, Just OK is not OK.  It’s critical to comprehend this. Just OK is really not OK. With customers researching everything before walking into your door, you need excellent strategy to stay personal, to stay present, to stay superior. Are you keeping up with today’s digital marketing standards? Are you taking risks to increase your numbers? Are you educating yourself on what the next best thing is? What the big players like Facebook, Google, and P&G Marketing are implementing?

Ten to fifteen years ago, the big step for automotive was getting into SEM — paid digital media investments alongside traditional marketing efforts. And while it may have been the risky move to shift thousands of dollars from traditional to digital, it became more and more evident that this was the only way to compete, to be where your shoppers are looking: online. With the help from platforms like Facebook and Google, dealers finally made it.

Now what? Feeling the fish from Pixar’s Finding Nemo who finally make the escape from the fish tank to the ocean… but are stuck without the next big plan?

Yeah… you’re probably not alone. And while it feels like enough to let everything run its course because it’s been working, you may find yourself at a dead end without a next step (see image above!)

So this piece is to remind us all to be bold. Not to be scared to take the next jump. To ask hard questions and assess what’s bringing excellent results. This piece is to remind us all to get ready for what’s ahead– automation, predictive analytics, and real machine learning that bring unparalleled results when compared to the manual work we’re so used to today.

Take these stats as food for thought:

64% of e-commerce marketers say marketing automation contribute to more sales.

Companies with automated lead management see a 10% or more increase in revenue within 6-9 months.

P&G saved over $750M after making the courageous move to bring advertising in-house after a long-time strategy of outsourcing.

Be bold, dealers! Explore what’s evolving, and don’t be scared to take risks– it’ll make sure you’re not just OK and give you the competitive edge you’re always looking for.