For the last three years, the auto industry, specifically the dealer community, has inched its way into blogging and social media. It is actually safe to talk about these things whereas fewer than two years ago I purposely avoided using such terms in my conversations with dealers and auto insiders because they were still a bit taboo. Now with the unveiling of such companies and services like DealerFeeder, I think we can say that the past is officially behind us.
Of course this day would come, it was only a matter of time. With the efforts of people like Jeff Kershner of DealerRefresh and Ralph Paglia of Automotive Digital Marketing, dealers and auto insiders are becoming increasingly more emerged in the idea and practice of blogging and social media. But what are these things really?
Let’s be clear about something. Setting up a Twitter account or a Facebook account takes 2 minutes, literally. Setting up a blog takes 5 and it is free. If you are paying someone to do this for you without a master plan and direct correlation to your marketing strategy then you are wasting everyone’s time and money. The set up of these things is the least of your concerns. Utilizing them and incorporating them effectively into your sales process is the real challenge.
Looking back to the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I recall the blitzkrieg of car dealers taking on the Web. In the first few years the big question was “should I or shouldn’t I have a website?” Then it was should I or shouldn’t I do pay-per-click advertising (PPC). Now it is “should I or shouldn’t I have a blog and do social networking?”. It’s easy to say yes to these questions but what is not easy to address is the HOW.
Successful business comes down to 3 things most of us know – People. Product. Process. Car dealers have the product and despite today’s economic situation there is no lack of people. There is an abundance of people at the consumer level and at the industry level. But it is the process that throws a wrench into all this.
Dealers have been able to follow a relatively consistent sales and marketing process for 50 or 60 years or so until the advent of the Web. Since then there has been a constant flux in their business processes. First came email, then came Automotive CRM, then Internet Departments, BDC, e-commerce directors, etc. Now we have blogging and social media. Anyone who thinks that incorporating blogging and social media into their marketing strategy simply for the sake of doing it because they “should” is going to be sorely disappointed. So what if you get 500 people following you on Twitter. Are you selling more cars as a result? Is your service business increasing? Are you improving upon your brand equity?
If you are doing these things, what impact are these efforts having on your results? If you can not draw a clear distinction amongst these things then you may be at risk of treading water. Studying your customer behavior and correlating it directly to your efforts is the ugly side of this business which is no different from any other form or method of marketing, conventional or progressive. Obtaining the tools for the trade is as easy as going to the store and buying them, but that doesn’t mean you end up with a killer deck.
- What impact does blogging having on your dealership and how do you know?
- How does Social Media affect your dealership?