Archive for the “DrivingSales.Com” Category
Today’s educated consumer empowered by knowledge they acquired on the internet has little patience for a self-serving dealer message. A click of their mouse will answer their questions and find a vehicle that fits their needs leaving little reason to visit a dealership. Truth be told, the brick and mortar auto dealership is not necessarily the most efficient business model for cost conscious consumers or profit driven auto dealers to achieve their respective goals.
Future solutions for the auto industry must improve the customer experience while increasing profit margins for dealers; in that order. Most auto dealers and technology vendors will legitimately jump to their own defense and cite the many value added services they provide their customers at their facilities beyond offering the best price and product. At first glance, I agree.
Auto dealers who take a second look at their facility from their customer’s perspective will discover a different future for their auto dealership to more efficiently serve their customer’s needs:
• They must compete with online showrooms – including their own – along with third party consumer centric resources to provide relevant transparent information in a timely manner
• They must reduce fixed and semi-variable expenses associated with operations, cost of sales and marketing while passing along the savings to their customers in the form of reduced prices
• They must provide additional products and services to better serve their customers’ needs and develop residual profit centers
• They must collect and manage a data base of past, present and pending customers to deliver personalized targeted messages to maintain relationships throughout the ownership cycle
• Their facilities must be “Experience Centers” providing services not offered online; such as comprehensive test drives, repairs, maintenance and custom after-market products
• Their in-facility sales and service processes must be efficient, designed to match their customers’ online experience and exceed their expectations
Relationship based selling will always factor into the shopping process for a new or pre-owned vehicle. Next generation social media and online reputation management tools provide a perfect platform to accomplish this goal. However, the next logical step in the evolution of the retail auto industry to maintain this consumer focused path demands re-purposing the role of today’s auto dealership.
• They must compete with online showrooms and provide relevant transparent information
The internet has leveled the playing field for small and large dealers by providing a cost effective marketing platform that is not limited by geography, facility size or inventory. Bigger facilities, inventories and advertising budgets represent more of a financial burden than a benefit for dealers. Consumers can now search inventory nationwide across all makes and models with the confidence that they can do their shopping online vs. making a trip to car row. It has also allowed consumers access to information previously controlled by dealers which opens the door for them to question the role of their local auto dealer in their shopping process.
Yesterday’s radio, TV and newspaper generation were not willing to invest tens of thousands of dollars sight unseen on what was an emotional decision for a vehicle that often defined their personality. However, a growing reliance and confidence on the internet by today’s text and internet driven youth who see a vehicle as a necessary evil to commute to work might not be as demanding. More relevantly, the next generation of car buyers is at a real risk of not enjoying the financial independence of their parents and their buying decisions will likely be governed by their reduced financial resources.
Combine consumer confidence in their self-researched product and price information with transaction tools that allow them to purchase their vehicle online subject to a final test drive at the dealership, their home or office and the line between the real and the virtual dealership continues to blur. Further supplement customers online experience with a video conference that adds a personality and friendly face to the facts and then allow shoppers to share their thoughts with their online friends before, during and after their decision to buy and you start to wonder why a customer would invest their time and gas money to travel to car row to purchase their next vehicle.
Forward thinking auto dealers are shifting their focus to their virtual showrooms and digital marketing plans through the use of best in class online applications that replicate real world shopping experiences. Consumer preference to watch an informative video vs. reading a brochure or even flipping through online pictures has been satisfied with video production platforms like SiSTeR Technologies. SiSTeR Technologies produces and distributes vin-specific vehicle videos with integrated links to credit applications, trade-in appraisal tools and competitive comparisons sourced from credible third party providers across multiple makes and models. These resources allow consumers to make buying decisions that previously required a trip to the dealership.
• They must reduce fixed and semi-variable expenses and pass along the savings to customers
Growing economic concerns and expectations that credit and incomes will be negatively impacted suggests that the luxury of individual vehicle ownership may necessarily change. Increasing unemployment and gas prices have the potential to drive populations into urban communities where public transportation is more widely accepted.
The experienced decline in growth of rural communities and the introduction of fractional ownership of vehicles on a pay as you drive basis represent a cost effective transportation solution that could trump individual vehicle ownership. Selecting your vehicle for the day parked conveniently next to your home or office billed through your mobile phone could replace monthly payments and service needs previously supported by auto dealerships operating under what could become a dated business model.
The OEMs are also adjusting their manufacturing and distribution processes to produce universal vehicle platforms that will accommodate international markets with minor adjustments to fit regional demand. Just in time parts deliveries to computer driven production lines designed to accept real time vehicle orders placed by customers through virtual showrooms vs. local dealer inventories with their related floor plan costs promise to reduce costs to consumers and boost sagging profit margins for dealers. These efficiencies in manufacturing and distribution once again point to the need to change the role of the dealership in the retail auto industry.
Simply put, a future with limited financial resources for consumers and dealers will dictate a change in the role of the automobile and the auto dealers that sell and service them. That is not to suggest that auto dealerships, both real and virtual, will not play a role in the future retail auto industry but rather that their products and value added services for consumers must accommodate the needs of their customers.
A shrinking market will likely result in a reduction in the retail dealer network needed to service it. This is already being realized through government intervention, as experienced by Chrysler and GM Dealers, and natural market demand for dealers to consolidate their franchises into shared facilities closer to where their customers live and work to leverage shared resources and reduce costs to maintain operations.
Commercial real estate investors, including auto dealers who own their facilities, need to consider the highest and best use for land and improvements. When the math is applied to the debt service and operational expenses required to support a ten plus acre dealerships it becomes obvious that smaller facilities limited to service and support of online vehicle sales and marketing platforms provide less risk and greater reward for dealers.
Specialized commercial real estate services targeting the changing real estate needs of the auto industry, such as a division within Colliers International – the Colliers Automotive Real Estate Services, (CARS), – have positioned themselves to evaluate auto dealerships to determine the land and improvements highest and best use. OEM requirements for suitable locations of their franchises and local zoning regulations limit dealer options to relocate or share their facilities with multiple franchises. However, concessions have been made to accommodate dealers with sufficient resources and market share to insure their profitability which suggests that consolidations of facilities will be granted as the market dictates it.
• They must provide additional products and services to better serve their customers’ needs and develop residual profit centers
New vehicles will also necessarily change to accommodate future customer needs and fuel sources. Restrictive CAFE standards and consumer demand for more fuel efficient vehicles due to escalating fuel and maintenance costs are already impacting the marketplace. A prime example is the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) that are being produced in anticipation of federal regulations and market conditions that will nudge consumers into accepting them in the foreseeable future.
It’s no surprise that the newly empowered, data driven consumer has put dealer margins under pressure. Reduced profit margins on the sale of new vehicles combined with the reduction in required maintenance means that dealers must develop new profit centers to make up for the anticipated loss of revenue. In addition, finance and leasing restrictions brought about by federal regulations imposed on the banking industry will further reduce profit centers in F&I reflected in caps placed on dealer reserves on contracts and warranty sales which will further impact the profitability of brick and mortar facilities.
One source of new revenue comes from what many would consider an unlikely source: the electric vehicle or EV. Despite the controversy surrounding its introduction in late 2010, reminiscent of the similar debate when the Prius was launched a decade earlier, most pundits now only debate “how many” and “when”. This collision between the transportation grid and the electric grid will inevitably generate new products and services for savvy entrepreneurial auto dealers.
Leveraging the ability of the Internet to capture consumers’ interest in EVs and translate that into both vehicle and aftermarket sales opportunities, Electric Vehicle Business Development Strategies (eVBDS) has developed a unique business model that embodies the new “virtual-to-real” process. George Stellweg, eVBDS CEO, explains “Through our consumer facing dealer centric marketing platform, EV Dealer Exchange allows dealers to reach in-market customers anxious to learn about the different EV’s and associated new technologies.”
Partnering with electric power product behemoth Schneider Electric and home improvement retailer The Home Depot, eVBDS enables auto dealers to sell Schneider’s residential EV chargers directly to their customers at the point of sale, with Home Depot providing distribution and installation services. Replacement EV batteries and future product offerings that enhance the EV driving experience represent future sales and customer support services that extend beyond the dealer’s facility and initial vehicle sale.
The introduction of a new generation of home energy management systems will enable home owners to gain more control of their energy usage, and system developers like Schneider view EV owners as the logical “early adopters”. “eVBDS provides Schneider Electric and The Home Depot with an extensive retail channel of auto dealers who have unique relationship with EV owners” says Forest Williams, eVBDS COO. “HEM systems are just one example of the new opportunities for dealers to extend their brand beyond their existing franchises, enabling them to control customer satisfaction and retention beyond the vehicle sale.”
• Their facilities must be “Experience Centers” providing services not offered online
This new found market for auto dealers to sell home energy management systems will reduce their dependence on their brick and mortar facility as their products and services extend into the home. Auto dealerships will be re-defined as Experience Centers with test drive courses that allow customers to feel the instant acceleration and high tech features and benefits of EV’s to justify their existence.
These re-designed facilities will also provide state of the art service facilities offering personalized after-market accessories vs. fancy showrooms. These experiences, products and services can’t be offered online and they will provide a value proposition to visit the dealership to enhance the online experience for consumers while offering dealers profit centers that extend beyond the initial sale of the vehicle.
• They must collect and manage a data base of past, present and pending customers
Technology driven sales processes that allow a dealer to build and manage a customer data base collected from online resources suggest a shift to this more liquid and sustainable asset that is not dependent on their facility and the associated expenses. Direct marketing to a loyal data base of customers for future sales and service is an extremely cost effective marketing solution for auto dealers. Extending the auto dealers’ online footprint beyond their own website by posting their inventory on third party marketing platforms, being listed on specialized websites like the EV Dealer Exchange portal and contributing to online discussions promoted by various social networking communities will provide new sources for potential customers to add to their data base not limited by their physical location.
This shift to leveraged online exposure represents another reason why dealers must rethink how they are using their facilities which should be concentrating on fixed operations vs. vehicle sales. Attracting in-market online shoppers may or may not result in a vehicle sale today but adding them to an internal ongoing marketing plan to service their vehicle regardless of where they purchase it stands a better chance of maturing into a mutually rewarding relationship than the old school philosophy of buy or die.
Customer satisfaction and retention is a key element to increasing service absorption which also impacts vehicle sales before, during and after the initial contact. Automated consumer focused data base marketing platforms, like Driving Loyalty, allow dealers to alert customers of required service, factory recalls, in-equity alerts to trade-up and anything that relates to their investment in their vehicle. In addition to automated emails and letters with personalized information regarding past purchases Driving Loyalty provides a personalized website for each customer that posts their sales and service history in an easy to use interactive website. Customers can research in-stock vehicles and get their trade-in value as well as exact out the door prices and payments without involving a salesperson or visiting the dealership. The dealer is notified of any online activity by their customers that suggests the need to contact them with additional information or to provide a gentle nudge to do business from the convenience of their home or office; win-win!
• Their in-facility sales and service processes must be efficient and customer centric
Finally, the future auto dealership will have to match the online customer experience much like the first wave of dealer websites were challenged to replicate the real world shopping experience. Vendors have already accepted the challenge to accommodate today’s educated consumer by empowering the dealership sales staff with information delivered on an iPad on the showroom floor. IntellaCar is an example of a best in class mobile sales presentation platform that provides a salesperson with the same tools that the customer used online to educate themselves before they visited the showroom.
The wow factor of a salesperson being able to answer questions with information sourced from credible third party resources presented the same way that the customer researched them online creates a level of trust that helps the customer make a buying decision. Presenting competitive comparisons across all makes and models also eliminates the need for the customer to visit a competitor and provides a path for the salesperson to close the sale on the first visit. This kind of efficiency is necessary to build value in the dealership experience and represents yet another fundamental change in the value proposition offered by a real world shopping experience in tomorrow’s newly defined auto dealership.
It should be noted that the role of the salesperson also needs to change to accommodate consumer demand that they provide added value to their shopping process. IntellaCar addresses that need by operating as a training tool that accelerates the learning curve of the dealers’ sales staff as they absorb information along with their customers during every presentation. Employee retention is improved as salespeople become productive faster and the dealer has the confidence to know that his sales processes are consistent and professional through the use of built in analytics in the IntellaCar platform that monitors its use.
In summary, the future of the auto industry does not suggest the elimination of the auto dealership of today but it does anticipate the need to re-define the role of the auto dealership of tomorrow. I have personally invested in or partnered with all of the vendors cited in this article in support of the changing role of tomorrow’s auto dealership. Of course there are many other equally forward thinking vendors focused on the future of our beloved auto industry with a shared confidence that it will survive all obstacles. Frankly, I decided to write and post this article to surface vendor partners that I have yet to discover with the hope that I can contribute to our shared visions and success.
If you represent or know of a vendor platform that provides a solution to some of the challenges facing the auto industry that I have referenced please add your comments to this post, contact me directly at email@example.com or call me at 561-962-2738. I also welcome any contrary opinions or visions for tomorrow as I recognize that I don’t know what I don’t know and my participation in sites like this one is designed to listen and learn so I can presume to continue to teach.
After all, what are friends and partners for!
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Posted by: Phil Zelinger in Ai Dealer, auto dealers, auto industry, automotive advertising, Brian Ferris, Bull Dog Marketing Technologies, Bulldog Marketing Technologies, CarFolks.Com, CityTwist, Dealer.Com, DealerRefresh.Com, DealMaker.Com, Detroit Marketing Company, Detroit Trading Company, DrivingSales.Com, EBAy Motors, ecarlist, Gumiyo, Kihon Media, laser stream video, philip zelinger, R. L. Polk & Co., Ralph Paglia, ronsmap, SiSTer Technologies, Uncategorized, vAuto, Video CarLot, tags: adagencyonline.net, Argistics, automotive advertising, automotive advertising agencies, automotive advertising agency, AutoTransaXion, blog talk radio, Bull Dog Marketing, CityTwist, CloudOne, ecarlist, InstaQuote, IntellaCar, izmocars, philip zelinger, ronsmap, SiSTer Technologies, VehSmart, Video CarLot
AdAgenyOnline.Net, a nationally recognized automotive advertising resource / networking portal, reviews cutting edge automotive advertising technologies and vendor solutions on their hosted blog talk radio station — WAAOL, All Automotive Advertising News All The Time. This week’s Lunch With Phil Discussing Automotive Advertising show, moderated by Philip Zelinger, the President of Ad Agency Online, L.L.C., will feature a review of InstaQuote in an interview with Carlos Diaz, the founder of InstaQuote and the C.E.O. of Caryote. The show is scheduled to air live on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2011 between 12 Noon and 12:30 PM EST.
Philip shared his reasons for reviewing InstaQuote as a possible conversion tool for his affiliated automotive advertising agencies and his online audience of automotive advertising decision makers. “To price or not to price on an auto dealer’s website is a question that automotive advertising agencies have already answered with a resounding yes. Customers demand transparency in their online shopping experience and price is a question that must be answered almost before it is asked. Some auto dealers stick to the old school philosophy of posting MSRP with an offer to contact them for their best Internet price. Their intention is to preserve gross profit and incentivize the online shopper to contact them so the dealer can explain why price isn’t as important as their product and excellent service. Unfortunately, today’s educated consumer knows that the best price is only a click away and they can service their vehicle anywhere after their purchase. Although, why would they go to the dealer that wanted to overcharge them for the vehicle in the first place?”
“I am reviewing InstaQuote for an Internet Sales Manager who contacted me to ask if they could provide an efficient way to instantly quote a competitive price to his online shoppers as well as in response to his leads sourced from various third party providers. Frankly, I am not a believer in auto response based systems, however sometimes limited staff and resources force a dealer to choose between an automated response or no response at all. The solution lies in a hybrid of a timely response with a competitive price followed by a personal reply to fill in the holes and establish a relationship with the customer. Customers soon discover that most dealers will “meet or beat” any legitimate price so their objective quickly converts to finding a dealership that they are comfortable with. Price still matters but people and process are more of a consideration for online shoppers who are compiling their short list of dealers to visit.”
“InstaQuote is able to quote 100% of a dealers’ new vehicle Internet leads from their own site, the manufacturers’ site and third party marketing platforms in seconds. They use proprietary multi-point information matching to ensure quotes are generated accurately in a very comprehensive conversion tool on the dealers website using a manufacture-grade configurator that follows business rules defined by the dealer to respond to all inbound inquiries.”
“Perhaps the most unique value offered by InstaQuote is the customer friendly format that the price is delivered in. In addition to providing the price on the vehicle selected by the customer, they also quote several comparable vehicles as well as providing information on the dealer including a convenient Google based map and directions to facilitate a visit. When combined with a comprehensive follow up system integrated into a process powered by a motivated staff and efficient CRM I can see InstaQuote as a key ingredient in the sales process.”
About Carlos Diaz
In early 2001, after the “dot-crash”, Carlos Diaz, the founder of InstaQuote was forced to enter the car business as a means to support his family and like most others who first enter the “business”, the transition was not easy. Mr. Diaz had over 7 years of web development experience having worked for such companies as General Electric and UGO. Carlos was ahead of the curve with in-depth knowledge of the internet and programming. Now armed with car sales experience, he was a perfect fit for the internet department which, at the time, no other salesperson wanted to be part of.
Carlos quickly excelled in achieving his sales goals. However, he still felt the process was too complicated, which was due to his dealership’s refusal to let him answer the number one question presented by all online customers, “What is your best price?”. This was when the idea of a system that could provide price quotes to customers without dealer interaction came to his mind. This was the birth of InstaQuote.
For the next few years Carlos worked for various dealerships. He also continued to evolve InstaQuote from a simple access database to a full featured website designed to help him increase his personal sales goals.
In 2003, while working for a Honda dealership in New Jersey and after achieving numerous awards from both the dealership and Honda, he was taken aside by the VP of Operations and asked what his secret to success was. Nervously he told the VP about InstaQuote, who proceeded to immediately promote Carlos to Internet Sales Manager on one condition, that he allow the dealership to use InstaQuote. A few months later, and after helping increase the dealerships status to number one in the nation, Carlos was promoted to Director of eBusiness Development. Carlos managed six Business Development Centers for 7 franchises, all powered by his InstaQuote system.
• Caryote Technologies, Inc. is a privately held, Phoenix, Arizona based corporation.
• The name Caryote (pronounced car-yote) is derived from the words “Car” and “Coyote” which was inspired by an encounter with a pack of 3 Coyotes on the day the company was formed.
InstaQuote was originally designed and developed in late 2001 as a way to enhance the overall car buying experience. It offers the user the opportunity to use the internet as a means to avoid in-dealer negotiation of a vehicle.
The InstaQuote Philosophy
1. Provide a high-quality, intuitive, and engaging email based quote that offers the perfect balance of information and interactivity to satisfy the customers immediate needs and promote dealer communication.
2. Incorporate the latest web based technologies that enhance the overall customer experience.
3. Introduce industry leading features that promote dealer transparency, such as finance and lease payment options.
4. Provide easy-to-use dealer controls that feature simple instructions and familiar layouts that mimic their existing processes for price setting.
5. Allow for simple integration and implementation into any dealer environment, which complements and enhances existing sales processes.
About Philip Zelinger
Philip Zelinger is the President of Ad Agency Online and founder of AdAgencyOnline.Net. He invested 25 years as a General Manager and Dealer Principal followed by his last ten years in the automotive advertising industry learning from the teams that he built so he can now presume to teach. His role as a “Dealer Coach” is enhanced by his hosting a nationally recognized auto industry social networking portal and blog talk radio station – WAAOL, All Automotive Advertising News All The Time. As the author of two books on the auto industry, including “How To Sell A Car – a Career Guide to The Automobile Industry,” he is a recognized authority on market trends and developing technologies with the responsibility of selecting key vendors and applications for his dealer clients as well as forming strategic partnerships for his vendor clients to leverage their shared resources to bring their products and services to market.
About AdAgencyOnline.Net and Ad Agency Online, L.L.C.
AdAgencyOnline.Net reviews automotive advertising vendors and new technologies on several blog talk radio shows in addition to the Lunch With Phil Discussing Automotive Advertising. Other shows include “Auto Industry Insiders” and “Automotive Advertising Experts.” The shows attract automotive advertising agencies, auto dealers, auto industry vendors and O.E.M. representatives that listen to WAAOL to find vendors, applications and technologies to maximize the R.O.I. for their automotive advertising dollars.
AAOL is a national network of independent affiliated automotive advertising agencies linked by an online communication / distribution system developed by Philip Zelinger. The proprietary operating system that powers AAOL was designed to reduce fixed and semi-variable expenses for full service automotive advertising agencies. The developing technologies that enhanced the performance of the independent automotive advertising agencies linked by AAOL has served as the role model for the solutions suggested on AdAgencyOnline.Net and represented by AAOL to their affiliated automotive advertising agencies when serving their auto dealer clients.
Ad Agency Online L.L.C is focused on discovering and representing new automotive advertising vendors not yet recognized by the mainstream automotive advertising industry. Recent automotive advertising vendors represented by AAOL include; Argistics – AutoTransaXion, SiSTeR Technologies Video CarLot, DealMaker.Com, CityTwist.Com, Bulldog Marketing Technologies, Gumiyo, Kihon Media, CarFolks.Com, Ai Dealer, Laser Stream Video, ronsmap and IntellaCar; to name a few.
Previous guests interviewed on WAAOL include a growing number of automotive advertising experts. Past guests included, Clayton Stanfield from EBay Motors, Mark Dubis from CarFolks.Com, Jared Hamilton from DrivingSales.Com, Dale Pollak from vAuto, Jerry Daniels from Automotive Broadcasting Network, (ABN), Terry Alling from Kihon Media, Brian Ferris and Spencer Sterling from DealMaker.Com, Mike Parsons from Laser Stream Video, Brian Hoecht from Ai Dealer, Ralph Paglia from ADP and host to the auto industry social networking community ADM, Len Critcher from ecarlist.com, Tim Zierden from AAX, Jim Ziegler, consultant to the auto industry, Jeff Kershner, host of DealerRefresh.Com, Jeff Raab from the Detroit Trading Company, (DTX), Mike DeCecco from Dealer.Com, Ken Schwartz from CityTwist, Michael R. Spadafore from R. L. Polk & Co., Kevin Schwartz and Rick Rochon from AdSymetrix, Bruce Cerbone from Argistics, Scott Davis from Bull Dog Marketing Technologies, Matt Watson from VinSolutions, Michael T. Fay from Colliers International Of South Florida and their C.A.R.S. division, Matt Brown and Zack Powell from TheDealerDashBoard.Com, Mark Burack from Liquid Motors, Pat Ryan, Jr. from FirstLook, Al Cantarella from AutoWebsitePlus.com, Michael Roscoe and Cliff banks from Dealer Communications, Steven Munyan from HireTheWinners.Com, Todd Mathews from WideStorm, James Crouse from CloudOne, Brian Story from VehSmart, Mike Martinez from izmocars and most recently Jim Hughes from IntellaCar.
For more information on Philip Zelinger, Ad Agency Online, L.L.C., InstaQuote or any of the preferred automotive advertising vendors previously reviewed on WAAOL contact Philip through AdAgencyOnline.Net. Automotive advertising vendors, automotive advertising agencies and auto dealers that would like to be considered as a “preferred automotive advertising vendor” on AdAgencyOnline.Net and/or to hire/join Ad Agency Online, L.L.C. to represent them can contact Philip Zelinger at firstname.lastname@example.org, call him at 888-796-2228 or visit AdAgencyOnline.Net at http://adagencyonline.net. To quote Philip Zelinger, “Help is only a click away!” ###
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Posted by: Phil Zelinger in Ai Dealer, auto dealers, auto industry, automotive advertising, Bull Dog Marketing Technologies, CarFolks.Com, CityTwist, DealMaker.Com, DrivingSales.Com, Kihon Media, laser stream video, philip zelinger, Ralph Paglia, ronsmap, ronsmap.com, SiSTer Technologies, Video CarLot, tags: adagencyonline.net, Argistics, automotive advertising, automotive advertising agencies, automotive advertising agency, AutoTransaXion, GetAutoAppraise, Hughes Hunter, IntellaCar, philip zelinger, Rons Map, ronsmap, ronsmap.com, SiSTer Technologies, Social Media, social networking, TeleTextSoltions, Video CarLot
Automotive advertising agencies are being asked to deliver more for less by a consolidating auto industry in response to reduced sales volume, profit margins and automotive advertising budgets. The solution, as is often the case, lies in the leveraged use of technology applied to a constant in automotive advertising and the auto industry that it serves — change. Another constant that can be found in automotive advertising is human nature. These two constants, change and human nature, power the explosive growth of the use of social media by automotive advertising agencies. Unfortunately, the change is happening at warp speed on the Internet Super Highway and automotive advertising agencies don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to new automotive advertising technologies and applications being developed to monetize social media.
Attempts by automotive advertising agencies to provide a presence for automobile dealers on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter fall short for the same reasons that these online communities of friends are so successful with consumers. People hate car dealers and they often turn to advice from likeminded consumers on social networking sites to get away from them. Automotive advertising agencies that impose on these personal conversations with self serving sales messages are often ostracized and even virally attacked as an intruder. The potential damage to the online reputation of their auto dealer clients represents a risk to reward formula that has forced many automotive advertising agencies to abandon social media as a viable channel to deliver a retail sales or service message.
Fortunately, the same social media that teaches consumers how to buy a vehicle can provide automobile dealers with the information and the tools that they need to sell them one. Social networking portals developed by likeminded automotive advertising agencies, automotive advertising vendors and auto dealers allow their members to share best practices with the common philosophy that a rising tide floats all boats.
Philip Zelinger, the President of Ad Agency Online, L.L.C. and the host of the automotive advertising resource / networking portal AdAgencyOnline.net, discussed a number of auto industry focused social networking sites on the blog talk radio station WAAOL – All Automotive Advertising News All The Time featured on AdAgencyOnline.Net. “I host a network of networker in a special section hosted on AdAgencyOnline.Net titled Auto Industry Insiders. Contributing member sites include Ralph Paglia’s AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.Com, Jared Hamilton’s DrivingSales.Com, Brian Pasch’s InternetSalesmanager.Org, Chris Saraceno’s DealerElite.Net, Jody Devere’s AskPatty.Com, Keith Whann’s Auttr.Com and Scott Monty’s ScottMonty.Com. Each online community boasts its own personality and rules of the road to keep members in their lane. The temptation to sell to each other is controlled by the same social pressures that exist on consumer facing social networks for those that forget why they are there — to listen and learn so they can presume to teach their auto dealers how they can sell cars and service to their online friends.”
In addition to sharing best practices, many automotive advertising agencies use social media to discover new automotive advertising technologies and vendor applications that have not yet been discovered by the mainstream automotive advertising industry. New automotive advertising platforms and vendor clients that Philip Zelinger sourced from his searches on social media include SiSTeR Technologies Video CarLot – an automated video production platform that produces scalable interactive videos from pictures using human voice to narrate them that are placed on the auto dealer’s website and pushed through a dedicated API with You Tube onto the WWW. An equally revolutionary discovery claimed by Philip to have been discovered using social media was ronsmap.com — a consumer centric inventory marketing platform that offers auto dealers free listings and free leads with the ability to purchase real time market analytics and social networking profiles that empower the salesperson to answer the customer’s questions even before they ask them.
Each of these vendor applications were introduced to the market through automotive advertising social networking communities that enabled them to listen and learn from their members about how they can improve their products and services before they introduced them to the general market. Philip claimed that his access to these automotive advertising solutions and new vendor clients of Ad Agency Online was only possible as a result of the time he invested on social media looking for them so that he could stay one step ahead of the competition.
Online blog talk radio stations hosted on automotive advertising networking portals — such as AAOL featured on AdAgencyOnline.Net — provide a another social media forum for finding and reviewing new automotive advertising solutions. Regularly scheduled blog talk radio shows with live interviews of the developers of bleeding edge automotive advertising applications allow their online audience to ask vendors questions in an open forum. These open exchanges of ideas in a problem solution format help the vendors as much as the automotive advertising decision makers that follow the shows. A new mobile sales presentation platform with an integrated training component — IntellaCar by Hughes Hunter — was recently discussed on a blog talk radio show hosted by Philip Zelinger to solicit feedback from the audience. Their insights were used to modify the platform before IntellaCar began their beta test it in the real world saving thousands of wasted dollars and man hours that would normally be required to mature their application.
The opportunity for automotive advertising agencies and auto dealers to listen, learn and contribute to social networking communities allows them to discover what they don’t know while allowing them the opportunity to share what they do know. Auto dealers are people too! The same efficiencies and extended resources that attract consumers to social media to research their next vehicle purchase is sourced by automotive advertising agencies who need to stay one step ahead of the competition in a consolidating auto industry that demands more for less. Automotive advertising agencies don’t know what they don’t know but they can definitely find out on auto industry focused social media. After all, what are friends for! Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by: Phil Zelinger in 9th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition, ADM, Ai Dealer, auto dealers, auto industry, automotive advertising, Bull Dog Marketing Technologies, CarFolks.Com, CityTwist, DealMaker.Com, DrivingSales.Com, Kihon Media, laser stream video, philip zelinger, ronsmap, ronsmap.com, SiSTer Technologies, The 9th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition, Video Car Lot, tags: adagencyonline.net, Argistics, automotive advertising, automotive advertising agencies, automotive advertising agency, AutoTransaXion, GetAutoAppraise, philip zelinger, Rons Map, ronsmap, ronsmap.com, SiSTer Technologies, Social Media, TeleTextSoltions, The 9th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition, Video CarLot
Shrinking auto sales, profit margins and automotive advertising budgets have forced automotive advertising agencies to shift their investments from conventional radio, T.V. and print media to the internet and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and too many more to list. Unfortunately, conventional automotive advertising wisdoms don’t always apply on the Internet Super Highway. As a result, automotive advertising agencies are struggling to find out not only what works, but how they can prove it to their auto dealer clients who are demanding a verifiable short term R.O.I. for every dollar in today’s struggling economy. Philip Zelinger, the President of Ad Agency Online, L.L.C. and the host of the automotive advertising resource / networking portal AdAgencyOnline.Net, is directing automotive advertising agencies to promote people over product or price using social media to produce quantifiable and qualified results.
Relationship based selling systems and marketing messages have always been part of the plan for auto dealers in their brick and mortar facilities and it has been carried over to their new online virtual showrooms. However, the assumption that people and personality serve only to build brand awareness or to enhance the retail message vs. replacing it is a dated concept that must be adjusted to fit the demands of today’s empowered customers. Auto dealer’s self serving retail messages delivered by their automotive advertising agencies — regardless of the media — is no longer perceived as relevant or transparent to online shoppers who prefer to ask their friends and/or trusted third party resources for information they need to make a buying decision.
Digital marketing techniques and priorities established by automotive advertising agencies — such as focusing on Search Engine Optimization, (S.E.O.), Search Engine Marketing, (S.E.M.) and various other manipulations of the algorithms that determine page positions for the online search engines — are no longer the best and/or the only way to deliver a call to action to potential customers. The newest opportunity for automotive advertising agencies to deliver a message that will sell new and/or pre-owned vehicles as well as service and/or parts is to have their past, present and pending customers do it for them.
Initial attempts to transfer hard retail advertising using conventional media and even digital marketing on the WWW using auto dealer websites or dealer centric third party automotive advertising platforms were not received well by the typical online shopper who traveled onto the Internet Super Highway to avoid car dealers and fast talking car salespeople. Today’s empowered customers prefer customer centric messages sourced from likeminded consumers sharing their shopping/buying experiences before, during and after their purchases.
Auto dealers who marketed directly to these social networking communities were seen as wolves in sheep’s clothing as they attempted to sell their products and services from the outside in vs. from the inside out. Automotive advertising agencies were also challenged by their inability to quantify the short term R.O.I. from their efforts to justify their fees.
Philip Zelinger discussed some of the new technologies and applications being applied to social media that allow automotive advertising agencies to prove the R.O.I. for social media on his blog talk radio show Lunch With Phil Discussing Automotive Advertising. The show is an open business meeting featured on the blog talk radio station WAAOL, All Automotive Advertising News All The time that is hosted on AdAgencyOnline.net.
Philip commented on the subject with some suggested resources that automotive advertising agencies can turn to for best practices in social media and accumulating R.O.I. analytics. “Automotive advertising agencies first and best resource is to listen, learn and apply the best practices associated with social media and social networking offered on automotive advertising resource portals including AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.Com, InternetSalesManager.Org, DrivingSales.Com, DealerElite.Net, Autr.Com, AskPatty.Com , ScottMonty.Com and networks of networkers such as Auto Industry Insiders featured on my own AdAgencyOnline,.net. I also suggest that automotive advertising agencies continue their education in real world venues like The 9th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition scheduled Oct. 12-14th, 2010 at The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. Many of my affiliated automotive advertising agencies and auto dealer/vendor clients will be hosting sessions there on leveraging social media including mine: C2C + B2B – B2C SQUARED; Learn How This New Social Media Formula Provides New Revenues, New Efficiencies And Greater Profits.”
“As far as leveraging limited resources to promote people over product and price one solution that comes to mind is a vendor client of mine — DealerMouth. They offer auto dealers a master website that allows them to manage and monitor individual sites for each of their sales people and service writers. The sales people can promote themselves to their own spheres of influence in both the virtual world of Facebook and Twitter and the real world at the dealership by directing them to their personal website as a form of online “Why Buy Here Book” or as a personal blog like forum to talk about life. More uniquely, the dealer can make sure that their staff is using their online time in a productive manner vs. planning their vacations on company time by using the built in moderator functions to monitor content and online activities during business hours. The individual sites hosted on DealerMouth are internally linked to the dealer’s online resources so it provides salespeople and service writers with a seamless transition to information they need during or after hours to sell a vehicle or service to a friend when the conversation warrants it.” Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by: Phil Zelinger in Ai Dealer, auto dealers, auto industry, automotive advertising, Bull Dog Marketing Technologies, CarFolks.Com, CityTwist, DealMaker.Com, DrivingSales.Com, Kihon Media, laser stream video, philip zelinger, ronsmap, ronsmap.com, SiSTer Technologies, Video CarLot, tags: adagencyonline.net, Argistics, automotive advertising, automotive advertising agencies, automotive advertising agency, AutoTransaXion, DrivingSales.Com, GetAutoAppraise, Jared Hamilton, philip zelinger, Rons Map, ronsmap, ronsmap.com, SiSTer Technologies, TeleTextSoltions, The DrivingSales Executive Summit, Video CarLot
The DrivingSales Executive Summit is an exclusive automotive event, laser focused on cutting edge dealership operations. Philip Zelinger, the President of Ad Agency Online, L.L.C. and host of AdAgencyOnline.Net, previewed the summit on the Auto Industry Insiders blog talk radio show featured on WAAOL, All Automotive Advertising News All The Time that aired on September 02nd, 2010.
The DrivingSales Executive Summit features an invitation-only guest list of the most successful and innovative dealership operators in the country and world-renowned speakers to educate and inspire the collaborative process. This year’s Executive Summit will be held at the beautiful Encore hotel in the electrifying city of Las Vegas, Nevada October 18th – 20th, 2010.
Philip announced on the show that Jared Hamilton, the organizer of the event and the host of his own auto industry focused social networking resource portal http://DrivingSales.Com, will be joining him on next week’s Auto Industry Insiders show to introduce breaking news surrounding the summit and to offer promotional discounts to the affiliated automotive advertising agencies of Ad Agency Online as well as their auto dealer clients. Philip explained his support of Jared and The DrivingSales Executive Summit, “Jared is a contributing member of our network of networkers — Auto Industry Insiders — that is hosted on AdAgencyOnline.Net. Our group leverages our resources and online relationship with our shared philosophy that a rising tide floats all boats. The DrivingSales Executive Summit is a real world venue that exemplifies our members individual online communities desire to share best practices in automotive advertising and in day to day operations at an auto dealership. After all, what are friends for!”
The event kicks off with a 30,000-foot view of the latest media and economic trends just starting to touch the industry. These high level discussions are then translated down to the 15,000-foot view of how some of the leading dealership innovators are incorporating these trends into new strategies that drive sales at the dealership level. To complete the event are strategy collaboration sessions at the 10-foot dealership view where dealer operators participate with their peers in round table discussions about implementing specific aspects of these newly inspired strategies. According to Jared, “The program will inspire you and leave you with a strategic plan to drive measurable results at your store.”
The topics and speakers presented are selected by the group of dealer attendees. This insures the topics are timely, relevant and that the speakers are of the highest quality for the audience. The agenda is not sponsor driven, it is dealer driven.
The purpose of the executive summit is to provide an intimate setting for an advanced group of dealership operators to collaborate, learn and be inspired about the opportunities facing dealerships at the tip of the spear. This is not a training event for ISMs, Sales Mangers or Fixed Operations Directors. The event is focused on the topics facing Dealer Principals, GMs and decision-making Executives and giving them the knowledge they need to drive the overall strategy in their businesses.
The event themes are submitted by registered attendees and moderated by a panel of leading-edge dealers. The panel allows topics to be submitted and voted on up to a few weeks before the event to ensure the event is as relevant and timely as possible.
A few of the topics to be covered at this year’s event:
Dealing with Price Compression:
Due to the transparency of the Internet, vehicle price are posted everywhere and this is compressing the margins on both new and used inventory. How are progressive dealers handling online pricing and still maintaining vehicle gross? Is the future headed towards one price? How should you compete and prosper in this price-sensitive, yet transparent market? Read the rest of this entry »
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