Forward thinking automotive advertising agencies understand that most changes in the auto industry are driven by technology; however, all of them are powered by human nature.   The evolution from word of mouth referral systems relying on relationship based sales processes to today’s consumer driven social marketing messages can be traced to their  common element; people like to do business with people that they like.

Auto dealers are constantly looking for ways to maximize profits and consumers are equally focused on getting the best possible deal.  The key to satisfying all parties in a free marketplace is to focus on what both sides have in common and it isn’t short term profit or price.

The market has decided that the most efficient technology driven solutions are only effective if they also improve the customer experience.  This has become more evident in today’s internet driven marketplace as social media has empowered consumers to gather the information they need to make a buying or servicing decision without having to rely on their local auto dealer.

Auto industry vendors have focused on providing consumer centric processes to complement social marketing initiatives.   Their common agenda is to prioritize the needs of the customer before those of the dealer with the confidence that they are not mutually exclusive. Read the rest of this entry »

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Automotive advertising agencies must constantly reinvent themselves to keep up with consumer preferences. When customers discovered the internet automotive advertising agencies were forced to follow them online.  New tools like web sites, conversion applications to capture customer information, banner ads and S.E.O./S.E.M. strategies were developed to replace radio, T.V., and print production services. 

The result was reduced profit margins for advertising agencies who sacrificed these lucrative products and services in favor of more cost effective online marketing tools to improve the R.O.I. for their auto dealer clients.  More importantly, they improved the customer experience for the ultimate boss – the consumer.  Customers enjoyed their newfound power to find relevant information in this more transparent media and social media was the next logical progression. 

Automotive advertising agencies are once again being forced to adjust the products and services they provide to their auto dealer clients as consumers find friends on social networks that they trust more than the auto dealers that followed them online.  Forward thinking agencies recognize that social marketing provides efficiencies in production and distribution to deliver more relevant and transparent messages for their dealer clients and they are embracing this new media.  Unfortunately, more conventional agencies are having a hard time accepting their loss of control of the message and they risk becoming irrelevant in an increasingly consumer controlled market. Read the rest of this entry »

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Automotive advertising agencies and marketing consultants often leverage their resources to maximize the R.O.I. from their auto dealer client’s advertising investments.  Since social marketing is powered by customers sharing their experiences online throughout their shopping, buying and ownership cycle it is logical that advertising agencies should rely on this viral media.

Of equal value is that conventional advertising media only speaks to a small percentage of the market that is looking to purchase or service a vehicle at any given moment making their messages irrelevant to the majority of their audience.  To make matters worse, conventional marketing messages targeting in-market customers typically rely on urgent calls to action from a source that consumers don’t trust which further limits the response.

Social media eliminates these flaws in radio, TV, print and even digital media such as email and online marketing.  Auto dealers are able to participate in the ongoing discussion that is the market without having to time their message and since the primary source for the message is a trusted friend it will be better received and believed.

To better leverage the viral nature of social marketing auto dealers can also contribute to the discussions in various social networks on hosted Facebook and LinkedIn Pages as well as content distributed through Twitter and Google +.  The key difference is that urgent calls to action can be converted to less confrontational offers within relevant content distributed by the dealer in their blogs, posts, tweets and comments on friends’ messages.  Old school relationship based selling techniques to make friends before customers still apply. Read the rest of this entry »

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Social marketing may be the next best thing but, like all successful next generation solutions, it is built on the foundation of proven old school wisdoms. Word of mouth advertising pre-dates today’s technology driven social marketing as a proven way to build a business.  The fact that people like to do business with people they like and that trust is the foundation for any transaction is a reflection of human nature which is the basis for long term business relationships.

Given that truth, I find it interesting that many auto dealers ignore the low hanging fruit of marketing to their past and present customers in favor of focusing on complete strangers.  Relationships already earned in sales and service must be nurtured or they will soon find a new friend in the car business.  Fortunately, as these established relationships mature they not only result in superior customer satisfaction and retention but they provide the stories that can drive a successful social marketing program.

The market is a conversation among friends that exists before, during and after their car shopping/buying experience.  Auto dealers are tasked with timing their messages to match where customers are within this cycle.  Conventional advertising suggests that you continuously speak to the market with your sales or service message and accept that only a small percentage will be interested in hearing it.  Social marketing allows a dealer to join in the discussion by delivering content to consumers throughout their ownership experience.   The key to a successful social marketing program is to provide content that is relevant to the customer vs. the dealer.

Fortunately, a key advantage of social marketing is that the best content is in the form of stories told by an auto dealer’s past, present and pending customers describing their shared experiences. Of course the stories should be complementary; however, even the bad ones open an opportunity to fix problems vs. their existing in the market without being resolved for both the customer’s and the auto dealer’s benefit.

Technology powers today’s version of word of mouth advertising through social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +.  However, social marketing isn’t limited to these online marketing platforms or applications that auto dealers use to manage their online friends. For example, data base marketing allows an auto dealer to involve their customer base in the discussion on their social networking communities.  Who better to provide stories that would interest potential new friends and customers than people you are already doing business with? Read the rest of this entry »

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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