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Three German Proverbs for Three Common Automotive Marketing Scenarios
As a German “elder” of the automotive industry, I decided to use my beloved German proverbs to illustrate common scenarios auto industry Internet Managers know all too well. By the end of this article, you may not be fluent in German, but hopefully you will at least have the chance to chuckle, nod, or smile in recognition of a classic industry situation.
1. Das Eisen schmieden, solange es heiß ist. This one may be familiar to you Americans. It translates to “Strike while the iron is hot.” Let me catapult myself back in time. It is 2001, a younger VJ (then with no gray hair) worked as a BMW and Mercedes Benz salesman in Michigan. At this time, our dealership was confronted with an intruder of a special kind, and every salesperson wanted to avoid contact with the nasty beast known as StarLeads. For those who don’t remember, StarLeads was a new lead program designed by Mercedes, sending Internet inquiries from real prospects. These prospects had researched a car on the OEM website, and now wanted to hear from a sales person in the dealership to gather more information.
Because I was the Benjamin in the dealership at this time, I was doomed by management to run this technology feature, even though many established sales personnel reported to management that the tool was a dud. It turned out it wasn’t a tool issue, but was a timing issue: many of these salespeople were waiting up to two days to contact the leads, at which point of course the person’s interest had waned and the lead had expired. Once I began speedily responding, or “striking” when a hot lead came through, the prospects began to convert.
The proverb’s truth isn’t limited to CRMs. You must “strike while the iron is hot” in every aspect of the dealership profession: responding to 3rd party leads, joining the chat conversation on your website, or immediately engaging with a disgruntled customer on a review site to try to avoid damage to your dealership reputation.
Everybody knows about the essence of speed in our business, but when you mystery shop your competition and maybe even your own dealership, you’ll see that even basics are not always followed. Seeing the lack of timely responses in our industry, I can only shake my head and say, “What are you thinking?”
2. Eine Schwalbe Macht Noch Keinen Sommer. In English, the proverb means, “A single swallow doth not the summer make.” Swallows? Summer? What is this kooky German fellow speaking of? Believe it or not, this beloved German proverb ties in perfectly with pitfalls I see, particularly in dealers’ social media strategy. When an industry peer asks you how many Facebook fans you have, and you say “280,” what happens? Your smug peer responds that they have 5,234 fans and that their base is growing daily. Now you see where the proverb comes into play.
The “single swallows” don’t matter in social media. You could have 100,000 fans, but if they’re not engaged, what’s the point? What matters in social media is not numbers, but R.O.P. (Return-On-Post) R.O.P. includes engagement such as comments, links, referrals, or any other goal conversion you’ve set for your social media campaigns. This proverb also applies to your own social media efforts as a dealer. You have to continuously post and provide insight; a single blog post here and there does not a social media program make.
3. Rom ist auch nicht an einem Tag erbaut worden. This one will be popular with any Gladiator fans out there-it means: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This is the “other half of the coin” to the first German proverb “Strike while the iron is hot.” While it is important to be speedy when making contact with a hot lead, you can’t lose heart if it takes much longer to close the sale. For new prospects coming through our CRM, I recommend at least a 120-day email follow-up approach, combined with telephone contact attempts. Some dealers come on hot and heavy, but they don’t have the patience to follow through after the initial “thrill-of-the-chase” wears off. The truly successful dealer is the one who establishes contact in a timely fashion, and then continues to nurture that relationship over time.
And now for one final proverb: Probieren geht über studieren. It means “trying is better than studying”- so get out there and sell some cars!