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Digital marketing is not a bolt-on product. You don’t open up a box or flip a switch, and you certainly can’t buy a product from a vendor and expect that it will boost sales overnight. Digital marketing done right takes time and integration into existing dealership systems. It takes a change of attitude and an appreciation for new techniques and a willingness to try – to prove -- the unproven.
That’s David Kain. He’s been proving the unproven value of digital marketing and sales since the heady days of FordDirect.com, and doing so with the utmost level of candor, expertise, professionalism and grace. Since 2000, he has quietly insisted that there’s a right and methodical way to build a lasting digital footprint. That’s right -- 12 years. Anyone who has spent the last 12 years talking digital best practices deserves an Automotive Digital Pioneer Award or something.
Today, as head of Kain Automotive, David leads a team of talented and dedicated trainers focused on driving exceptional Internet and BDC results for their clients. He is also an active dealership trainer and speaker at many industry events including the NADA Convention, State Association Workshops, Digital Dealer as well as Manufacturer Training Conferences. You can add the DrivingSales Executive Summit to that list. At this year’s DSES, attendees can listen to David at his Breakout Session “5 Key Areas Dealerships need to focus on to achieve Internet Sales Success.”
1. What can #DSES attendees expect to hear from you?
DK: Concrete ideas that they can put into place as soon as they can get back to the dealership. They’ll get confidence-boosting actions and strategies that they can sustain for the next 12 months around the topic: 5 Key Areas Dealerships need to focus on to achieve Internet Sales Success. Especially important is the lead handling process and how to structure for growth.
2. What do you love about the car business, or digital marketing?
DK: I love how dynamic both are, love the amount of energy it takes just to be able to figure out what’s on the customers’ mind. Plus the changes! When I first started training, there was no Google. Go back and look the changes we’ve seen -- the evolution that has occurred is astonishing. I think what’s unique about automotive is that we have to do so much relationship building. If you look at the cost of what we sell, it changes things. That’s one of the things that makes the challenge in automotive digital so great.
3. What’s your passion? What makes you get up early in the morning?
DK: When I hear an Internet manager say that they can’t seem to motivate a customer to want to engage. That’s what it’s all about -- helping people create dialogue with customers. Our passion is how we can help our clients use the Internet across their whole dealership to create better efficiencies and increased profitability.
4. What was your best car memory?
DK: My first car was a ‘76 Ford Mustang four-cylinder, but my favorite has always been the ‘69 Mustang GT BOSS, primarily because of the body style but also the V8 engine. My dad has been a Ford dealer my whole life so I’ve had Ford in my blood for 52 years. As far as memories go, when I turned 16 I got my license and then promptly got my first speeding ticket within 30 days -- going 86 mph in a 55 mph zone. Then I got five more tickets before I turned 18!
5. Biggest accomplishment?
DK: Being one of the co-founders of FordDirect .com.
6. Tell us about a recent dealership [or organization] pain point that your team was able to solve.
DK: There was a dealership where we went into recently that had a lot of leads coming in, plenty of customers wanting to buy from them but management wasn't engaged and they had one person handling over 300 leads a month. We worked with the management team to design their own customized process, taught them effective communication tactics and helped them create an efficient digital marketing plan. Now they’re one of the leading digital dealerships out there, but when we started they didn’t really have a digital marketing plan to speak of, and were getting kicked around by their competition. We studied how they were being represented on Google, added some key conversion elements, brought in live chat, created some landing page activity. Over the next 60 days we started to see the impact of increased traffic and increased leads, and six months to a year later the dealership was quite confident about their digital abilities and their results.
7. What are the three main topics dealers should be focused on as we head into 2013?
DK: In general, I'd like to see more focus on dealership website innovations but specifically No. 1: The continued strengthening of their processes. Don’t take your eye off the ball. No. 2: Innovative communication strategies that enhance our ability to communicate with the customer . It’s really critical to enhance your overall communication with texting and video elements. No. 3: Refining marketing campaigns and digging into remarketing and behavioral marketing.
8. Speaking at DSES is…
DK: Exciting! There’s an expectation to deliver something special, to go outside of my normal comfort zone and create a session that people will walk away from and say – wow -- that was great.
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