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Jared Hamilton
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All Of Us In Automotive Need To Be...Less Automotive (At Least Socially)

One of the things that I love about IM@CS is the fluid nature of what we do. In consulting to different businesses (and thankfully contributing to different industries), we are involved in different aspects of attracting, engaging and retaining customers. One thing that is more than evident is the necessity to be more than single-track minded. And frankly, that is being screamed for in Automotive.

So as businesses skew, some forced, more into mainstream consumerism there is a natural shift to social engagement both online and offline. For some, CRM is a well-used tool. email has its proper place, social networking traction is gaining, true sourcing is an every-day activity, analytics are a way of life and e-Newsletters are not static. In fewer cases, reputation management and new technology like QR codes have started to garner true, distinguishing results.

Enter the reward game. Handfuls of dealers have gone into using dealership-exclusive offers within their marketing similar to many attempts made over the years. Except nowadays, there aer monumentally better ways to track and measure the effectiveness. But what are we offering? And how effective a reach could we be benefiting from if we just stopped to think about it?

Put it this way. Answer this: What do at least 25% of your clients do? Right now. Without looking at your CRM, 3x5 cards or notes. Now are you offering them something related to what they want to do away from your dealership? Why do people go to dealerships and dealership websites? Simple: shop, inquire, transact. Nearly nobody, save for the extremely loyal and enthusiasts (which we're all thankful for), wakes up in the morning and says "I'm going to hang out at the local BMW dealership today". I've never heard anyone say "my life will get better if I spend a few days a month at the local Ford store".

Let's say your store is utilizing Foursquare (meaning you've actually claimed your location which is similar to the process with Google Places) and have published your first offer. What is your offer for? 10% off service? A you making the first payment on any new lease? Awesome! You've made the jump and are hopefully tracking the results. How about 10% off the local hot spot's dining or drinks? How about 25% off green fees at the local golf course? How about tickets to a major sporting event (and the ones provided by your OEM don't count)? How about donating to a local charity that your customer chooses so everyone feels great?

Not to say that a discount for your loyal customers is not great. It absolutely is. Reward them and they'll continue to come back. So the dealership perk aside, are you doing something exciting for more of your customers and non-customers? Let's say 65% of the R.O.s created between 10:00a and 3:00p are for women. Do you have a Manicure Monday or Mommy Massages and bring in some popular local businesses that offer those businesses?

Better yet do you deploy cooperative or reciprocal marketing with local businesses so there is a mutual benefit? That seems to be a lost art in today's too-eager-to-grow and too-eager-to-cut environments. Have a (legitimate) Facebook page with at least a couple hundred Likes? Have you done a giveaway yet? It's great to do that as long as you follow Facebook's rules. Do yuo deploy technology that when people are ready to print the incentive/coupon, they must share it first on their Facebook wall? That has much more wide-ranging implications and people that are engaged are many more times likely to do that!

And be creative. No, more creative. No....even more creative! If you take a vacation and your resort offers you a $150 resort credit for using the restaurant and other merchants or a 10% off your next stay, which one are you likely to take?

It's time for all of us in automotive to be....well, less automotive. It's not hard. Yes, it takes some forethought, some work and extra effort to get the word out. But do you want a typical result or an amazing result? Do you want a few more people referring business or would you rather have a lot of local businesses referring business.

You don't need to answer now. Just think about it. After you put down the Bluetooth earpiece that you got free with the smartphone that your stock broker told you about, and turn off your big screen TV with DirecTv service that came with the free HD upgrade and take your car to get the free car wash that you earned with purchases from your local grocery store and finish dining at your kids favorite local restaurant with the free desert that your kids earned months ago with good grades at their school....

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

You can read more IM@CS posts here on or on our blog.

JD Rucker
I always get told I'm not automotive enough.

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