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Gary May

Gary May President

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Searching For The Digital "Leg Up"? Jump All In!


The mad scramble to do the crawl, walk and maybe run is still in full force. Yes, more are shifting toward digital but 2012 is nearing half way through and we're likely still under 20% of budgets going to true online and integrated strategy across 17,000+ franchise dealerships. We're talking the talk, ladies and gentlemen, but we're not walking the walk...

As a matter of fact, you might just say that the "Leg Up" everyone is looking for is only one jump away. But while you're looking at (and impressed with) your knee moving up, you miss the view of the real goal is a good leap away. And at the same time, our indsutry is being bombarded with new vendors, software and services along with the current ones continually trying to reinvent themselves. And for what?

What moves results? Sustained efforts. On top of solid education. Supported by execution. Surrounded by measurement. Without the entire package, not just the slick sale pitch that got you to buy, you might as well cut yourself off at the knees. No digital leg up for you! But why????

Because, for the most part, we allow vendors to pull the wool over our eyes. It's not about having the newest and greatest or even starting from scratch for your first time. It's outlining what success looks like, making enterprise commitments for training and utilization, how technology gets us there, insights to customers' technology use, understanding how people find us and so, so much more.

It is 2012, you're not in the game if you're simply buying a new website! Your website has to be completely integrated with your inventory. The dealership's CRM has to allow you to work remotely. Salespeople must enter data about their customers. You will not get a leg up in digital marketing or eCommece results if there are workarounds of any kind. This goes for everyone on the showroom floor to executive management.

One out of 100 customers are drive-bys today. There shouldn't even be a "drive-by" in the sourcing options of your CRM. Fudging a prospect's email or driver's license number to get a key for a test drive "just do to it later" is as effective as not having a customer sign the purchase contract but letting them drive off the lot. Having a website without real SEO, integrated incentives down to VDPs, model (and if called for) trim landing pages that are not copied from or framed in from your OEM, future models and everything people actually come to websites for is also unacceptable. Everything that you want to make easier with a digital leg up is real work. Yes, it takes real work. And it never, never, nover ends.

And here's a newsflash: It's not all about the acronyms:

SEO - Shove Everything Overboard
SEM - So Everything's Mobile?
PPC - Perpetually Perform Catastrophically
CRM - Can't Review Monthly
SME - Social Media Euthanasia
SMO - Senseless, Mindless, Objectiveless

Now you're left with one thing to do...SOS! 

SOS - Shiny Object Syndrome

You can't and won't win the digital marketing war purely by spend while staying immersed in traditional media or by making incremental movements while the world is forging forward in digital consumption at 200 MPH. Dealers and managers, don't excuse yourself or your staff because that is followed by your customers excusing you to go down the street.

A digital leg up is going at your entire presence all the time, both online and offline. On the web and in the store. If you're not making the experience the same, don't ask an app or a CRM to save you.

Last weekend I participated alongside roughly 13,000 cyclists to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis in a ride form Houston to Austin, TX called MS150. Most finished. Some quickly. Many slowly. For those that didn't finish, some had mechanical issues due to their bicycles not being properly ready. Some had accidents which took them out, which is to be expected when thousands converge on a small area at the same time. And finally some just couldn't make it, their hearts completely in the game but their bodies not. They wanted to. But they didn't get the results they expected due to the fact that they didn't jump in. 167 miles is a long way in two days for most people, period. And my hat's off to everyone that participated. But to win, you can't just get a leg up or start "training" the week before. You have to jump all in.

Digital marketing and success online as well as in your store doesn't happen by will power alone. There needs to be a plan, equipment, partners, inventory and more. Make sure that your multi-million dollar investment doesn't have a nickel-and-dime presence online. And take the time to understand what it takes to go all in. If your vendors only want to give you a leg up and are not willing to jump in with you, you might as well stick your head between your legs and kiss your store goodbye...


Best Practices: Prefessional Insight, Powerful Results

You can read more IM@CS posts here on or on our blog.
Jeremy Alicandri
Gary, it's amazing how many dealers still haven't made a shift.

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