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From: Jared Hamilton
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Larry Bruce

Larry Bruce Founder / President / CEO

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It's Not What He Knows...

That kills a General Manager it’s what he doesn’t know!

Those words spoken to me by one of the smartest dealers I ever worked for, Jay Marks, have stayed with me since 1996. Same principal applies in every position of the dealership but particularly in marketing.

Let’s face it Marketing is quickly becoming a dealership position. It’s a complicated dance between traditional and digital, the dealership and its partners. What is most alarming to me is the lack of basic information dealerships and their marketing partners have about the dealerships market and customers behavior. It’s always amazing to me that so many dealerships can operate even profitably and know very little about their market or their customer behavior. Even more alarming is the “Marketing Partners” they are using know less than the dealership, “They are not at the store!”.

The data is all there, in my earlier post “The Secret Weapon” I discussed the massive amounts of data that are available to dealerships and how you can leverage some of this data. I also talked about “What a Relational Marketing Database should do.”


One of its first functions is a “Market Analysis” you historical data will tell you a ton about

• Where your customers are willing to come from
• What cars they are willing to spend the money for
• What cars they are getting rid of
• Where your customer are will to come from for service
• What cities you have the best penetration in
• What vehicles make you the most money
• How and who to increase customer pay service with

I could go on and on but the post would be overwhelming.

Bottom line – If you are interviewing a marketing partner… and that is what it is an interview, and they can’t show you where the marketing & conversion leaks are, they can’t tell you where they think they fit in your marketing plan and can help then you already have your decision, it’s the same one you would make in an employee interview.

"I dont have to tell you you know what the decision is"


Finally if you don't have a basic market analysis you’re throwing darts in the dark… STOP even if your current “Marketing Partner” cant supply you with one you can do this yourself in excel.

Here is a link to a sample marketing analysis you can download that will at least give you the basic data to make good marketing decisions on. GET A SAMPLE MARKETING ANALYSIS.

Before you go chasing “Spinner Bait” (the shiny object) get your foundation right. Start with the data, get your market analyzed and look at who you need to target and how those people find you. Get that right then you can start to tackle the more advanced and subtle areas of marketing like social media, advanced content marketing, mobile etc.


Hope this helps,


Attend my session at Digital Dealer 12 “Marketing By The Numbers, Executing ZMOT In Your Dealership”

Larry Bruce
AMEN to that Eric, so many "Marketing Partners" just have a product not a plan and the dealer ends up wondering... "Why didnt this work?"
Larry Bruce
AMEN to that Eric, so many "Marketing Partners" just have a product not a plan and the dealer ends up wondering... "Why didnt this work?"
Bryan Armstrong
Many so called "Marketing Partners" are nothing more than biased entrepreneurs who have had some limited success through copying others over over-spending in traditional to achieve the results. Since they are outside the Dealership, it is easy for them to come in and claim deniable plausability as to the effectiveness of any given campaign. It will always be the "fault" of the in-Store process, the Vendor they chose to employ or the Market conditions. Data helps to point the way to the appropriate process, Vendor (channel), Market and even the message (creative). Sadly, because they often will point to times of success in the past, they can insist that doing more of the same will produce exponentially greater results. Since the relationship is stronger than the accountability this spiral of over-spend and under-return will continue for far longer than it should or would with any new dea or agent. Education and involvement of upper-level Management or the people actually held accountable to the ROI can and would affect this, but sadly ego or comfort prevents this in most cases. As the old saying goes "We stay in our sh**, it may stink, but at least it's warm and we know what it is". Maybe it's time for a (knowledge) shower?
Larry Bruce
Yes Bryan that happens, I would like to think those "Marketing Partners" mean well they just dont do enough to work with each market and dealership based on data rather than "Good for one...Good for all" approach. Thats the Optimist in me :) Unfortunatly too often the modivaion for a decision on a "Marketing Partner" for a dealership is everything other than what is best for the store, as you know as well as anyone, but in the end the truth always comes out sometimes it take longer than we like but it always gets there.
Tom White Jr.
several thoughts come to mind: I agree that the data should be a driving force in any marketing initiative, but you have to be careful because the data is a snapshot of what happened vs. what could be... e.g. if your data shows you don't sell many cars to people outside of "X" radius doesn't mean there isn't a market for these peeps - rather it means you did a bad job marketing to this group. "Marketing Partners" aren't really partners. They say they are, but in my experience very few are. Be careful who you take advice from. GM's should be students of this business and know WAY more than their vendors do - otherwise they are at the mercy of the newest shiny toy. I believe the role of the traditional GM has changed drastically over the last several years. We have to be good at operations, but we have to be GREAT at marketing. This means on-going education on marketing from outside of the car business. Think - why is amazon so good at what they do and how can I apply that to the car business. Back to data - Google Analytics is the single MOST important tool in a dealership's arsenal... Yet, very few GM's I know are fluent in the set up or functioning of this tool - and I'm not talking about "how mamy unique visitors or bounce rate," I'm talking about deep diving into the sales funnel to really understand consumer behavior on the website. Larry, you are SO SO right that GM's need to know more... The question is how to get them to realize this, change, and then implement... When a vendor gets the implementation help down, now THAT's a game changer! my two cents...

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