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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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CDK Global

CDK Global

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Unsung Heroes of the Auto Industry, Show Yourselves

A Car Dealer Call to Arms

Imagine a world where car dealers earned the same community respect as fire fighters, police officers and other local philanthropists. A world where little kids dream of being car dealers when they grow up, where you receive recognition in your local paper, where community members stop by your place of business just to chat. Maybe this is already happening at your dealership, but if so, you’re the exception rather than the rule. Why is that?

Will the Perception Catch Up with Positive Industry Changes?


After all, the industry has consistently marched in the right direction with a focus on professionalism, transparency and customer service.  With the advent of Monroney stickers, Regulation Z, and Certified Pre-owned vehicles, dealerships have certainly become more ethical than the days filled with stories of throwing a prospect’s keys on the roof if they wouldn’t buy a car. So why is the perception still there? Frankly, it’s because dealers are their own worst enemy.

What I’ve found in my 13 years in the automotive marketing industry is that car dealers are too often the ‘unsung heroes’ of their communities. They too plant trees, sponsor Little League teams, and participate in their local Rotary clubs. They do as much or more for the community as many other esteemed business leaders. However, due to a variety of self-defeating behavior, these good deeds aren’t imprinting themselves on the public consciousness they way they should be.

Dealer Social Media Channels Add High-Impact Personal Appeal


Many dealers have caught on that a personal touch may help build a rapport with customers; now it’s time to get savvy about using new channels to build your dealership’s public persona in the most optimal way. (Note: There was just a great Driving Sales post about building an emotional connection on Twitter-we agree 100% and wanted to speak a little more broadly about how to apply the same principles to your entire dealership social media strategy.) Instead of posting pictures of your dog and your softball team on your website (which could be a distraction to hot-on-the-trail customers eager to buy) dealers should instead transfer these reputation-building efforts to their social media channels. “This will allow you to stay in touch with clients who are still in the consideration phase-possibly torn between you and a competitor with similar inventory,” Muilenburg explains. ”Your ‘good guy/gal’ perception will then naturally pay off to tip the tides in your favor.” Here’s how to do it:

Must-Do’s for Making Your Dealership Social Media “Like”able

  1. Post blog entries about your community involvement, include photos and videos
  2. Share stories and information about your local area
  3. Let your personality shine in your status updates
  4. Show excitement about things important to your community, like the college football team, or the summer concert series, etc
  5. Reward your fans

By instituting these five simple steps, you as a dealer can finally begin to gain recognition as the community hero that you truly are. If every dealer takes these actions to heart, we will finally be on our way to transforming the industry perception once and for all.

Matt Muilenburg, Vice President of Social Media at ADP Digital Marketing

Matt Muilenburg is Vice President of Social Media  for ADP Digital Marketing Solutions, where  he has been working closely with dealers and OEMs to identify new ways to improve automotive retailing and marketing effectiveness.  When not sitting in front of a gadget, you’ll find Matt volunteering at the YMCA, attending his kids academic, musical and athletic events, or releasing stress by working in his yard and garden. You can reach Matt at or call him at 206-219-8259.

The Cobalt Group

Eric Miltsch
Matt, Well said. Dealers have voiced their displeasure over this perception for a long time, without making the desired change they desire. The speed at which information is shared could be the catalyst for the change. Imagine how quickly this perception can change if more dealers act on the items on Matt's list - and share them? It'll be heard...
Cobalt An ADP Company
Thanks, Eric. It's inspiring to see others in the auto industry are all waking up to this same reality. It is exciting to think about the "instantaneous change" social media can bring for dealers, if they're just willing to hop on board. Thanks for your feedback.
Jim Bell
Well put Matt. It's unfortunate that not too many people in different cities realize how much a dealership gives back to the communities. I know that we support a lot of different organizations that people have no idea about, therefore a blog post on that coming next week.
Jared Hamilton
The beauty of the social web is that it plays to car dealer strengths. This is a people business. When the web first gained prevalence the early adopters (customers) were all about price. This was only a thin slice of the market, but the majority of those customers that migrated online. Today, 90% of our customers online. People online are no different than the people that walk onto the lot. Add that fact that social media is about people, it simply mirrors the behavior that goes on in the physical world, and you have a match made in dealer heaven. The social web is about people ie relationships. We are in the people business ie the relationship business. The social web plays right to our strengths! We should be jumping up for joy at the adoption of the social web. (well, some of us are!) Put down the "$99 down delivers" message for a moment and go build some relationships!

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