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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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CDK Global

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What if people were willing to fly from Brazil for your next dealership promotion? What if they were willing to wake up at 4 a.m., hire a professional “line-waiter,” or pay $900 for a first spot in line at your store? Yes, we’re talking about the launch of the iPad 2-and the opportunity vehicle launches present for automotive professionals.

A Balance of Pride and Profit

Many dealers are rightfully proud of the local brand they have created – this is an investment that pays back throughout the year. However, there are times when the most effective marketing strategy is simply to ride the coattails of the many millions your OEM is spending to create buzz and interest for their new product. By studying Apple’s marketing strategy, it becomes obvious that dealers can emulate this flagship brand to create similar salivating demand for their own inventory.

The Most Important Product in the World

Much like Apple stores, car dealers are all selling basically the same inventory from store-to-store. The launch of an Apple product is a study in beautiful synchronicity. When Apple goes to market, every aspect of the Apple experience-commercials, online ads, website, store fronts- align around a singular objective: promoting the launch of that new product. The result of this multi-tier campaign is a single, powerful message: at that moment, this is the most important product launch in the world. Customers in turn believe this message, and respond accordingly. The proof is in the profits. Apple sold an estimated million units in the first day.

Leading dealers recognize the value of this “synchronicity” in their marketing in support of OEM marketing campaigns. If you are fully deployed with messaging aligned with the OEM’s launch activities you will provide the consumers a seamless online experience directly to your showroom – and facilitate that self-reinforcing consumer buzz for your store that is so essential to Apple’s success.

Synchronicity is a matter of degree. Virtually all OEMs will insure that there is appropriate messaging on your franchise website, although you’ll need to stay on your toes if you are using an independent website. Search marketing and content aligned with the vehicle launch would be the next tier. The most advanced digital marketers will deploy an integrated multichannel campaign of search, display, retargeting and web content to channel shoppers directly to their stores. These complex campaigns can be developed by your agency partner. However, investigate whether there are endorsed packages from your OEM’s digital marketing partner – they will have early access to OEM assets to provide that valuable synchronicity and cost efficiencies from use of technology and integration with the franchise marketing platform.

Synchronicity Doesn't Mean Selling Your Soul

If you’re worried about “selling your soul” or diluting your dealership brand, take a cue from Apple as well, where Seattle stores celebrated the iPad launch with Starbucks coffee, Virginia with hot cider, and Florida with palm-tree lined storefronts. Once your shoppers get to your website or showroom it is your opportunity to deliver the exceptional experience that makes them the rabid fan of your dealership as well at the vehicle. It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition.

The message is obvious: there are times where it is in your interest to focus on your dealership brand and there are times when it is most profitable to ride the wave of interest created by your OEM. Successful dealers will exploit both strategies with today’s new generation of cost-effective digital marketing solutions.

Chris Reed, Chief Marketing Officer for ADP Digital Marketing

Chris Reed joined ADP Digital Marketing (formerly The Cobalt Group) in July 2007 as Chief Marketing Officer. Chris brings over 25 years of experience in marketing strategy for businesses ranging from start-ups to IBM. Chris holds a BA in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University, and a MBA from Harvard University. In addition to education, Chris’s marketing inspiration could be attributed to his international upbringing-he used to ride an elephant to school in the jungles of Sumatra.

 

 

The Cobalt Group

www.cobalt.com
www.twitter.com/CobaltMarketing
www.facebook.com/CobaltTalent

Lindsey Auguste
I really like the comparison here. Sometimes it feels like these massive companies are so far in their own league that we really can't compare ourselves with them, but taking a few lessons from their playbook can potentially make a big difference in the right direction. Thanks for posting.
Mark Dubis
1
Mark Dubis
While there is no denying that Apple is a marketing juggernaut you can’t compare a manufacturing and marketing company to auto retailers. You need to compare Apple to GM, Ford, Toyota etc. not to local auto dealers. There are some core differences between Apple and vehicle manufacturers. Let’s take a look: Apple controls their retail distribution through company owned stores – something not feasible in auto retailing Apple respects their other retail channels and treats them fairly Apple allows their retailers to make a fair profit Apple doesn’t tell the public what their retailers paid for their products Apple doesn’t devalue the worth of their product with frequent rebates Apple truly cares about customer service not just the appearance of customer satisfaction Apple is “connected” to their audience and doesn’t speak “at them” rather they speak “with them” Apple has leaders at various levels that aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo The first vehicle manufacturer that starts adapting more of the Apple strategy will “win” at a level they never imagined.
Matt Clark
Mark - Ditto There is only ONE apple (not counting the old record lable) how many toyota store are there...?
jared Testing
As with any analogy, there are many differences to point out between apple and dealerships. No doubt these some misalignments in apples model and that of our industry, but to me the point of the article is that as an industry we can do a much better job of creating a seamless brand experience for the consumer and that there are benefits that come from that. Apple does a beautiful job of this and gets huge results from it. Due to our obvious different franchise structure and business model, it will require us to execute differently... however that does not negate the results that we could achieve through better brand alignment from top to bottom. The challenge I see in this is how does Toyota dealer A and Toyota dealer B perfectly align themselves with the brand of toyota while maintaining their individuality and competitive edge on a local level? Dealers want, and should, work to separate themselves from their competition. How does one know when to align with the confines of the brand to gain the benefits of being Synchronized as opposed to knowing when and where to differentiate to keep your local edge?

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