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Automotive Leaders Will Emerge From Investments in Education

Automotive Leadership and EducationI just recently conducted a 20 Group workshop and it reminded me that the more I speak and connect with dealer principals the more I am excited about being in the automotive industry.

I am very passionate about helping dealer principals lead their business with effective digital marketing and social media strategies. That's right, dealer principals as leaders.

Having the privilege to educate and share my passion for digital marketing to hundreds of dealers each year, it is clear to me that many dealer principals cannot effectively lead their digital marketing strategies and inspect their advertising investments.

They would like to but they don't know the right questions to ask.

All of the dealers in attendance at this meeting said that they would like more leads from their main website because those leads convert the best. Yet NONE of the dealers could recite any important data points about their website:

  • How many unique visitors a month
  • How many page views per visit
  • How much time were they spending the their site
  • Bounce Rate
  • Top referring sources

For many of these dealers, they are investing thousands of dollars each month to maintain and market their website. Some advanced dealers may also be adding fresh content, videos, photos, and specials to "improve" the website experience.

Yet in spite of these significant investments, they had no clear report on their desk to say whether these investments were moving the needle. Increased visitors? Reduced bounce rate? More leads?

None of the dealers had ever tested and measured the impact of changing their home page design. Frankly, they did not know that they could ask for those types of test. None had tested different landing page designs for their pay-per-click advertising campaigns.

Larry Bruce has been like John the Baptist on this topic, as he has been trying to get dealers to do more with what traffic they are already getting. A/B Testing and conversion is surely a timely message from Larry Bruce, which can save dealers significant money if they invest in education and testing in 2011.

Ironically, the dealer principal proudly admitted to testing different radio, TV, and print ads to find the right message that worked. Yet, when it came to digital marketing they never thought they could test that medium as well. The good news is that they can.

Digital Marketing Education is NOT Sexy


Spending the dollars to educate your staff may not be sexy, but it is critical for leadership in today's automotive retailing model.


I'm not sharing this story to put down dealer principals. I'm writing to challenge the automotive industry and dealer principals to make 2011 the year of empowerment. A year where investments in digital marketing education are a priority. A year where dealer principals see the importance of leading and INSPECTING their digital marketing investments.

If dealer principals can't inspect the work of their eCommerce team, vendors, and automotive advertising partners they cannot effectively leverage the opportunities that the Internet and social media offer. If dealer principals can't speak the language associated with SEO, SEM, IRM, and social media they will not feel confident in vendor meetings.

Automotive Digital Marketing Education


In 2011 PCG Digital Marketing is committing significant resources to dealer education. The commitment started with the 2011 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC). The conference is being held February 103, 2011 just prior to NADA.

In 2011 PCG will be announcing a series of initiatives and partnerships to assist car dealers with educating their team to master the skills needed to be successful with automotive retailing.

At DMSC, attendees will be empowered to lead their dealership with effective digital marketing and social media strategies. The curriculum, speakers, and educational format will deliver solutions and processes to take back to the dealership that will move the needle in 2011. The conference diet is high protein and no junk carbs.

Do focused workshops really work?


In just three hours with this 20 Group, I was able to review a series of simple spreadsheets that I created to allow them to inspect their digital marketing investments. All of the dealer principals committed to having their reports on their desk each month and said that they would review them. They now have the ability to inspect, where a few hours earlier they did not. They were empowered to lead, from a 3 hour class.

A Budgeting Paradox


These dealers expressed their gratitude that I came out to their 20 Group. I'm not sure how many dealers, if any, would sign-up for a conference on digital marketing without having this face to face experience with me.

I find it ironic that a dealer will try a new "advertising" idea (shiny object) for $1,000 and yet they won't INVEST $1,000 to send an employee to a great educational conference. These same employees may manage hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising and marketing investments.

It's odd that dealers’ use an excuse that the conference "is a busy time to be out of the dealership" like they don't control workload and have backup resources in case someone is sick.

When I inspect a Google Adwords campaign for a dealer, it is not uncommon that in 75% of dealers I can save them thousands of dollars a year in wasted clicks or improved conversion. Why wouldn't a dealership want this as an internal skill?

When I inspect a dealership website, it is not uncommon that 85% of website are not tagged properly for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Why wouldn't a dealership want this as an internal skill?

When surveyed, over 35% of car dealers said that they had no formal budget line item for staff education in digital marketing and social media. So it is no surprise why this important area of growth for car dealers is not being fully leveraged.

Who Will Lead in 2011?


I can go on with more examples but it is clear to me that the tools and strategies dealer principals need to succeed have changed and education has lagged. That will change when dealer principals decide to lead ALL profit centers in their business.

That gap is getting wider and I hope that we can provide the education and resources to close the gap between the haves and have-nots. I hope dealer principals reading this article will be inspired to take action and invest in education in 2011.

It’s really not an option but dealer principals can deny reality as long as they want which will allow their competitors to gain a strategic advantage.

P.S.  Please take this Digital Marketing Education SurveyStart Here

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