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Part of me does not want to write this post because I have written about the importance of Google Places in the past. Part of me says that I need to send another reminder out because of my experience at a 20 Group presentation today.
This article is not specifically about Google Places but a mirror into the failure of OEM dealership education in regards to digital marketing.
Of the 20 dealers in attendance at today's meeting:
I'm not listing these statistics to embarrass anyone but Google Places is the #1 free source of online traffic and leads for a car dealership. For example, a Miami Honda dealer's Google Places page shows 37,000 times a month.
Guess what? What appears on Google Places impacts ALL of a dealer's advertising dollars because when someone searches for a dealership "name", Google Places is right at the top of the search results with "a story".
What is the story your Google Places page is showing? Consumer reviews have a big part in how this story is played out.
My experience today is a reflection of the state of our industry. The rate of change in digital marketing strategies has not been matched with OEM education. In fact one dealer executive named Chris asked me:
"Brian, our OEM has not informed us on the importance of Google Places, consumer reviews, or showed us how to leverage Google for advertising. Is any other OEM doing a better job at educating their dealers?"
I did not have an answer for Chris. Most every time I speak at 20 Group meetings, the very basics of today's digital marketing strategies are NEW revelations to dealer principals and General Managers.
The fact that most dealers in the room had no training on inspecting their #1 source of free traffic, Google Places, is an indictment of delayed or broken OEM educational processes.
Is Google Places important? Would you like thousands of free advertising impressions and visitors to your website each month?
I love speaking at conferences and 20 Group events because I want to be a part of the educational solution. I love the fact that organizations like DrivingSales and PCG Digital Marketing have great conferences scheduled throughout the year to assist dealers build knowledge and strategies to leverage the Internet.
But Chris's question was sincere and demands further thought.
My candid presentation may have made him feel exposed, uncomfortable, and uninformed. He was one of the dealers who had a Google Places listing that was not claimed. I think he was very glad that I brought it to his attention.
But it's not just Google Places that had dealers looking cross eyed!
Google Boost? What's that? Bounce Rate? What's a good percentage? Google Webmaster Tools? What? Retargeting? What's that?
You get the idea. Dealer's in attendance were puzzled at some of these phrases and they should not be.
The more I travel the more I am convinced that dealers are READY to learn and READY to change but the OEM's are not nurturing their franchise dealers in a TIMELY manner.
It's time for our industry to admit that our educational processes have failed to keep the dealer community up to date with leveraging the #1 source of advertising and branding; the Internet.
That's why I continue to beat the drum; dealers need to invest in educating their entire executive team. That includes Dealer Principals, Fixed Operations Managers, Internet Sales Managers, Marketing Directors, and of course the common acronyms GSM and GM.
I should be attending 20 Group meetings to address more than the basics but I can't because the basics are NOT being covered.
Dealers who want to invest in education will be rewarded. Where should Dealer Principals and General Managers start?
Waiting for your OEM to provide training that is timely is like waiting for the Easter Bunny. If you want chocolate, go out and get it.
If you want cutting edge, timely education, register and engage at places that offer what you need.