Like a proud father who is moved with emotion as he sees his child graduate from college, I was filled with pride when Westbury Jeep secured their graduation honors. In July Westbury Jeep was recognized as the #1 Jeep Chrysler Dodge dealer in the United States for June 2011.
Being #1 in the US for any brand is a great reward and a double blessing for a passionate and engaging dealer principal. Many factors go into achieving that level of success and the entire Westbury Jeep team should be congratulated. Creating a team that executes on all levels is not an easy accomplishment.
PCG Digital Marketing has assisted Westbury Jeep define and implement their digital marketing strategy for the past three years. We have also developed a great relationship with Joel and his team based on keeping them ahead of their competition in regards to digital marketing.
Joel Sporn is a rare dealer principal that sought to understand all digital marketing concepts so he could adapt them to his specific vision for his franchise store.
Joel is a student of strategy and fiercely competitive. He chose to accept the responsibility of crafting his digital strategy and build a great team of marketing partners.
Joel sought out and connected with people who could help him learn, execute, and integrate that knowledge. Joel was patient to see the rewards of his digital investments, which is the main theme of this article.
Too often the executive leadership of a dealership is disconnected from the staff that are tasked to research, select, implement, and manage a digital strategy. This disconnect can cause dealer principals to be impatient.
It is not uncommon for digital investments to be pulled off the budget before they bear fruit in as little as 60 days.
Digital marketing investments can have an immediate and clear ROI for dealers like adding 24x7 managed chat to a website, adding pop-up coupons, or operating a pay-per-click campaign with well-designed conversion pages. These digital strategies have an immediate pay-off and, when measured, create a comfort level with bean counters.
Other digital strategies require patience to create a market dominating success story. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most misunderstood investments. Joel took the time to learn, craft, and implement a market dominating SEO strategy and the payoff is clear today.
Since an aggressive SEO strategy can take over a year to implement and refine, few dealers ever see the fruits of their SEO investment. Automotive SEO strategies are continually changing. Just recently Google added the “+1 Button” to search engine listing pages and this one change will have a major impact on click rates to dealer websites.
The Google launch of their social media platform “Google+” also creates new opportunities to drive social links and traffic to a dealer’s website.
Despite all these new opportunities, I caution dealers that have little patience to start an aggressive SEO strategy. If you are looking for SEO to make significant changes in online visibility and traffic in 90 days, don’t start.
Patience is also required for Internet Reputation Management (IRM) processes, which yield an increase in online review counts each month. These reviews are visible to tens of thousands of in-market shoppers each month.
Dealers who ignore their online reputation “scores” are in effect using their monthly advertising budgets to send consumers to their nearest competitors. Dealers who want to fully leverage the digital divide must implement an in-store and post sale review gathering process.
Implementation does not come without resistance from dealer employees. They are also uninformed and impatient on the benefits of doing “more” work in their already hectic workday. The ROI to a commitment to IRM does not necessarily come in 30, 60, or 90 days, but when a dealership has 200+ more reviews than their nearest competitor, the pay-off starts to become very clear.
When consumers call and ask for sales professionals they never met because of an online review, your sales team will take notice.
Unfortunately, I have already started to see dealers give up on IRM process investments. I’ve been told that it’s too hard to ask happy customers to take 60 seconds to post a review inside the store. I’ve been told that none of their customers have Google accounts. Both are excuses and lies.
Dealers, what lies are you and your employees believing that are holding back your online marketing success?
Digital marketing takes a well-defined strategy and as I have outlined; patience. Success also takes a commitment to learn and lead from the top executives of the company.
We have mentored Brickell Honda, located in Miami Florida, over the past 2 years and they have over 800 reviews posted directly on Google Places. Alex Andreus and Mario Murgado have a market dominating digital marketing strategy that includes a strong belief in presenting a positive online brand image.
With the correct leadership it is amazing what can be accomplished.
Westbury Jeep and Brickell Honda have demonstrated patience in crafting and implementing their digital marketing strategy. Success did not happen overnight.
Their success came from having a strategy that reviewed all their current marketing investments, which resulted in an action plan. These two dealers are examples of a new breed of automotive professionals that are making the investment to develop a strategy that includes technology, training, and the willingness to be ahead of their peers.
Has your dealership made a commitment to create a dominating digital marketing strategy?
If dealers continue to measure success in 30, 60, or 90-day intervals they will never reap the rewards, which are produced from implementing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
I am not implying that your digital investments should not be measured each month. I am saying that until dealership executives invest in digital marketing education for themselves and their team, they will never have the patience to win the race. They may win a short sprint but never the marathon.
Successful car dealers are marathon runners. Has your operations and marketing trainer prepared you for the digital marathon? I sure hope so because the race has already started.
Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing
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