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As far as Gary May is concerned, digital marketing is all about opportunity. There’s the opportunity to work with visionary people and businesses eager to make a breakthrough; the opportunity to put his talents and experience to use reshaping the way dealerships use digital tools to sell more cars. Mostly, though, Gary sees his work as founder and president of Interactive Marketing and Consulting Service (IM@CS) as an opportunity to educate dealers and their employees on the most irresistible force to hit marketing in our lifetime: digital communication. For 12 years and counting, his expertise in branding, media, content and data have given clients a thorough understanding of how digital marketing fits with the other aspects of their business.
His goal is simple: educate clients about the digital landscape and technology so that they, in turn, can integrate it into their business. Doing that takes time and commitment: it’s beyond figuring out how a business can capitalize on, say, social media, to improve loyalty. It’s about injecting those fundamentals into the core of the dealership so that loyalty rates stay up and opportunities are taken advantage of long after he and his team have gone.
At this year’s DrivingSales Executive Summit, he along with Joe Webb will help dealerships and vendors get closer to knowing what that moment looks like with his presentation entitled DSES Digest.
DSNews: What can #DSES attendees expect to hear from you?
GM: Engaging content, straight, honest answers and best practices without the pitch (and yes, that's a commitment forJoe Webb as well). Quite frankly, we’ll take a no-holds-barred approach to answering all your questions. We're going to take the strategy of digital marketing and put it into actionable, real world tactics. Consider us the anti-presentation!
DSNews: What do you love about the car business, or digital marketing?
GM: For the car business, it’s the great people -- for the most part, and great opportunities for the right dealers to leverage the right processes and technology to go to the next level. No other industry possesses the breadth and impact that automotive can bring when doing things properly. Digital marketing changes so rapidly, and there are so few companies doing it right, it gets me out of bed on fire every day! The rules are changing constantly – in just in the last 12 months or so, there are been two or three algorithm changes…not to mention, social signals beginning to take over. The rules are changing massively for reputation management as well. Our job, and our joy, is to be nimble and stay ahead of it all.
DSNews: What’s your passion? What makes you get up early in the morning?
GM: Moving the businesses that want to move forward, working with smart people and learning every day…success motivates me, as do my clients' competitors, along with changing technology. It keeps me up late at night. My passion is in educating people about the business. There was no true education about digital when I started. It’s education – not training – that makes the dealer autonomous. After all, digital is a tool to be used. It's not the spur -- not even the horse – so you have to increase your knowledge about how this tool works.
DSNews: What’s your best car memory?
GM: My first car was a hand-me-down ‘82 Toyota Tercel -- a three speed. My best friend from high school used to joke about it being a lawnmower. But it was a great car to start with, and in fact I actually managed to get a ticket in it. Driving back from Vegas one time, one of the police planes caught another car doing 92 -- and they thought it was me. I told them, are you kidding? That car couldn’t go that fast!
DSNews: What’s your biggest accomplishment?
GM: Starting and growing one of the most agile, progressive marketing partner companies for dealerships and OEMs.We're digital and we’re proud that we have moved the needle substantially for many of our clients. Really our biggest accomplishment is the innovation we bring to dealerships – that’s what I’m most proud of.
DSNews: Tell us about a recent dealership pain point that your team was able to solve.
GM: Taking one of the newest, smaller dealerships in a good-sized metro area to being the top dealer, specifically through digital strategies. The thing was that the dealer was committed. He told everyone, hey, we’re doing this. We’re doing the blog, Facebook, Twitter. That was so important because the mission was about making social media – especially reputation management – part of the overall dealership process. In doing so we were able to reveal process pain points and fix them. We were able to come in and educate, help set up social and digital strategies the right way. It took about four months, and made a significant difference. With the right mandate, change can happen.
DSNews: What are the three topics dealers should be focused on as we head into 2013?
A. One-to-one marketing both offline (CRM, in-store, etc.) and online (retargeting, SEM, etc.)
B. Mobile marketing – specifically site improvements, engagement, and results
C. Proper use of social networks and content
DSNews: Speaking at #DSES is…
GM: Exciting! It’s the ideal opportunity, considering the conference's status and impact, to assist dealers in their push forward with more successful digital strategies.
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