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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Gary May

Gary May President

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Gut Check: What Are We Doing? Oh Yeah, Measuring!

Overstated? Maybe....but likely not. What are we doing? If we go by the numbers, and they're estimated but well known, we've got the second largest employer in the Untied States behind our back. The automotive industry is massive, even if you don't consider the associated businesses it keeps thriving. So, let's say we have a few million directly employed in the car biz (which is likely conservative) and had less than 3,000 in Las Vegas recently for the most important events that actually can move the needle. Pitiful. This week's SEMA show will kill that in attendance. And within the first hour.

What are we doing? So add the OEM eCommerce summits, conferences and events (which represent vendors more typically than push owners and general managers into the uncomfortable zone) and you've got at best a few thousand more that are around the discussions of online marketing, online customers, online retention and online success.

Ignore it at your own willful demise. Attack it like people trying the 72 ounce steak at Big Texan, you might go crazy trying to figure out which end is up. So how do you go down the road somewhere in between the two extremes and still try to maintain that "blocking and tackling" BS mentality that makes ownership and management comfortable? Simple: a plan.

While they are in fact out there, the count of dealers who have a written-down, approved, executable monthly strategy for doing and increasing amount of activities to promote success is likely somewhere around the chance of us having a space program in 2011 that lands us back on the moon. It's on the radar, they're might even be some dollars against it but I will venture a strong guess that it won't happen. That's not quite as disappointing as a dealer that is a few months from increasing their results and market share significantly, and does nothing about it.

Folks, the information is out here. And don't be afraid to ask. Yes, you might have to do some digging through the typical crap: an article on one of the popular automotive communities that doesn't answer your question but does have the "expert's" contact information. Or one of our recent favorites: white papers that will confuse the &^@# out of dealers that also end with a signature block that looks more like a proclamation. (Hint: generally speaking, automotive communities are not the place for white papers. Link to your website from the community website. Better yet, if it's a white paper done in conjunction with a company OUTSIDE of the industry, definitely publish it but keep your post on the communities to the synopsis. Please. Tip: not only that, you get back-links!!!!!!)

There have been fantastic pointers and forecasts about what will happen in the digital/online space for the past two years. Over 95% of the dealers missed or ignored them. Maybe it's time to have 2011 be "The Year Of Great Automotive Listening" (do that will your Movie-Guy voice). No matter what, this is the year of honest measurement, in our opinion.

So here's a few places to go to get your feet wet (or immersed) in measurement:

  1. Google.com (Analytics, Trends, Insights, Alerts, Webmaster tools, etc)
    A. If you've never used the above, start with going to Google and entering "links:www.YOURDEALERSHIPWEBSITE.com" or "site:www.YOURDEALERSHIPWEBSITE.com" and see what Google sees!
  2. Hubspot.com (Website grader, Facebook grader, Twitter grader, PR grader, etc)
    A. If you attended DrivingSales Executive Summit, you got more than you need!
  3. SEOmoz.org, Yahoo Site Explorer, etc (Linking and content tools)
  4. Twitalyzer, TwitterCounter, Untweeps, TwitterAnalyzer, etc (amazing tools if you're on Twitter)
  5. FourScore (found this recently for your FourSquare ranking/effectiveness)
  6. Compete, Alexa, etc (even though many dealership sites won't rank, be creative!)

There are so many other great FREE tools available for you to do more than just count on others, like your website company, and actually improve while holding people accountable but too many to list.

It's time for a gut check. How much further can you go down the road mostly (or absolutely) blind to what is essential to grow your business and be able to talk to the main points....without fudging it anymore.

Here's to doing things with more tools than just passion. Here's to knowing what we're doing!

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

You can find more IM@CS posts here on DrivingSales.com or on our blog

Eric Miltsch
Gary - nice post. At the end of the day, the focus still needs to be measurement. Measuring effectiveness, managing the data & creating improvements is the only way to push the needle for all of your efforts. The tools can be a lifesaver when it comes to providing real-time info, updates and efficiencies. Here's a few more to add to your tool box: Alexa.com - (Traffc stats/SEO resource) FriendorFollow.com - (helps manage your follower-ratio) Wordpress.com iphone app - (access your WP blogs from anywhere) Google Analytice iphone app - (my all-time fav!) Footfeed.com (Multi-platform check-ins for those using LBS)

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