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Gary May

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Are We Just Digital Lemmings?

(Cue the Madonna music) “You know that we are living in a digital world and I’m an automotive digital nerd...” Can you see it now? The musical hit of the automotive digital conference season! Or possibly one more thing that keeps a dealer from making the commitment he or she needs to make that will actually do something great for their business.

Whether acknowledged or not, most of us in the automotive digital realm must have some kind of recessive gene or a predisposition for suffering. But are we the ones making it better or worse? Remember that what drives someone to change is either opportunity or fear. Fight or flight. Survival or death. Being as how we can’t make decisions for others, let alone many times for ourselves, a small percentage of the industry are lining up on a regular basis, strapping our brass cojones on and taking the plunge.

2011 has been an amazing voyage so far and the last four months appear to be no different. If anything, we may experience the dizzying effect of greater immersion. So are we just digital lemmings or do we have a definitive purpose supported by concrete goals? Is our purpose so clear that a dealer can understand both potential benefit and potential loss within 30 minutes?

Let’s ask ourselves just as wide ranging a question as we’d ask a vendor:

“How do we know what value we bring?” Especially since many of the tangibles are so obscure to start with that the ability to define a “good job” takes months or longer.

“How can we define, in lay terms, what we’re attempting to do so that our clients can take over the efforts?” Especially since many times we don’t even understand completely what we’re doing nor expecting.

“How does what we are doing provide the opportunity to create change?” Especially since setting expectations in a “what’s in it for me” environment is at best difficult.

It’s great to participate in an exciting and extremely dynamic part of our business. For many, it has proven immensely successful and profitable. We can all agree that the higher the risk, the higher the reward. At the same time there are days (or longer periods) that can easily qualify as a “loss”.

Being as how this will be read by the leading edge of the force in the automotive digital world, we don’t need to excuse ourselves. But maybe, just maybe, we need to explain ourselves. There is such a high level of blind trust that goes on with relatively significant investments, that defining what we do and don’t do along with what we’re attempting to do and attempting not to do is overdue. There is also a need to be more willing to call bullshit in an accountable, cooperative way.

Remember that if something sounds too good to be true, yes even at a 20 Group meeting, it likely is. It takes a lot to simply take a leap of faith. It’s something entirely different for a vendor to take a client over the edge. No buses or trains here…no company is perfect. Just try not to come off that way (free $100 advice).

So can we lead an industry that’s mostly in the dark collectively? Some of us surely hope so. What’s coming up with three amazing events in Las Vegas in October sure sounds like the right opportunity. Remember that the total amount of people in attendance will likely represent less than 0.001% of the retail industry, OEM and agency staff (less than 1% of just dealer staff). So we need to be incredible. We need to be prepared. We need to show and provide the best information. We need to listen to and respond to the questions and admit when we don’t have an answer. We need to show the way and not just talk about it.

So let’s kick the lemming routine and make the leap a big but manageable step. Let’s give everyone that wants it the secret sauce. Let’s make sure that nobody goes home with a nagging question. Let’s do what is right as if the entire automotive industry depended on it.

And by the way, the entire automotive industry does depend on it….

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

 

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

Bryan Armstrong
Awesome post!

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