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Gary May

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What Tough Times Have Taught Us About Digital

Money. Lots of it! Tons and tons and tons of it! So much that for the first time, we're witnessing dealers that have been hands-on since 2008 starting to slip away a little from the stores and enjoy "away" time again. And that's great. Until, at least, you think about the last seven years again.

If "Digital" has taught us anything, it has demonstrated that small can become bigger faster, the big ones often look like Swiss cheese and that up and down markets don't care about much besides presence. After the last fourteen years around the Automotive Web and six and a half in dealerships, what is striking is that digital has shown ambivalence and opportunity at undeniable levels.

And most still ignore the power and upside. Making money can make us stupid.

Even with sales up 3% so far in 2014 and last year's finish around 8% over 2012 (our average client was up over 30% last year and tracking again), there still is a strong desire not to change anyth0d7a21a4bb20a59e61995554a8f2c888.jpg?t=1ing. And most of what we see is still what could be categorized as "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-trust-me-it-works" stuff.

When a tough market hits again, and it undoubtedly will, will we collectively be in a better place or will we still be grasping at straws and dumping expenses to match traffic and revenue? As shared by Jared Hamilton at last year's DrivingSales Executive Summit, we still aren't tapping into service marketing and penetration opportunities right now via digital channels (really any to speak of) while aftermarket still dominates search and revenue save for dealers really paying attention to categories such as tires, Quick Lube and equity mining. Digital covers all of those if CRM and marketing integration is done properly.

Tough times, and the subsequent good times, have taught us that when push comes to shove, no answer and direction is as good as solid ones. Because nearly everyone that was able to hold out between 2007 and 2009 is making money. Yes, the smarter ones are making more, however most are nearly printing money today.

Digital is still the "back marker" in a nearly-completely digital world. And the statistics for the entire market simply don't matter when it comes to your market. So what has digital taught you?

Share what you can about your experiences, good and bad, that steers what you do and don't do in digital today...

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