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Dealerships are putting too much emphasis on social media and its not healthy for the stores, the consumers, or the industry.
Marketing is not the problem.
Despite the fact that most dealerships are still operating on an old marketing paradigm, most dealers are fairly decent marketers. They tend to manage large budgets and get predictable results with acceptable ROI. (The ROI part is semi-debatable, but that’s for another time.)
The biggest problem hindering most stores is not the marketing, it’s that they don’t deliver on their marketing promises. It’s sad, but our industry standard for customer service is doing just enough to get the job done with today’s fresh customers but stops way short of creating an experience that customers can rave about. In other words, the root problem holding dealerships back is not what you are doing in 140 characters on twitter, it’s what you are doing on your showroom and service drive.
Think about these points:
· Is the foursquare you use in your write up process designed for optimal customer experience or just to maximize gross?
· If a customer asks for the price, or even payments, on a vehicle, how hard is it for them to get a straight answer? Are your sales people trained in evasive tactics?
· Are your sales people paid in a way that motivates them to maximize gross at the expense of the customer experience?
· How long does it take to get through the finance office?
· Is your trade evaluation process transparent or do your customers have to wrangle through a negotiation process after being hit with a super low offer to get to an “acceptable” deal?
These items are just examples of common pain points within dealerships that hinder customers from truly loving you. I know this sounds a bit crazy, but if you were to bring your mom down to the dealership to buy a car, but you wouldn’t allow her to be subjected to your normal sales process… you have a broken process! Lets face it; we could all do a better job in certain areas.
Social Media is the COOL thing to do:
Social media is about really efficient communications. People now share information to the tenth power, and this power of “word of mouth” has WONDERFUL marketing implications for all business. However, most dealerships don’t give the customers something good to talk about. Even the most effective social media strategy is doomed if your dealership doesn’t operate in a super customer centered way.
Think about it like this, an effective social media strategy, or any marketing strategy, to attract customers to a dealership that is not customer focused is like taking aspirin to cure cancer. It may make you feel better, but it’s far from a cure. Are you looking to really cure your dealership of its current setbacks, or are you into chasing a shiny object ‘cause it’s the cool thing to do?
There is a massive opportunity out there for those dealerships who are willing to be innovative with their marketing, including being heavily involved in the social media sphere, while innovating at the operations level to provide amazing customer service… then get out of the way and let your customers do the talking.
This is proven to generate wild success. Ask Eric Miltsch, Tom White jr, Andrew Difeo or Tracy Myers about how their stores have performed through the downturn, then ask them about the how they handle the pain points listed above. These guys are more than marketing geniuses, they pair excellent marketing with brilliant operations, and each puts their own flavor to it.
Killer success does not come from killer marketing alone. Huge success comes from the alignment of your dealerships marketing with your stores true value proposition, excellent customer service.
Everyone wants to be a business rock star but few are willing to put in what it takes to get there. Most in business operate at the status quo and try and dress things up in fancy marketing. Innovate at the operation level and pair that with killer marketing and you will become the rock star.
What’s holding your store back from rock star status? My guess it’s not just what you are saying on twitter or sharing on Facebook, it has more to do with giving your customers something to talk about.