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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

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Branding is the Copout: Why Real Social Media Really is About Selling More Cars

Driving Sales Executive Summit 2013

It's a topic that I hope to cover in detail at Driving Sales Executive Summit this year in Vegas and one that is very close to my professional heart. The reason that I'm so passionate about it is that the conceptual copout of branding for social media is spreading more in our industry instead of being debunked the way it should be.

Branding is not a proper goal of social media. It's one of the things that happens if you're doing social media the right way, but to call it a goal is like saying that you take ups at the dealership for the exercise. Sure, you're getting more exercise walking around the lot than you do when sitting at your desk, but that's not why you do it. You take ups and walk around the lot with customers in hopes of selling them a car.

Social media has been reduced during the time when it should be expanded. There are techniques, campaigns, and strategies that have been proven to drive more foot traffic to the dealership and more visitors to websites. Done right, social media can increase leads and drive more sales. It can bring people to the service bay who otherwise would never have visited the dealership if it weren't for social media. The examples keep mounting, but unfortunately it's only for an extremely small percentage of dealers who have cut ties with malformed strategies and processes.

I was once part of the problem. It wasn't much more than two years ago when I was preaching the power of branding through social media. Thankfully, I came to my sense as I watched social media evolve, witnessed an expansion of the medium's capabilities, and learned from some bold dealers ways that helped them to truly succeed on social media.

That's it for my late night rant. I hope to talk more about this extremely important topic October 13th-15th at the Bellagio.

Renee Stuart
Also driven by passion and a deep love for Car People, I am compelled to share my perspective with you JD. In my opinion, you have this backward. A cop out is to choose not to do something, as out of fear of failing :: if anything should be labeled a “Cop Out”, it should be Social Media! Many dealers fear getting involved - period. While the majority of dealers who have entered the social media arena, have done so because they’re fearful of what could happen if they don’t. Like a pack of penguins, one by one they’ve all taken a plunge into arctic waters of social media, yet can’t understand why it feels so cold. Why do you think that is? I suspect that the great leaders of our industry don’t fully understand that social media is, by design and definition, the means of interacting with people in order to create, share and exchange information and ideas. Many dealers are still using broadcast messaging, which is the only marketing strategies they know. The majority of dealers have outsourced social media messaging, simply because they are not staffed or prepared to engage in real-time conversation. Just thinking about this is making me feel “cold” too. Here’s the bottomline, the most important ingredient of any marketing plan is “Branding”. Marketing, advertising, public relations, etc. cannot exist without it. Why? Branding is your story, and it's experiential. When someone sees your logo, hears your business name, or recognizes your jingle - What do you want them to think, feel and say about YOU? What promise does your company makes in order to solve the pain points of your target audience? Branding is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem - and when this occurs, It can bring people to the service bay who otherwise would never have visited the dealership. When a dealer has clearly defined his/her brand promise, and delivers a clear message that confirms their credibility - that message will connect to their target prospects emotionally; thus motivating the buyer and concreting loyalty. What better place is there to brand yourself and your business then on a social media network? Done right, social media leveraged by branding “will” increase leads and drive more sales. I too hope to share my topic on branding at DSES this year. I look forward to sitting in on your workshop in October. One more thing: “Getting more exercise” will sell YOU more cars :: offer authentic helpfulness! http://jaybaer.com/youtility-why-smart-marketing-is-about-help-not-hype/
Glenn Pasch
Renee, JD I think you may be talking the same thing but semantics are in the way. JD I agree that social media is NOT about "branding" if social media is just shoving out your brand's catch phrases and slogans with nothing behind it. Renee i agree also with you that social media IS about branding if it is the totality of how you communicate and use social media to explain who you are in the day to day of your business that in turn helps your brand. I look at social media as a tool to broadcast your message but each technology/platform has a different message "tweak" that has to happen in order to utilize the technology to its maximum. Without the message first, you are broadcasting noise. Without understanding the technology you are broadcasting noise. True Branding in the mind of your audience is the after affect of focused, thoughtful and useful marketing. Hope to see you both at #DSES this year. Always fun.
Renee Stuart
I suspected semantics as well, Glenn. It's the "Cop Out :: Branding is not a proper goal of social media" that has me troubled. Branding is NOT catch phrases and slogans. By definition (AMA) "A brand is a "customer experience" represented by a collection of images and ideas" :: The "customer experience" should be the primary goal for a social media marketing message. If a dealer is not able to clearly and consistent communicate their story; purpose for doing business, mission to serve it's customers, values offered to it's community, solution to heal the pain points of their customers - aka; Brand promise... Then their social pages, and business profiles will quickly become a cold and lonely place. Let's face it, the end goal of any marketing strategy for a car dealership is to "sell more cars" - only without including a brand message (as remarked above), you are simply broadcasting noise. Thanks for sharing your insight Glenn. Hope to see you there as well.

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