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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

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Why I Talk About Other Automotive Vendors

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I was talking to an internet manager yesterday about their marketing when I brought up Hook Logic. His challenge was that he only gets credit for leads, so while he definitely wanted to help the dealership with our SEO and social media products, he wasn't crazy about the concept of increasing more showroom visitors that did not fill out lead forms or call ahead.

As we discussed Hook and other similar products, he wondered about my angle. What was I getting out of it to suggest a solution to his challenge? Was I affiliated with them? Did I get a kick back?

As a company, we form strategic relationships with those who we feel are the best at what they do. We know we (and every other vendor regardless of size) can only focus on and dominate a couple of arenas in the digital marketing world, so we like to partner with the best of the best. Sometimes, partnerships aren't practical, so we simply make recommendations of products and services we've heard about "on the street" in order to assist clients and even prospects.

That's how it should be. We have no affiliation at all with Hook Logic, but I've always appreciated what their product brings to the table. When the ISM brought up their challenge, I had no partnerships in place that could solve that specific problem.

Two things I've learned over the years as a vendor are that:

  1. Everyone is fighting for the same share of the dealership's spend
  2. Even indirect competitors are technically competitors if they're taking money that could be yours

When I formed our company, I threw both of those lessons out the window. Everyone should. From the vendor side, much of this industry has been built on kickbacks and relationships. This is the biggest reason that we're in the mess that we're in where the wrong vendors get more exposure than the right ones and the wrong products are forced onto dealers when the better ones are left in obscurity.

To the vendors of the world, please take note. There's plenty of business available for everyone. If you do what's best for the dealers even if it's not necessarily what's best for you, you'll still succeed and will have no problem sleeping at night.

To the dealers of the world, it's okay to question motivations. I am glad that I was called out by this ISM. I'm encouraged that they wondered what I was getting out of the recommendation. Sometimes, we recommend partners that we've selected because they're the best at what we do and we do have an incentive to make those recommendations. Sometimes, we recommend non-partner vendors, not because we have an affiliation but because we believe in their product. In both cases, we make those recommendations because we believe wholeheartedly that it's what's best for the dealership.

If more in our industry did that, we wouldn't have so many bad products being pushed onto dealers for the wrong reasons.

/rant

Matt Lowery
The problem is that most in the field (perceived at least) dont make recommendations that they believe wholeheartedly in. How can you expect a dealer to tell the difference. You are selling a product or service, you have an interest in painting a picture making you and your partners appear better than they are, and better than the competition. Any time a vendor is talking to me, I expect 50% of what he tells me to be a lie. Jaded? Maybe, but what do you expect, we are car dealers, we do the same thing all the time.... Let me tell you why my car is the best in the world, and all the reasons you should do business with me and not the dealer down the street. I paint a one sided picture. I believe vendors do the same. If you dont, great, but how can you expect us as dealers to believe that?

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