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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

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Automotive Marketers versus Marketing Automotive People

Marketing Strategy

There has been a question that has popped up over the years ever since the rise of the internet as a valid marketing venue for car dealers. Should dealerships and vendors teach automotive industry people about marketing or should they teach marketing professionals about the car business?

I've seen both concepts work and I've seen them both fail. The answer always comes down to the individual; marketing people like Brian Pasch have been successful learning about the car business and car people like Jim Ziegler have been successful learning about marketing. However, there are some general traits that can be examined from both perspectives that should help vendors as well as dealerships themselves make decisions based upon their own strengths within the company.

For example, when I first came over to TK Carsites in 2007, there were very few car people. There were marketing geniuses throughout the company but very few had ever worked at a dealership itself. Rick Chavoustie, Joe Turner, and I were the first batch of car people to come over to the company and while I won't attribute those moves solely to the tremendous growth the company experienced over the following year, I can say with a certainty that it helped.

If you look at hot website companies like DealerOn, DealerEProcess, and Dealer Inspire, you'll see a similar trend of "car people" leading the charge for them. It's clear that they understand the car business from more than just the vendor side.

Conversely, I've seen some extremely successful digital marketing professionals make the transition over to the dealer side and find success. A conversation I had today with Joe Ventura from Better AutoMall revealed an incredible amount of insight from a person who has been in the car business for 9 months. He noted that data drove his purchasing much more than intuition or gut feelings that often drive experienced dealership inventory buyers. The results have been clear for his bottom line.

For us, it seems like a healthy balance is the answer. We are hiring like crazy lately and it seems to be split down the middle - the car people we've hired and trained in the art of marketing have been as effective as the marketing people we hire and train about automotive. We have the luxury of having the same type of split at the top; I spent a decade on the retail side while my partner has been on the vendor side for 17 years. The balance has translated into us making strong decisions and taking care of our clients appropriately.

At the end of the day, it's still about the individual, but a best practice for both dealers and vendors would be to achieve as much balance as possible for the sake of perspective. Car people see things through the lens of experience while marketing people bring fresh ideas to the table. Put the two together and you should have a recipe for incredible success.

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

Grant Gooley
JD you bring a great conversation to the table. I am currently working with a President of an auto group that was previously the CEO of Canada's largest retail store Sears, for 17 years. He has learned the automotive business VERY quickly and now is applying his non auto retail skills to the table and is making a very big impact. Automotive is just another product. Marketing is a skill. I think it's much easier to be a marketer entering Automotive, then the other way around...Just my opinion...
Christopher Murray
Grant I could not agree more. When I was a young salesman we received a retired Colonel from the Marine Corps with ZERO car and ZERO marketing experience but my career thrived under this guy's organizational skills and his refusal to accept old car guy excuses. I feel that a great deal of success will come to us all from other industries even and especially if they are delivered by non-car guy people.
Russ Chandler
Fantastic topic JD! As you said I think balance is the key here and also a great way for dealers to select what vendors they work with. If dealers want to be innovative they can also take this topic seriously inside there own dealership internally. Instead of always checking your dealer competitors websites and marketing efforts, check all business's. Look outside our industry to more innovative industries for the cutting edge. Great stuff, JD!
Jim Bell
Another great post JD. It is the best of both worlds if you can capture someone within the company that can be a marketer for the dealership. Yes, we have our advertising companies that we deal with, but it is always good to have someone in-house that can do something at the flip of a switch and through a campaign together in a matter of hours. That is where success will happen.

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