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As I approach the completion of my first full year on the vendor side of the car business after spending the previous several years at dealerships, I can say with a certainty that the timing could not have been better. It has nothing to do with me. My circumstance happened the way it was supposed to happen and I'm thankful for that.
The reason that the timing was so important is because of what we like to call the "checkbox item" factor. There was a time not too long ago when many of the digital marketing practices could be classified as checkbox items - those portions of your overall marketing strategy where pretty much any solution was perfectly acceptable. Whether it was PPC, social media, chat, SEO, inventory management, content marketing, or any of a dozen other aspects of a dealership's digital marketing, having any product or service was good enough to be better than most of your competitors.
Those days are fading away. Today, the gaps have shrunk to the point that most of your competitors have a solution to fit. For example, it wasn't very long ago when most dealerships weren't taking advantage of search pay-per-click advertising. Now, the majority of dealerships are buying clicks. There are some OEMs that are requiring it.
Any old solution won't cut it anymore. We always point to SEO and content marketing as examples. You could look at many websites in 2012 that barely had any content on most of their pages. Today, nearly every website provider delivers some variation of content (though most of it is still boilerplate and not very good at that).
The things that once made your digital marketing stand out are now becoming commonplace. The things that gave you the edge are now barely helping you remain at par. If most dealerships are doing the same activities, then the majority of them are falling into the category of marketing mediocrity.
Dealers who want to truly dominate can no longer afford to accept the same quality of products and services that their competitors have. The parody in the industry is thick on the vendor level as I have learned in the last year, but there's a silver lining to this grim situation for savvy, aggressive dealers looking for domination. With parody comes one very nice benefit - the companies, products, and services that deliver excellence are much easier to discern than they have been in the past.
This blog post could turn into a book if I'm not careful. I'll go ahead and end it by saying this: if you are not sure whether or not any of your vendors are delivering excellence instead of mediocrity, I encourage you to contact me. You can leave a comment here if you want to allow for public discussion. You can reach out to me directly if you want to keep it private - subi at dealerauthority.com.
As we position ourselves in the realm of consultation, we know that the keys to our clients' success will be data and discernment. If you're not sure what's working and what's not, I'm here to help.