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We were interviewing someone last week who currently works at a dealership that wanted to come work with us when the solution to many problems in the automotive industry came to me suddenly. It started with a simple question, "Why do you want to work with us?"
The first response was about how "awesome" our company and products seemed to be, so that was instant bonus points added to the resume. When we asked him for other reasons, he described how things were at this and nearly every dealership he's worked at in the last two decades. When sales are good, the atmosphere is wonderful. When sales are down, people get fired.
"I don't like working in fear if we have a bad month or two," he admitted.
This response tied into some of the things we've been hearing during product presentations. With SEO being one of the primary components of our product, dealers always want to know how long it will take for them to see results. They aren't interested in how traffic will be in two or three months. They want to know what sort of instant SEO impact we can make. Some of them readily admit that they're much more worried about the cars they can sell today rather than the cars they can sell tomorrow.
It's part of the reason that the industry has survived in tough times and flourished in good times. We are an industry of the present. We are driven by what's happening right now and that's a good thing. However, marketing strategy decisions should not be based solely on the instant impact. For a proper, holistic marketing plan to work, dealers must start building for today while looking towards tomorrow.
As a friend once told me, automotive digital marketing is like driving a car. You can drive faster and with better overall results when you're keeping your eyes looking much further ahead than the immediate road ahead of you. If you're looking one car length ahead, it's harder to get up to speed. You look down the road while staying cognizant of the immediate future.
Unfortunately, many dealerships focus only on what's going to help them sell more cars today. As a result, they're constantly chasing that boost in immediate sales rather than building proper marketing campaigns and aligning advertising strategies that will help sell cars today as well as tomorrow. If, as an industry, we focus on the future with the present still in view, we'll be able to make much better marketing decisions.
I've seen dealers spending tens of thousands of dollars every month on PPC. Then, you look at their SEO and realize that it's abysmal. How can this be? Had they invested a fraction of their PPC budget towards SEO last year or earlier, they wouldn't have to spend as much on PPC today. Instead, they're in the mode of constantly buying more traffic when they could have much more for less money had they invested properly before.
Dealers shouldn't make marketing decisions based solely on today. It's possible to have your cake and eat it too with the right strategies. When a dealership is stuck in the mentality of today-only marketing, they're never going to get ahead. They'll never be able to build something that expands upon itself. It's time to stop the fear marketing and focus on the real marketing.