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If there's one thing that gets me riled up when talking to dealers, it's finding out that there are two completely different strategies being applied to their traditional and digital marketing. It made sense a decade ago when the digital age was first coming into existence in automotive marketing. It made a little sense a few years ago when the digital spend was much smaller than the traditional spend at most dealerships. Today's modern marketing strategies combine rather than separate the messages that are put out on the different channels.
In fact, the only real difference between digital and traditional marketing is the difference in venue. Otherwise, a holistic approach is the right way to go.
This isn't a blanket statement that I'm making without understanding. I've seen the differences. Dealerships that have one message going out through television or direct mail and a completely different message on their website or through email campaigns are not seeing the level of results that are possible for dealers who are viewing marketing as a singular practice across channels.
I'm not saying that you don't have to position the messages differently. The type of messages are still venue-specific. However, that means that you don't want a "click here for more information" link on a direct mail piece. It means that you don't want to use print-ready stunning graphics and images on your email campaigns. It does not mean that you need the messages to be completely different and it definitely does not mean that you want two different departments at the dealership (or two different companies partnering with you) to develop messages that are not synced up.
There is a flip-side to this. A warning. There is a trend for traditional ad agencies to get into digital out of necessity and there's a similar trend for digital companies to start diving into traditional marketing. I only know a handful of companies doing it right out of the dozens of companies giving it a shot. Those dozens do not even included the local shops trying to get into the mix and stay relevant.
This isn't easy stuff, but it's not so hard that dealers can't tell the difference between good and bad. It really comes down to data and intent. You can see the difference. If they're using weak data, run away. If they're getting involved in their digital or traditional counterpart to stop the bleeding of business that they've been using over the years, run away even faster. Some people know what they're doing and others are just trying to keep their own business running by offering these other services.
If your instincts tell you that something doesn't jive, run away as fast as you can.