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What have we learned from all of the studies?
There seems to be a ton of them coming out lately saying that social media isn't working, SEO isn't working, television isn't working, classified listings aren't working... the list is ongoing. If all of the studies are to be believed, one might come to the conclusion that nothing is actually working anymore.
There are, of course, vendors who will argue that this strategy is dead or that strategy is working just fine, but the "dead or alive" label is always selectively placed on whatever best fits the vendor's product line. If they sell it, then it must work great, right?
The reality is that nothing works because nearly everything is working. I know it sounds like a contradiction, but hear me out.
Let's put aside the ones that really, really aren't working. Flash websites aren't working (and yes, there really are still some of them out there). Spammy SEO tactics aren't working (thankfully). Posting bulk content to social media isn't working (and really never did). There are truly a handful of marketing practices that are no longer working, but the vast majority are working. They're just working differently.
Craigslist was pronounced dead by many (including some on this network) after they started charging, but most of the numbers we're seeing show that it really is working, perhaps better now than ever. We don't offer a Craigslist product but we can see the results. It's a perfect example of how changes to a marketing or advertising venue do not necessarily mean their demise.
SEO and PPC have undergone tremendous changes over the last couple of years and there were many companies that had to stop offering their products to car dealers because of these changes. However, these changes did not spell doom for the strategies themselves. They simply needed to be adjusted.
Looking at the website debate that seems to be brewing and that will likely get more contentious in the coming months, some would say that mobile websites are dead. Despite the fact that we offer responsive websites, we aren't going to be one that declares mobile websites as dead. We simply know that responsive is better.
The point is this: channels aren't dying as quickly as the studies would have us all believe. They're changing, and it's not just the technology. The way that people view the world is changing, whether through their digital lens or through the real world perspective against the backdrop of traditional advertising. These changes are creating a whirlwind that's blurring the effectiveness of individual components within the automotive marketing landscape.
This is adding confusion to the advertising world, but there's a silver lining to it all. When everything is seen from a wide view and managed together cohesively within a personal and narrow system, it's possible to take it all to the next level.
Welcome to modern multi-channel automotive marketing.
One of the biggest roadblocks that dealers face is the lack of inter-vendor communication. It's common for dealers to have one website provider, one SEO provider, one PPC provider, one social media management firm, and one traditional advertising agency all working independently on the marketing and advertising strategies for the dealership. Compartmentalizing has benefits in certain arenas, but advertising and marketing are not amongst them.
They need to be doing more than communicating. They need to be coordinating. They need to be working towards the same goals and operating within a framework of mutual effectiveness rather than doing whatever is going to position their product in the best light.
This isn't just a matter of the right hand talking to the left hand. It's a complex operation to try to properly put out the right marketing message to the local masses. Think of it less as a function of a right hand versus left hand and pretend like it's a car. The engine can be powerful, but if it's not synced up with the transmission, you're not going to get very far.
Having regular meetings with every vendor together is one way to do it. The other way is to go with a one-stop-shop, but be careful. There are only a handful that do it properly. Most are good at one or two things and offer the other components for revenue purposes, but it's hard to find a company that can truly do everything well. In many cases, the departments within the same company aren't even really talking to each other.
We go into further detail on our post about tearing down the walls between traditional and digital advertising. It's important for dealers to get the various marketing avenues pointing in the same direction in order to take advantage of all the benefits of multi-channel marketing.