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Paul Rushing

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Starting an Internet department in a store that has refused to embrace change in the past can be a daunting task.  One of the biggest roadblocks that I experienced when attempting this feat was a lack of acceptance of new marketing ideas.  Traditional media was understood and accepted because that was how management learned to attract customers, it worked for 30 years, no need to reinvent the wheel.

Without a doubt the internet has changed the way everyone does business.  For those that embraced it early, they are way ahead, those that have fought it have a lot of catching up to do.  The good thing is getting up to speed will not be the hard part, becoming a market leader online will.

There are online automotive consultants that can come in and get a dealer pointed in the right direction and give them almost immediate results from dealerships Internet marketing.  Studies range in the percentage of consumers that start their car shopping experience online, but I believe it is safe to assume that the percentage is over 75%.  So going from almost nothing to some online exposure it is easy to get fast results.

It is my opinion that the reason some people are slow to adopt is a lack of education in and acceptance of the medium.  Then once they accept the medium they refuse to look beyond what everyone else is doing and branch out to try new things.  They rather follow a tried and true playbook and settle in with what everyone else is doing, versus expanding their level of discomfort and becoming innovators.

One of the biggest factors in slowing down the adoption of other than mainstream online marketing resources other than education can probably be tied to the age of the decision maker.
MTV was launched in 1981 and as part of the MTV generation I can remember when my elders would caution me on watching that garbage, and now I try to keep my kids off Youtube.com as a parental prudence.  People do not want to embrace what they do not understand, and age becomes a factor when trying new things, especially when you are already moderatly successful using what you know and that does not require obtaining new knowledge, just improving it.

Today there's a new revolution happening: YouTube is killing the MTV star. MTV and cable television is steadily being replaced by online videos produced independently by high school kids in their bedrooms, software executives with senses of humor and millions of others.  - Hubspot.com

Today's customers are using the Internet to engage each other and the companies they do business with.  Internet marketing is no longer about one way communication it is about building a relationship and getting your story in front of as many fans as possible. 

"In the era of the new social web, communication is actually evolving back to its origins of communicating with people not at them". Brian Solis

There are many industry specific platforms designed to start the conversation.  Dealer rating sites, our vendor ratings, Edmunds.com just to name a few.  These conversations can provide value to consumers, it gives them insight in what to expect when engaging different products, at the same time providing levels of marketing for the businesses.

Some dealers are utilizing myspace and used car blogs, plenty are using craigslist.org and one I know of is publishing ebooks on car buying at a document sharing site.  Still mostly one way engagement channels.  It is a step in the right direction in building a brand and establishing an online presence.  Now as an industry we have to look for ways that are give and take, contributing to the conversation.  There are no rules for social engagement, just suggestions, or definitive how too. 

It is a fluid environment changing daily and the ones that best understand it are probably in class right now jonesing to check their email and see how many views they got on youtube, they are the leaders and customers of tomorrow.

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