We sat down with Tier10’s Partner & VP of Account Services, Scott Fletcher, to provide some insight into marketing the modern auto dealership, what challenges auto dealership marketers face, and how the industry has evolved with the development of social media.
1. What is it like to market the modern auto dealership?
Today, marketing is more challenging and complex than ever. There are so many more ways to reach a consumer, the media space is very fragmented, and brand loyalty has all but disappeared. The traditional space where many dealers have built their business has become secondary when building out a strategy for a dealer. There has been a paradigm shift in how dealers need to market their business, with a focus on more targeted, digital and social initiatives. It’s hard for many to make this shift; they now have to look at their strategy and business quite differently.
2. What is a typical day in the life of a Senior Account Manager and what are typical challenges that you might face?
Typical day? Not sure there is such a thing. Our environment is very dynamic. Retail Advertising is not for the faint of heart. My typical day will include a few internal meetings with the Account teams, a launch call, and a few client presentations, while helping team members solve both internal and external challenges throughout the day.
A Senior Account Manager’s day is a little more client-focused, from preparing and hosting a weekly client call to ordering and building out campaigns with the production department to finalizing the strategy for the next quarter. The key to a winning strategy is consistency, both in message and mediums. This industry breeds change. Keeping dealers bought in to a consistent strategy is always a challenge. However, the ones that do it seem to be the most successful.
3. How has the industry changed with social media?
Every dealer understands they need to be there. Social media has really changed online reputation and put a spotlight on consumer experience. A person can speak to hundreds of people with a single click. For any company, before the existence of social media, if someone had a bad experience, they might tell seven people. Now, they can post on the company’s Facebook page and reach 300 people, and the message will spread with a viral effect. A negative review can spread very quickly.
However, it has also allowed for more targeted campaigns. Because of the social data on Facebook, companies can better target consumers, allowing them to communicate more efficiently with both current and potential customers.
4. What three components would you say are essential to marketing an auto dealership?
Dealer DMS and True Market Conquest Research: We have to know where the dealer has been, what the past customers look like, and their trends in order to build a strategy to find similar customers in the dealer’s perfect market and grow the business.
Complete Integration: Cross media frequency is the key to winning strategies. Before, consumers would look towards TV or print. Now, people consume media in so many different ways. There has to be an integrated look and strategy that falls across all mediums—TV messaging has to match the messaging on the radio, on Facebook and on web banners, etc.
Credible Campaigns and Messaging: Consumers don’t typically trust dealers; they do trust manufacturers. Dealers are historically non-credible. They need to deliver credible messaging that consumers can buy into, so they can say, “I believe ABC Motors is offering better deals.” Consumers like programs, like the Vehicle Exchange Program, because it’s not just a sales event thrown up for the weekend, it’s an ongoing program.
5. How receptive are dealers with new marketing techniques and how do you persuade and transition them into utilizing those techniques?
More and more dealers are coming around to it. They see the value, but not necessarily the ROI. It is hard for them to measure the impact, making it hard for them to spend a lot on it.
Dealers need to look at their strategy more holistically and ask themselves, “Is the integrated strategy with the cross media frequency driving more traffic and better traffic to my store?” They need to stop looking at marketing as silos—Digital, Social, Targeted, Traditional—and stop measuring each individually. Instead, they need to examine them collectively because they all work together to draw in consumers.
A great example of this is SEM and Targeted Online Display. The data proves that when an advertiser does Targeted Online Display, their SEM out-performs compared to when they were not doing ODA. If they only look at the ODA performance, they may not see the ROI and cancel. This would then have a negative impact on their SEM—and at what cost?
The point is that cross media frequency is the key to a successful strategy, and you have to measure and make decisions looking at the whole picture, and not just the individual mediums or campaigns.
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