After NADA 2015, What’s Your Business Plan?
Build Trust, Ease Fears, and Don't Let Tools Distract You
There was a lot to get distracted by at the NADA Convention in San Francisco this year, as there always is. Cable cars and sea lions. Golden Gates and inescapable prisons. Wining and dining. And that’s all before you even entered the convention center, where you encountered hundreds of vendors. Dozens of speakers. Beautiful women in short skirts and beautiful cars in long lines. Athletes. Politicians. And celebrities.
All there, bright and shiny, hoping to catch your attention and sell you the latest and greatest Magic Beans. The Silver Bullet. The Easy Button. That’s what we’re looking for, after all. The last piece of the puzzle. The one thing that’s going to make everything else fall into place and lead us into the mystical land of profit and prosperity.
Obviously, there’s good money in the Magic Bean business. How else can people afford to spend millions on lavish dealer parties and high-priced booth candy? There’s money to be made, because there’s always a market for Magic Beans.
At least once a day, every day, for the last 20 years, a car dealer has called me to ask this exact same question: “Hey, Terry, whatcha got? What’s new? What’s knocking it out of the park? What’s going to bring ’em in by the busloads?”
And every day, I disappoint at least one dealer by saying, “There are no Magic Beans. Silver Bullets are just the stuff of legend. And the Easy Button…well, it’s a lot harder to push than you’d hope.”
The retail car business has changed more in the last few years than it did in the last 100 years before that. You have unbelievable tools at your fingertips today. In your pockets right now. And there were literally hundreds more on display last month at NADA.
- Tools for connecting with customers.
- Tools for building relationships.
- Tools for building your brand.
- Tools to help you sell more cars and make more money.
But they’re just tools. Not Magic Beans. Not Silver Bullets. Not Easy Buttons. Becasuse it’s not about the tools. It never has been.
My boss at the first radio station I ever sold ads for told me that I wasn’t in the radio business. I wasn’t even in the advertising business. I was in the ear leasing business. My sole job was to connect as many businesses with as many ears as I possibly could.
Advertising is just a bridge. It’s a connector from you and your business to some people you would like to do business with. Traditional advertising can help you reach out and grab their attention. Digital marketing can help you strengthen that relationship and be there for them when they raise their hand and identify themselves as a prospect.
But they’re both just tools. And most new ideas are just a new spin, a repackaging of the same marketing ideas that have been working since cavemen started drawing display ads above the cave door:
- You’ve gotta grab their attention.
- You’ve gotta make them an offer they can’t refuse.
- You’ve gotta created a sense of urgency.
- You’ve gotta have a call to action so that the 1% of the market who are in the market will raise their hands.
- And you’ve gotta do all of that in a way that creates a memorable image, a distinct brand for your store so you can influence the other 99% when they eventually do get around to raising their hand.
So they think of you before they go to Google, before they go to TrueCar, before they go AutoTrader. There are tons of great tools to help you do all of that, and I hope you found some at NADA. But don’t let the tools become a distraction.
At the end of the day, it will always come down to you, sitting across a desk from customers—building their trust, easing their fears, and helping them make the second-largest financial decision they’ll ever make.
That’s what you were born to do.
Terry Lancaster is the VP of Making Sh!t Happen at Instant Events Automotive Advertising, father of 3 teenage daughters and a Beer League Hockey All Star, as if there could ever be such a thing. You can connect with Terry on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google.