On June 19 and 20 I was fortunate enough to have attended the TLS Automotive Customer Centricity and Social Media Conferences in Marina Del Rey, California. The events, produced by Jon Monzel are focused on learning in an intimate setting with fewer than 150 attendees, mostly OEM employed marketing professionals, but there are a couple dozen senior management types from large dealer groups as well.
On Tuesday evening I joined Richard Bustillo from Rick Case Honda and several other dealership managers for a dinner hosted by our friends from Autotrader. I experienced a conversation during that dinner that has inspired this article (so, thank you to Samantha Hong-Wynns from Autotrader) and opened my eyes up to a glaring “miss” within the auto industry. What I am referring to is the vast amount of educational and informative resources available at no cost and via web access for automotive marketers.
OK, so I can hear the groans and moans already, but hear me out. Seated across from me at dinner was an experienced marketing leader from a large dealer group (who shall remain unnamed). During our dinner conversation I made several statements in response to his questions which elicited a response from him of “Holy cow, I never heard of such a thing” (I am paraphrasing). This type of response would be appreciated if I were referring to cutting edge state-of-the-art new technologies, but the responses were about references made to marketing strategies and tactics that have been around for quite a few years. So, finally I had to ask “Do you belong to any of the online automotive professional networks?” to which he replied “No” and went on to state that he had never heard of them. Here’s my point…If you are in the auto industry and working in a marketing or sales related field, you need to get information from more than just your suppliers and sales reps!
When this same dealer marketing professional asked me why his suppliers had not told him about these information sources, my response was easy…They do not want you to know about them. Why would a supplier want a dealer marketing professional to know where he/she can get massive amounts of information from every other supplier in the business, and thousands of other dealers sharing their collective experiences? So, let me be so bold as to suggest that the following five automotive professional networks be part of your daily routine, emails received, and information resources. I have listed them in order of their total site visitors:
- AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com (ADM)—Yes, this is a site I created, but it is also the most visited automotive network in the business, and contained over 30 gigabytes of information, files, data, videos, charts, images, articles, and professional networking contacts. ADM contains information from dealership practitioners, consultants and suppliers that would cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to get from hiring consultant to visit your dealership.
- dealerELITE.net—This network was created and is managed by Chris Saraceno and Mike Myers, both of whom are actively managing different dealer groups on a daily basis. It is focused on a holistic perspective towards all aspects of dealership operations and management. It is very popular with many of the big name sales trainers and provides members with both information and inspiration to perform their jobs well.
- DealerRefresh.com—Started several years ago by Jeff Kershner, this is more of an information delivery blog type of site with an affiliated forum for discussions and information sharing. The site is loaded with years of articles and information, most of which is related to marketing and sales. The authors for this site are notoriously hard core in their evaluation of suppliers and they publish the types of opinions and information which many of us are aware of, but far fewer willing to go public with. The site is a high value resource for auto industry pros.
- DrivingSales.com—Was founded and created on a custom built web platform by Jared Hamilton and has been noteworthy for its sections on dealership supplier reviews and ratings. Think of it as the supplier reviews version of DealerRater. Lately Jared has hired several highly regarded thought leaders to his network’s staff, including Dennis Galbraith and Eric Miltsch. Although some people find this site cumbersome to navigate, there is a wealth of information and it is well worth being one of the sites you use as a resource for insight and guidance.
- KainAutomotiveIdeaExchange.ning.com—Started by David Kain, one of the original founders of FordDirect, this network contains a wealth of information on sales process, lead management and departmental structures. David Kain is one of the most respected internet sales consultants in the auto industry and his network reflects many of the reasons why.
Between the five sites listed above, over 50,000 auto industry sales and marketing professionals choose to visit them and stay informed about strategies, tactics, products, services, and best practices that help them do a better job. Much like the magazine this article is published in, you can learn a lot from the pros that belong to these networks and certainly be better informed than the uninformed dealer group marketing professional who sat across from me during dinner at the TLS event in Marina Del Rey. I know that if he had been a member or visitor to any one or more of the automotive professional networks listed above, he would not have appeared so clueless as to what works and doesn’t work in automotive marketing and internet sales for car dealers today.
Ralph Paglia is vice president of digital for Tier 10 Marketing and editor-in-chief of the Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community (www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com).0