By David Metter
Just as one baseball glove does not fit all who play baseball, one “all-encompassing” marketing suite or strategy does not fit all in the automotive business. Think about how our industry views vendors. If dealerships are the players, then vendors are the equipment – the bats, the gloves, the cleats, the helmets – the indispensable facilitators of grand slam opportunities. No team has a shot at winning without the right, proper-fitting equipment. It is the equipment, or rather the vendors, that provide the gloves and helmets that give players the freedom to do what they do best – play the game. But you can’t play baseball without a ball – and you can’t sell cars without vendors.
Okay, okay. Technically, you can still sell cars – but after taking 30 immaculate photos of all vehicles in your inventory, building and maintaining your dealership website, getting certified in Google AdWords to run your paid search campaigns, developing your own CRM, and designing retargeting ads in HTML, there isn’t much time left for selling cars. Am I right?
It’s the “Jack of All Trades” approach versus a new age, fine-tuned, and forward-thinking approach. A company that claims to be a “one-stop solution for all your marketing needs,” cannot possibly be as competent in the results they deliver as a vendor that specializes (and dominates) in one specific area. Think about Walmart. If you wanted to, you could do all your grocery shopping and revamp your wardrobe all in one place. But do you really want to buy your underwear at the same store you buy your carrots? You would have to sacrifice quality somewhere, and in this case, it’s going to be your underwear.
The most progressive dealers, dealer groups, and manufacturers make the time to evaluate new, revolutionary technologies. Why? Because they can have revolutionary impacts on your business. The best players never compromise quality for convenience. They embrace change and innovation while always keeping their eye on the ball. They know the score at all times. To win at something, you don’t necessarily have to know all the stats and analytics, or every player’s batting average, but you do have to know the score – or rather, where you stand in comparison to your competition.
“IF DEALERSHIPS ARE THE PLAYERS, THEN VENDORS ARE THE EQUIPMENT - THE BATS, THE GLOVES, THE CLEATS, THE HELMETS - THE INDESPENSIBLE FACILITATORS OF GRAND SLAM OPPORTUNITIES.”
More than ever, platform-style vendors are developing marketing suites that consolidate all needs into one. In theory, this sounds like a good idea. However, with product consolidation can come problematic insufficiencies that do not fit all business models, especially those that are unique to car dealers. Jay Henderson, Director of Strategy at IBM advises, “To best succeed in 2016, marketers must understand that flexibility is key and the ability to integrate with a variety of best-of-breed technologies can open up amazing
new opportunities to innovate and engage.”
Thinking outside the traditional marketing platform mentality is the clutch, or the fastball, that will ultimately defend your dealership from falling into the dreaded “average” category, which also fails to identify why people should buy from you. Average is not compelling. Average online experiences don’t drive buyers to your showroom – and more importantly, traditional marketing suites do not offer memorable experiences for your customers. Who wants to be average? Certainly no one in an industry synonymous with competition.
These one-stop-shop agencies and vendors lure you in with the appeal of only having to remember one login, with a single user-interface where you can access all your advertising needs – spanning from paid search, to social media, to email marketing, to your in-store conversion tools, as well as the analytics and reporting on all said items. But that’s exactly why they make tools like LastPass, which manage all your sites and logins so you don’t have to, while providing an easy method of ensuring you have the right players, in the right positions, with the best possible equipment. In other words, the ultimate, game-winning formula.
There’s no denying the accelerating rate at which new companies, with first-ever technologies are entering the digital landscape. This makes it virtually impossible for an all-in-one marketing platform to keep up with up-and-coming players, with best-in-class solutions that challenge the traditional way the game is played. In IBM’s recent whitepaper, they recognize the flexibility that accompanies integrating the ideal mix of solutions as opposed to a large “one-size fits all” marketing suite. “In 2016, look for new ways to leverage your technology mix to give you greater agility to innovate and more strongly engage your customers.”
SmartInsights.com points out another common problem that has accompanied the upheaval in digital solutions, with a movement towards large vendor product consolidation. These curveballs that disrupt organizations and halt communications is what many refer to as digital silos. “Digital silos are created where different parts of marketing and their agencies don’t communicate effectively giving rise to campaigns that don’t work across media.”
When considering which vendors to work with, remember to choose ones that complement each other. For example, you can’t achieve a high website conversion rate if you don’t get enough traffic to your website. Likewise, when drafting a winning team, a coach is tasked with the finding the right blend of talent and strengths, and placing those players in the right positions. And when you think about it, that’s really the only way to win at anything – finding that perfect combination of vendors and tools and making sure all your bases are covered with the player that’s made for the job.
*Article originally featured on Digital Dealer