Automotive Leaders: Take Advantage of the Online Path Paved for You

In my grumpiest old-man voice, I must say, technology has made us lazy. Our industry is filled with a bunch of entitled crybabies who wouldn’t know a hard day’s work if it bit them by way of an antiquated computer mouse with a broken trackball on their well-manicured hands.

Before you blow me off as a curmudgeon, stay with me for a minute. I might sound like some old person talking about the trials and tribulations of yesteryear, but it is, in fact, intended to be motivation for those younger agents fighting the good retail fight in today’s stores. Trust me when I tell you that we “upper classmen” of automotive Internet marketing and sales know you don’t have it easy. Every store has its own obstacles, whether they be poor-sighted management, visionless ownership, lack of marketing funds, sabotaging sales managers, old-school advertising initiatives, or unenthusiastic sales folk. In retail, everyone who wants to achieve more will eventually bump up against those comfortable with the status quo. Here is my gift for you: You don’t have to listen to them.

Those who’ve gone before you have already fought the good fight. People pushing away from smart marketing, digital advertising, advanced CRM utilization, and mobile engagement are no longer the majority, but the minority. More of those in executive management understand the concept of digital traffic, as much as showroom traffic. This has been a long time coming. Embrace it and push forward.

There are some of us who recall what it was like without a CRM/ILM. We sold vehicles before you could access Internet on phones. Let me state—this wasn’t “the good old days.” This was misery. I didn’t become successful in retail until I leveraged technology and email communication to better engage and influence shoppers. I dedicated my work hours only to those shoppers who had conducted online research. I paid out of my own pocket to get an ILM for my store. I paid out of my own pocket and took vacation days to attend my first automotive conference. I was sending video messages and using video marketing in 2006. Not to age myself further, but I sold Scions and Scion parts off of MySpace! Why? Because Facebook wasn’t available to everyone yet.

There are some individuals who paved the way for me as well. I give credit to those at the forefront who were a part of creating the first dealership websites, building the first automotive CRMs, experimenting with that little search engine known as Google. They came before me, and it meant I didn’t have to argue with my owner about the importance of a website or a good search ranking. They understood it. The battles those individuals fought allowed me to push harder and farther into new realms of automotive digital marketing.

So here is our request of the newest generation of progressive retail champions from those of us who came before you. Push forward more than complain. You don’t have to butt up against the hardest battles. The game-changing tech that improved customer engagement has already been invented by those before you. You just need to embrace it and use it even better than we did. Find new uses for even more advanced technology.

You could say those who came before me fought in the crusades. My generation helped reinvent the industry through countless civil and world wars. We fought and won against antiquated thinking, and our industry is now fully embracing the online age of enlightenment. You don’t have it rough. You have conflicts and skirmishes to handle, but not warfare. You have individuals as obstacles, not entire corporations. The path has been paved for you to go on the offensive. Don’t cower when you have a larger, more powerful army behind you. You’re more well-equipped with data, case studies, proven facts, and success stories supporting digital than ever before. Find your moxie. Fight with your backbone, and not a wishbone.

You’re more well-equipped with data, case studies, proven facts, and success stories supporting digital than ever before. Find your moxie.

Moreover, we ask this newer generation to come together. My generation prided ourselves on working together to improve the industry as a whole. We built our reputations through our hard work. The concept of personal branding wasn’t a goal for us; it was a by-product. Don’t worry about your individual accomplishments. Work toward making everyone around you better. We want to add you to our army of do-gooders. Don’t function as a self-fulfilling mercenary only out to improve your own lot in life, but instead create a better outcome for the whole of automotive.

You no longer need to convince others of the value of CRM, social media, paid search, reputation management, and the like. You just need to put them into play with consistency and enthusiasm. The march toward a more progressive, less-antagonistic online automotive marketplace has begun. We hope we’ve made you front-line ready to succeed. You have all of the weapons needed at your disposal. You just need to recognize your power, and use it to the fullest. We ask that you carry our legacy forward. You’re the next generation of automotive leaders. You’re welcome.

Let Us Know What You Think