In the Box with Amy Boehm, Marketing Director, Kar Auto Group

We caught up with Amy Boehm at the Las Vegas Mirage Hotel and Casino while she was representing Kar Auto Group at this year’s Digital Dealer Conference. She’s an expert in marketing and a huge college sports fan, and she commutes a scenic 45 minutes to spearhead her dealership’s marketing department located in the rural, yet eclectic, town of Decorah, Iowa. Kar Auto Group also has a rooftop in the more populated city of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Amy gives us insight into the different approach she takes while marketing to each area and demographic.

How many Digital Dealer Conferences have you attended?

In a whirlwind, three months after I started in automotive, I attended my first one. Since then, I’ve been to four in a row. I’m two years into my career in automotive, so technically I’m still a green pea, but I consider that to be for the best. I attend these conferences with no preconceived notions. I came looking for new vendors and to learn about all the new products that are available and all the processes that are in place that other people have. I left feeling overwhelmed, but super informed!

What did you do before working in the car business?

Previously, I worked for a newspaper and had been in sales for 20 years. I worked at a small newspaper selling ads, and before that I worked at Yellowbook selling phonebook ads.

You went down a very traditional marketing path. How difficult was that to do?

It honestly wasn’t hard for me. Everyone outside of the industry thinks, “Oh, my gosh, it’d be the hardest thing to sell newspaper and phonebook ads over the phone to different people in different states.” But, it just wasn’t difficult for me. I felt as though I had all the right tools to approach the sale.

How did you find out about the marketing job at Kar Auto Group?

I was actually selling newspaper ads to the dealership and they approached me because they needed someone to help them focus their marketing. They felt they couldn’t handle the marketing by themselves; it was all over the place. They thought of me and gave me a call and asked if I was interested.

In more rural areas the local newspaper is still a big thing so there’s still a market for newspaper ads, but what about digital marketing? Things like Facebook ads and Google search engine marketing.

It’s really interesting because it’s really different between our Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin store and our Decorah store. Our Wisconsin store is very traditional. We have an online presence there, but it doesn’t get the same attention as it does in our Decorah store. The demographics are completely different between the stores: median income is different, age brackets are different, the industries people work in are different, education levels are different. We still do more digital marketing than traditional advertisement. We’ve noticed that Facebook Marketplace has really exploded, giving us tons of leads and helping us sell cars that are listed under $10,000. Also, my two kids, who are 12 and 15, really help to give me insight into how the automotive industry works in the digital realm. They’ve shown me that YouTube is a great platform that the younger generation, and really everyone, is using to research new products.
A year ago, I thought video SEO was just a buzzword and I didn’t immediately buy into it. Now, I realize it’s very important and I have to incorporate it.

What is your favorite part of being a marketing director?

I spent a long time working with tons of businesses over one medium. It was always a dream of mine to work for one company while handling all the marketing. That’s my dream job. I’ve always wanted to do that. The other thing, and it equates to my sales history, is I am a relationship seller. I love the relationship I have with my vendors. It’s hard for me to connect with a vendor and the product if there isn’t a relationship being formed. So, for me it’s all about the relationships I build.

Have you found that management in the rural areas have given you push back about wanting to invest money into promoting YouTube videos or Facebook Marketplace until you show them the ROI?

Luckily, I feel like our dealership group is half and half, which leads to great conversations. Half is looking forward and is open to new ways to market. The other half prefers traditional ways to market. The difference of opinion leads to great conversations and debates. And honestly, I respect the other opinion. I want someone to debate with who will try to change my opinion.

What else do you have a passion for?

My kids. I’m a foodie so I get really excited about going out to eat at new places. I love a good debate and I love college sports. I REALLY get into sports. We go to a lot of games. I love college basketball, I’d love to have Iowa State season tickets. So, if anyone has the hook up on that …

What are some of the things someone should do as a first timer going to Digital Dealer or NADA?

The first thing is you should get involved in the online forums. Get to know the key players in automotive. Spend a lot of time reading through comments and feeds to get an idea of what other people have to say. When you find the key players, look up their Facebook pages to find out what they’re about and who they’re friends with. You’re going to learn so much from them and then reach out to them. Ask them questions. So much about attending these conferences is about building relationships. It’s important to network. I’ve also recently come to the realization that it’s important to stay in your own lane. I have a passion for sales so it’s really easy for me to get sucked into sales, but the truth of the matter is that’s not my job. My job is marketing so I need to attend sessions on marketing. Also, plan ahead. Read what the sessions are about and go into it having an idea of two or three in each timeslot that you want to go to. Then ask other people what sessions they’re going to, ask if they know the presenters, and do your homework on them. And then get as much out of it as you can.

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