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Marcus Sheridan, an owner of River Pools, overhauled the company's marketing to focus on generating sales through informational blog posts and videos. Credit: Jay Paul for The New York Times

It is an indelible image of the financial crisis: a bird’s-eye view of the backyards of foreclosed houses, their in-ground pools festering with algae and mosquitoes. In Northern Virginia, Marcus Sheridan was in the financial storm.

By early 2009, his company, River Pools and Spas, a 20-employee installer of in-ground fiberglass pools in Virginia and Maryland, had a decline in orders from an average of six a month to barely two. That winter, four customers who had planned to install pools costing more than $50,000 each demanded their deposits back. For three consecutive weeks, the company overdrew its bank account.

Around this time, Mr. Sheridan began to overhaul his marketing. The company had been spending about $250,000 a year on radio, television and pay-per-click advertising. It would now cut the budget to about a tenth of that and focus on generating sales through informational blog posts and videos, what has become known as content marketing. But Mr. Sheridan took an unconventional approach to his content.

As a result, River Pools has recovered to exceed its peak pre-2007 revenue, and Mr. Sheridan, a 35-year-old father of four, has become something of a Web marketing guru. While he still owns a 33 percent interest in the pool company, his partners manage it day to day while he concentrates on his new venture, TheSalesLion.com. He recently spoke about his marketing approach in a conversation that has been edited and condensed.

Q. Take us back. How did you save your company?

A. I just started thinking more about the way I use the Internet. Most of the time when I type in a search, I’m looking for an answer to a specific question. The problem in my industry, and a lot of industries, is you don’t get a lot of great search results because most businesses don’t want to give answers; they want to talk about their company. So I realized that if I was willing to answer all these questions that people have about fiberglass pools, we might have a chance to pull this out.

Q. What was the first question you answered?

A. The question I was always asked within the first two minutes of talking to customers was, How much does a fiberglass pool cost? Pool installers are like mattress or car dealers — we hate talking about how much a pool costs until we have you in person because there are so many options and accessories we want to sell you. As a result, pool companies never mention price on their Web sites. But I said, I don’t care what the question is, we’re going to answer it.

Q. Did you actually tell people the price of a pool?

A. No — because I couldn’t. But see, that’s the magic behind this. Google’s search engine doesn’t really care if we answer the question. It’s just looking for companies that are willing to address the question. So I said in that article, there are a ton of options, so it depends, the price can range anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000 and a lot of our customers end up between $40,000 and $80,000. And that was enough. Within about 24 hours of writing that article, it was No. 1 for every fiberglass-pool, cost-related phrase you could possibly type in. And because I have analytics, so far to this day, I’ve been able to track a minimum of $1.7 million in sales to that one article.

Q. What was the next question?

A. People used to ask me all the time, “Marcus, I’ve been hearing that fiberglass pools have all sorts of problems and issues. So what are the problems and issues?” Of course, they’d been talking to a concrete pool guy, but it doesn’t matter where they got it, now they have the question. So we wrote an article about the problems with fiberglass pools and specifically came right out and said: Here are the issues. Here are the benefits. You decide. Now, when you go in and type anything about fiberglass issues and problems, you’re going to see the River Pools Web site and you’re going to think, “Oh my gosh, these guys are so honest.”

Q. Anything else?

A. In most industries, there comes a time in the sale process where the customer turns to you and says, “O.K., I like you, but who are some of the other good companies that do this?” Half the time it’s a test, because people know who our competitors are because they can find them in .5 seconds online. Most contractors avoid the question. They say, “Oh, we don’t really have competition.” But because I was asked that question so often, I decided to answer it. I wrote a blog post about the best swimming pool builders in Richmond, Va., one of our main service areas.

Q. Where were you on the list?

A. I wasn’t on it.

Q. You weren’t?

A. No, because the moment I put my name up there I would lose all my credibility. But here’s the thing. Take the first company on the list, Pla-Mor Pools, a top competitor of ours. If you type in, “Pla-Mor Pools reviews Richmond, Va.,” which of course people do all the time when they’re vetting a company, what comes up? Me! You vet all my competitors, now I’m showing up for all their key words. If you really want to understand the power of inbound marketing, it comes down to this idea: I want to have the conversation at my house.

Q. Once you wrote a blog post, how much time did you spend promoting it on Twitter and Facebook?

A. I didn’t. Dude, that one article on price has never been tweeted. It’s never been Facebooked. I’m not saying social media doesn’t help, but it’s nowhere near what people think. The only metric that really matters is total pages viewed. Here’s a statistic for you: If somebody reads 30 pages of my River Pools Web site, and we go on a sales appointment, they buy 80 percent of the time. The industry average for sales appointments is 10 percent. So, our whole marketing campaign revolves around getting people to stick around and read our stuff, because the longer they stay on our site, the greater the chance they’re going to fall in love with our company.

Q. What do you say to business owners who say they don’t know what to blog about?

A. That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard, and I hear it a lot. What they should be doing is just listening to every single question they get and answering it. In my consulting business the first thing we do is brainstorm what questions the company gets on a regular basis. I’ve never had a company come up with less than 100 questions in 30 minutes.

Q. How do you suggest companies find time to do all of this blogging?

A. Most of the time, they can take the employees they already have talking to customers and turn them into content producers. If you have 25 salespeople, and each one of them writes one post a month, your search is going to be through the roof because that’s a new piece of content every day.

Q. How have your competitors responded to all of this?

A. They still don’t really get it. They’re nice about it. I’ll have one of my best-pool-builder lists come out, and I’ll run into them. And they’ll say, “Hey, man, thanks for including me in that list. I’m not sure why you did it, but thanks.”

 
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http://www.BradleyOnDemand.com/ 856-546-2440 

Dealer Synergy Presents Chris Herman, President of Herman Advertising, advising dealerships on balancing there marketing plans. While many ask the question whether dealerships should use conventional or digital marketing, Chris states every dealership has a different balance between the two. To learn the differences between digital or conventional marketing, you can follow Herman Advertising in the link below. 

For more information about Dealer Synergy, visit http://www.DealerSynergy.com/

If you are interested in working with Dealer Video Production, visit http://www.DealerVideoProduction.com/

Sign up now for the next Internet Sales 20 Group!

http://internetsales20group.com

To find out more about Herman Advertising, visit

http://www.hermanadvertising.com

If you have any questions, call or text Sean on his cell 267-319-6776

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In this week's Episode of Make Money Mondays Special Edition, Kerri Wise, VP of Marketing at TrueCar talks about creating unique processes for each individual lead. You need to take time to pay attention to the customer and find ways to connect with them. Every customer expects customization, and it is your job to adapt to every lead to help you close more sales.

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In this week's Episode of Make Money Mondays Dealer Synergy's President, Sean V. Bradley gives us advise on streamline your workflow. You need to keep it simple and focus on the basics. It is not about being fancy or knowing everything, it's about showing up with the desire and hunger to be successful.

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In this week's Episode of Make Money Mondays Dealer Synergy's President, Sean V. Bradley gives us advise on getting better on a personal level. You want to focus on how you are going to get better, not on how you will sell more cars. Mastering your craft is the most important thing you can do to help you grow as an Automotive professional.

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In this week's Episode of Make Money Mondays Special Edition, Dan Moore, Senior Director of Marketing at VinSolutions talks about the importance of CRM. He breaks down step by step, how to serve a customer a unique experience through your CRM. Dan gives tips on delivering a powerful marketing message that can be processed all the way through into your CRM.
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YouTube Dos and Don’ts
by Andrew Zielinski
Video Production Manager, Dealer Video Production

 

The human race has a stunning tendency to add more and more new words to its vast vocabulary; this trend has apparently become more active in the last decade than any before it. Among the most popular made-up phrases are verbs of the Internet age -- Googling, in many circles, has become one of the most common. Quickly rising over the horizon is one for Google’s child program and world-famous time killer, “YouTube-ing”.

On the Android market alone, the YouTube app has just north of 9 million downloads -- and counting. So if over 9 million people across the planet are using YouTube as their number one source of videos (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?), then for automotive sales professionals, it’s far beyond recommended that you post whatever business-related videos you can.

That being said, you have to be careful with how you use the platform, as it can be either your best friend or your worst enemy. Here are two of the biggest dos and don’ts when uploading your work to YouTube...

 

DO: Take Advantage of YouTube’s Editing Program

 Let’s face it: it’s hard to make most cell phone footage look good. Even with the iPhone 6 and its unbelievable ability to capture 4k video footage (for those not film-savvy, 4k footage is pretty much the pinnacle of digital beauty), it’s still hard to make any ordinary video visually appealing. Shakiness, poor lighting, and lackluster audio are abound on any ordinary phone clip.

Luckily, the brains over at YouTube came up with “in-house” editing programs back in 2010 that help users either polish or cut their projects, ideally for the better. This process certainly helps forgo the need for modern video editing software like Final Cut Pro and Sony Vegas, which can be expensive and require hours and hours of training.

Should you upload a video to YouTube and notice that the image is dark, desaturated, or in need of some pizzazz, then you can go to town on the ‘Enhancements’ page. To access this, enter the ‘Video Manager’ tab under the ‘Creator Studio’ page and click the ‘Edit’ button next to your video, followed by the ‘Enhancements’ button on the following page.

Under ‘Enhancements’, you can adjust the video’s Fill Light, Contrast, Saturation, and Color Temperature. With Fill Light, you can increase the brightness of any murky footage, whereas Contrast will give your video a deep, cinematic quality, Saturation will emphasize the colors or take them away, and Color Temperature will give your footage either a blue or a yellow tint.

In addition to the ‘Quick Fixes’ tab, you can add a variety of tones in the ‘Filters’ tab or blur out faces in the ‘Blurring Effects’ tab. This section is essentially your one-stop-shop for enhancements to really carry your video to the next visual level.

If you plan to edit together one or more personal uploads, or even create a montage, the YouTube Video Editor has a number of features that can add copyright-free stock footage and music, flashy transitions, text elements, and personal images and photos. With all of these easy-to-use features, any automotive sales professionals can cut together a video with an intro, outro, name card, and cutaway clips. These tools will come in handy when reaching out to a customer and needing to make a solid first impression.

 

DON’T: Let YouTube Stabilize Your Video

 You’ve seen it a hundred times: whenever you upload a mildly unstable video clip, YouTube gives you a highlighted prompt that says it has detected shaky footage and offers to “correct” that issue. Sure, your first thought is almost always going to be “if YouTube wants to improve my video, why not let them?” but in reality, that gift horse is loaded with a few too many Trojan soldiers, convinced that they’re doing the right thing.

Rather than turning shaky footage into a smooth, crisp, visually-appealing shot, the YouTube stabilizer overcompensates in its abilities and tries its best to wrangle the crazy horse with the worst rope imaginable. The footage comes out in a more drastic state, often looking twitchy, frantic, and sometimes excessively warped -- which means that no one will want to watch it. But what happens if you already accepted the invitation to stabilize and can’t change it back?

Good news: you can. Two ways, in fact. By accessing the ‘Enhancements’ feature, you can click the ‘Revert to Original’ button and click ‘Save’ to keep the original look of your upload. The alternative method is (in the same editing page) to click the division line that separates the ‘Original’ and Preview’ portions in the video preview window and drag it all the way to the right, thus showing only the ‘Original’ portion, then save.

Before you immediately race to YouTube and save your videos from embarrassment with these two methods, please bear in mind: if you added any filters or adjustments to the same clips, they too will vanish. Remember to look before you leap, folks, lest you should have to go back and try to match the precise changes that you made before.

 

Above all else, I cannot stress enough that what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet. Be mindful of what you are putting into cyberspace, be it content- or quality-wise. Even the simplest mistake can offset a customer and turn them into a brick wall. Listen to the content, make sure the shots are clean, and that the audio is intelligible. And for the love of all mankind, keep it tasteful. Laziness and unprofessionalism can slam a door faster than you can say “Jack Robinson”.




Sources Cited

PS3orDie. "HOW TO UNDO YOUTUBE FIX FOR SHAKY VIDEOS." YouTube. YouTube, 01 Oct. 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94X0xQicil0>.

Magic Tricks. "Re: Is There a Way to Take a Way the "Shaky Video Filter" Thing Youtube Suggests? I Really Need Help." Web log comment.Google Groups. N.p., 18 July 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. <https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/youtube/sarDbAM1M5c>.

 

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http://www.DealerSynergy.com 856-546-2440
http://www.JustAskForJeff.com

Check out this interview I did with my friend Jeff Cormier for Dealer Synergy. Jeff crushed it! Auto Pros need to pay attention to what he is doing. He literally has the absolute BEST website in the entire Automotive Sales industry for a showroom sales consultant! Take a look at his website www.JustAskForJeff.com . AND... it is still a work n progress!

But more than the awesome technology and great value he provides his clients like by being the ONLY CERTIFIED Car Seat Installer / Inspector in his county!! Jeff gives to the community he is a member of "Super Heros for Kids" in Ohio.

I invite you all to look at his website, read about Jeff Cormier. Get to know him and friend him on Facebook (And all other social media). This is a rising star in our industry and great things are going to be coming from him. Karen and I are 100% behind him and truly look forward to sharing in his success!

Also, let us know what you think of his website and if you have any other ideas what we could or should add to it to make it even better!

Thank you my friends-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAJkbvOn4S0

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http://www.DealerSynergy.com 856-546-2440

Most Up To Date Statistics State That Car Dealerships Need A Video Strategy - 2015 Video Is The Most Powerful Tool For A Car Dealership. A dealership or dealer group can utterly crush the competition and have an unfair advantage in their market by having a video strategy. This video has the most up to date video statistics. Most businesses do not have a video strategy. Here are the areas that a dealership needs to focus on for video: - Video Search Engine Optimization - Video Emails - Video Conferencing - Video for Website(s) - Video for Social Media - Comparison Videos - How to videos - Videos for CRM - and so much more!

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In This Week's Make Money Monday Sean V. Bradley discusses how to use social media as a way to connect to your prospecting. Many car dealers give up after not being able to connect the first time, Sean explains further ways to connect with them!
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Meet Jeff Cormier, the "6 Million Dollar Car Salesman". Jeff is a Car Salesman at Liberty Ford in Ohio and just recently lost his 6 year old son, Xander. I found out about his situation on Facebook. I was rocked by his story and donated to his GoFundMe account (The original one) but I couldn't get him out of my head. My heart just broke for this man and his family and I wanted to do something more... So, I reached out to Jeff and started to mention him, guild him, train him in Car Sales. I know for the rest of his life he is going to have to deal with the reality of life without his son. That is hard enough, money should NOT be a concern. I didn't want him to struggle or worry about money. I wanted to teach him how to be a massive success in Car Sales. I wanted to teach him how he can build his own business from scratch and really make being a Car Salesman like he is running his own business! 

So, I enlisted some of my friends in the industry that happen to be publicly traded companies, 100 million dollar companies and even billion dollar companies. These vendors were AMAZING! They provided products and services to Jeff that are going to help take his business to the next level! 

Jeff is being set up with MORE products and services than the average dealership! This is truly amazing to watch. Take a look at the full list of vendors that are going above and beyond! 

http://internetsales20group.com/going-above-and-beyond.html 

Register for the Internet Sales 20 group 8 #IS20G #New Orleans to meet the "6 Million Dollar Car Salesman" 

www.internetsales20group.com 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/internet-sales-20-group-8-new-orleans-new-years-evolution-tickets-18075649755?aff=erelexporg

Here is the link to the DealerElite post that I did earlier... 

http://www.dealerelite.net/profiles/blogs/help-one-of-our-own-internet-sales-consultant-jeff-cormier

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Dealers, tune into Auto Dealer Live this Thursday, November 12th. It starts at 2:00 BUT... I go on at 3:30pm Eastern. I will be discussing a VERY special project that has NEVER EVER been done in the Automotive Sales industry. we are creating the "Six Million Dollar Car Salesman" (You ever seen that TV Show "6 Million Dollar Man"... EXACTLY! This Car Salesman is going to be like a "Cyborg". You have to tune in to find out the details!
http://www.AutoDealerLive.net
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http://www.BradleyOnDemand.com 856-546-2440
Jim Ziegler's Secret Tips On Avoiding The #1 Mistake Car Salesman Make That Blows Deals & Lowers Gross

Dealer Synergys Video Production Team just completed James A. Zieglers BRAND NEW Training Curriculum for Bradley On Demand. Jim is going to have his complete training system available for you all very soon. Jim's "Alpha Dawg" Channel with cover Showroom Sales (Including the "road to the sale" of course), Sales Management and Full Blown F&I. Karen Uriarte-Bradley and I are very proud and excited to have Jim on Bradley on Demand!
For more information, go to www.BradleyOnDemand.com or call me on my cell 267-319-6776

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