Blog

Google AIS Custom Search

practices (8)

Take Our Survey for a Chance to Win $300!

It's that time again! AutoUSA is collecting responses to its annual Fall Internet Marketing survey. Sales Managers, Sales Directors, Internet Sales Managers, BDC Managers, Internet Directors, General Managers, dealer principals and others involved in auto dealership Internet Marketing are invited to participate.

 

The survey is just 15 questions and will take less than 15 minutes to complete. When all responses are collected, we will randomly select one survey participant to receive a $300 Visa gift card. But you can't win if you don't answer the questions! Please click on the link below to get started, and in less time than it takes to finish your cup of coffee, you will be entered into the prize drawing. In order to be eligible for the prize, you must work at a dealership and be a resident of the U.S. or Canada.

 

Thank you so much for your time and participation!

 

Click here to get started:http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AutoUSAFall2013AIS

Read more…

Facebook has been a promising venue through which to market a dealership ever since it reached a high level of popularity back in 2008. Back then, it was just breaking the hundred million user level and was showing signs that it would be able to be business-friendly in contrast to its rival MySpace. Now, it’s 10 times bigger and commands more time of humans than any other website.

The problem is that it’s not the easiest marketing platform to master. Unlike Google, Twitter, and other players that are used on a daily basis, Facebook has algorithms that keep dealers from finding success. Google has an algorithm, of course, but because people go to it to find businesses, they make it very easy for those willing to pay money or play by the optimization rules to get the exposure they need. On Facebook, users aren’t going there to engage with businesses so trying to “sneak in” marketing and advertising is an act that goes contrary to the desires of the users. This is why the algorithm can be so harsh.

It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible. There is plenty of advice on the internet that tells businesses and marketers how to have success on Facebook. Unfortunately, some of it is poor advice. Others are simply antiquated. Most make general assumptions. There aren’t very many specifics that small businesses can use to make an impact.

The best way for a local business to move the needle is to get to a point of local exposure and built up trust that allows them to give their marketing messages exposure and that promotes communication with customers and potential customers through the network itself. Accomplishing this takes a process.

The first three steps in the process are the easiest, the ones that can all be described in a single blog post. The stages beyond the first three get much more complex, not because they’re so much harder but because they become very specific to the goals of the dealership as well as the personality of the team. We can’t go into those, but the first three should be enough to get you going:

1. Grow locally

Here’s the bad news. If you have accumulated a ton of fans outside of your market area, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to dump everyone and start over. It’s not fun. It’s not easy (unless your following is so extended that you have to delete the page altogether and start from scratch – that’s easy). It can be one of the most gut-wrenching decisions you’ll ever make pertaining to your social media marketing, particularly if you’ve been doing it for years. All that effort, wasted. It hurts.

The good news is that building back up from scratch isn’t as hard as most think. It requires money – Facebook advertising is the best way to get a local following built up – but not much. Many businesses are already through this stage and can boast having a mostly-localized following. Regardless of how you get there, this is the first step – get your following up to acceptable level.

2. Get engagement

This is always the scariest piece of advice and the most challenging stage to implement. First, the term “engagement” is so overused and misunderstood. To so many, it means cats. The internet is loaded with cats. People post pictures of cats all the time. It seems like a great place to start.

On a local business page, there should be no cats allowed unless you’re building a page for a veterinarian.

Every business has some sort of relevant content that can be posted. No business is so boring that they can’t find interesting things to post that pertain to what they do. This is paramount – car dealers should be posting cars, automotive tips, and localized events because that’s what the people who liked their page expect. There’s no need to get too clever. Strong content doesn’t have to be contrived. It doesn’t have to be shared from George Takei’s awesome Facebook page.

Keep it organic. Keep it real. Keep it relevant. Your fans will like it and become engaged (whatever that really means).

3. Earn the right to market

There was a question asked on a forum about how to judge success on a Facebook page. They had built up to a nice number of fans. Their fans were mostly localized. They had engaging content on the page (though there were some cat-like posts that we don’t recommend, but otherwise it wasn’t bad). Now, they wanted to see where the ROI was.

Unfortunately, there was none, at least not that was noticeable. They had made it through to stage three but hadn’t taken it to the next level.

Facebook users aren’t as silly as we often believe. They don’t like a local business page without the understanding that they’ll likely see some marketing materials cross their feed from time to time. If they don’t want the marketing content, they wouldn’t like a business in the first place.

Some take this to the extreme and post only marketing stuff. This is a huge mistake based upon what was mentioned above – the algorithm. Marketing content does not perform very well under most circumstances, so having only marketing content won’t work. You’ll lose fans. You’ll move down in the news feed based upon poor EdgeRank. You’ll be broadcasting messages that nobody will ever see.

In stage three, local businesses have to earn the right to post marketing content by doing a couple of things. First, they have to be very proficient at step 2 and have an audience that is engaged. Then, they have to craft their marketing content in a way that can get the message out there while doing minimal damage to EdgeRank or following. There is no way to post marketing content that won’t turn some people off. You simply want to minimize the damage. Done right, there are more positive effects to EdgeRank from the right marketing material than any of the negatives that are bound to happen.

It must be timed appropriately. That timing is based upon the activities on the page on a regular basis, but the right mix of conversational and converting content should be worked in. Too much and you lose too many fans. Too little and there’s no ROI. Finding the right mix is the key and it’s something that must be diagnosed on an individual basis rather than prompted in a blog post.

* * *

These are just the first three stages. There are more, but again they are really dependent on more factors than that can be described in a post. Whatever you do, don’t jump ahead. Engaging content is worthless if you have 20 fans. Marketing content is worthless if you have the fans but they’re not engaged. If you start here, you can get to the next level which is true return on investment. You have to start somewhere.

Read more…

Picture the following scene. You're throwing a party. You have even sent out invitations. You have allowed your guests to each bring a +1 or even +2. Fastforward. It's the party. You're standing by the door, casually talking to a friend of yours. Every so often another one of your guests strolls in with one or two people you have never met before. And, you completely ignore them even after they've extended their respective hands to greet you. That party isn't going to last very long. 

When your Twitter account receives new followers, whether it's two or ten, are you ignoring them? Or, are you reciprocating their virtual handshake? It should be custom for any dealership or business to at least thank their newest followers. They have, after all, taken the time to check out your page and click the "Follow" button. You should be grateful that someone cares what you have to say. This may seem like a silly topic to discuss, but it ties into the larger problem that most dealerships face when it comes to social media. The anti-human tweeters, I like to call them. J.D. Rucker recently touched on this (See here: Dealer Should Posts Fewer Links and More Interactions, Text, and Images

It's so simple, yet many fail to do it. When we were children, we were always taught to say "Thank you" upon receiving something from a friend, family member, neighbor, and so forth. On Twitter, it should be no different. It only takes a few seconds to tweet to "@ILOVEFORD123" and say "Thanks for following!! Looking forward to connecting." Depending upon the person, you may not even hear from them ever again. But, that's not the point. The point is that you're building an online community and the evolution of your virtual network starts with a simple handshake. 

Read more…

Poor Writing Is No Laughing Matter

The title of Lynne Truss’ runaway bestseller Eats, Shoots and Leaves (Gotham Books, 2003) illustrates the impact of a wayward comma:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots into the air.

“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says, at the door. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

“Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

Although Truss’ anecdote is humorous, poor writing by employees is no laughing matter, and in fact can cost your company millions—or billions—of dollars in rework and misunderstanding. A 2008 white paper by International Data Corporation (IDC) showed that businesses in the United States and the United Kingdom were losing an estimated $37 billion as a result of “employee misunderstanding.” The term is defined as “actions or errors of omission by employees who have misunderstood or misinterpreted (or were misinformed about) company policies, business processes, job function or a combination of the three.” The authors wrote,

Employee misunderstanding is a very different proposition to a deliberate disregard for the rules or a plain mistake, whereby an employee simply does something that they didn’t mean to (like forgetting to back up computer storage or putting a decimal point in the wrong place)…. The financial cost of employee misunderstanding is immense…. Of the industries we researched, banks suffer the greatest losses and transportation the least. Loss of business due to unplanned downtime was the largest area of loss attributed to employee misunderstanding.

What causes employee misunderstanding? Poor, unclear, or no communication, leaving employees without the knowledge they need to do their jobs correctly.

There is more evidence. An SIS International Research study prepared for Siemens Enterprise Communications in 2009 explored and quantified communication difficulties experienced by small to medium-sized businesses, up to 400 employees. The researchers concluded that waiting for information, unwanted communications, inefficient coordination, barriers to collaboration, and customer complaints caused productivity losses estimated to be $26,041 per knowledge worker per year.

Unfortunately, even college graduates are not getting the preparation they need to communicate effectively in writing. In Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press, 2011), authors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa concluded that 45 percent of students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” after two years of college; and that 36 percent “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” after four years!

In an article about the book, Scott Jaschik of the Chronicle of Higher Education wrote,

[The authors] review data from student surveys to show, for example, that 32 percent of students each semester do not take any courses with more than 40 pages of reading assigned a week, and that half don’t take a single course in which they must write more than 20 pages over the course of a semester.

What are employers to do?

Clearly, there is a case for businesses hiring for potential and training for skill in writing. But do you know what you are getting? Does your company administer a writing test to job applicants? You should, says Kyle Wiens, chief executive officer (CEO) of iFixit, the world’s largest collection of online repair manuals. In a July blog post entitled, “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why,” Wiens wrote,

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can’t distinguish between ‘to’ and ‘too,’ their applications go into the bin.

Admittedly, he says, he and his colleagues “write for a living.”

But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.*

Writing skills are important now more than ever in this age of digital communication, says consultant David Silverman, contributing editor to the Guide to Better Business Writing, 2nd Edition (Harvard Business Press, 2011). “With text messages and emails, most business communication nowadays is written,” he says. “Unfortunately, our reliance on written communication, which is increasing, is inversely proportional to our abilities and our willingness to learn.” Yet written communication, he emphasizes, makes up the private and public faces of your company.

Silverman helps employees in government agencies and corporations of all sizes develop better written communication skills. The worst mistake we all make? Writing too much. “Being succinct requires time and effort, whereas including everything under the sun seems safer,” he says.

Many companies see good writing skills as an indicator of leadership potential, Silverman says. So what should knowledge workers be able to do?

“Tell a story that people will remember,” Silverman says. “Tell a story with pictures, and remove extraneous information.” In other words, think about what will be in your reader’s mind as you write. Is it cluttered, or is the path to the crucial information straight and clear?

Naturally, the rules for good writing depend on your goal, Silverman notes. Are you striving to instruct, or just to entertain? “The only viable reason to send a business email is to request action,” he says. To write emails that people will read—and act upon—use clear subject lines and include your call to action at the top. “Your messages must answer the reader’s questions, ‘What do you want me to do?’ and ‘How will I know I’ve done it?’” Silverman emphasizes.

We all make mistakes. So for critically important email messages and other documents, Silverman recommends these three steps:

Proofread carefully.
Have someone else read your work.
Wait an hour and read it again before pressing Send.
As you prepare your training budgets for 2013, consider devoting some of your expenditures to developing your employees’ writing skills. After all, even if you only cut that lost productivity of $26,000-plus in half, that is a pretty significant return on investment (ROI).

*Although the word “grammar” may seem yawn-inducing to some, it is a hot topic: Wiens’ post has generated more than 3,200 comments since it was published.

Source: http://www.clarityconsultants.com/learning-resources/poor-writing-is-no-laughing-matter/?bms.tk=BzAEqwsEk20Fk21Vr30Wp33Rr26Js17Ek20BvfrFtg

Read more…

This is the third in a series of blogs I’ve been writing on metrics: in my last blog we discussed the average percentage of sales in dealerships that can be attributed to Internet leads. This week, I’d like to talk about average front-end gross per vehicle.

 

In a recent survey we conducted, we asked dealerships representing all types of makes and models:

 

These were the two questions related to front-end gross in the survey:

1) What is the average front-end gross per vehicle sold in the showroom (floor sales) in your store?

 

2) What is the average front-end gross per vehicle sold in the Internet department in your store?

 

We wanted to first quantify the difference between gross from showroom sales and Internet sales, and we wanted to compare the averages of stores in different “performance brands.”

 

Here are the survey results:

 

• 29% of respondents said the average front-end gross per vehicle in the showroom is > $1,300

• 15% of respondents said the average front-end gross per vehicle in the Internet department is > $1,300

 

At the same time:

• 9% of respondents said the average front-end gross per vehicle in the showroom is < $800

• 21% of respondents said the average front-end gross per vehicle in the Internet department is < $800

 

It’s clear there’s quite a disparity between averages in the showroom and the Internet department. We consulted David Kain of Kain Automotive on this question, because he believes (and the survey results reflect this), that most Internet salespeople tend to discount too soon. This tendency leads to lower front-end gross averages in the Internet department.

 

Regardless of what your dealership’s average gross per vehicle (PVR) is, the goal is for the showroom and Internet department averages to be the same. Why is this important? The higher the gross per vehicle, the higher your ROI and profits are.

 

We compared answers from dealerships making seven times or more ROI on their Internet spend, to those making three times or less ROI on their Internet spend, regardless of make or model. The results were compelling:

 

Internet Department ROI

Showroom PVR > $1300

Internet PVR > $1300

< 4x

21%

7%

> 6x

58%

44%

 

So how can you increase your average front-end gross per vehicle, as well as get the Internet department gross in line with the showroom gross? Here are a few tips:

 

1)    Always provide the customer with choices and carefully review leads for model selection and trim levels. If you’re quoting your customer the loss leader or base model and they want the luxury model, then you’re setting them up for a price expectation way lower than is reasonable.

2)    Just like when you’re face-to-face with a customer, focus on building value in the vehicles. Customers want to know what they’re buying is worth the money, and you have the opportunity to explain why the price is what the price is

3)    Don’t be tempted to immediately give a discount, and be wary of programs that send inventory selections to customers with quotes designed to beat your competition or that are loss leaders. Big discount quotes make the customer believe all vehicles can be significantly discounted.

4)    Mystery shop your competition from time to time on key vehicles to ensure you’re pricing your vehicles to market.

5)    Consider location. If a customer is close to you, then price in the convenience of shopping with you. If the customer lives 20 miles away and has to drive past multiple competitors in order to get to your store, you may be more aggressive in your pricing.

6)    Set the rules in the Internet department based on what vehicles are selling for in the showroom. If they know the ‘floor’ price, you’re less likely to have a significant discrepancy between the showroom and the Internet gross.

 

What other tips do you have to raise the average front-end gross per vehicle, and more importantly, to increase the averages in the Internet departments to be more in line with showroom averages?

Read more…

4 consumer points to consider when selling car accessories

Since the release of the popular film “The Fast and the Furious”, car accessorizing has shifted from being a secret of car gear enthusiast to a main stream phenomenon. Two sequels later and the aftermarket accessory market continues to average 8% growth annually. Car dealerships would be wise to keep up. The demand for car accessories is high. And, just like fashion accessories there are hundreds of options. And, trends change rapidly. Here are four reasons why people love certain car accessories.

1.       Making a Personal Statement

Crisp leather jacket, “I’m a rebel”, Eco-friendly seat covers “I care about the planet”. Just like fashion accessories, car accessories help your buyer make a statement about who they are.  A car is an extension of its owner, and we all want to present a certain “self” to the world. So, whether it’s a bike rack on a rugged Jeep Wrangler or a spoiler on a sporty Mazda 3, accessories gives buyers another way to express themselves through their car.

2.       Affordable Luxury

It’s inevitable. There is always going to be a prospect that’s eyeballing a Mercedes-Benz but their budget lines up more with a Toyota Corolla.   The right accessories can make that Corolla feel like a Benz. With today’s economy more and more people are learning to live within their means. That doesn’t mean buyers don’t still desire luxury.  But, in terms of cost efficiency it’s harder to justify. Rather than stretching their budgets almost $20,000 more on a luxurious brand consumers will invest $5,000 more in alloy wheels and seat heaters giving an economical brand a very similar look and feel.

3.       Protects the Value

A new car loses 11% of its value as soon as it leaves the lot. So unless they plan to ride until the wheels fall off, it’s not an ideal investment. People are aware of this and are more concerned than ever about protecting the value. Accessories like bed and trunk liners, covers, and deflectors can protect the resale/ trade-in value of a new car. This makes your buyer more confident about shelling out so much of their hard earned cash.

4.       More Convenience

 We as Americans are always on the go, we love to multitask, and prefer to be able to do things in our car just as we would if we were in our homes. Certain accessories were designed to offer a level of convenience that many buyers are looking for. The iPod adapters are one of the hottest selling accessories right now. It offers buyers the convenience of listening to their favorite music without needing CD changers.  Navigation systems and Bluetooth are other accessory options that appeal to a buyer looking for convenience.

Insignia Group, the leading provider of accessories sales systems and training has helped dealers maximize profits for over 10 years. Supporting 20+ brands and dealerships nationwide, we help our customers establish and grow their Accessories Profit Center. Call 888-579-4458 to learn more or schedule a demo.

Read more…

SPONSORS