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2013 (18)

There are many dealers who have strong criticisms regarding, but regardless of whether you consider Edmunds an asset or a liability to the retail auto industry there is little debate about their unique position within the vehicle buying process for many millions of automotive consumers...

The stark reality for car dealers seeking greater understanding of how car buyers shop online in 2013 is that has the ability to paint a vivid portrait of today’s online car shopper... Which includes 9 out of 10 new and used vehicle buyers!

About 18 million visitors use the site every month to shop for their next new or used car, and this gives the Edmunds team an unparalleled insight into the car buyer's research and shopping process.  For as many years as I can remember, Edmunds has used the online automotive consumer activity to generate extensive research data and analysis to drive the sort of car buying insights that would establish itself as one of the more valuable resources for car companies and dealers to better understand car shopping and the way buyers use automotive information.  Historically, Edmunds has made the analysis and insights available to their business partners and to the public through academic inquiries and media requests.  However, Edmunds has not previously assembled together the complete volume of current time period data and the analysis and insights gleaned in one coherent piece.

By publishing and making available the 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report, they have provided the auto industry and especially dealers and automotive marketers with a true gem of a document.  The report which ADM Professional Community members can download using the link at the bottom of this blog post, shows the results of extensive data mining within the’s extensive database to reveal the most relevant car shopping and purchasing trends in America today.  These trends offer direct clues toward ways that the automotive industry can move forward by empowering a more engaging car shopping experience.

Throughout the 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report, you’ll also find references to a 2011 survey conducted by "Added Value" on behalf of that asked 2,476 online car shoppers representing the U.S. car shopper population to describe their expectations for their next car purchase.  Edmunds correlated these responses to real-world buying data to see if shopper expectations match reality. In preparing their analysis and conclusions, the Edmunds market research team found many striking consistencies between the two sets of market research data. These surprisingly strong correlations between the two reports suggest that car shoppers have a strong sense of the automotive marketplace and that they know how to set reasonable expectations around price, availability and product performance.

By evaluating this wealth of data provided by the Edmunds team, you will find a story about car shoppers that is often surprising and counter-intuitive to many dealers and automotive professionals.  While at other times, the Edmunds data reinforces critical theories held by car dealers, automotive sales professionals and throughout the auto industry. Some of the key findings in the 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report include:

  • Two out of every three car shoppers consider themselves highly engaged in the car shopping process, and they turn to a variety of information to help them decide on a new or used car. Time spent on is up 2 percent from 2011 to 2012. And the most-viewed elements by new car shoppers on are reviews, pricing information and photos. 
  • Mobile access is becoming a powerful tool for car buyers. Traffic to’s mobile site spikes on the weekends – and especially on Saturdays – when the bulk of car buying takes place. 
  • Shoppers are very good at anticipating how much they’ll pay for a new car. New car shoppers told us in 2011 that they plan to spend $30,500, on average, for their next vehicle. In fact the average transaction price for a new car the following year was $30,803.
  • The average age of a new car buyer is about four years older than the average age of a used car buyer.  

  • Shoppers are turning to leases now more than ever. And the difference between the average monthly lease payment ($433) and the average monthly finance payment ($468) is greater than at any time since started keeping records.  

  • About 44 percent of all trade-in vehicles last year went toward a new car by the same brand, which is consistent with our 2011 survey that found that 49 percent of shoppers say they “plan to stick with a brand that has worked in the past.” 
  • Luxury car owners and shoppers are buying and considering more nonluxury cars. The trend speaks to the improved quality of non-luxury vehicles.  

  • Many shoppers say they want just the basics in a new car, but emotions can drive buyers to add options. New car buyers are willing to spend an average of $2,200 – or about seven percent – above base model and trim prices to add more options on their cars. 

The’s 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report is intended to be a free resource for ADM Professional Community members who are interested in creating a better car buying experience. This is just the first in a series of reports that the Edmunds Research team hopes will shed more light on car shopping behavior.  The team intends these findings to open up a dialogue which will contribute to the ongoing improvements within the automotive retail industry. They also want to encourage ADM Professional Community members to contact Edmunds at any time to discuss more ways that can help you better understand today’s car shopper.

Here is a link to download a PDF version of the’s 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report: 

Edmunds Points of Contact

For Dealer Inquiries: 855-EDMUNDS
For Press Inquiries: 310-309-4900


Edmunds Annual New Vehicle Sales Forecast for 2013 and Historical Actual Sales:


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DMSC 2013 Review


              First and foremost, I want to thank ADM and First Class Educators for selecting not only myself but also Neil Amaral as the two lucky recipients of scholarships to attend the 2013 DMSC in Orlando Florida. Without winning this scholarship I would have never been able to attend this conference.  As always First Class Educators put on an amazing and unbelievable conference. Carrie Hemphill and her crew out did themselves yet again.

                For those of you who I have not had the pleasure of meeting yet, my name is Eric Nichols. I am the Internet Sales Manager / BDC Manager for Apple Honda. This is actually the second Scholarship that I have won to attend one of FCE’s world famous conferences. Last year, I was selected as one of the 12 scholarship winners that were chosen to attend Autocon 2012 in Las Vegas courtesy of Truecar. I never imagined that I would ever win one scholarship let alone two. I am very lucky to be given the opportunity to learn from the brightest and best that our community has to offer. These great conferences allowed me to that and much more.

                While attending DSMC this year I had the pleasure of meeting some great people and was also taught new practices and processes by the best of the best. I have attended conferences in the past and this was by far the best. I made many new friendships that will continue to grow in the years to come. I met Neil Amaral of Amaral motors who I know will be a friend and colleague for the rest of my career. I also met a man who I believe is one of the hardest working Internet Directors I have ever met, Dan Able from Stokes Automotive Group. Over the course of three days we went to many classes together and many events together, they are truly a valuable asset to their dealerships. These conferences allowed me to connect with those I would never have been able to and I am grateful for that opportunity.

                The conference started out with the introduction of PCG’s R.O.I. Bot. What a great tool, I just showed my owner the demo for it and he’s sold. We then turned it over to dealer roundtables. We went to three different tables of our choosing for 20 minutes each. The discussions were varied ranging from Google Analytics, CRM’s, Social Media, etc. We were able to ask any questions we may have had and then afterwards Brian Pasch went over many of what other dealers are experiencing just as I was. What a great way to start it all off.

                Amit Maheshwari from DealerTrack gave the opening keynote address on where the market is headed and how DealerTrack is there to help. The information that he presented was eye opening to say the least. The following day our workshops started. The first one I attended was by the ninja himself, Jerry Thibeau from Phone Ninjas. Jerry revealed the secrets of Internet Sales Masters. He explained and went into detail the importance of that first contact with customers and gave an outline of how to contact them successfully.

               Perhaps two of the most valuable classes I have ever attended I took that day. “Big Data without action means …nothing” and “Take the mirror test” taught by Glenn Pasch.  Now I am no rookie to internet marketing classes, phone training or lead handling, I have been to a vast number of those classes. But these two were none of those. These were management and reporting classes. They gave me new practices and insight as a manager that I was able to implement immediately as soon as I returned to my dealership. New ways to monitor and teach those who work for me and above all not to take it personal and that the numbers don’t lie. How to set goals and ways to achieve them, and what to look for if we don’t hit them. I learned the 8 steps of the coaching process and “Are they really trained?” I can honestly say Thank You Glenn you taught me something that will help me grow not only myself but my employees.

                    After a long day of training we had our cocktail reception in which I had the pleasure of convincing the world famous “Digital Ralph” Ralph Paglia to come join myself and about 10 others to come have dinner with us. We ended up going to McCoys located right in the hotel. While we were sitting down I noticed Myril Shaw from CarWoo there and we gladly invited him to join us. From that point out we had a great dinner with great conversation. And to our surprise Myril treated us all that evening by picking up the check. Thank you again Myril it was a great evening with you and I enjoyed your company and your insight. Later that evening Ralph joined us and for a few drinks and shared with us on how he achieved such great success and encouraged us to keep up the good work and that one day we too would be where he is now.

                   Sad to say then came Thursday our last day. I attended breakfast with my new friends and some old ones. We then attended David Kain’s “Advanced strategies in lead handling”. Everyone should see David speak at least once he is such a great speaker. Then on to Patrick Workman, and the importance of Facebook in our industry. I then attended Ralph Paglia’s “how to train your staff and know when you have it right”. Another first class workshop, Ralph gave me new insights on how to hire the right people for the right job. Walk in interviews are a thing of the past. If you’re going to spend the time and money make sure it’s the right fit. Because if you don’t it will cost you more then you can imagine.                

                       Lunch time came around. I was looking for a seat and then out of nowhere a gentleman offered me a seat at his then empty table, I gladly accepted. I introduced myself as did he. He told me his name was Chip. We then started talking about everything and anything but the automotive industry. He showed me a few photos of himself from more than 40 years ago. He joked that he had more hair then and that I would see what he means in the years to come. After sometime Ralph Paglia, Tim Jackson  came to join me at the table for lunch. Ralph then joked with me asking me if I knew who I was talking to I said yes “Chip”. He then informed me that “Chip” was actually Chip Perry, CEO of Autotrader. That’s when the real conversation began. Ralph started asking Chip about the industry and talking shop. At this point I thought to myself “DON’T SAY ANYTHING STUPID”. Here I was sitting with the top industry consultants and leaders and was worried I was in over my head. They spoke for some time, I sat quietly eating lunch but listening. Then came the pause and they looked at me and asked me what I thought. A little shocked I answered and Chip and Ralph both agree with me.  And the thought crossed my mind at that moment in time. I was part of discussion with those who have shaped and formed our industry as we know it today and they were asking me a person who has only been in the industry about 6 years my opinion. And I realized they were asking me as an equal, years had no bearing on it.

                           Going to these conferences puts you in the same room and conversations with those who you would never have the opportunity. And even more they allow you to learn from those who have seen it all and done it all. I would recommend that all automotive professional should attend at least one of these conferences sooner than later. Even if you only take away only one thing, trust me it will make a world of difference for not only you but your dealership. I would like to finish out by saying Thank you to all I interacted with at DMSC 2013, and that I will gladly see all of you at Autocon 2013.

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Automotive Internet Sales (.com) Interviews Dealer Elite Founder & VP Of Kelly Automotive Group, Chris Saraceno At NADA 2013 from Dealer Synergy on Vimeo.

Sean V. Bradley, Founder of and had the pleasure to interview Chris Saraceno at NADA 2013 in Orlando Florida.

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Content isn't King. It's More Like a President.

Mt Rushmore

The marketing adage “content is king” has been around for a long time. In 2013, it appears that both the search engines and social media sites are focusing on content as their driving forces, but in a different way than most understand. Things are changing in the world of internet marketing. Here’s what you need to know.

Content was never really “king”. Though it made a nice talking point and allowed marketing companies an opportunity to charge for their labors, it was always a temporary fix. In search, it started off as extremely important for a little while until marketers started learning how to manipulate it, so the search engines switched to focus on external signals such as links. Then, the links started turning into link farms and “splogs”, so content re-emerged as a focus point.

Companies were built on the premise of “more is better” and started putting out low-quality, spun, or light content in an effort to fool the search engines once again. Google made moves to shut this down in February, 2011, with the first of many Penguin algorithm updates that effectively put an end to content farming.

Social media saw a similar shift towards spam in 2011 that was quickly sorted by secretive algorithm adjustments that took into account the different layers of liking, sharing, retweeting, and other social media activities to once again force quality of content to the front ahead of bulk.

For the first time ever, content is truly emerging as the leader in internet marketing activities, but it has manifested differently than most have seen in the past. There’s no longer SEO content, social media content, and conversion content that act separately from each other. Going into 2013, these three primary types of internet marketing content are consolidating into a singular strategy. It’s not that they are becoming the same. It’s that they have to work together for maximum results.

In essence, content is not king. It’s like a president. It has power, certainly, but the majority of that power must be shared, enhanced, and complemented by other factors such as links and social signals. Here’s how the president of internet marketing will work in 2013…


The different hats of a president

Just as any good president must wear different hats depending on the circumstance, a strong content marketing strategy requires that the content falls into the different categories depending on the needs of the moment. I mentioned the three most important – SEO content, social media content, and conversion content – but there are others that often come into play.

We’re going to focus on the three important ones for now:

  • The President as an Organizer – The President can’t do it all. He or she must bring the leaders of Congress and the states together to demonstrate a coherent strategy for their country. SEO content works must the same way. Creating SEO content is different from creating content that acts as SEO for a particular page. True SEO content is designed to help generate inbound links, points the search engines in the right directions once they land on a particular page, and enhances the conversion pages through context and appropriate internal links.
  • The President as an Ambassador – It’s important for a President to be strong, friendly, and build relationships with others. What the President says and how he or she says it makes a difference in perceptions. Done properly, the message is shared. The same holds true for social media content. You can have interesting things to post from your website onto other sites, but if the relationships aren’t there, you won’t get very far regardless of the quality of the content.
  • The President as an Administrator – Despite what anyone says, a President has to be a good salesperson. They have to take their ideas and make them work within their country which requires the ability to direct the people appropriately and get things done that work. It doesn’t matter how good a President is at being an organizer or ambassador if they can’t deliver the goods at the end of the day. This is where conversion content finds similarities. You can have people interested, but if you don’t turn them into leads, customers, or clients, your other efforts are worthless.

From a practical perspective, you content must be able to bind all of the major internet marketing efforts into a working strategy. This is where content comes in. Turn it into the centerpiece of your internet marketing for 2013. Links, social signals, traffic, conversions – all are necessary for success. The easiest way to achieve them is through the strongest content that you can muster.

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Mt Rushmore” image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Hierarchy of Web Presence

I knew it would happen sometime in 2013. I’m glad it happened sooner rather than later.

For a while, many of the smaller bloggers such as myself have been preaching about how search, social, and content marketing are all actually a singular activity that can be broken down into a proper repeatable process. There have been skeptics and naysayers, the majority of whom work in one of the three industries and would not profit by the consolidation of things. In other words, someone who is trained in SEO who only opens up Facebook to see pictures of little Timmy sliding into 3rd base would not benefit by the emergence of social signals into search rankings, so they choose to pretend like it doesn’t help (or in some cases, saying that it can actually hurt your rankings).

When an article by Jeff Bullas, a respected internet marketing expert, came across my feed this morning with the title, “6 Social Media Trends You Should Not Ignore in 2013“, I was hopeful that he would mention the convergence of the three disciplines and was extremely pleased when it was the top trend mentioned…

“Expect to see more content marketing tools, tactics and strategies that accept the fact that social, search and content are increasingly integrated and intertwined.”

Tools – perhaps. It’s challenging to put together a tool set that doesn’t spoil the mix. The reason for this is the need to focus on quality and value above all else. With tools, they have a tendency to automate processes that end up hurting in the long run. By mentioning tactics and strategies, I couldn’t agree more. As someone who wakes up at 2:30 every morning to read my feeds and stay on top of the ever-changing worlds of search and social, I am always hopeful to find more strategies that will enhance my current playbook.

As we plunge further into the year, there will be more and more articles written about the convergence. Some will be spot on. Others will be misleading as the natural tendency to convert everything into a template will send many down the wrong path. You need skill, creativity, and resources at your disposal, not tricks or schemes. Google, Facebook, and Bing are getting smarter every day. They’re learning how to recognize the difference between content that truly brings education, entertainment, or resource value to the table and the content that is churned or spun. If you read about a strategy that operates without expertise or the human factor of discernment, run away as fast as you can.

Think quality. It’s the point at which search engine optimization, social media promotions, and content marketing converge.

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The automotive sales industry is off to a busy start this year. Last week, Jim Ziegler's Internet Battle Plan took place in Atlanta. To nobody's surprise,  it was a huge success with the likes of Jim Ziegler, Sean V. Bradley, Peter Martin, Paul Potratz, Cory Mosley, and many more showcasing their intelligence and experience.

"So, when's the next event?" "Later in the year?" Think again.

In just a few weeks, this year's NADA convention will be kicking off in Orlando, FL. If you're planning on attending, be sure to visit Booth #4179 to see Sean V. Bradley, Jim Ziegler, Peter Martin, Danny Alkassmi, and Ralph Paglia introduce Automotive Digital Training!

Following up NADA is none other than the Internet Sales 20 Group. (#is20g on Twitter :) ) The Internet Sales 20 Group, fresh off of its success in Chicago last October, will be taking place in Dallas, TX: March 19-21st.    Moderating the Internet Sales 20 Group: Sean V. Bradley, Karen Bradley, as well as Peter Martin, President of Cactus Sky. 

From Phone Sales to CRM Processes to Social Media Best Practices and E-mail Marketing, the level of content and knowledge that you will take away from this workshop is unlike any other event in the world. The Internet Sales 20 Group boasts an all-star lineup of Speakers, Expert Panelists, and Presenters, with over a hundred years of total combined automotive experience! On any given day, you will see presentations from Sean V. Bradley, Karen Bradley, Ralph Paglia, Peter Martin, J.D. Rucker, Jim Ziegler, and many more. You will also walk away with our workshop materials, which includes a professionally designed, content-driven workbook with plenty of resources and insight.

Hope to see you there!!

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Sean V. Bradley Speaking At The Internet Battle Plan In Atlanta

 (Here is my Slide Deck Presentation)

I just returned from a VERY successful Dealer Battle Plan that Jim Ziegler hosted! I truly had a great time! I spoke about dominating Google with a Video Search Engine Optimization strategy. I had a tremendous amount of people come up to me and let me know how valuable my workshop was to them and they are excited to go back to their dealerships and implement immediately!

I also had the opportunity to catch up with some AWESOME people!! For example, take a look at this picture:
It was an honor to be around so many talented people,  It was great to see both Cory Mosley and Jim Ziegler! 


I also was excited to connect with Paul Potratz, Jerry Thibeau, Dave Page (And the rest of Dealer e Process), Peter Martin, Rachel Haro and MORE!!! 

I want to THANK EVERYONE who was so kind and attended my session & gave me AWESOME Video Reviews :)  I received such a tremendous amount of love! Here are some videos of people that I met at Jim Ziegler's Internet Battle Plan:

Jim Ziegler - Facebook & YouTube

Jim opened up by discussing how powerful and profitable it is to utilize Social Media to sell cars...

He showed examples from

* Elise Kephart has a POWERFUL strategy of sending EVERY single Internet prospect a CUSTOM YouTube / Video email response. 

Examples from Gainsville Cars

* Good example of good Video "Optimization". They took time creating the descriptions, titles, meta data etc...

* Video emails... Cutting / Pasting Videos from your Youtube Channel and sending them to your prospects.

* Eyejot  is a resource that Jim endorsed as a great resource for Dealers...

* Video Email with a dealer BRANDED template...

*** Jim talks about "RELATIONSHIP Selling". Its NOT just about SELLING... its about BUILDING the relationship with the customer / prospect.

*** People ONLY notice when they are NOT happy...

Social Media is about relationships... about engaging with people. Projecting personality, make it fun...



** Jim discussed the value of Facebook Ads (Social Media "PPC") & He walked people live through the process of creating the ad.

Bill Parman - Stream Companies "The Google Search Effect"

Bill does a great job in explaining the details of SEO... what it is, how does it work. He explains it in a way that make sense to not only the savy optimizer but also for the fledgling.

*** Bill did a GREAT job explaining the difference between Black Hat versus Whit Hat SEO tactics... 

Google Panda and Penguin updates.

SEO Pyramid -

Social, Link Building, Keyword Research & Targeting, Content Quality and Accessibility

*** UNDERSTAND The Lead CONVERSION Path... Utilize Landing Pages. And track the results.

Bill VALIDATES my ENTIRE Presentation about VSEO and concurs that ORGANIC is the MOST POWERFUL. bill states that ONLY 15% of people click PPC.... 85% SKIP and go to ORGANIC

Jerry Thibeau - Phone Up Ninjas / Phone Ups

*** The GREETING is so VERY important. Make sure you make the BEST first impression.

* Specific Qualifying versus generalization qualifying...

* Use good inflection and tones, be animated

* Give CHOICES... do NOT ask open ended questions

* CREATE Urgency

* Quality, Availability, Price...

* # Reason why people do not make an appointment... b/c they NEED their spouses technique

* Pace and Lead.... Pace and Lead...

* If you can not get the in store appointment... GET a phone appointment

*** Jerry just went LIVE, Mystery Shopping a Dealer in the audience... (Sandy Sansing)

Paul Potratz "The Worlds Best Fisherman"

We need to NOT focus on the "Shiny" objects... must focus on the basics.

Talk to people differently... Price, Rebate... the vehicle

7 Types of Re-Targeting

Advertiser or Communicator...?

Mind Reader

... take conventional to your website

Re-targeting, Re-marketing, Behavioral WILL BLOCK other advertisers...

*** Google Key Word Tracker...

*** Wednesday is the MAIN day people shop for used cars...

*** New cars is all 7 days per week...

*** Video on websites is a MUST

* Stay away from YouTube

*** Facebook is a POWERHOUSE 71% reach

Yes, people over communicate but that is a GOOD thing. You can serve them

*** VIP Club.... call to action

Dave Page -Dealer eProcess

"Exploding Website Conversion"

* Provide a Value Mark down for your prospects... (I LIKE THIS IDEA)

example... "was", "is" & "get e price"...

** CONFIRM Availability... (All over the site)

** Contact page is important....

** ONLY Pop ups that work are ones that include a dollar figure.... "buy back" etc...

Cory Mosley - Internet & BDC Breakthrough Strategy Series

"Influence & Conversion"

What is awesome about watching Cory speak is that he is an actual "Professional Speaker". Not only is his content great, he is an awesome articulator of information.



* How does your process fit with the customer... NOT how is it convenient for YOU

* Reinforcing benefits....

* Reinforce, Validate, Brand > Individual > Dealership

* Research > Audit > Listen


* Influencers  Vs. Hunters

* Reduce Sales Reluctance

** Like, Believe, Confidence, Trust

* The head is attached to PRICE... the heart is attached to the wallet

** Segmentation of testimonials...

Testimonials Vs. Influence

*** Influence is NOT closing, it is helping them BUY.

Don't ask "Think" ask how they "feel"


Internet Director of a 9 Store Dealer Group Gives His "Best Idea"....

Facebook Ads!!! He ran an AWESOME Facebook campaign targeting the Military and it was VERY Productive!

Email Marketing was buzzing at the Internet Battle Plan and so were the experts chiming in.


It was also VERY COOL to spend Jim Ziegler's 66th Birthday with him. I swear that I hope to be able to do EXACTLY that on my 66th Birthday... Doing what I LOVE most!





What do you get the "Alpha Dawg" for his 66th Birthday? 

Engraved Crystal Decanter Set... Bling, Bling Baby! For that Louie The XIII 







What Do You Know About That...? 


*** If you are SERIOUS about your Internet Sales / BDC Department you CAN NOT miss the upcoming Internet Sales 20 Group 

Guess who is going to be there... Thats right! Jim Ziegler! So sign up now at:


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SoLoMo - Boom or Bust in 2013?

It was one of the most used made-up words of 2012 (and in many cases, one of the most annoying). Just about every marketer in and out of the automotive industry used some variation of "SoLoMo" (Social/Local/Mobile) in a blog post, video, presentation, or declaration of things to come. The underlying concept - that many people and the sites they visit are becoming more social, more localized, and more mobile based - is likely here to stay for a while, but is it something that dealers should embrace in 2013 or something that they should wait on until it either explodes or fades into the same obscurity that QR codes and SMS marketing seem to be heading?


Before anyone jumps on that last statement, I'm not downplaying the effectiveness of either QR codes or SMS marketing. Used right, they can be very effective. They simply didn't materialize into the "next big thing" that many thought they would back in 2011.


I have three questions which I'll answer briefly just to spark the conversation, but I really want to hear from the ADM community.


Q1: Should they really be grouped together or should they be treated as independent marketing and communication forms?

There's a certain beauty in SoLoMo. With the rise of smartphones and tablets, the improvements by Google and Bing in serving consumers localized results, and continued expansion of social media into our daily lives, it all seems to tie together nicely. Social is accessed most often from mobile devices. Mobile devices and their operating systems are generating search results, apps, and other tools that tie in perfectly with localized engagement. Local interactions are becoming more prevalent in social media and through review sites.

It would seem that grouping them together is easy enough and presents the ability to save time and resources by consolidating strategies. However, each of the three components also have their own nuances and attributes that may require an active automotive marketing professional (both at the dealership and vendor level) to split the strategies into more focused campaigns and separate styles.

Should they stay grouped or not?


Q2: Is the time and effort required to make them "hum" worth it from an ROI perspective?

Let's get local out of this question immediately. Few would argue with the clear trends and data that shows the value of localized focus. Reviews, search traffic, retargeting - all have shown benefits that make the question silly in regards to local.

Mobile and social are different. Mobile is a tough beast to tame. It requires the right software, platforms, and strategy to get the desired effect, but is the effect worth the effort? Is there a large enough difference between good and great to make it worth the wholesale changes necessary to get to the highest level? Social is always a question from an ROI perspective - enough has been written for and against it so there's no need to rehash here.

Is there enough ROI to justify going to the next level?


Q3: Will SoLoMo grow in relevance or decline in 2013

I'm going to leave that question open. I have very firm beliefs about the direction of SoLoMo in 2013, but I'll hold my opinions until others are posted so as not to spoil the conversation prematurely.

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What say you, ADM?

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14 Experts Predict 2013 Social Media Marketing Trends for Car Dealers and Local Business Owners

First of all, I want to thank Mr. Bryan Armstrong for posting a link and article snippet on the Google+ Community titled "Automotive Social Media Marketing" which led me to an article... which referenced and led me one step further to the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog that I am re-posting for the benefit of ADM Professional Community members below.

My goal is to get our community of automotive marketing practitioners to think about where the car business is heading with our use of social media marketing strategies and tactics, in the hope of stimulating some valuable discussion and commentary.

For example, take a look at Jeff Bulas' (#3) prediction (more of a projection?) where he describes what sounds like car dealers connecting the dots between search engine marketing strategies and how they will begin to understand the correlation between sound content creation and publishing programs as part of their overall marketing strategy. There are few areas within the very large world of automotive digital marketing that has more effectively captured the attention of car dealers than taking action to ensure having their websites and published information show up in the Google Search Engine results which appear for their customers making automotive related inquiries... To Jeff's point, as more and more dealers grasp the connection between publishing "User Generated Content" as part of a daily Content Marketing and Earned Media strategy, their perspective on Social Media Marketing and how it delivers a Return On Investment (ROI) will evolve and become a lot more sophisticated.

All 14 of these predictions are well worth carefully reviewing and considering in your dealership's 2013 marketing strategy, but take a close look at Margie Clayman's (#4) predictions. Her words make a lot of sense and sound very likely to occur, at least to my admittedly biased ears... Here's a quote from Margie predictions:

"I predict that in 2013 small businesses will start seeing social media more as a tool and less as an entity unto itself. Instead of asking what social media is, they will ask how they should be using it and why."

What Margie says under the guise of a prediction makes a lot of sense, and is just plain good guidance, whether or not labeled with the "Predictions for 2013" moniker or not. As you read through these 14 so-called predictions, you will find that most of them should be considered good advice, and brimming with opportunity for competitive advantage.

All of the renowned and highly respected writers, speakers and practitioners whose "predictions" are listed in the article below are knowledgeable and obviously put serious thought into their answers to Cheryl Burgess's questions. I found that reading the predictions caused me to think and consider many of my own strategies and tactics, so as to be positioned for a competitive advantage in 2013... When it really comes down to why any of us would bother with social media and the marketing, engagement and communications capabilities it offers to car dealers; if there were no opportunity for competitive advantage, then why would we bother with it?

After you check these predictions out, please post a comment about which ones you found credible and ringing of truth, and which ones you considered to be more fantasy than fact... Finally, the question that Cheryl closed her article with, which I have boldened and highlighted in red font. I will echo to our professional network... What are YOUR predictions regarding social media and the way car dealers will use it in 2013?

Not The Same Old, Same Old Social Media

When Cheryl started this post, she wanted to share 13 Social Media Predictions for Small Business (including car dealerships) in 2013. However, for those of her readers who might be superstitious, Cheryl didn't want to jinx the New Year before it even began. So, she decided to go with 14 predictions instead. Cheryl suggests that there is no need to worry about doomsday prophecies from the Mayans or Nostradamus. As shown by their predictions for 2013, the experts Ms. Burgess consulted see only a bright future ahead for small businesses, car dealers and their ability to receive business benefits from social media marketing practices. ADM Professional Community members are encouraged to visit Cheryl's article on the AT&T Networking Blog for Small Business at

1. Meghan M. Biro @MeghanMBiro – Founder and CEO of TalentCulture Consulting Group and the TalentCulture World of Work Community. “In 2013, for businesses small & large, I predict that the quality of online relationships and content will rise to the occasion in the vast sea of social media. Also, crowdsourcing will become a more active player in the mainstream social enterprise.”

2. David Brier @DavidBrier – Chief Gravity Defyer at DBD International, Ltd. – “In 2013, small businesses will need to strengthen their ties to their customers as the world keeps getting smaller. So much more is available than ever before. Thus, the competitive edge will be built on those relationships and bonds. In addition, small businesses can become the official ambassadors of excellent customer service in a world that’s going increasingly automated. As more and more “touch points” become “streamlined” at the expense of personal human contact, the companies with excellent personnel and live customer service representatives will outshine and outperform their competition.”

3. Jeff Bullas @jeffbullas – Account Director- Infinity Technologies, Social Media Marketing Blogger, Speaker and Strategist – Author -”Blogging the Smart Way – How to create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” “Google has realized that people voting for content they like with Retweets, Facebook likes, plus +1′s and comments is important and increasingly relevant in what they serve up in Google search results. Google+ was launched just over 12 months ago to capture those social signals, and today the Google +1 button is used over five billion times every day. In 2013 you will see small companies starting to realize that social media is also important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Companies will begin to understand that social, content, and SEO are linked and more integrated than ever.”

4. Margie Clayman @MargieClayman- Vice President of Client Services, Clayman Marketing Communications, Inc. “I predict that in 2013 small businesses will start seeing social media more as a tool and less as an entity unto itself. Instead of asking what social media is, they will ask how they should be using it and why. In the end, this will increase the effectiveness of their social media marketing efforts.”

5. Jon Ferrara @Jon_Ferrara – CEO Nimble, Inc. “Nearly every small business is experimenting with or planning on using social media because they understand they need to go where their audience is. Listening and engaging and being discoverable online is critically important today in growing their businesses. 2013 will be the year Social Media moves out of Community Management and Marketing to Social Selling and Customer Engagement.”

6. Sam Fiorella @samfiorella – Partner at Sensei Marketing and Author of Influence Marketing “Small Businesses in 2013 will tire of broadcast social media campaigns and messaging and invest in monitoring tools like, or others to better segment their audience, effectively target influencers and accurately measure the impact of those efforts. Next, employees—the businesses’ biggest brand ambassadors—will become trained and empowered to become actual influencers across social channels.”

7. Mike Johansson @mikefixs – Lecturer in Communication at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Social Media Strategist for Fixitology LLC – “2013 is the year that small businesses finally acknowledge that social media needs to be part of the daily workload. Depending on whose numbers you believe, somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of small businesses use social media for customer engagement, customer service, community building and selling. In 2013 small businesses will realize they either get on that bus or they’ll be waving goodbye to the opportunity to be in front of people … and some, if not all, of their business.”

8. Wendy Marx @Wendy Marx – President – Marx Communications-“In 2013, for B2B small businesses it will be more use of content marketing, especially content curation, as a way of engaging customers. Small businesses will make greater use of LinkedIn as the platform continues to expand its offerings. Finally, the coming year will see a greater integration of social media into all marketing practices so it becomes a part of a small business’ way of doing business.”

9. Steve Olenski @steveolenski – Sr. Content Strategist at Responsys – “In 2013 I think (and maybe it’s wishful thinking) that more and more small businesses will begin to dive into the visual side of social media, (i.e. Pinterest and Instagram). I have said this a million times, but you have to look at your computer/mobile screen the way you do a TV. People do not read TV, they watch it. Consumers want to see something—not just read it.”

10. Tom Pick @TomPick – Digital Marketing & PR Consultant – Webbiquity- “In 2013, small businesses, and larger ones too, will get more sophisticated about their measurement of social media results. They will view social media marketing tactics within the larger framework of their overall Web presence—how it supports what they are doing in PR, website optimization, search advertising and other areas of marketing. Their measurement will be less about direct, linear ROI and more about how social sharing and engagement fits into and enhances their overall web marketing and lead generation strategies.”

11. Alex Romanovich @AlexRomanovich – Managing Partner - Social2B, Inc, Adviser – The CMO Club – “SMBs will continue to test social media, while more aggressively increasing their budgets allocated to social media in any form. By now, the SMB community is seeing some positive results via social media and will continue to test the channel, conversions, ecommerce or social commerce, etc. For the first time, SMBs will start paying even closer attention to metrics and analytics—they will want to know more about their conversion rates and ROI, although they will continue to be challenged by the complexity and growing pains of the social environment. SMBs will also use more social networks—besides LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, SMBs will continue to discover Google+, Slideshare, etc.”

12. Gary Schirr @ProfessorGary – Assistant Professor – Marketing, Radford University - “In 2013 savvy small businesses around the globe will learn valuable photo and video-editing skills to help drive their social media marketing efforts. Using their own cameras, smartphones and tablets, small businesses will leverage newly found creative skills to create content that impacts their audience. They will also solicit visual content from employees and customers. Small businesses will develop an eye for visual content marketing opportunities while learning editing tools such as iMovie, MovieMaker, Photoshop and PaintShop to help energize their business marketing approach.”

13. Deborah Weinstein @debweinstein – President & Partner, Strategic Objectives “2012 saw a major surge in mobile adoption rates, and 2013 will be all about the apps that lead to social sharing. Mobile is an effective brand building tool for small business given its powerful ability to geo-target consumers and promote local sales. In 2013, we will see a focus on quick, easy and highly visual apps, including Instagram, Viddly, Cinemagram and Keek. These apps are the ‘140 characters’ of visual, social sharing. Small business can use these free, easy-to-use tools to get the message out to their audience on such a short, quick-consumption platform.”

14. Patricia Wilson @brandcottage – President/Founder BrandCottage - “The biggest shift we will see is in content creation. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to create beautiful photos and videos for social media. Small business are beginning to reach their comfort level with social media and will employ more tactics with Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and other social nets.”

What trends in social media do you see taking shape in the coming year?

Check out the original source of this post:

The following Automotive Social Media Infographic gives us some historical perspective on where the car business was with our use of social media back when we were headed into 2012... A lot has changed, so what will 2013 have in store for the ways in which automotive marketers seek to gain a competitive advantage via innovation and more effective use of social media channels?

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There is a combination of hope and fear in the automotive industry. On one hand, many dealers and vendors are really starting to "get it" when it comes to automotive internet marketing. Dealers are finally embracing the internet as the primary arena through which to market their dealerships and vendors are starting to listen to their dealers as well as watch the trends in internet marketing more closely.

It's still scary. The direction of the economy may or may not be heading towards the same type of situation we had a few years ago when people were holding off on buying cars. The industry suffered as a result and many dealers felt the pain. It may not be the case. Things may end up being much better than anyone expects. Still, it's better to be prepared.

As internet marketing rapidly changes, dealers are coming face to face with decisions that must be made sooner rather than later. Now that the fall conference season is behind us, it's time to reflect on what we learned and make decisions about how to maximize ROI at the dealership level on our internet marketing spends.

Since I work for a vendor, I'll recuse myself from offering opinions. The goal of this article is to get you thinking along the right lines. I have my opinions and other vendors have theirs, but as long as you are going into this with your eyes open, I'll leave the pitches to the sales teams. Here are the components that you should look at and some of the questions that you'll want to ask as we head into the new year:



This used to be a checkbox item. In other words, it was something that most dealers would ask about from their website vendor in the form of a yes or no question. Do you offer them or not? Now, as mobile devices begin to account for 1/5th or more of a dealership's traffic, it's important to look more closely to make certain that the experience is the right one.

First and foremost, it's important to understand the two biggest target instances that you'll want your mobile presence to enhance. The on-lot experience means that people are away from their computers. They rely on their mobile devices to search inventory and contact dealers. In many cases, they may try to contact you while they're at a competitor. We've all heard stories of people doing comparison shopping while on a test drive or in the middle of negotiations.

The second instance that is important to your dealership is the "second screen" moment. As your television ads run, people who are in the market for a car might try to visit your site. Instead of getting up and going to the computer, they may just grab their iPad or smartphone and see what you have going on. Will they find what they need very quickly? Will the presentation be swift and responsive? Will it be easy for them to contact you from your mobile site or app?

Examine your mobile presence. Is it as strong as it could be? Look at the options and make a smart decision.



Most have tried. Many have failed. The majority of social media products currently being offered to car dealers are awful at best (just being frank). The best practices that many are offering are antiquated. Some are downright damaging.

Your social presence must be one of two things: strong or safe. It's better to have a safe social presence that does no damage than to have one that is using spammy or questionable techniques.

To get a strong social presence takes more work than most dealers (and even vendors) are willing to put into it. The ROI is the biggest question; if we make it amazing, will it help sell cars.

I always remind dealers that social media is not like search or other forms of internet advertising. The value is almost intangible, but not completely. Just like when you run a television ad and you sell more cars as a result without being able to directly track it, so too does a strong social media presence operate in the same manner. This is one where I take exception - please feel free to contact me if you have questions about your strategy. Again, I'm not in sales and I don't pitch our products. I simply want dealers to do better than they are today. Almost everyone has a great deal of room for improvement in this arena.


Classified Advertising

Things are changing in the Autotrader,, and Craigslist front. The consumers are using them differently. It's not that they've stopped using them, but rather the trends point to their use as much more of a research tool than a way to contact the dealership.

Look at your statistics and talk to an unbiased expert about them. They are still effective - that much is certain - but the way that the costs are structured should be re-evaluated in many of the cases I've seen over the last few months.


Paid Online Advertising

Video Pre-roll. Retargeting. Display advertising. Sponsored social posts. It seems that this arena has expanded so far beyond the good ol' days of "plug it into PPC and forget about it".

The challenges here are many and I have one word that every dealer must remember when delving into this world: TEST. There are so many options. Few would question the potential. Many have seen a tremendous benefit. Still, it falls into the same realm as social in that the ROI is more challenging to understand than other digital marketing spends.

Test out the different options and see what works for you. The vast majority of dealerships in the country are in a position to benefit from advertising, but the formula for each is often completely different than for others. Talk to your peers. Check with your 20 groups. Take a long, hard look at advertising and test to find out what works for your dealership.



This is arguably the most changed form of internet marketing compared to where we were a year ago. Penguin made many services obsolete. Some have exited the game. Others have emerged. As someone who has lived in this house for a while, I can tell you that SEO is much more challenging than it was at the beginning of 2012.

Thankfully, it's challenging in a good way. It allows those who know what they're doing to rise to the top. It's hard to know what to trust and who to believe when it comes to SEO because Google (and Bing) threw so many wrenches into the machines. See where you rank. Check your analytics to see if your getting more keywords and better rankings in those keywords. Technique is important and probably deserves an entire blog post, but keep one thing in mind: if someone tells you that SEO is dead, it's probably because they don't know what they're doing. SEO is alive and well and can still be the easiest way to dramatically improve your traffic, leads, and sales.


Modern Websites

This is not a technology issue. It's a mentality issue. Car dealer websites must be fluid and able to change with the trends of how consumers use them.

First of all, a website must highlight the inventory above all else. This has technically always been the case but recent studies show that people are deciding much more quickly whether or not they want to consider buying from a dealership. The primary deciding factor is the inventory. It's not just about what you have on your lot but also how easily it can be found.

You might have the perfect vehicle for someone but if they miss it on your website, they may never come to see you.

Second, your website must allow for easy content creation. Whether it's you building the content, your website vendor, or someone that you hire, adding original, high-quality content is going to be the differentiator for success in search, social, and content marketing. If you can't put up a solid page in a few minutes, ask yourself if the benefits of your vendor are worth the lack of flexibility that 2013 will demand.



In working with several CRM companies and talking to dozens of dealers, I'm convinced that the biggest challenge in the CRM industry is appropriate adoption by the dealership. To me (and keep in mind that this is not my expertise, so take this portion with a grain of salt), a CRM's primary responsibility is to elicit buy-in from the dealership's team. If they don't use it properly because it's confusing, clunky, or poorly trained upon, the greatest CRM technology in the world won't make it effective.

Changing CRMs is one of the most challenging transitions that a dealership can make, so make sure that you're not jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Still, it's also arguably the most important contributing factor when it comes to properly managing your leads, so it's something that must be explored this year.


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2013 may prove to be the most important year in recent memory for the automotive industry. We are modernizing. We are going from being behind the times to leading the charge compared to other industries as dealers become savvy to the benefits of the web.

Take charge. Ask the right questions. Differentiate yourself from your competitors by only accepting the absolute best from your team, from your vendors, and from yourself.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

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Here's what happens when magnetic feet on tripods meet wind and speed. Note to self, insure camera equiptment :/

In my attempts to create one of a kind experiences, sometimes there's risks... 

I was filming a quick video for a customer- which I have done many times, and I have gotten these cool angles in the past using a magnetic tripod that sticks to the side of any car.

This time, things were different. It was windy and there was a long sweeping turn. Watch the video below to see what happened.



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