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I wish that this was going to be a story about baseball. I really do. Unfortunately, it's a story about education and the art of the sales pitch as it pertains to vendors on the various automotive networks.

It is important to understand that every vendor in our industry has a responsibility. This is a tough business. Those of us who have been on the other side at the dealership level receiving pitches from vendors know that they come hard and they come often. It's part of the game. This is one of the most competitive industries out there from both perspectives - dealers competing against other dealers and vendors competiting to earn their business.

The internet in general and these networks, blogs, and webinars in particular are the tools we need to succeed at both levels. For dealers, it's an opportunity to learn ways to improve business, harness best practices, and bounce ideas against others in the industry. For vendors, it's a chance to hear what dealers think about certain topics, what they want out of products, and to what degree they want assistance versus direct help.

These venues are for mutual education. They're for dialogue. They're for ideas. They're not the place to pitch your products.

Some would say that education is worthless if it doesn't yield increased business at the vendor level. That's a different argument altogether, but I can tell you this much with a certainty...

If you help dealers by giving them tips, techniques, strategies, and advice that helps them with their business, they will be more inclined to look to you when they need your services.

It works. I see it every day. I don't have to pitch my social product to get calls and emails from dealers wanting to know how I can help. I simply post information as it comes to me that can help dealers succeed with or without my help. Some will do nothing with the information. Some will take it and apply it themselves. Some will take it and inquire about ways I can make it easier or do it for them.

As I said, it's the responsibility of every vendor in this industry to take the knowledge that they gain from their bird's eye view of things and translate it into ways that can help in the trenches at the dealership. The market is too questionable and the competition level is too high for anyone to hold their cards too close to the vest. It doesn't help the industry. It doesn't help dealers.

It doesn't help you.

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People often ask me how I'm able to stay up on the millions of things that are happening in the world of automotive internet marketing on a daily basis. There are tons of blogs, social networks, and industry websites with enough posts to fill a full day if you plugged them all into an RSS reader. How does an automotive professional with limited time during the day stay ahead and not miss out on the important things?


It's one of the keys to success.

There are content producers galore in the industry. Everyone has an opinion on what to do with search, social, websites, analytics, CRM, classifieds, PPC, banner ads, and every other aspect of internet sales. Throw in the best practices and tips on how to actually work with customers and you have a huge mess. It's not that it's bad. It's that it needs to be curated.

The Twitter hashtag #automarketing is the easiest way to do it. Sure, there's going to be poor content that makes its way into the hashtag. That's inevitable. Many use it as a marketing tool to get their message out regardless of quality. However, the majority of what gets into the hashtag and stays at the top is high-quality.

Here's how it works. People read the blogs, social networks, and industry websites. They find content they like. They share this content on social networks like Twitter. Those who are very active on the internet side of the industry realize that certain hashtags like #AutoMarketing and #CarDealers get fed into Twitter chatter monitor widgets everywhere on the web. Thus, they put in the hashtag whenever they find something of interest.

The more that people curate and share the best content, the more powerful the hashtag becomes. It's not just the industry sites that get posted. Marketing sites that have content pertinent to car dealers often find their content shared with the hashtag as well.

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, this is one of the easiest ways to do it. Just do a search in Twitter for "#AutoMarketing" and you'll find content that curators have enjoyed. You can become a curator yourself by adding it to tweets of important industry posts. The more people that do it, the better the hashtag can become.

We need curation. You can save time by taking advantage of it. You can help by participating.

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