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Tracy MyersThis is Part 2 in a 5 part series. Read Part I here. Now, Part 3is also live.

As we advance in social media strategies, one of the biggest challenges is getting traction.The rise of social signals in search marketing alone is enough of an incentive to make it happen even if you don’t believe in social media itself as a marketing tool. It is one, but now’s not the time to make that case. For now, the undisputed truth is that social media can help your dealership rank better in the search engines by sending social signals (Google +1s, Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, etc) to content on your website.

The quality of the content is important and you can check out some tips on quality content on Social Media Today. The challenge isn’t with building content. The biggest challenge facing car dealers is having the potent social profiles that are able to get the content blasted out there, to get the social signals flowing.There are companies (including ours) who have spent years developing and growing social media profiles, hiring experts, and enhancing content through the use of social signals. As a dealership, you will not want to rely on vendors (even us) to do all of the work for you. It’s your destiny. It’s your business. You need to have a hand in your own success. To do this, you need “power accounts”.

Warnings from the Experts

In part one of this series, I mentioned two of the strongest accounts in automotive: Grant Cardone and Louie Baur. I’ll be the first to admit that I am an avid fan of learning from industry experts, so I’m going to talk about what I learned from Ralph Paglia. My friend at ADM is the only guy in the car business that I know of who has been hacking around in social media as long as I have.We’ve had our share of clashes and disagreements but over the years I believe it’s a fair assessment to say that we’ve both been wrong and we’ve both been right, and at the end of the day our understanding of how social media can work in the automotive industry is fairly close to lockstep.

One of the things that Ralph has excelled at is building up social media profiles for dealerships. He’s the master of syndication and knows how to blast out content.Now, for the warning: don’t make the mistakes that both of us made early on. It’s easy to get lured into the “wide” approach to social, to start focusing on integrating every shiny new social program out there. If you’re a full-time social media marketer for your dealership, this isn’t a bad approach. If you, like most, are integrating social media into a diverse marketing strategy and can only put in a couple of hours a day at the most into social, stay focused on the networks that matter: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

A Dealer, an Internet Manager, and a Mascot Walk Into a Bar…

There’s no punchline. It’s a decision that needs to be made. If you’re going to build up power accounts, first and foremost you have to understand that business pages are not the solution.They are important; having a strong Facebook page for your dealership is a must. However, a business page cannot become a power account. To become a power account, you have to be human. The hardest part is getting the right human to be the power account.

That’s right – the owner or general manager is the ideal person to be your dealership’s power account.They are (or should be) respected members of the community. Just as their touch is often enough to make a deal go through, their social media touch is more powerful than that of anyone else at the dealership. This holds true across the board. One study showed that a company’s CEO could get more engagement on their Twitter account with 1/100th of the followers of the company account itself.

Take a look at Tracy Myers from Frank Myers Auto Maxx. You would be hard pressed to find an owner with more social media power than Tracy.It’s not just that he’s such an interesting guy (he is, but that’s not important). It’s that he’s the owner. He’s the decision maker. He makes things happen at the dealership. If he says it, they make it so. As a result, his social presence is stronger than the presence of the dealership itself.

The hardest part is convincing dealers that they can benefit from this.THAT is another blog post altogether. If he or she is willing, they are the right person to starting building the power account.

If not, you have two options. The internet manager, eCommerce director, or marketing manager could be the face. Jeff Cryder‘s story at Lebanon Ford has drawn attention across the country. Lindsay Lavery at Lavery Chevy is really starting to make a splash.

Notice something about all three examples: the profiles are named after the dealership but the individual is highlighted each time. On Twitter.com/LebanonFord or @LaveryChevy , it’s the faces of the individuals who are actually controlling the accounts that are getting the attention. Same thing with fb.com/FrankMyersAuto – Tracy is the account.

People don’t follow brands despite what any social media pro will tell you. They follow people.They don’t like logos. They like faces. They don’t want to talk to an entity. They want to talk to a human. That’s all there is to it.

The third option is for the few who simply do not want to participate in this way. If you absolutely do not want to be the face of your dealership, come up with a mascot.It could be a dog. I’m not going to go into details or offer examples because I really don’t want you to go down this path, but if you must, you must. Try to get the dealer first. If not, use the manager in charge of the social profiles. Avoid the mascot if possible, but it’s better than just pushing out the brand.

In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss how to actually build the prominence of your selected power accounts. Until then, get your pitch ready for your owner or GM about why they should be plastering their face all over Facebook and Twitter.

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This is Part 3 in a 5 part series. Read Part 2 here.

By now, you should have an understanding of the importance of having an individual - preferably the owner, general manager, or someone else of authority at the dealership - as the "face" and "voice" of the dealership on social media. People like to talk to people, not brands, and when you can develop a true personality that is both professional and completely human, you have the opportunity to start making real strides in using social media as a true marketing tool. It isn't just for social; the search engines are putting a lot of faith in social signals, so whether you believe in social media as a tool for your dealership or not, you have to admit that search engines clearly drive traffic that can turn into leads and sales. For this reason alone, social media is extremely important for moving well beyond your competitors in 2013.

Once the right person has been established to be the brand's identity, it's time to get turn that person into a powerful account on social media. There are several strategies that work - the tips below are the ones that we've used. In many cases, the majority of our strategy has been developed from what we've seen successful dealers do. This particular part of the series is the most challenging for me to describe because I am part of the subject as well as the observer. It's a little uncomfortable describing the techniques that I use, but for better or for worse, I am part of our own brand's identity and the techniques that we've employed to promote it can be applied easily by dealers.

 

Attach the Person to the Brand


Brand and Image

The power account's face and name should be displayed often and attached to the brand. Forgive the quality of the image we used above - I didn't have access to the design team when I was posting this tip so I winged it. The end result is still easy to understand. We were posting a tip for dealers to our Facebook page and used an image that I built that will be used whenever we're posting SEO tips.

At the dealership level, this could be quick tips on SYNC, winter preparedness, getting their trade-in ready for inspection, or anything else that can fit into a paragraph or two. Make sure that in the attached image or in the text itself that the name of the power account is included. It should be a tip from the owner, not just a tip from ABC Motors.

 

Develop the Right Personality


Personality

One of the biggest mistakes that dealers make when using social media is that they don't want to be frivolous or get off topic. This is debatable. Some would say that there's no reason to talk about anything other than dealership business or cars in general. Even if you subscribe to this way of thinking, that doesn't mean that you can't insert personality into the posts.

Whether you're willing to let your dealership power account go off topic from time to time or not, you must make sure that there is a real personality portrayed in some (perhaps all) of the posts. Let their opinions be known. Personally, I'm a Christian and I often assert this in my posts. That doesn't mean that my company is strictly Christian and people know this. Religion and politics are often dangerous bedfellows with professional social media accounts. You must make sure your dealership is 100% on board with it before heading down that road.

Regardless, having an opinion (even if you avoid politics and religion) is an essential piece to the puzzle. If you want to avoid the potential controversies, you can post things that are still opinionated without being risky:

Spoiling

In this example, my personality is expressed through an opinion without risking controversy. It's extremely humanizing to talk about things that the individual behind the power account truly feels. If it's the owner, for example, you will hear them say things from time to time that strike you. If it strikes you in real life, it has a chance to come across well on social media. Let them know, "That's great - I'm tweeting that for you." I know of one dealership in particular where the owner is such a great personality in real life that the internet manager who's running his account often follows him around just to get social media ideas. The owner loves it and the internet manager has said that her job is easier as a result.

 

Clever is Better than Smart


Starbucks Van

It's easy to sound smart on social media. Unfortunately, it often doesn't translate into a lot of likes or shares. Clever, on the other hand, has the opportunity to go viral.

Whether you're finding content on the internet to post or if you're out there generating and capturing content yourself in the real world, look for opportunities to entertain. When you're making people laugh or smile with your social media profiles, they are much more likely to help you spread the word (and as a result, your brand). Look for "cleverness opportunities" and get them posted through your power accounts often.

Be Timely Whenever Possible


Storm in Dallas

Talking about the events that either recently happened or that are happening in the future is challenging. On the days leading up to the election, it was hard to get traction for posts surrounding it because there were simply so many other posts out there on the same subject. Finding the balance between timely and still-interesting is hard. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to find content that isn't saturated yet but that's interesting enough to share.

The image above struck me when I first saw it. The storms the night before in Dallas were absolutely mean and the subsequent images were incredible. I found one that I thought was most impressive and posted it to Google+. Despite the "ghost town" mentality that so many still hold onto when it comes to Google+, this particular image ended up with over 1000 +1s. It was timely and incredible. People love timely and incredible and they're willing to share it.

 

Link as a Thought Leader


Thought Leader Links

Some say that you should never post links to social media. This is an insane thought to me, but I'm sure there will be naysayers.

For me, it's important to post links that are truly important. In my niche, I must find the best content that circles around automotive social media and automotive SEO. For a dealership, you must find content that circles around your manufacturers, the local area, and your important dealership news. Your power accounts must be the thought leaders when it comes to your topics. Every link that you post should be important and interesting to your target audience, namely potential buyers of your vehicles or fixed ops customers.

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In the next part of this series, we'll go over ways to take advantage of your power accounts once they're built. After all, it's not just about being interesting. You want to get some real demonstrable ROI out of the efforts. We'll discuss how to attach the accounts appropriately to promotions, how to get your customers to be outrageous for the sake of the dealership (I call this "getting them into the social media trunk"), and how to turn liking into sharing for the sake of your marketing. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you can check my accounts out for Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

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This is Part 4 in a 5 part series. Please read the previous posts first or none of this will really make any sense.


So, you have your power accounts. You've done what was posted in the previous parts of this series and you have a strong individual presence on Facebook and Twitter at the least plus hopefully other social media sites like Google+ and Pinterest. It's time to put these accounts into action and produce a return on your investment of time and energy. Where do you start?

 

As with most proper marketing strategies, it's time to plan. Your accounts should have a strong localized following by now. The names of both the dealership and the individual influencer at your dealership (preferably the owner or general manager) are quickly becoming very well known in the community. Like the Tracy Myers and Jeff Cryders of the world, the person who is representing your dealership should be out and about talking to customers at the dealership, outside of the dealership, and online.

 

One thing that wasn't unfortunately omitted from the previous articles but that's a very important note is that this person should be there for the good AND the bad. They should be the name used when responding to online reviews whenever possible. This is one of the reasons why a person of authority is best suited for this role.

 

With that out of the way, let's talk about planning...

 

Proper Prior Planning...

...prevents poor performance. There are actually many "power accounts" that I've seen in the automotive industry that were either under-utilized or turned into spamming accounts. Your power accounts must think like Goldilocks - not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

 

Every post should be thought out with precision. Posting at the right timesis extremely important. All of the major social media sites are driven by momentum to some extent; EdgeRank on Facebook, for example, gives prominence to posts by those who have had a lot of likes, comments, and shares on previous posts. The more you're liked, the more you'll be liked. Google+ is the same way. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and others work from a chronological feed, but the strategy remains the same for different reasons. You want to get retweets, reblogs, repins, etc, so that your posts are more visible to other people who may then choose to follow you. Same concept, different purposes.

 

Now that we understand that, let's talk about what to post. Just like when driving, you don't want to just look at the road directly in front of you. You drive by pointing your car towards the distant goal while keeping your peripheral vision on potential obstacles that may jump out at you. When you're in traffic, you switch lanes based upon your end goal as well as the flow of traffic in front of you.

 

Mixing up the proper types of posts isn't a random thing. You should know when to post for conversation and when to post for conversion:

  • Conversation posts are those that are designed to appeal to people's interests. These are often images or text posts that are interesting, entertaining, or useful. The goal is to use these to get the interest of your fans and friends of your fans, to increase exposure, and to set up the conversion posts that follow.
  • Conversion posts are the marketing posts. These are different from branding posts which we'll describe later. These are posts that have distinct goals in mind. It may be promoting an upcoming sale. It may be an especially intriguing vehicle that just came in on trade. It could be a contest, a charitable event, an interesting video advertisement, or simply a link to a landing page on your website.

Those two are the primary types of posts, but you'll also want to work in branding posts. These are designed to improve your standing in the community and spread a general message to increase goodwill. For example, when we post customer reviews or images of happy customers (no, not the boring types, the really awesome happy customer posts), we aren't trying to sell a car or promote a sale. We're just trying to let as many people as possible know that the dealership treats customers right.

 

This is where the planning comes in. You will need a calendar or scheduling software that allows you to get a bird's eye view of what your coming posts will say. Mix it up properly. Use conversational posts appropriately. For example, if you have a big sale coming up this weekend, you may have two or three really strong conversation posts that lead up to the first conversion post about the sale. This way, more people will see it when it does get posted.

 

Determining the personality of the posts is another important part of planning. There are too many "randomly interesting accounts" out there on social media. You are not George Takei, and but you can learn from him. He posts mostly geek-oriented humor posts. He stays within his niche and plays on it well. For your dealership and power account personality, you may want to lean towards being the ultimate vehicular genius in the area. You may want to start a mini-meme in the local area by taking pictures of the power account person taking a particularly awesome vehicle around to well-known places and businesses in the area. This part takes creativity and brainstorming, but here's a quick example of one that I truly enjoyed:

An owner would go to every baseball game when the local MLB team was at home. They would drive around and look for cars that were parking that had the dealership's branded license plate bracket. They would approach these people as they parked, ask them if they already had their tickets, and offer them use of the dealer's seats for the game. Season passes aren't that expensive, especially when they can be used for a strong social media marketing campaign. They would, of course, record the conversation with the happy customers and post it throughout their social profiles.

Remember, the goal is to make a plan that will help your dealership personality stand out. This isn't about post scheduling, though that's important as well. It's about putting together a strong action plan for today, next week, next month, and across the future. This is where the power accounts can truly start making an impact and exposing the brand to a wider audience.

 

I would be more than happy to consult with any dealership that wants to brainstorm some ideas and learn more about planning.

 

Once you have the plan, it's time to get your customers involved...

 

Getting Outrageous Support from Your Customers

Happy Customers

Having a power account makes things easier, but it doesn't change one ominous fact about social media: "It's not what you're saying about your business on social media that's important. It's what others are saying about you."

 

Power accounts are the ultimate vessel through which to get the raving fans that can truly enhance your business. It's not about getting fans. It's about getting absolutely delighted customers who are not only willing to tell others about you but are excited about spreading the word. Another article can be written about the importance of making your customers ecstatic and how the owner or general manager are the most powerful people when it comes to making this happen, but that's not for today.

 

Your power accounts need to be interacting with as many people as possible. They need to be celebrities in heart and mind. They need to participate whenever appropriate with the most amazing customers. For example, a dealership I recently talked to told me about a 4th generation buyer. A great grandma, her daughter, and the grandson brought in the great granddaughter to buy her first car. They all came in together. They told everyone in the showroom about the multiple experiences they'd had at the dealership for 5 decades.

 

I asked about the videos. There were none. I wanted to cry.

 

This is one of those rare opportunities when the owner or general manager should have done everything possible to make these people special. It was a social media story that could have carried weight for months. It was multiple photo opportunities. It was a chance for the ultimate testimonial video. The power account person should have offered to take this family to a nice dinner. So many chances here, all missed.

 

On the other side of the spectrum, I was visiting a dealership earlier this year. The GM took my team and his internet department to breakfast. A man approached as we were at the cashier and thanked the general manager for helping his son buy a car a month before. The GM didn't think twice. He shook the gentleman's hand, then grabbed the ticket from his other hand and said, "We appreciate your business, my friend. Breakfast is on Holiday Automotive this morning."

 

Had I had the chance to do it all over, I would have asked them all at the moment if they would mind if I put the experience on Facebook. From a dealership perspective, there's a fine line between bragging and making a random act of gratitude like this resonate on social media. Here's what I would have posted:

"Ran into a loyal customer at Moe's this morning for breakfast. We picked up the tab - it felt good! I'd love to do it again. If you see me at Moe's, come say hi. I really appreciate our customers and would love to buy your breakfast as well."

 

You don't have to wait around for extraordinary moments. Depending on the personality you've chosen for your power account, you can turn the boring pictures that so many dealerships take of their happy customers and turn it into something sharable. For example, the power account individual can take pictures with the customers holding up a whiteboard while standing in front of their new car. The message depends on the personality and desired message, but here are some examples. Again, imagine the buyer holding a whiteboard with the message and an arrow pointing towards the power account person:

  • "This guy just made me a deal I couldn't refuse for my new Altima."
  • "Ask for Hank and he'll tell you a joke, then make you a killer deal."
  • "The worst negotiator in the world just sold me this car. Ask for Hank!"
  • "This guy just treated us with dignity and respect. Not your stereotypical car dealer. Ask for Hank!"

There are many, many ways to get great content from your happy customers. The key is to make sure that it's something you can post, that the dealership page can post, and that the customers themselves will be willing to post on their own accounts. This is how to get conversations going. This is how to make a difference with your social media content.

 

In the past, some dealers would try to get their customers climb into the trunk of a car they were considering. It was a demonstration of control; if you could get your customer to climb into the trunk, you had control of the deal. Today, we want to get people into the "social media trunk". This is no longer about control. It's about creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and harnessing this atmosphere to take advantage of the word of mouth that social media empowers your customers to wield. Getting them to post is much more important than what you're posting. The power account is best positioned to make this happen.

 

Getting Your Message Shared

The social media power account at your dealership gains a certain power when they reach the top level within the community. They have the opportunity to go from being liked to being shared. This is the hardest part. It takes time, creativity, and cleverness.

 

This does not mean posting things such as "Share this if you believe that..." Posts that ask for likes or shares are weak. They turn people off. Never ask for a retweet, a like, a share, a +1, or anything else in the post itself. That doesn't mean that you don't ask. It means that you don't ask within the post.

 

Where the power account can get shares is often with the interaction that they have with others both in real life as well as on social media. Before getting to real life share requests, let's first look at interactions. When your power account likes, shares, comments, retweets, reblogs, or any other interaction with other businesses or individuals in the area, they are more likely inclined to return the favor. Reciprocity on social media is common. The more you like, the more you'll be liked. The more you share, the more you'll be shared.

 

There's an art and a science to understanding who will reciprocate and who will not. On Twitter and Pinterest, it's really easy, of course. Just find people who respond or retweet. Those who are only broadcasting will likely not reciprocate. On Facebook and Google+, it's more challenging but can be done. Test it out. Dedicate a little bit of time every day to engage with local pages and individuals (especially customers). Don't spam them or stalk them, but engage. If they reply, keep note of who they are and check them out from time to time.

 

In real life, it's a matter of asking and getting your staff to ask. It starts with them. If they aren't following and engaging with the power account online, they won't be willing to ask others to do the same.

 

It's not just about asking. Advertise it. Make signs and put them up around the dealership. In service, it could be a sign that says, "Hank gives customers free oil changes on Facebook and Twitter from time to time. Follow him and get something useful from social media instead of just funny cat pictures (even though Hank loves cats, too!)."

 

It could be much more blatant as well. "Receive a 10% discount on your current service. Just follow Hank and share one of his posts on your Facebook profile and get the discount immediately."

 

Again, be creative. This is your time to make your power account shine.

 

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In the final part of this series, we will bring it all together with real world examples of power accounts in action. Your social media reputation can become the hub through which you dealership's entire reputation stems. When this happens, you'll have much more control over what people are saying and hearing about you. More importantly, you'll have an opportunity to gain benefit for your dealership in an arena where your competitors are likely failing miserably. As social media continues to grow, there are only a few who will truly succeed and a vast majority who will not. Which side of the fence will your dealership choose?

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To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting. E. E. Cummings

As you go through this life you will fight many battles, circumstances, people, feelings, emotions, physical barriers, pain, fear and exhaustion just to become you. Just to be heard. Just to do what interests you. Just to reach your dreams. Just to achieve your sales goals. Just to accomplish your God given purpose. If you ever want to succeed in anything in life you will have to fight to succeed. If you want to be a failure, do nothing. Always do what is easy and what doesn’t challenge you at all. Never stand up for what’s right. Never go against the crowd. Blend in to fit in and be accepted but don’t say what you really think. Only say what people want to hear and what they want you to say. Do this and you will without fail, be a successful failure! When you want something bad enough, you’ll fight for it. When you love someone enough you’ll fight to protect him or her. When you know it’s the right thing to do, you’ll fight for that cause.

The truth is we’re all fighters. A fighter is a person with the will, courage, determination, ability, or disposition to fight, struggle and resist something for a specific cause. Everyday we fight for others to hear us, accept us, love us and notice us. We fight for our ideas. We fight for our beliefs. We fight for our families and we fight for our friends. We fight to hit our goals and sales objectives everyday, every month and every year. In the midst of life, work and all that is happening outside of us; there is an unending war; a continuing battle that is taking place from within. This is a fight that only you can fight. You will have outside influence from people and circumstances but the decisions you choose and the choices you make will be the result of this fight. This is the fight for your will!

What is your will? It is the driving force of what you ultimately think, say and do. It is the combined makeup of your values, (what you like and don’t like), your thoughts, opinions, belief system, desires and pleasures. It is the mental faculty by which you deliberately choose a course of action. It is the power to arrive at one’s own choice and decision and to then act upon it independently in spite of anything that opposes you. It is the thing that causes you to lean towards that which creates joy in your life. Your will is that magnetic force that pulls you towards doing that which you like and want to do. Your will is also used to do what you don’t want to do. Your will is the final vote that allows the course of action to either take place or not. Your will has power. It is known as will power. Your will power is the strength and energy that is used to carry through your choices in life. Your will power is the ability to carry out one’s decisions, wishes and plans.  Your will power is also known as discipline and self-control. When people break habits they try to do it with will power”. When people try to accomplish success in any area they do it through the exercising of will power. As you exercise your will power you are strengthening the ability of your will to make a choice. This will power is what you use to ultimately become you. Everything you are today is the result of your exercised will power.

George Allen

One of the most difficult things everyone has to learn is that for your entire life you must keep fighting and adjusting if you hope to survive. No matter who you are or what your position is you must keep fighting for whatever it is you desire to achieve.

Nothing worth having in life is ever gained easily. If we want to achieve anything in this life we have to proactively fight for it. Too many people have fallen into the reactive fight stance in life. We’ve allowed ourselves to wait for something to come against us and than we fight back to make sure we don’t lose and get defeated. Now don’t misunderstand me. We will have to still do that at times. However, we should also put together attack plans to proactively go after our dreams, purposes and goals. We should fight on purpose, not just defensively.

Paulo Coelho

But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it's better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you're fighting for.

Each one of us has been designed to live our life in this world for a specific purpose. There is no such thing as a worthless person. There is no such thing as a meaningless life. God handcrafted and fashioned each and every one of us. We are all unique and special for this world and His plan. No one else has the same finger print! No one else has the same DNA. Out of all the billions of people who have lived, are living and ever will live, you are “One of a Kind!” There is no one who is exactly like you. Even identical twins are not identical. You are “One of a Kind!” Don’t lose YOU! “One of a Kind” things are more valuable than copies. If everyone has it than the rarity and short supply holds no value.

For example: The Treskilling Yellow stamp from Sweden is the only one of its kind. It has a current value of more than $2 million (or $87 billion per kilogram, according to the site). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treskilling_Yellow) The rarity and only one of its kind demands an extremely high value. The same is true with the Gutenberg Bible.  Around the world there is an enormous amount of vintage books, but perhaps the rarest is the famous Gutenberg Bible: First appeared in a book printed in 1456. There are several hundred copies of the Bible itself, but the very first copy of the two-volume book will cost a collector of antique books around 20-25 million dollars. What to say if one page of the book goes under the hammer for 25 thousand dollars, but sold last year, a two-volume - not the first edition – to someone at 5.5 million dollars! Incredible!

This truth is not only consistent with these two items but also with you! Everybody is born an original, “One of a Kind” but sadly many end up dying a copy. Why is this? Because too many people have allowed others to shape, create, mold and fashion them into what they want them to be rather then fight to be who they really are.

It’s a fight to be you, but it’s a fight that’s worth fighting. Fight to be you! Fight to reach your purpose! Don’t settle to live someone else’s plans, purposes and life instead of yours! You’re an original. Be you to the best of your ability. Be who God created you to be in life, at work and in everything you do. Never stop fighting to preserve the individuality and uniqueness you are and you have to change this world for good!

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In their "Automotive Mobile Site Study", J.D. Power & Associates found that the use of smartphones for vehicle shoppers has increased exponentially. For example, they found that compared to 2010, those who used their smartphones to access automotive information increased by a staggering 40 percent.

Additionally, J.D. Power and Associates also found that 30% of male car shoppers use their smartphone when browsing for a new car. On the other hand, however, only 18% of women revert to their smartphone when looking to purchase their next car. Not surprisingly, the study also concluded that collectively shoppers 40 years of age and younger use their smartphone 26% of the time, while those 40 years of age and older only use their smartphones 21% of the time. It doesn't stop at smartphones, however.

Thanks to the emergence of tablet devices such as Apple's iPad and Blackberry's Playbook, vehicle shoppers aren't limited to just using their smartphones. During their study, J.D. Power discovered that many vehicle shoppers used a tablet device (iPad, Playbook) to access automotive websites. Men used a tablet device 22% of the time, while women only used a tablet device 16%.

Arianne Walker, director of Automotive research at J.D. Power & Associates had this to say following the study: "While the proportion of vehicle shoppers who use smartphones to visit the Internet during the shopping process is still relatively small, it is expected to continue to grow during the next several years, which will shape the way automotive marketers will need to design their mobile sites and apps."

If you're still not convinced that smartphones are changing the vehicle buying process, take this into consideration: the 40 percent increase in automotive website visitation on smartphones is greater than the use of gaming (27%) and social media (17%).

As more and more car dealerships move their attention towards smartphone shoppers and invest in their own mobile app, the number of smartphone vehicle shoppers is only going to increase.

What do you make of this study?

 

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