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This week, Anthony Alagona talks about "Building Value." How do you build value in yourself, your vehicle, and your dealership? Building value in yourself starts with identifying yourself to the prospect and establish a clear channel of communication. Building value in the vehicle starts by telling the prospect about the vehicle and selling the prospect on all of the special deatures that make the vehicle stand out. Building value in the dealership starts with passionately selling your value package to the prospect and explaining the benefits it can offer. Remember: People do not buy what you sell, they buy what you believe. 

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There is a ton of confusion out there when it comes to digital and traditional marketing. Despite the rise of the "savvy dealer" over the last few years, it is still clear that many of the offerings companies are putting out there focus on intangible results.

Don't get me wrong. I know that there are things that have value from a marketing perspective that are challenging to measure, but to say that something is delivering results without giving an ounce of data to support it is silly. Exposure is great, but at what point does exposure truly translate into sales.

I have no doubt that there are services out there that dealers have used and found to be completely lacking from a reporting perspective. Even worse are the vendors that are putting out reports that seem to be designed to verify that they're doing something rather than reporting on successes or failures.

As I dig deeper into the digital and traditional marketing worlds of the automotive industry, I'm learning that two things are very true and verifiable:

  1. If it's bringing value, that value can be measured in some way
  2. If it's not bringing value, companies will try to demonstrate value with confusing metrics or complex reports

Tangible, measurable value should be the cornerstone of any marketing company's reporting. If so much emphasis is placed on the intangible, can dealers really trust the alleged results? I'm not going to name any companies in particular. I just want to point out that it should be measurable or you should question whether or not it's bringing any value at all. If not, move your budget elsewhere.

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Why Ken Pollock Auto Group Is The #1 Dealer Group For All Of Your Automotive Needs - Pittston, Pa

Example Of A Dealer Group's "Why Buy From Us" / "Value Package Proposition" Video - Produced By Dealer Synergy

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Who are you and Why are you calling? 

One of the things I tend to see most when training with Internet Coordinators or BDC Reps all across the country, is that not many of them take the time to identify who they are and what they do at the dealership. Before I continue, lets go over a few statistics that might help to shed a little light on the importance of implementing this strategy. 

  • 92-99% of People Go Online before stepping foot into your dealership.
  • People are shopping on Average 5-8 other dealerships besides yours. 
  • This means there are 5-8 other  dealerships trying to contact that very same person you are.
  • Sales People, especially in the Automotive world tend to have a "Negative Stereotype".

Why Identify yourself on a call you ask? If I was to call you and say, Hello! May I speak to "Mr. Johnson" ? This is Anthony calling on behalf of Autobytel and ABC Motors....Did I catch you at a good time? What would you assume my job to be within the dealership if I didn't verbalize it to you during the phone call? Most likely a Sales Person, Wouldn't you agree? When a prospect believes that he/she is on the phone with a typical "Sales Person", their Defensive Mechanisms are triggered that much easier, which will result in a very low success rate as it relates to setting appointments. This is where letting the prospect know what you do is vital to increasing the odds in setting an appointment and at the same time, builds value into why it is so great they are talking to you...the "Internet Coordinator". I would say something like the following to get the prospect to Like, Trust and Believe in me.....

Mr./Mr.s Customer, I'm actually not a Sales Person. I'm what you call an Internet Coordinator, you can think of me as like your personal "Car Concierge" or sort of like your "Liaison" to the Sale. You must have went online to get your research done and thats actually what I specialize in and do for customers just like yourself on a daily basis. I will provide you with all the relevant information about the vehicle or vehicles of your interest, send you some emails with videos of the entire vehicle inside & Out and any other information you may need to help you make the best informed decision. This way,when you feel comfortable, I would like to Set you an Exclusive V.I.P. appointment with my Internet Manager as opposed to a Sales Person. This will save you a tremendous amount of time inside the dealership, your vehicle of interest will be ready and waiting for you to test drive and their will be someone waiting for you to show up, saving you at least 45 minutes in the dealership.

Always Remember...there are at least 5-8 other dealerships that this prospect has looked at besides yours, that means there are 5-8 other people calling that same prospect. It makes perfect sense to tell this person exactly who you are, what you do and most importantly, what makes you so much better than the 5-8 other people calling! "Price is only relevant with the absence of value"......Start by building VALUE in yourself....the INTERNET COORDINATOR!

If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at or conatct me directly via my cell phone at 732-456-0753.

"If you want the things most people do not have, you must be willing to do the things most people are not willing to do to get them"

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Proactively building reviews is a huge part of local search and with Internet Sales 20 Group Dallas right around the corner and reputation management front and center, I'm rolling out the most important indicators that get you more visible in local search.

When you look closer at the Non-Google local search engines such as Yelp,, etc. you will find a significant amount of highly-qualified consumer search traffic. The question is: do you know which data about your dealership will influence how you rank in local search engines?

Each and everyone of the indicators below are the arteries to the heart, that if ignored could form a clot and kill your hopes of dominating on local searches.

There are four categories:

  • Relevancy Indicators
  • Popularity Indicators
  • Distance Indicators
  • Advertiser Value

These are indicators that tend to be directly related to the phrases input into a search interface. These may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised (or not) how many dealerships get these wrong:

Relevancy Indicators

  1. Dealership Name: Dealership names are vital for potential buyers who search for your specific dealership or search for a keyword that is also in your dealer name. Certainly, categories will always be king. You might think it’s a no brainer, but never let potential customers find your dealership name spelled incorrectly. Happens more frequently than you might think.
  2. Dealership Category: Categorization is important because search engines categorize and map keywords. Therefore, it is worthwhile to run some test queries on your keywords.  Be aware of how to target the more granular (aka long tail) categories to enable you to have more chances to show up for these qualified queries. Generally you’re allowed up to five categories. Be clear though. The specialty models of the cars you sell may not be available as a direct category. Therefore, the best practice is to include the brands in your title on your listing (up to two brands), as you may be in danger of spamming your listing directory.    
  3. Dealership Description & Keywords: The right keywords can help increase your visibility for queries. When typing in a query your prospects often see presumptive suggestions of longer tail keywords in the search box. If searching for service repair, search engines will offer suggestions that get quite granular; for example, “factory trained technicians”. Those types of keywords included in your dealership description will make your dealership more findable.  Make sure the relevant suggestions are included in your dealership descriptions.
  4. Enhanced Content is the key to dominating local searches. Images, logos, videos, (what we call enhanced content) will lift your CTR by 2.5 times or 250% more traffic. One major missed opportunity to improve CTR’s is a Featured Message. Yext is a great tool to provide real time updates of your content to your dealership listings.

    For example, use fresh content in your featured message (a 50 character highlighted featured message syndicated from your Yext dashboard)  Dealers are using this space to promote a sale or even get more LIKES on Facebook. Perhaps you share a fact about the dealership and build credibility with a link to the dealer site.
  5. Dealership Services: Services are another form of categorization. I like to think of services as informal categories, kind of like a tag. So, [Auto Dealer] would be a category and [Value Your Trade], [New Vehicles], [Service Repair], etc., would be services.  Make sure you understand the most popular services that you offer and include them in your listing. 
  6. Association With a National or Regional Chain: If your dealership is part of a chain, it’s important that local search engines understand this. Chain store dealership listings often contain inconsistent data that cannot be easily normalized. For example, a site may have three listings with the names [Auto Center], [Auto Center, The], [The Auto Center #234]. They all refer to the same chain. But, if you did a pure dealership name match on [Auto Center], you would get a less than optimal sort order; so, understanding that these listings are associated with a chain helps the search engine consolidate these listings into a single entry.

Popularity Indicators

  1. Click Thru Rates: A listing’s performance, when it appears in results, is an indicator of its potential to satisfy the query. Most sophisticated local search engines reward listings with high CTRs with better rankings. There are plenty of things a dealership can do to improve CTR on a directory, starting with making sure the above Relevancy Indicators are as up-to-date and targeted as possible. Presenting offers along with high-quality images and videos can also increase CTR.
  2. Ratings & Reviews: Get them and get them often. Five stars helps. And, Google and Yelp are not the only places where reviews count. At this point, every major local search engine has a review system.

Distance Indicators

The location of your dealership combined with the location of the searcher is critical to the display of results. Often, the importance of these indicators can vary based on what the user is searching for and what kind of device they are using. I advise you to look for the option of a service area field that allows you to plug in your surrounding zip codes.

  1. Dealership Proximity: How close a dealership is to the searched location.  Depending on the category of the query and dealership density, proximity will matter more or less.
  2. Dealership Service Area: While physical location typically trumps most other location indicators, for dealership categories with wide service areas, proximity is not as important. For example, dealers in less populated rural areas often have large service areas.  So when someone is looking for one, it’s not critical to only show dealerships that are nearby.  In the case of queries that map to large service areas, it’s likely that popularity indicators will help determine if dealerships that are farther away from the searched city show up high.
  3. Web & Mobile Search Radius Customization: Queries from mobile devices typically return results with tighter radii. If your strategy is to rank for mobile queries, you will need to figure out how to improve other data indicators such as reviews, service area, etc., to compensate for the limited range of the results.
  4. Dealership Density: As mentioned above, if there are fewer dealerships in your area competing for a category, you are more likely to show up better, but you will likely be competing against dealerships in a larger service area. Conversely, if there are more dealerships, the competition nearby will be stronger.
  5. Searched Geo: When a user specifies a specific location in their query, it’s usually a indicators that they are prioritizing location; so it’s more likely that the search engine will favor dealerships located in the searched geo in its results. If your potential customers tend to search this way, then you may consider opening locations in multiple cities to account for this.

Advertiser Value

Of course, we’re all in this to make money, so understanding how the advertiser display system on a search engine works, either in your favor or against you, can be helpful.

  1. Advertiser Levels: Typically, sites have different tiers of advertisers, which can affect which queries display the ad and what gets displayed (e.g., logo, like, tagline, video, bold, etc.)
  2. Advertiser Keywords: In cases where advertisers get to pick the keywords to target, it is important for them to understand if these are the right keywords to target. Often times, local search engines can have relatively weak keyword-mapping. If so, your dealership may show up for keywords that you are not targeting (and you get charged for the privilege). Therefore, understanding how the search engine maps keywords can be critical to saving you from wasting ad dollars.
  3. Advertiser Boost: Many search engines offer an organic rankings boost to advertisers as an incentive.
  4. Deals & Coupons: Consumers love coupons. Local search engines love advertisers who offer them.
  5. Listing Quality: This basically gets to the completeness of a listing. If you can outdo your competitors with filling out your listings, you will likely tend to outrank them in the local search engines. This is one of the biggest areas of opportunity. There are millions of listings out there that still have not been claimed and updated. One big yellow pages site told me that only about 10% of their millions of listings had been claimed. So, go out and claim them if you haven’t already, and you could put yourself ahead of the pack.

Jerry HartPresident
925 849 4084

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There was a promise silently made by social media a few years back. It was so prevalent at the 2009 round of conferences from NADA to Digital Dealer that many might have thought that social media would eventually encompass the entire internet marketing required by a dealership to be successful. The promise was this: “Everyone’s going to be on social media in the next couple of years and you’ll be able to reach them.”

The first part of the promise came true, perhaps even more so than most had anticipated. Everyone is on social media in one way or another. Even if they are not active, from a car buying perspective, it can be assumed that members of any family out there trying to buy a car today are touched in some way by social media. It could be as distant as some of the friends of the buyer or it could be as close as the spouse and children, but everyone in America is affected by social media whether they know it or not.

The second part of the promise hasn’t quite panned out for many. There are certainly many dealers who “get it” and are able to drive traffic, generate leads, and make sales as a direct result of their social media actions. Unfortunately, these cases are few and far between. In fact, I was recently approached by “gurus” to help them find examples of dealers who were showing these sorts of successes. Even they weren’t aware of many examples of the mythical “Facebook Sale”.

They exist. We’ve seen them. They’re not quite as few and far between as Bigfoot sightings, but they aren’t easy to find.

That’s not the point.

While many will talk about the “intrinsic value” of social media, one does not have to be a Bigfoot hunter to find tangible value. It lies in understanding the effects and realizing that just as television advertising is effective without being easy to track directly, so too does social media make it challenging to find the value. The key is to look at the results as a whole by doing two things: find the numbers that can be tied in by absence and to put real indicators into place to measure the ROI properly. I refuse to try to convince dealers that there’s a value without being able to demonstrate it and dealers should refuse to accept that there is a value without proof. Here’s how…


Tie in Numbers through Absence

A dealer once told me that the only way he was able to track the effectiveness of his television advertising was to turn them off. When sales dropped, he knew that the TV ads had been working. When he turned them back on, sales went back up again.

The same premise can be applied to social media, particularly if you’re investing enough time and/or money. The sad truth that few gurus will tell you about social media is that there’s a secret plateau. They won’t tell you this because they either don’t know about it or they know that it’s not beneficial to them. The plateau is the place between getting started with social media and hitting the tipping point. Unlike other forms of marketing, social media has a tendency to remain flat up until the point that you really start to hit it hard. The difference in results between a mediocre presence and a pretty good presence is almost unnoticeable. Those who have a pretty good presence aren’t seeing much more in the way of results than those who have one that’s a notch above poor. This is the plateau.

That’s the bad news, particularly since the vast majority of dealerships today fall in between being a notch above poor and pretty good. It’s also the good news. Those dealers who break through the realm of “pretty good” can see a sharp improvement very quickly once they get to good, great, fantastic, outstanding, and beyond. I’m using these esoteric terms because it would take multiple blog posts to try to define the difference between pretty good and outstanding. It’s not about numbers. It’s not even about engagement. It’s about results.

This is where the absence comes into play. If you have a doubt about the effectiveness of your social media, turn it off for a month. Tell your vendor to stop posting and promoting. Tell your internet manager to put up a status update on the various social media sites that you’re “taking a break from social media for the month as we work on putting together something great for all of our fans”. Then, do it. Get off of social media. Don’t post. Don’t reply. You’ll still want to monitor just in case, of course. If your social media is tied into a reputation management service, don’t stop that aspect.

Everything else, shut it down for a month. Look at the numbers. Do you see a dip in traffic, leads, and sales? Make sure to take other factors into account such as fluctuations in search marketing spend, offline advertising, etc. Take those into account and check your results. If your numbers move noticeably, you’re probably getting more benefit out of social than you knew about, so you’ll want to turn it back on. If you don’t see much of a difference, it may be time to explore other options.


Put Real Indicators Into Place

For fixed ops, this is easy. All you have to do is run events on Facebook while posting “social media only” specials simultaneously on the other social networks. If you create an event on Facebook for “$14.99 Social Media Oil Change Special” and then post it on your other networks, you’ll be able to see whether you’re reaching people with the message or not. You can create a coupon on your website that is not in navigation if you want, or simply tell them to mention that they liked your store on Facebook when they’re getting their oil changed. Make sure the service department is extremely well-aware that this test is important. You don’t want them telling their “buddy” customers about it while they’re at the store.

With sales, it’s a little harder but there’s a key performance indicator that can help you make a determination about the success of your social media effort. If you go strong on social media, advertising on Facebook and doing all of the things that we ask dealers to do, you will see one number rise on your analytics – searches for your dealership by name. Getting people to click off of Facebook to go check out your inventory is ineffective. Getting the branding out there, being at the top of mind, and making sure that when people in your area are in the market to buy a car that they’re checking you out on search and on your website – that’s a true test of your social media effectiveness. Not surprisingly, the same can be done for television and radio advertising as well.

Of course, there are more tangible ways to detect it, namely traffic to the dealership itself. This is an area that I can’t talk about quite yet because we’re still testing, but the results so far have been nothing short of fabulous.

* * *

Social media doesn’t have to be a mystery. It either works at your dealership right now or it doesn’t. It’s important to do the things necessary to check the effectiveness an understand whether or not you’re truly reaching your audience. Otherwise, you’ll never know if you can dramatically improve it by making the right changes.

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The Numbers are In: Leading the Pack In Leads

A quick jaunt through our reports in January proved most fruitful.  I was very excited to see that more than 20% of our customers enjoyed 30 or more appraisal leads for the month of January. The start of a new year tends to be a beleaguered time for dealerships, especially in the Northern states.. As consumers make dates at the health club, and place light wallets (fresh off holiday spending splurges) on the shelf… car purchases are usually not quite top-of-mind; especially with tax season around the corner when dealerships do see a nice boost in web traffic and sales.

While 2012 showed a small rise overall in reported sales and transactions across the country, we know that it’s still very much a ‘wild-west’ and not back to pre-recession rates. And when things are thin in the showroom, lead generation is the crucial key to making or breaking your business.

With that being said, we know just how important it is then, to convert the web traffic (which ain’t cheap!)  into qualified leads. And for 1 out of every 5 dealership partners using TradeInVelocity… seeing between 32-124 leads in a slow month has only led to good things.

We reached out to some dealers to find the HOW and the WHY behind their success. For more on what we learned, check out out blog here.

Happy Friday!

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Focus on Value, not Word Count with your Content

It may be the biggest change in the Google algorithm that very few people noticed. The reason they didn't notice is that the change has been slowly happening since February, 2011. Between Panda, Penguin, and the rise of social signals, word count of content is not something that you should ever focus upon when writing content for search engine optimization or social media marketing purposes.


Here's a quick breakdown of the loose timeline. One of the first changes that happened when Panda, Google's low-value content algorithm change of 2011, rolled out was that the total number of unique words in stories had a predictable affect on SEO value. Stories with fewer words were deemed less valuable. This lasted for about a month. I cannot say for sure how the conversation went at Google, but at some point in the early days of Panda Google noticed that there was some great but very short content that was being hurt, while low-quality content with a lot of words was getting favorable treatment. This is where links and social signals started making a quick comeback into the realm of understanding the importance of a piece of content.

The example in the image above is what Google likes today. That's not to say that they don't like long, comprehensive content, but in the case above an infographic with a coupe of paragraphs of content but strong social signals to the page was able to easily trump much longer pieces of content on the same subject. It ranks exceptionally well for the target keywords despite the lack of words.

The content that you post should have a purpose. It should then fulfill this purpose in as few words as possible. This is a dramatic change from the days of old in SEO where more was better. Now, quality trumps quantity (as it does in so many other ways and in other arenas) to the point that giving your readers what they need without loading it with fluff is ideal. They will be more likely to share it, to link to it, and to interact with it if it's something that fits into their schedule. That's not to say that you should only write a couple of paragraphs on any subject and call it a day. It simply means that you should write your content to fit the need, to fulfill the goal, and to become a resource for your readers.

It's quality that makes the difference. You're better off focusing on a topic that is important and of interest to your readers, then bring the value to them quickly.

I do not want to be misunderstood on this: if a topic needs 1500 words to cover it properly, then write 1500 words. The point is that if a topic takes 300 words to cover it, don't think you have to fluff it up to any of the "magic numbers" like 500 words for it to be valid to Google. It doesn't. They know. It's better to have a short, concise, and valuable 200 word article with a graphic that gets shared on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social sites and that people are willing to link to from their websites than to have a piece that's fluffed up to hit a particular word count.

Write what you need to write, no more, no less. Focus on quality and get the concept of word counts out of your mind for good.

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Take a look at this video! It is AWESOME!!! I LOVE they way they created a POWERFUL video on their "Value Package Proposition"... Their "Why Buy From Us" Video. They are the ONLY Dealership to have a "Lifetime power train For FREE Warranty..." So, they were smart... they ran with that!! They have it on their website... they have it in their conversations. I also am liking the fact that they actually created an AWESOME video... not just a basic, simple video. They actually made it look... SPECIAL :)

Enjoy and learn-

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In the automotive industry, there is a lot of emphasis put on price. In society, we often hear the word value. These two words seem to be interchangeable. Are they really? I don't think so. Most of us have paid a price for something that had a value higher or lower than what we paid. Some of the things in our lives that we value the most didn't have a price and we wouldn't sell for any price...such as our families, our memories, and our time. When speaking to customers who are focusing on price, try to build the value of the vehicles instead of giving a price. The value of a vehicle is about more than the money. If you investigate correctly and actually listen to the customer's responses, you should be able to find the perfect vehicle for their needs. The value is in how they will use it, how it will make their life better, and how much enjoyment they will receive from it. The price is just dollars and cents. Don't get me has a big impact on people. There aren't many people who have money to burn. But if you can show them how the value is more than the price, it seems that they are getting a better deal. Let's face it. Only about 20% of customers are truly price motivated. Building value for them is much more effective than focusing on price.

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Discovering Your Value Proposition - "Why Us" - Your "Differentiator" - Automotive Marketing - Tracking optimization ROI...

Landing Page Optimization 

Here I was sitting in a landing page optimization course and the first thing they did was throw a formula at me. C=4m+3v+2(i-f)-2a.Thankfully, it really wasn’t a mathematical formula, just a conversion sequence that helped you visualize conversion. Dr. Flint McGlaughlin the founder of MECLABS, the world's largest independent research institution focused on offer response optimization, was standing in front of the class saying, “You don’t optimize websites; you optimize thought sequences. Say it with me, C=4m+3v+2(i-f)-2a.”

What goes in that landing page optimization formula you say?

Motivation of user, force of the value proposition, incentive, friction, and anxiety.
He went on to say that the sales funnel we all know and love is actually upside down, “The value proposition is the fundamental force powering your prospects up the sales funnel,” he added.

This can be measured by four essential elements of offer:

Appeal- how much do I desire this offer?
Exclusivity- where else can I get this offer?
Credibility- can I trust your claims?
Clarity-what are you actually offering?
In order to express your value proposition on the Web, you must have congruence (having every element of your page state or support your proposition) and continuity (making sure that every step of the buying process states or supports the proposition).

I know I can’t say it as best as Dr. McGlaughlin can, so I found a video where he discusses the value proposition in better detail.

Got it? Good. Next was incentives. The object of incentives is to balance emotional forces from negative to positive. To determine your ideal incentive you must consider: marketing intuition, perceived value differential,and return on incentive. Here is another video in which Dr. McGlaughlin discusses these elements

Next Dr. McGlaughlin spoke about friction and anxiety. Friction, in marketing, is the psychological resistance to a given element in the sales process. Anxiety, in other words, is like concern, but it is just as lethal as friction. To get a better idea of these two elements, click here.

What does this mean for you?
If your Website isn’t optimized properly, you're losing customers. Dr.McGlaughlin showed us case studies where there was a 200% increase in capturing lead information by simply adjusting elements of their website. Take a look at the links presented above to better optimize your website, you won't regret it.

With this information presented to me I had to take a 50 question test to get certified in landing page optimization. I passed, would you?

Source =

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Here are some ideas and strategies for creating an AMAZING Value Package Proposition / Unique Selling Propostion / Why Us


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