You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2010.

Everyone has heard of, and been bombarded with, how important it is to ‘Optimize’ your website. The reason we hear so much about this topic is because it is vital to your online success. Having the greatest website ever created with incredible content and vehicle information is absolutely worthless if customers cannot find you. It’s like having a flashing billboard in the middle of the desert where no one ever goes. There are a number of experts and philosophies in this realm and most of them have good suggestions. But, like most important decisions, it is difficult tell the difference between golden nuggets and fool’s gold if you don’t have at least a basic understanding.

There are two main areas of maximizing your websites presence in the search engines – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEM is paid advertising – you have the ability to buy or bid on placement of your website on search results pages and on other pages where potential customers might be found. SEM is an important part of the mix but I would like to spend time today concentrating on the other side – SEO. SEO is totally free, as long as you don’t count your research time, time your developer spends on making changes, and any consultant’s fees you might incur. Your goal with SEO is to make your site as search engine friendly as possible in order to move up in the ‘natural’ search results. So where do you go to find the tips and tactics to do this? A great place to start is with the undisputed leader in search engines – Google.

Google has many great pages and tools dedicated to helping website owners maximize their natural search potential. They will never reveal all the secrets of their search algorithms but they make the basics very transparent. Why? They want their search results to be as relevant as possible to the user in order to maintain their value. A great place to start is on Google’s Webmaster Central – http://bit.ly/9agPIe – this is the launching pad to many great articles for best practices.

While the target audience for some of these articles is the designer of a website, knowing the fundamentals is a benefit to anyone. Some examples of good articles to begin your studies are:
‘Google Basics’ http://bit.ly/aIJucT which goes over the basics of how the search engines work.
‘Webmaster guidelines’ http://bit.ly/98UJvQ which gives an overview of good site design theory
‘Anatomy of a search result’ http://bit.ly/d753rJ which goes over different terms for the text within search results and gives examples of each.

By reviewing the articles and suggestions Google makes available, you can arm yourself with one of the greatest weapons available – knowledge. This will make your next conversation, conference, or sales pitch more comfortable and meaningful and keep you in the driver’s seat.

In Part 1 of this series I discussed leaders of companies stepping in front of consumers to regain trust and consumer confidence. When asked most business people initially say the value of trust is immeasurable, undeniably critical but immeasurable. Let’s go back ten years and ask the question, “How do you measure trust and consumer confidence with your company?” (I am not talking about the Consumer Confidence Index and all their blah blah blah, mind numbing surveys. I am talking about good old common sense does a customer trust your business.) Many would say just look at stock prices increase as confidence in a company increases, or, the company has had business success for 50 years and countless years of success can’t be denied and is very measurable. That may be true but in todays age of technology and Social Media you have numerous ways to measure how customers feel about your company. I would like to point out one of those credible sources of your company information- your friends and peers.

One out of four friends/peers was considered to be a trusted source for a company’s information. Is this a sign of the power of Social Media? The survey from the Edelman Trust Barometer of January 2010 surveyed consumers aged 35-64. Granted, the numbers are down, but 25% is still a substantial base of reference/referrals and when this number returns to its 2008 percentage of 45% your efforts will be multiplied. Word of mouth and influence of peers is the number one reason for leading brands in shifting marketing dollars to Social Media.

Again this sparks the question, “How does this relate to my dealership?”

For me the true goal of Social Media is to turn my customers into friends or at a minimum establish a valuable business relationship with them. This is something that is practiced at Liquid Motors where the belief is, “If we put the people first good things always happen.”

Now here is the hard part. As type “A” people, success is expected yesterday. Try to remember when you went into business you did not plan on immediate success. You expected to build it over time and most certainly did not plan on shutting down in 3 years. Remember that when it comes to your Social Media efforts. Social Media is not just a new wave or avenue of marketing. It is your trust factor, your reputation, and your lifeline to current and potential customers/friends and yes to their friends/peers. Stay on course and follow your Social Media plan. In fact, make sure you add your Social Media plan to your business plan and mission statement. This will force you to believe and follow it. Please leave your comments on this blog and be sure to follow all of the Liquid Motors authors on Twitter and Facebook today.

While two friends were camping in the mountains, their conversation went something  like this….

Friend 1 – Did you hear that??

Friend 2 – Sounded like a BEAR!!!

Friend 1 – Get ready to Run fast!!!!

Friend 2 – It’s not really that big a deal…

Friend 1 – Not That big a DEAL!!!  We need to outrun that BEAR or it will EAT US!!

Friend 2 – I don’t really need to outrun the bear….

Friend 1 – YOU DONT NEED TO DO WHAT!!!

Friend 2 –  I just need to outrun YOU!!

Friend 1 – (perplexed look on face) Hmmmmm

As I now approach the end of  my 3rd month this year with at least 20 travel days jammed in each, I have been fortunate enough to have visited, met and trained with nearly 90 stores of a publicly traded automotive dealer group. During these store visits, I am thinking I might have learned more than I actually taught. In fact, It seems that most of my trainings focus on remembering my past mistakes and trying to teach others from them… So many times in the car business I hear those often used dreaded words… I, we or us will be the King of (Your text goes here)!! I also hear things like… I, we or us are the Best (Your text can go here too) you have ever seen or been around. In most cases, these words are generally right on the money… In fact, I have found that statements like these generally mirror the financial statement of the store…. The only problem is.. If the person who made those remarks has a higher perception of self-worth than the reality suggests… Well, let’s not go there….

I would like to step away from these words for just a second and share an interesting phenomenon with you. As a tenured 16 year Ice Hockey Coach, I see the “we’re #1 finger” after every game we won or lost by at least one player if not more on both teams. Now… I’m not talking the same “#1 finger” that the driver you just cut off on the highway flashed you… I talking about that “WE ARE THE BEST”…. Finger.  As a Coach, we are driven and built to constantly raise the bar… Winning is never good enough… In fact.. No matter where we turn… I think it is safe to say that there will always be somebody bigger, faster or want it more than my players somewhere. When we win… I guess those people or that team that was better just wasn’t present. Now don’t get me wrong….. I like winning and love success even more!! I have always told my players… Until you lift the Stanley Cup over your heads…. There is plenty of room to improve…. Now follow me here… Ask any player that has won that cup and they will all tell you the celebration was short-lived. The reason why is this.. The next season starts the day after the old one ended… A team that gets to lift that cup suddenly realizes… a team that lifts it twice or 3 times would surely be better than one that just got to win it once…. Hence we begin a chase that has no end and contains an absolute certainty for disappointment…   

Now how does that transfer to the car business…. It really is quite simple… Dealerships tend to only think in monthly increments. Each and every report we run always seems to have a field that pulls a date range… Year over year gain, Current month over last year’s same period gains and so on and so on…. Why does it have to be so complex. Why can’t we simplify the business to its easiest form.. 

Every day I wake… will have a clear easily attainable goal… To be better today than I was yesterday!!!

Whether that  is business or personal, it is attainable. In fact, making that goal, that simple, will generally guarantee the results of those first reports we spoke of.

While not naming names!! (To protect the innocent of course) A dealer during one of my sessions made an absolute astounding statement… There was 30 or so dealership managers in the room and we were discussing Reputation Management. A gentleman from a tremendously respected online company was speaking and providing incredible information on managing a dealers online reputation… When I heard this come from the back of the room…

“Here’s a concept…. Take care of your customers… Do it ALL the time… and you won’t have to worry about your online reputation!!” It was a moment that aligned the moon and the stars for me and shaped my sessions going forward and truly changed my outlook…

This was a General Manager of no other than a Lexus Store.. Now looking back, it made so much sense. I will also add that several others in the room still missed the point. In fact, here came the Broad Objections… Sure, we could easily do that if we made 5K on every car we sold like you do… Then it dropped on me like a ton of bricks…. For months if not years.. I have been making statements like “The car business hasn’t changed, only how a customer finds you has.” Another that stuck out was, “Car dealers don’t sell cars…. They deliver a customer experience.”

The only answer to these Broad Objecting statements targeted at the Lexus GM was…..  

WHY NOT!!

It really was that simple… Now these words are surely easier to type than accomplish in reality, this blog entry, and those that come after, will be dedicated to that simple philosophy.

“Becoming better today than yesterday” Then REPEAT!  

You don’t have to be the BEST!! You just have to be better than the people you will be compared to!! Or simply…

You don’t have to be faster than the bear…. Only faster than the others running from it!!

Thanks for reading and please write me back.. Add to this or just tell me I’m crazy!! Tell me you like it!! Tell me I’m Stupid!! Just tell me something!!  

Running from the BEAR,

Mark

Everyone is talking about Social Media and how much impact it will have on your business in the future. If you disagree, think about this for a minute: It is widely known that baby boomers have been the economic engine of the US and even the world economy for 25+ years. Would you be surprised to know that the most powerful group of buyers is just starting to enter the world of Social Media interaction?

Baby boomers are starting to embrace smartphones and mobile internet and their growing rate of acceptance is mirrored by their use of Social Media sites. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so, and here is why. As the boomers start to retire and travel more their desire to stay in contact with family/grandkids and career long business colleagues is inevitable (I call this the “family factor”), hence the need for social interaction sites and mobile access to them. For this blog I interviewed Kevin McAllister, President of San Diego Wireless, one of the top 10 cellular resellers in the US, and he had some interesting comments. “In my business I do see an increase in the baby boomer age group moving toward smartphones and most are asking my tech guys to help them set up their Facebook and Twitter accounts on the phone at the time of purchase.”

Facebook users over 55 have gone from under 1 million to nearly 6 million this past summer and currently there are more Facebook users over the age of 55 than high school students using the site! In addition to this “initial wave” you need to realize that traditionally baby boomers are slower than other groups to embrace new technologies, but I for one think that when the “family factor” comes into play the speed this group will adapt is astronomical. See this recent iPhone commercial as confirmation.

Now that you have gotten this far let me pull all of this together for some real value. I remember in Marketing 101 my professor said something like, “If you want to be a successful marketer, start off by marketing where people are.” That holding true, are you going to be there when the boomers show up? An analogy would be a fisherman dropping his net prior to the fish running up the river versus hearing the fish are running and then going out to drop his net. Drop your Social Media nets now! Please leave your comments on this blog and be sure to follow all of the Liquid Motors authors on Twitter and Facebook today.

If you have watched the news, presidential speeches or stock watch channels in the past two years you probably have noticed that CEO’s of most major companies have been more visible than ever before. The reason for the increased accessibility of company leaders is simple, TRUST! With the loss of consumer trust and confidence prior to and during the recession these leaders are standing in front of the camera with a genuineness and transparency that has not been seen in modern business times. The result of this effort has been captured in a recent study by Edelman Inc.

Of those surveyed, 54% trust US companies. This is an increase of 18% and is closely followed by a 46% increase in trust factor of our government. By now you may be asking, “So what in the world does this have to do with my dealership, Terry?” The side effect of this for car dealers is clear: consumers now expect to hear from the leaders, owners and stakeholders in a business and yes, this includes car dealers. Dealer Principals and General Managers need to get involved to regain trust now! Have genuine conversations, tell your story and interact with consumers through Social Media. Remember, Social Media is nothing new for YOU. It is the same thing you have been doing face to face with customers at your store for years. You just need to expand that behavior to the digital world. Please leave your comments on this blog and be sure to follow all of the Liquid Motors authors on Twitter and Facebook today.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,305 other followers