Automotive Advertising Agencies Drop Conventional Media in Favor of Social Networking by Consumers

Old school wisdom like ‘the customer is always right’ have often taken a back seat to automotive advertising agencies and auto dealers who presumed to talk “at” customers rather than listen to them. Hard sell tactics built on that presumption may have sold cars in the past but with the rise of the Internet and social networking media — not so much!Today’s educated car shoppers are bypassing the auto dealer’s real and virtual showrooms in favor of visiting other online information resources. Auto dealers are being replaced by consumers in the formative stage of their buying cycle who turn to trusted friends in social networking communities. These online groups of like minded consumers share their car buying experiences before, during and after the sale and customers find that they are able to provide far more transparent and relevant information than any self serving auto dealer; real or imagined.Similarly, the reach and frequency of the best planned automotive advertising campaign can be trumped with the click of a mouse by a car shopper who can get the information they need to buy a car without having to listen to a sales pitch from a self serving auto dealer. The solution for automotive advertising agencies challenged by a shrinking economy and a consolidating auto industry is obvious — if you can’t beat them, join them.Social networking on the World Wide Web is an extension of an equally established wisdom that people like to do business with people that they like. The social part of this growing online marketing phenomenon is built on trust in friends which is an element of human nature that has survived on the Internet Super Highway. Networking references the value of word of mouth advertising that delivers a single message to a sphere of influence that used to be limited to close friends and family. The Internet now distributes that same message virally on channels like You Tube, My Space, LinkedIn, Face Book, Bebo, Twitter and too many others to list that are growing exponentially.Automotive advertising agencies have been challenged to monetize social networking with mixed results primarily because they attempted to apply best practices learned from their past experiences on conventional media like radio, T.V. and print. Initially, it was assumed that the only adjustment needed was to post the same retail messages that worked in conventional media on the social networks. That was accomplished through the use of banner ads linked back to the auto dealer’s website or with an invitation for the customer to call or visit their real world dealership to get the information they needed beyond the low ball price or payment that was often offered but rarely trusted. These banner ads were seen as an easily avoided nuisance by community members who opted not to play. However, evidence does suggest that they did/do provide a residual impression that adds to the auto dealer’s top of the mind awareness with the car shopper; although sometimes the impression was tainted by the dealer’s intrusion into the community of friends.When the R.O.I. of the banner ads did not meet expectations, automotive advertising agencies attempted to register their auto dealer clients as members of the community to promote themselves from within. Auto dealers were quickly discovered as the wolves in sheep’s clothing that they were and the unwritten rules of etiquette of these social networking sites drove them from the community with their tails between their legs.Automotive advertising agencies have since learned that the elements of human nature that drive word of mouth advertising are fragile and they require transparency to survive in social networking communities. As is often the case, the solution has been provided by the developing technologies that have matured along with the Internet as a marketing media.One such solution is provided by ronsmap.com, a game changing customer centric marketing platform with proprietary applications including vBack and SellersVantage that generate Intelli-Leads with market and consumer intelligence not previously available to auto dealers. vBack is a social media engine that is embedded on the vehicle postings on ronsmap as well as the auto dealer’s website and linked marketing channels with an Ask-a-Friend/Tell-a-Friend feature functionality that develops viral messages trafficked through the social networking communities that the customer belongs to and trusts. In addition, related comments from friends solicited by the customer are attached to the Intelli-Lead as part of their SellersVantage application that also accumulates data on comparable vehicles from the auto dealer’s inventory in accordance with the customer’s stated preferences as well as related real time product and pricing information from local competitive dealer inventories posted on the Internet. This added information is sourced from within the social networking community by the customer — not the auto dealer — preserving the anonymity of the dealer while providing the auto dealer virtually unlimited access to members.This method of C2C marketing from the inside out vs. the now dated B2C marketing from the outside in is unique to ronsmap and it promises to allow automotive advertising agencies access to this growing online media. Conventional media is, and will always be, an integral component of any comprehensive marketing plan, however access to leveraged viral messaging offered by consumer driven social networking channels is the best way for budget challenged auto dealers to sell more for less. After all, what are friends for!

What’s the Hardest Part of Marketing Yourself?

In my Fast Track Marketing System I divide marketing into seven very specific modules:1. The Game of Marketing2. The Mindset of Marketing3. Marketing Messages (Your Value Proposition)4. Marketing and Selling Conversations5. Written Marketing Materials6. Marketing Strategies7. Marketing Action PlansAll of these have their particular challenges. But in my experience in working with thousands of Independent Professionals, it’s #7 that seems to be the hardest for most people.After all, most of the other 6 modules are all about preparation to market yourself.You learn the basics of the game of marketing, you work on your marketing mindset, you develop marketing messages, conversations, and written marketing materials, and ultimately choose the marketing strategies to get the word out.And then the rubber hits the road. You have to actually get out there and connect with potential clients through networking, speaking, an eZine, social media, emails, etc.For most, the bottom falls out of their marketing at this point. It simply goes nowhere, or more specifically it goes into the infamous “Random Zone” where things are done haphazardly and inconsistently.If people have worked to develop the whole foundation of their marketing first, know who their target market is, have put together a web site and have practiced their marketing and selling conversations, they are going to have more success.But even the well-prepared struggle with implementation.Why is putting action plans into action so hard? Here are three of the most common ones. Are they familiar to you?1. As soon as you start reaching out, you face possible rejection. What if your message, your talk, your emails fall on deaf ears? What if your potential clients could care less? What if they outright rejected your promotional efforts?We conjure painful mental images in our mind that stop us cold.For this one we need to work again on our mindset, on our thinking, realizing that if we reach out and people aren’t interested, that it’s not personal. They don’t hate us; either they are simply not good prospects right now or our message doesn’t have the impact it could.So reach out to new prospects and keep improving your messages.2. It takes way more time and effort than you ever thought it would. We think of marketing as a few promotional things we do here and there. This should be easy, we think. But it’s not.Time to do a reality check. Any marketing activity takes time, effort and commitment to make it work. Marketing is a bit of an art and nothing works perfectly on the first draft.You need to make detailed and realistic plans based on strategies that others have used successfully in the past. If you just make it up as you go along, your chances of success are very slim.3. It’s never good enough and although you might even know what you’re doing, you put off your marketing launches until everything is perfect… but it never is.What underlies this are beliefs about perfection, not being good enough and being judged by others. It’s not so much rejection you fear, but disapproval. What will others think of you?Well, if your marketing campaign isn’t relevant to those you are targeting, it’s not a big deal. They’ll just ignore it. They won’t think much about it at all. But for the ones that are looking for what you offer, they’ll not only be interested, they’ll respond.Your prospects are not looking for perfection from you; they’re looking for assistance and value. If you’ve got that, perfection is virtually irrelevant.I’ve done a whole lot of marketing action plans that were rejected by most people, took me a long time to implement, and were far from perfect. And most of them have made me hundreds of thousands of dollars!Marketing success is about know-how, value, commitment, and persistence. Everything else is just a distraction.The Fearless Marketer Bottom Line: There could be a lot of other things stopping you from following through with your marketing plan as well. The question is, where are you going to focus – on your fears and worries about rejection, time, and perfection – or are you going to focus on the value and difference you make and give your marketing plans a real chance?