Automotive Retail Solutions

Are Brands Important?

In “Twilight of the Brands” in the February 17/24 issue of “The New Yorker,” James Surowiecki  discusses the challenges facing brands in today’s information-rich U.S. economy. Surowiecki focuses on Lululemon Athletica, a yoga apparel company that quickly became the darling of the industry and then tumbled almost overnight because of negative customer feedback. Such instantaneous customer reaction can propel a company to new heights or spell its doom in the blink of an eye, according to...Read...
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Inconsistent Trends: Local Oil Production and EV Sales

Given the complexities of the global and U.S. economies, inevitably there are going to be economic and/or industrial trends that run counter to one another, but it seems to me that we are now experiencing two movements that are particularly inconsistent. Last month, The New York Times  ran a story about the surge in U.S. oil production, saying local oil output will increase by 800,000 barrels a day annually for at least the next three years (Dec. 17 page B1). Imported oil's share of total... Read...
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The Automotive Zero Moment of Truth

There is no denying the fact that the internet has changed the shopping process for consumers as they're influenced by online search, display advertising, social media and online reviews to more easily make buying decisions about the brands, companies and products they want to purchase. This has always been the case in the automotive world; people often went to the library to pick up an issue of Consumer Reports to check out what kind of car they should buy before schlepping to multiple...Read...
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Mid-Year Pulse on the Automotive Industry

Polk just released the June registrations, so this is a good time to take a look at how the industry is doing for the first half of the year compared to the similar period last year.Top level, it is good news for the industry. Total registrations are up 12.6% and retail registrations are up 17.3% – it's nice to see stronger growth in retail registrations. That means real people are buying more cars. However, June was before the now infamous debt debate and the growing malaise about the...
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Can the Domestic OEMs Maintain the Momentum?

After seeing the domestic share of the retail light vehicle market continue to lose ground to Asian brands over the past five years, we are beginning to see an uptick in 2011. The bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler coupled with the collapse of the automotive market exacerbated the decline for the domestic OEMs in 2009 and 2010. Ford was the only domestic to buck the trend and increase its share in 2009 and 2010, but not enough to offset the loss in share of GM and Chrysler. Overall domestic...
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Dealership Marketing: Shifting the Mindset of Social Media as a Strategy

As the social media world continues to evolve and become more prevalent in marketing, it has become commonplace for dealerships to try and determine how they want to participate and support their brand using this medium.The feedback I hear in the dealer world is, "I need to have a social media strategy." But as with any strategy, I think this statement is much too general and dealers need to take a step back and evaluate the concept of social media and really understand that it is in essence...
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What a Woman Wants: Fabulous Automobile Features

It has been published recently that women influence about 85% of vehicle purchases in the U.S. I can testify this is true in my house and I definitely have some opinions. So if you haven't purchased or leased a new vehicle in the last couple of years you are going to be pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of available features. We're not just talking about expensive luxury models, even the economy segment is all over it. There are too many to list but here are a few standouts from a...Read M...
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New Wheels for the 16-Year Old Daughter: Lease or Buy?

I have a 16-year old daughter that "needed" a car. I'm sure there are plenty of you out there in my predicament. Because we are an active family of four with two working parents, a car is not readily available for her personal use which includes school, practice, work, the mall, the movies. You get the picture. According to her, we are purposely holding back her freedom and are simply the worst parents in the world.What influenced my decision to help accommodate this situation is her academic...R...
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How Can Dealers Best Reach Their Audiences?

Imagine your closing ratio if you could communicate individually via email, postal, phone, or SMS using a targeted approach or message to fit the lifecycle of the customer. This is the essence of relationship marketing – the ability to have a one-on-one conversation with current and future customers to develop a unique relationship and regularly engage them with timely, relevant messages. If a dealer is not engaging their key customers then they are losing out on potential opportunities for... Re...
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Digital Targeting & Execution - Tools for a Pay-For-Performance Industry

Tracking automotive advertising costs for ROI and lead conversion performance is a new requirement for OEMs, agencies and dealers. Many aspects of digital marketing create accountability and transparency for advertisers and the activities tied to campaigns. In addition to Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and lead costs, the industry is now able to merge online and offline vehicle purchase activity for an actual cost per sale.Tying together digital targeting, messaging, lead scoring...Rea...
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Lead Generation & Email Marketing: A Match Made in Heaven

Imagine you have two email marketing campaigns deployed for your dealer customer. In campaign #1 the creative has excellent graphics, content and layout with a wonderful message about the product. In campaign #2 you have the same features; however, there is a hyperlink for the prospect to provide personal information to receive special new car sales or service offers as well as learn more about the product via the dealer's website. While both campaigns have the ability to perform well wouldn’t...
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Say It Like You Mean It: A Recap

I recently attended a communications seminar offered by Inforum and Centric Strategies called "Say It Like You Mean It!" The seminar was highly informative and there were several good take-aways for me to apply in my day-to-day personal and professional communications.As an example, did you know that communication is 55% body language, 38% tone of voice and 7% words according to Kristina Evey, our seminar leader? Body language is especially important. Kristina spoke about the importance of...Read...
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Dealers Got Down to Business at NADA 2010

In a previous blog I asked the question, "What will be the buzz at NADA 2010?" Now that the show is over, I have some observations to share. NADA 2010 was a combination of "sizzle and steak." The show included new technologies, and beautiful vehicle models. There were brick and mortar enhancements for dealers to compete on a retail level. Aftermarket Row provided ways to ramp up fixed operations and used vehicle sales for gaining the dealership "orphaned owners." The atmosphere was more...Read...
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NADA 2010 - What's the Buzz?

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention in Orlando, FL, is next week and customers, colleagues and industry suppliers seem less cautious and more optimistic about the industry trends for 2010. And why shouldn’t we? New vehicle sales forecasts have continued to inch up to the mid and high 11 million ranges. New vehicle models have been launched with enthusiastic responses and early indications are a good start for January.The word from dealers and dealer groups in 2010 is...
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Budget Prospecting: The Art and Science of Acquiring New Automotive Customers

With the market tsunamis of 2008 and 2009, dealers and OEMs who have weathered the storm are viewing their business and markets differently than the earlier "roaring 2000s." When new vehicle sales shrink from 17 million new units to 10.5 million, the overall cost structure of the retail channel and consumer spending compresses at the same rate. Dealerships, agencies, lead providers and CRM companies must adjust their automotive marketing efforts and budgets to address the new volumes of new...
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