Online Reputation Management
Will You Ride The Wave?
Each year industry professionals pontificate from the pulpit their version of the new year’s paradigm shift. They bet on what the next wave – the next BIG THING will be. What automotive internet managers and digital marketing directors need to take into account is that, like most “gamble’s”, this can really be a crap shoot.
Think about it. What do these self touted “experts” have to lose by being wrong? In the hyper ADD world of Social Media and Digital Marketing, your mistakes and failed predictions are quickly forgotten. Not true for the Internet Manager or Digital Marketing professional working in the trenches of the actual car dealership. Your GM’s remember every false step and most GSM’s and sales manager’s just shake their heads and say, “I told you this internet thing was just a fad!”
Why am I telling you what you already know? Because it is in this regard that Wikimotive stands ALONE. Yes it is true I am a (dare I say the dirty word) VENDOR. But unlike ALL other vendors, I still work FULL TIME in the trenches at my automotive group, the Albrecht Auto Group. You know me best as the Digital Marketing Director of Marlboro Nissan.
Results Are What Matter
The only reason I am even in a position to have created Wikimotive is because of the incredible results I continue to experience as the DMD of Marlboro Nissan. Every service Wikimotive offers to dealers is the result of a successful initiative and long term proven ROI IN THE TRENCHES at Marlboro Nissan or Woburn Foreign Motors.
This might lead one to wonder how I am able to consistently experience above average results year after year that far outpace the industry. It’s all about the trend. It’s about finding that one thing that many will miss – that one thing that we can exploit and yield uncommon success each year and in so doing attain tremendous ROI and incremental growth.
And The Winner Is…
This year I’ve decided to throw down the gauntlet right from the start and share my insight – my prediction – with all. The game changer in 2011 will be ORM (Online Reputation Management).
Those of you in the know are scratching your heads thinking, “This isn’t new.” A few of you may recall Matt Lamoureux, the former Marketing Director for Acton Toyota who’s leadership there lead to their #1 dealer in the world ranking on dealerrater.com. Incidentally, Marlboro Nissan with it’s 40 yr old facility and 1 car showroom and 40 employees, is ranked #2 by the same site.
So what has changed? Well its a perfect storm. The combination of both consumer AND dealer education is going to lead to a significant shift in 2011. Even the dealers we NEVER thought would care about ORM are now certified dealers on sites like dealerrater.com and prestoreviews. People get it. They don’t even think about it anymore. Checking for and posting consumer reviews is just the way we shop now.
What’s more, the place most people go to begin their information gathering, Google, is now rolling up reviews from a number of consumer review sites and posting them right on the google places listings! One doesn’t even really have to research anymore! The number of reviews and a star measurement is right there in the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP)!
It Doesn’t Matter What You Think!
It doesn’t matter anymore whether or not management and decision makers like or dislike review sites. It doesn’t matter if they think it is akin to “blackmail” to pay to be certified or to advertise on these sites. It doesn’t matter what they “think”. The facts are clear and undeniable. Consumers trust other consumers, period. All the bravado and “salesmanship” and years of experience in the car business doesn’t change the fact that someone with a hundred reviews that tout, “bait and switch” and “price changed when I went to pick the car up” and “$1,000 doc fee” will never even get the chance to utilize that “salesmanship” because the customer will never make it in the door for you to try.
Sure, there will be a few. There will always be a small minority of uninformed consumers. But they make up a very small minority now. So let’s summarize: Forget what you think and accept that ORM IS the primary face of your business from now on. Either get it or plan on a career change because you will not be in business in the next 5 years if you do not. Think that’s too extreme of a position? Think the car business will never change? Ask all the Chrysler dealers from 2007 how they’re doing today… if you can find one…
Better Late Than Never
“Tim, I get it! I’m ready! But our dealership has no online reputation but our customers love us! Is it too late to catch up to dealers like Marlboro Nissan and Acton Toyota?” It’s NEVER too late! Sure a few of us have a nice lead on the game, but Google has made it tough on even those of us who have a big lead. They’re only counting the last 12 months of reviews! So the 300+ Marlboro Nissan have on dealerrater.com are only helpful once the consumer goes there and even then dealerrater only factors the last 24 months of reviews in the scoring. It’s not too late! Get in and get committed. All it takes is commitment.
Now You Know and Knowing Is…
Still skeptical? I know there are still a few skeptics even after reading this. Some will think, “If he’s so great, why would he share his secret with everyone?” Simple: Commitment and Execution. Early on in my career I spent time strategizing with Brian Pasch of PCG Digital Marketing. Some of the early insight we shared is just coming to fruition today. Often we would make a startling SEO discovery and the next day Brian would blog about it. It drove me crazy! I would say, “Brian! What the hell are you doing giving away our secrets!” Brian showed great wisdom in sharing an eternal truth. And that was, “Tim, you could have in your possession the handbook to the secret of life and share it with the world and not much would change. For the simple fact is that few possess either the commitment or the ability to execute. The remaining few who are smart enough to see the truth will hire you to show them the way.”
I have a reputation for being controversial at times. I am passionate about my beliefs as it regards successful strategy in the car business. I hope a few of you will read and implement a strategy to accomplish what has been discussed here. If you need help in determining the best course of action for your dealership, please contact Wikimotive by utilizing the form on the left or by clicking the “contact Wikimotive” link. Good luck in 2011!