Stepping Outside the Echo Chamber

Posted on by Jason Cook
Categories: Automotive marketing

Now that we’re firmly implanted in 2019, susceptible to both the pitfalls and perils most-evident and well-hidden, we’d be spotlighting a lack of foresight if we failed to acknowledge one of the greatest threats to your automotive marketing strategy. More accurately, it’s one of the greatest threats to any marketing strategy, regardless of industry or intent (and arguably, to a happy, aware and satisfying existence as a whole). Of course, we’re talking about the dreaded (and oft-lamented) echo chamber.

On a personal note, echo chambers tend to be most evident on our social media newsfeeds. If your newsfeed is anything like ours, it’s endured the last decade littered by a distractingly annoying barrage of political commentary. And, regardless of your political leanings, you’ve inevitably made the mistake of tossing yourself down the proverbial rabbit-hole (be it to debate or simply to read the comments) at one point or another. Regardless of the frequency at which you’re personally guilty of subjecting yourself to such misery, this is where the echo chambers prove their power. They falsely empower like-minded parties to delude themselves, believing that strength in numbers is equitable to factual validation. And if this phenomenon (on a case-by-case basis) isn’t bad enough, it is then compounded by the exponential threat of viral sharing.

But how does this equate to marketing, especially within the operational landscape of a dealership? Simple. Excusing the gender-specific terminology, it comes from a “Yes-Man” or “Yes Ma’am” culture, feeding whichever ego decides the corporate direction. And while it’s incredibly important for any employee to govern their respective areas of a dealership’s operations with (what we like to call) ‘the eyes of the owner’, it’s equally important for new ideas to be heard, appreciated and (if deserving) implemented –  even if they’re new or different from the of the dealership’s principal.

When it comes down to it, the comfort level at which a dealership accepts new ideas speaks to both its culture and the strength of its hiring practices. To attract superior talent, one must offer a receptive and empowering environment. And in building a more capable team, management must be willing to set aside their ego, and be ready to accept what could be valuable new insights. Failure to do so traps a dealership within an endless cycle of the same results, restricting growth and defying any expectations of increased revenue or operational improvement. This is where an echo chamber transforms from a source of validation, into a means of accelerated self-destruction.

But hiring insightful, goal-oriented personnel and empowering them with responsive implementation is only part of the solution. It’s equally as important to place one’s trust in a partner whose sole focus is to contribute to the goals which have been set; a partner unburdened by culture or insider politics. Doing so arms a dealership with a new skillset and arsenal of ideas designed to identify operational shortcomings, sidestep them and support successful growth in untapped areas. This is why companies of all sizes have spent the last four decades hiring independent consultants to fine-tune their infrastructures and culture in the hopes of optimizing their success.

And therein lies the value of a digital marketing consultancy. With the right partnership in place, it allows a dealership to avoid the inherent dangers of the dreaded echo chamber – in both the corporeal and digital landscape – allowing for a greater likelihood of long-term success.

Have we blown any minds with our recommendation of employing a digital marketing expert, or said anything that you weren’t already aware of? Probably not. But let’s explore the dangers of the echo chamber a little deeper, to show just how easy it is for a dealership to self-sabotage its own growth.

The Echo Chamber and Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Marketing Strategy on a laptop

The threat of the echo chamber applies equally to the macro and micro. To put this into perspective, let’s take a hard look at the big picture. What propels humanity forward? Our ability to observe and then translate our informational and experiential cognizance in a manner that’s easily interpretable by the majority, incorporating the lessons learned into our collective knowledge base and implementing directional changes that benefit our growth as a species. In other words: the sharing of new ideas.

But what happens when we begin to compartmentalize our ideas, fragmenting our knowledge base? What happens when we stop working towards our collective best interests? We stop growing. Rest assured, we’re not preaching socialist rhetoric here (quite the opposite, actually). We’re simply stating that blanketing ourselves in the fake security of non-threatening ideas does nothing to help us grow. It stifles us within an endless cycle of ego-stroking, and false validation.

But that’s just the macro. Extending the same mindset to your marketing initiatives, we can see the threat for what it is. Your digital marketing strategy, for example, utilizes content as a foundation. By managing content generation internally, you’re far more likely to create a one-sided entity, more appealing to yourselves than to existing and prospective customers alike. And while that content may feel ‘on-brand’ to you, it may feel self-serving to those customers, spitting in the face of the customer-centric experience that they are looking for.

So, let’s define the problem. Let’s break down the echo chamber, deconstructing it into its base components. Let’s work to understand the reason ‘why’ we’re so inclined to find comfort in an echo chamber, so that we can understand why an outside voice is so crucial.

  • First, we talked about the false comfort offered by ‘safety in numbers’. Referred to as the Herd Instinct, humanity is hard-wired to associate with like-minded individuals. This, of course,  is the driving force behind both religion and political affiliations (and guess what has inspired the lion’s share of war in the human era?) Without getting too touchy-feely here, we need to stand in defiance of our Herd Instinct when it comes to marketing. We need to balance safe investments with high-risk, high-return concepts – presented by knowledgable parties – helping to serve to advance us forwards. And yes, this means tailoring your content to be bold, unafraid to distinguish itself from competitors.
  • Refusal to heed new information, especially that which conflicts with one’s belief(s) is what fuels polarization. It’s what seems to justify the decision of a person or party to stay to one side of a conversation, seeking comfort and validation by the like-minded. That said, such comfort and validation is an illusion. The effects of the decision however, are very real, as it limits the appeal of your message catering only to a fraction of the audience you seek. And selective exposure to any idea(s) tend to create diametric opposition, with people on either side of the topic blind to the pros and cons found along the spectrum. If you’re creating personalized content in a responsible manner, it’s less about bending the facts to meet your claim, but adjusting your claim to embrace the facts. In doing so, you’ll ensure your appeal to a wider audience.

Responsible Personalization of Content

In a recent study, Columbia University reported that 61% of the news that we absorb is received second-hand, delivered by peers and that 59% of those headlines were digested without the articles even being read.

This alone necessitates the need for a social shift. No longer should we be content in creating tailored content designed to yield a unilateral result. At the risk of utilizing an exhausted trope, you need to step outside the proverbial box. From blogs to social media posts, your dealership needs to cultivate honest, engaging content that will drive up your dealership’s perceived value as a resource. Unfortunately, that quality of content management is unlikely to come from in-house contributors.

If you’ve doubted the benefits of collaboration up until now, we hope that we’ve (at least) got you thinking. With all due respect to your corporate vision, there is something to be said for the implementation of new ideas. Otherwise, your marketing efforts might be futile…because your dealership might only be speaking to itself.