Whether you’re looking at launching an SEO campaign, dedicating resources to monitoring your digital reputation or reviewing content for your Website, digital marketing in today’s world has become a complex, many-headed beast.
Even so, it’s encouraging to see how many dealers have embraced the challenge of multifaceted marketing campaigns, particularly in the digital space where the learning curve of new and constantly evolving technology can be intimidating.
Those dealers who have jumped in with both feet have proven they really get it.
But, understanding that you need to be in many places simultaneously in many forms only gets you so far. Worse, it may only get you a fragmented approach to marketing for your dealership.
Regardless of the abundance of marketing channels available, all vying for your attention, there’s only one vision of success that can give you a clear path in navigating those channels — your vision.
The Importance of Vision
Vendors and marketing partners can offer a wide range of solutions and services to meet your individual needs, but only you can envision the unique road to success for your dealership (although a committed marketing partner can prove invaluable in helping you craft and articulate that vision).
In many ways, this is the most important step of devising your whole marketing strategy — the one that should come before anything else — and yet it often gets neglected.
It’s too easy to listen to all the ways various services and solutions can drive traffic, increase revenue, free up time and resources, etc. You nod your head and put new approaches in motion without ever stopping to think: “How does this serve my vision of success for the dealership?”
If you adopt a bunch of disparate solutions that work just fine but aren’t serving a single, unified vision, then that’s exactly what you have — a bunch of disparate solutions.
It’s a bit like treating the symptoms of an illness but never going after the root cause. Things get better, circumstances improve, but are you truly realizing your goal?
“Wait a minute,” you might say. “Wouldn’t this ‘vision of success’ be essentially the same for any dealer: increase profit?”
Yes and no.
Yes, the ultimate goal of your marketing strategy should be to drive interest, drive traffic and drive loyalty — all ways of securing revenue that can feed your bottom line.
But pouncing on any and every tool or service that promises you increased revenue, without considering how it fits into your larger plan for long-term success, as well as your specific focus in the dealership at that time, may not be how you are best served.
There are a couple of reasons why:
• First, resources are limited. Without a well-defined, unified vision for success at the outset, by what measure are you judging the ROI of different marketing solutions? How will you determine which approaches will get you where you want to go?
This may sound simple, but it can be a real problem. It’s easy to over-invest in a shiny new service or solution that does what it promises to do, but turns out not to be aligned with the most critical marketing goals your dealership really needs to accomplish.
• Second, having a vision for long-term success in place will help get you through the difficult times without giving in to the temptation to scrap your marketing strategy altogether (which, in my experience, is always the first place to see budget cuts).
It’s inevitable in any industry that there will be ups and downs, and automotive retailing is a classic example. If there’s no overarching vision of success anchoring your marketing approach, then when the next downturn hits, there will be a powerful temptation to jettison the marketing services built for the long-term in favor of spotty and sporadic “quick-fix” marketing.
In terms of marketing strategy, this might be the worst possible reaction to adversity a dealer could have. One-off promotions and tactics designed to drive traffic immediately may do just that, but usually end up being significantly less effective than tried-and-true approaches that are meant to be long-lasting staples of your marketing efforts.
What Does Your Success Look Like?
Warren Bennis, a pioneer of leadership studies, said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Without a clear-cut vision for success for your dealership, your best possible reality will always be just a step or two below realizing your full potential.
There are marketing partners who will strive passionately to help you craft a unique, individual vision of success that makes sense for your dealership, but ultimately, committing to this mindset depends on you.
It’s time to define — for yourself, your team and your business — what specific goals you want to achieve, when you want to achieve them and how you plan to attain those goals. Commit to them and create a marketing strategy that aligns with your terms rather than aimlessly letting a hodgepodge marketing strategy dictate results to you.
With the vision in place, success itself is out there, just waiting to be grasped. Make it a reality — and dream big.