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Connecting the Dots in Automotive SEM: Is Your Strategy Playing by Your Rules?

Many experts are anticipating year-over-year decreases as the industry begins to normalize from the sales spike we’ve experienced over the past few years. This means dealers will be reevaluating their marketing investments to cut and trim unnecessary spending.

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The 2019 seasonally adjusted annual rate is predicted to post a slight decline from what NADA reported last year at this time. Many experts are anticipating further year-over-year decreases as the industry begins to normalize from the sales spike we’ve experienced over the past few years. 

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This means, now more than ever, dealers will be reevaluating their marketing investments to cut and trim unnecessary spending. 

I want to share advice I’ve learned from my years at the executive level of major SEM companies. Everything a dealer needs to know can really be boiled down to two important truths: 

  1. Campaigns should directly support dealer business. 
  2. Most other campaigns exist just to inflate dealer spend. 

It’s no secret that the best way to approach decisions is to evaluate what you put in vs. what you get back. In auto sales, this applies to both cost and time. 

When I worked in the dealership SEM space, I learned firsthand how much pressure is put on vendors to encourage their dealers to overspend. Not to mention how much time gets wasted on both sides with manual campaign management, digging through reports, unnecessary calls, etc.

I know many of you will read this and think, “Well sure, Neal thinks this because he wants to promote his company.” But trust me, it is deeper than that. 

The ugly truth is, any company that is successful at selling advertising is inevitably going to get pressure from its major audience sources to drive more revenue. Vendors move further away from benefiting the dealer when they start expanding their services to please traffic channels, and even more so when they start increasing dealer budgets to maintain these changes.  

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Let me pose it to dealers this way… don’t you wish as a dealer you could suggest to all customers that they need three new cars rather than one? Don’t you also wish that when you told your customer this, they would take it as gospel because you’re the expert on the matter? 

How many campaigns are you currently running not because of your own opinion, but at the recommendation of a third party?

I’m challenging dealers to try taking another look at their current spend and letting the following questions guide them:

  1. Will this help me sell a car?
  2. Will this help me service a customer?
  3. Am I spending money to get customers that are already looking for my dealership?

Tune into my podcast with the AutoSuccess team to dive into this topic further. And, if you have any additional questions or feedback, I’d love to hear it. You can always drop a note to my team at [email protected] or mention us on social @LotLinx. 

Neal Gann, president of LotLinx

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