As a media buyer who deals exclusively with automotive clients, I understand the tremendous pressure dealerships are under to keep budgets in line. There’s a constant push and pull from your OEMs all the way down to your market reps on how that money should be spent. With endless marketing opportunities, it can be difficult to pinpoint where those advertising dollars should go. So, who do you listen to? Who has your best interest at heart? The answer to that is simple: Hire an agency! Let them educate you, advocate for you and help you navigate the ever-changing marketing landscape.
Unfortunately, far too often these partnerships start out halfheartedly. I know it can be uncomfortable to have someone come in and start poking their noses in your decision-making process. Giving up control is difficult — especially when it’s something as important as the marketing budget for your business. But it’s imperative to overcome this jockeying for control and work together, versus treating your agency as a third-party vendor. Your agency should be your partner. Your agency should assist you, help grow your business and take the burden of everyday marketing intricacies off your plate.
When you boil it down, all you really need is trust, communication, honesty and respect to build the foundation of a successful partnership. Communicate your concerns and ideas. Discuss strategies that seem to be working and learn from those that don’t. Be open to new concepts. Trust the process and share your thoughts in an honest and productive way. Respect one another’s role within the partnership. You as the dealer have invaluable insight into the inner workings of your dealership. Share that knowledge and trust in your agency’s ability to implement and execute marketing strategies.
Agencies want to help you succeed. They don’t intend to swoop in, take over your dealership and laugh evilly as they rake in the commissions. I know trust needs to be earned and that everyone has encountered a few bad apples in past relationships, but don’t let those experiences harden or limit your potential for future partnerships. A truly great agency will be your watchdog; it will keep an eye out for the best marketing opportunities, weed out the bad ones and advise you on strategies that garner the best results.
New relationships are often tricky. The beginning can be a bit awkward. You’re still in the process of trying to get to know one another. There’s a lot of uncertainty. Will this work out? Will they treat me the way I should be treated? Well, if each person plays to their strengths and relies on one another to reach a common goal (more sales and profits for you), it will only help the relationship grow stronger. Keep an open mind and allow your agency the opportunity to do the job you hired them to do. Allow them to be your partner — to be part of your team. A dealership that views its agency as a partner rather than an adversary will set the groundwork for a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.