Automotive Advertising Agencies Should Attend the 2010 NADA Convention to Listen and Learn

Automotive advertising agencies have been forced to take on additional responsibilities in today’s troubled economy. As the President of national network of independent affiliated automotive advertising agencies and the host of an auto industry social networking resource portal I recently promoted the 2010 NADA Convention on my blog talk radio show as a real world venue similar to the online resources that I rely on to listen and learn and contribute to so I can presume to teach.

I consider the NADA convention as a must attend event for automotive advertising agencies, auto dealers, auto industry vendors and decision makers that regularly tune in to listen and learn from the auto industry experts regularly featured on various online resources. The NADA Convention is the real world version of online social networking communities focused on sharing best practices for the auto industry and a perfect platform to make new friends and connect with old ones in both the real and the virtual world.

The NADA Convention is a means to stay ahead of the competition by learning about the new Internet technologies and applications being introduced by the vendors and speakers that will be featured at the convention. The 2010 NADA Convention is being held in Orlando, Florida this February 12th. through February 15th., 2010 at the Orlando Convention Center. Additional information on the convention is available at their site — NADA.Org — and their online pre-registration savings of $50 -$75 has been extended to January 27th., 2010. I strongly advise anyone seeking to survive in today’s consolidating auto industry to register before the deadline to take advantage of the discount with the confidence that your investment of your time and money will provide a R.O.I. that can’t be duplicated by any online auto industry-centric venue; including my own.

My affiliated agencies are connected by a proprietary online communication/distribution system I developed in December of 2001. I designed the operating system that links this national network of independent businesses as a means to leverage the resources of the participating automotive advertising agencies, production partners and select vendors to allow them to compete with national automotive advertising agencies. The resulting savings in fixed and semi-variable expenses coupled with access to a wide variety of production and creative resources for the member agencies was made possible through their use of several online technologies that were developed to support the growing World Wide Web.

I reference this history as evidence that I have practiced what I now preach. These same technologies must be applied to the internal processes of auto dealerships to allow them to survive in a consolidating auto industry. The combination of the resulting efficiencies realized in technology enhanced selling systems in brick and mortar auto dealerships integrated with their online showrooms, and the newly developing applications being applied by automotive advertising agencies to promote their auto dealer clients on the Internet, is the key to profitability today and survival tomorrow.

The NADA Convention allows auto industry vendors to present new cutting edge applications to auto dealers and automotive advertising agencies who are anxious to gain an advantage over the competition. More importantly, in a consolidating auto industry auto dealers must sell more for less to satisfy budget conscious and better educated online car buyers and the technology being applied to sell vehicles on the Internet Super Highway is the way to do it in a scalable and cost effective manner!

The blog talk radio station featured on my portal is another example of how a new technology platform can enhance the reach and performance of an automotive advertising agency in today’s Internet driven marketplace. I use various blog talk radio shows as an online communication system for my network to share best practices and new vendor applications with site visitors surfing the web to get the inside story on the auto industry. In addition, my shows attract new vendors anxious to tell their story to the decision makers who follow me on the World Wide Web which allows me to review cutting edge automotive advertising applications before competing agencies know that they exist.

Several vendor clients of mine were discovered during their online reviews and most of them will be represented at the NADA Convention. Why? Because the NADA Convention is the perfect real world venue to launch new products and services and this year is no exception.

Automotive advertising agencies know that they must apply cutting edge automotive advertising technologies to their online marketing plans that integrate with proven selling processes in their auto dealer clients’ real and virtual world showrooms but they don’t know where to find them. Online automotive advertising focused social networking sites provide an excellent filter to find the newest and the best but the NADA Convention is the place to see them all in one place and one time in an environment where the decision makers from both the automotive advertising agency and the vendor can sit across the table and work out the best deal for both. After all, what are friends for!

Automotive Advertising Agencies Don’t Know What They Don’t Know But Social Media Has The Answers

Automotive advertising agencies are being asked to deliver more for less by a consolidating auto industry in response to reduced sales volume, profit margins and automotive advertising budgets. The solution, as is often the case, lies in the leveraged use of technology applied to a constant in the auto industry — change. Another constant that can be found in the auto industry is human nature. These two constants, change and human nature, power the explosive growth of the use of social media by automotive advertising agencies. Unfortunately, the change is happening at warp speed on the Internet Super Highway and agencies don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to new technologies and applications being developed to monetize social media.

Attempts to provide a presence for automobile dealers on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter fall short for the same reasons that these online communities of friends are so successful with consumers. People hate car dealers and they often turn to advice from like minded consumers on social networking sites to get away from them. Automotive advertising agencies that impose on these personal conversations with self serving sales messages are often ostracized and even virally attacked as an intruder. The potential damage to the online reputation of their auto dealer clients represents a risk to reward formula that has forced many agencies to abandon social media as a viable channel to deliver a retail sales or service message.

Fortunately, the same social media that teaches consumers how to buy a vehicle can provide automobile dealers with the information and the tools that they need to sell them one. Social networking portals developed by advertising professionals, automotive vendors and auto dealers allow their members to share best practices with the common philosophy that a rising tide floats all boats. Each online community boasts its own personality and rules of the road to keep members in their lane. The temptation to sell to each other is controlled by the same social pressures that exist on consumer facing social networks for those that forget why they are there — to listen and learn so they can presume to teach their auto dealers how they can sell cars and service to their online friends.

In addition to sharing best practices, many automotive advertising agencies use social media to discover new technologies and vendor applications that have not yet been discovered by the mainstream auto industry. Recent discoveries that I can contribute to my searches on social media include an automated video production platform that produces scalable interactive videos from pictures using human voice to narrate them that are placed on the auto dealer’s website and pushed through a dedicated API with YouTube onto the world wide web. An equally revolutionary discovery was a consumer centric inventory marketing platforms that offers auto dealers free listings and free leads with the ability to purchase real time market analytics and social networking profiles that empower the salesperson to answer the customer’s questions even before they ask them. Each of these vendor applications were introduced to the market through automotive advertising social networking communities that enabled them to listen and learn from their members about how they can improve their products and services before they introduced them to the general market. My access to these automotive advertising solutions was only possible as a result of the time I invested on social media looking for them so that I could stay one step ahead of the competition.

Online blog talk radio stations hosted on automotive advertising networking portals provide a another social media forum for finding and reviewing new automotive advertising solutions. Regularly scheduled blog talk radio shows with live interviews of the developers of bleeding edge automotive advertising applications allow their online audience to ask vendors questions in an open forum. These open exchanges of ideas in a problem solution format help the vendors as much as the automotive advertising decision makers that follow the shows. A new mobile sales presentation platform with an integrated training component was recently discussed on a blog talk radio show to solicit feedback from the audience. Their insights were used to modify the platform before the vendor began their beta test it in the real world saving thousands of wasted dollars and man hours that would normally be required to mature their application.

The opportunity for automotive advertising agencies and auto dealers to listen, learn and contribute to social networking communities allows them to discover what they don’t know while allowing them the opportunity to share what they do know. Auto dealers are people too/ The same efficiencies and extended resources that attract consumers to social media to research their next vehicle purchase is sourced by automotive advertising agencies who need to stay one step ahead of the competition in a consolidating auto industry that demands more for less. Automotive advertising agencies don’t know what they don’t know but they can definitely find out on auto industry focused social media. After all, what are friends for!

Automotive Advertising Agencies Must Use Yesterday’s Knowledge & Tomorrow’s Technology to Survive

Automotive advertising agencies who expect to be here tomorrow must apply tomorrow’s technology today or they will follow their shuttered auto dealer clients into the ranks of the unemployed. The consolidation of the auto industry is a necessary reaction to a shrinking economy and the proof of two basic rules of business — supply must follow demand and survival of the fittest insures that it will. The secret to survival for automotive advertising agencies and their auto dealer clients in a challenging market is to offer more for less and the technology being designed to improve sales processes on the Internet provide efficiencies that will determine the winners and the losers.

Integrating proven real world automotive advertising best practices with maturing virtual world selling processes that rely on developing technology on the Internet allows forward thinking automotive advertising agencies to blur the line between the real world of brick and mortar auto dealerships and the new virtual showrooms being built on the Internet Super Highway. Automotive advertising 101 teaches that you must go where your customers are if you want to reach them and with 93% of car shoppers confirming that they start their car buying process on the Internet that part of the marketing and sales process is easy. The hard part that automotive advertising agencies must recognize is that the one constant that has survived on the World Wide Web is human nature. Customers empowered by the easy access of information on the Internet are no longer dependent on auto dealerships — real or virtual — to determine what vehicle they will purchase and who they will buy it from. Online shoppers are looking for a new or used vehicle, not an auto dealership, and automotive advertising agencies need to convert from push/pull advertising methods to pull/push techniques preferred by an educated consumer.

Of course there is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water! Automotive advertising agencies must use conventional wisdoms built on the stable foundation of human nature supported by the efficiencies offered by new automotive advertising applications designed to crash through the glass wall of the Internet to preserve both market share and profits for their auto dealer clients. The easiest way to satisfy the customer and the auto dealer — in that order — is to give the customers what they want, when they want it — which is immediately — and to do it in such a way that the customers feel that they are buying a vehicle vs. being sold one. That is where the use of new automotive advertising technology and the related improved selling processes come in.

Giving the customers what they want — which is a vehicle not an auto dealership — suggests that automotive advertising agencies must promote individual vehicles on the Internet, not their auto dealer clients. While this may seem counter intuitive to old school car guys who presume that they must sell themselves before they can sell their vehicles, it is in keeping with equally established wisdom that suggest that automotive advertising doesn’t sell cars it just attracts customers who want to buy one. Simply put, the best advertising message in the world has no value if no one sees it and since customers are searching the web for individual vehicles that is the bait that will have them bite the hook that has the auto dealer on the other end of the line.

It is an accepted fact that cars sell cars and brick and mortar auto dealerships have gravitated to car rows or auto malls to take advantage of the attraction of having as many vehicles as possible in one location to draw real world car shoppers to their individual facilities. The leveraged advertising of multiple competing dealerships and the added value and convenience of one stop shopping for comparable makes and models at one central location is a value for consumers that has survived on the Internet Super Highway. Established third party inventory based websites have a proven place in today’s online automotive advertising plans. Most auto dealerships already rely on the leverage of their collected inventories of literally millions of vehicles from thousands of auto dealerships to attract online new and used vehicle shoppers. The search engine optimization, S.E.O., realized by these third party sites coupled with their localized search engine marketing, S.E.M., investments drawn from the collected revenues of the auto dealer clients that participate in these communal sites provide a competitive advantage that no individual dealer or even a large dealer group can compete with. New technologies being applied to this established business model promise an even better return on investment, R.O.I., for the auto dealers that participate.

ronsmap is a game changing online car buying/selling site for both consumers and dealers that exemplifies the value of improving technologies in existing Internet based marketing platforms. It makes car buying fast, comprehensive, transparent and live. What makes it unique is their new technology that gives consumers unparalleled buying and negotiating power over the car buying/selling processes including the opportunity to accommodate For Sale By Owner listings. Their unique value for dealers is that it provides them with an unprecedented level of sales intelligence on consumer leads, and it enables automotive advertising agencies to promote and engage consumers via social networks.

With existing search engine filters and third party websites online shoppers have to scroll through lists of hundreds of vehicles while clicking and drilling down on each site since not all vehicles for sale are aggregated on any one exit on the Internet Super Highway. Auto dealers that pay the most are typically promoted in the top listings limiting honest competitive comparisons and auto dealers are often non-responsive to general inquiry leads sourced from these lead resellers. Auto Dealers are equally challenged by existing marketing platforms that do not provide visibility or insights into consumer’s other vehicles of interest discovered during their online shopping trips and their communications are often mid sales cycle starting long after the initial research by the consumer has been completed. The R.O.I. for auto dealers for leads purchased from multiple third party providers are reduced by duplications and smaller dealers not willing or able to pay for a premium position can’t compete equally with the larger advertisers on these sites.

ronsmap is a new technology driven Internet solution scheduled to launch at the 2010 NADA Convention in Orlando, Florida. They provide the leverage of multiple inventories posted on a unique map-like internal search engine driven by consumer preferences on a local level that places all vehicles that fit the consumer’s search criteria on the same page with no prejudice to premium positions purchased by the dealers. Their proprietary application provides a level playing field for auto dealers while offering consumers one stop shopping across multiple brands, models and dealerships with the added value of comparisons to For Sale By Owner listings.

ronsmap also accommodates today’s consumer preference for pull/push marketing by integrating a unique social networking application into their platform. Marketing to consumers in social networks requires resources, tools and skill sets to compliment and supplement auto dealer’s existing online selling efforts. ronsmap provides all of these elements in a cost effective, scalable manner while delivering consolidated market intelligence not currently offered through other resources.

Their vBack application enables auto dealers to multiply leads by leveraging the word of mouth, W.O.M., phenomenon associated with viral messages distributed through social networking. This proprietary process embeds a social media engine directly within the vehicles posted on their community site as well as on the auto dealers individual websites. It extends the auto dealers reach, promotes confidence for consumers through their solicited comments from their online friends in response to their request for feedback on their intended purchase and it drives more consumers to the auto dealers websites.

Another unique value added feature provided by the new technologies implemented by ronsmap is exemplified by their SellersVantage application. It allows auto dealers to communicate with online consumers in real time early in the decision cycle. It offers auto dealers a comparative view of what other vehicles and feature/benefits the consumer is looking for, market availability to determine if they have the only vehicle that fits the consumer’s stated needs and comparative pricing analytics to know how they rank in the market before they start negotiations to improve closing ratios and preserve profit.

The Intelli-Leads offered by their applications are very robust leads that go way beyond the typical customer name, email address, contact information and questions about the vehicle that they are interested in. They include market intelligence, comparative intelligence, social demographic and social profile intelligence that define the prospect and that allows the dealer to insure that their first offer in the online negotiation process is competitive while preserving gross profit.

Technology as applied to enhanced marketing platforms like ronsmap addresses the new opportunities for auto dealers to improve their R.O.I. from third party lead providers and inventory based websites but it doesn’t reflect the equally valued benefits being offered to improve their R.O.I. from their individual S.E.O. efforts and improved conversion rates from their own websites. Once again, conventional wisdoms must be applied by automotive advertising agencies to provide more for less for their auto dealer clients by recognizing the need to establish brand identity and top of the mind awareness for long term dealer recognition in the market tempered with the need to increase sales and profits today so the auto dealer — and their automotive advertising agency — can survive until tomorrow.

Since consumers are looking for vehicles on the Internet vs. auto dealers it is only logical that the auto dealers should post their vehicles online individually. The trick is to get a single vehicle to stand out from the traffic on the Internet Super Highway. Once again, technology has provided the solution.

Video has surfaced as the media of choice for today’s consumers who grew up watching T.V. and who have applied their preference for Video to their attraction to Internet channels like You Tube and all things video. The search engines role on the newly emerging World Wide Web is to facilitate the consumer’s online search by giving them what they want and since consumers have selected video as their media of choice search engines like Google have decided to give it to them.

The algorithms that drive Google have been adjusted to provide a weighted value to video, a fact that has not escaped automotive advertising agencies responsible for improving the S.E.O. for their auto dealer clients. Video presentations have shown up on auto dealers websites with file names that integrate key word phrases to match the auto dealers websites chosen online identity along with similar embedded meta tags and they are even being pushed onto the search engines through You Tube with their own URL’s to extend the SEO of the auto dealers virtual showrooms. The value of this enhanced S.E.O. solution is that all of these postings are sourced back to the auto dealers websites which supports the automotive advertising agencies desire to build dealer branding and top of the mind awareness. The ability to take this exposure to the next level is realized by applying the same philosophy of extending the dealers online exposure to their individual vehicles since, after all, that is what the online customer is searching for.

SiSTeR Technologies is an automotive advertising vendor using proprietary cutting edge technologies that has introduced an automated video production platform called VideoCarLot with associated applications including vShock and VidBrid. They are able to convert the still pictures already posted on the dealers websites into professionally produced videos using human voice and existing video footage with integrated search words, meta tags and individual URLs. These finished productions are then placed onto the auto dealers own websites to increase their highly prized and search engine favored video content plus they are individually pushed through their dedicated API with You Tube to post each vehicle to all linked third party advertisers and to the search engines directly onto the You Tube channel. Since You Tube is a growing search engine second only to their parent company Google the enhanced S.E.O. to the dealer is obvious. More importantly, it allows the auto dealer to present their vehicles to online consumers vs. their auto dealerships while anchoring the associated lead back to the sourcing dealer. Once again, technology has provided a win-win scenario placing the consumer’s interests ahead of the auto dealer’s while satisfying the needs of both.

The automotive advertising agencies of today that apply the cutting edge automotive advertising technologies of tomorrow are guaranteed a seat at the table in the future. Today’s justified consolidation in the auto industry has opened problems for many and solutions for the few that are determined to survive. Just as the forest fire burns the trees to allow for new growth, the key for automotive advertising agencies to survive to grow another day lies in the automotive advertising technologies and applications that they use today.

Automotive Advertising Agencies Need to Reinvent Themselves to Support Social Media

The role of automotive advertising agencies is changing along with the auto industry that they serve. It is important for automotive advertising agencies to educate themselves and their auto dealer clients about their changing roles in a consolidating auto industry that is shifting onto the Internet Super Highway vs. local car rows.

Problems and solution shared at real world venues in the auto industry are having an impact and the slow shift to the new pull/push world of the consumer driven Internet is becoming more obvious. Similarly, a growing number of online social networking communities are also all helping to spread the word and their timing couldn’t be better.

The only constant in the auto industry is change. Of course human nature is also a universal constant, but since that is the fuel that powers most change in the auto industry it must be factored in and considered by automotive advertising agencies who can now look to consumers for the answers.

Radio, T.V. and newspapers are no longer the media of choice for today’s Internet savvy consumers. B2C messages online are filtered out in favor of C2C conversations in social networking communities that now dot the landscape on the World Wide Web. Automotive advertising agencies must reinvent themselves as the resource that auto dealers rely on to navigate them onto the Internet Super Highway because that is where their customers are.

Keeping ahead of new technologies and applications that integrate selling processes between the real and the virtual world showrooms and inserting auto dealers into the conversations that make up the online marketplace must be job one for automotive advertising agencies who wish to serve their auto dealer clients in today’s challenging auto industry. Radio, T.V. and print production has a shrinking role in an automotive advertising agency’s tool box and leveraged online production resources will eliminate them altogether in the near future. Similarly, agency commissions earned from conventional media analysis and placement are being absorbed into the media providers as value added services for their auto dealer advertisers. At the same time, automotive advertising budgets are being shifted to online digital marketing platforms with more verifiable sourced R.O.I. that is far superior to conventional media. The writing is on the virtual wall and automotive advertising agencies must either read it, write it or accept their diminishing value in tomorrow’s auto industry.”

The Internet has empowered consumers to bypass auto dealers and even their most strategically placed marketing message in favor of online information resources that are not dependent on automotive advertising agencies or auto dealers for their content. Initially, third party aggregators captured online auto shoppers attempting to avoid real and virtual world auto dealerships by collecting inventory from hundreds of auto dealers anxious to get their inventory in front of today buyers for new and pre-owned vehicles. Consumers quickly realized the limitations of looking at vehicles in this kind of dealer-centric platform and the technology driven evolution of online marketing platforms soon provided more consumer-centric solutions.

Auto dealers are now able to monetize social media with features that invite car shoppers to share their vehicle selections with their online friends and family to assist them in their car shopping experience. These C2C conversations pushed to Face Book and other social networking communities replace previous unsuccessful attempts by automotive advertising agencies to post B2C messages on the same social media platforms. Automotive advertising agencies need to know about sites that offer a variety of free services and a way to earn a seat at the social media table More relevantly, they need to tell their auto dealer clients about them to justify their agency fees!

Other technology driven applications automotive advertising agencies need to tell their auto dealer clients about that will allow them to sell more vehicles and service for less money and with less staff include dealer hosted personal web sites for their staff, dashboard tools that integrates telephone and SMS text messaging for more comprehensive and cost effective follow up, automated video production platforms that converts the pictures on an auto dealer’s website pushed onto the search engines with Facebook applications that allow an auto dealer to display their entire inventory on a non-offensive tab within the customers Face Book page, customer interaction platforms that allow online shoppers to initiate a two way video conversation from within an auto dealer’s website that can accommodate a turnkey online transaction without having to drop the glass wall that empowers online shoppers to move forward in the negotiation process and appraisal tools which provide site visitors with NADA sourced values for their trade-in while selecting suitable vehicles from the auto dealers online inventory to find a car to replace the one that they are selling.

Any one of these new online conversion and marketing tools can develop a superior R.O.I. to even the best written and placed conventional automotive advertising messages and/or online digital marketing campaigns. These technology driven solutions and their importance to automotive advertising agencies are needed to justify their agency fees to their auto dealer clients in today’s consolidating auto industry. Many automotive advertising agencies still operate under the assumption that if they bring enough bodies to the front door then they have earned their fees. In today’s consolidating auto industry; not so much!

Reduced sales volume and profit margins coupled with increased expenses demand that automotive advertising agencies must increase their areas of responsibility to include internal selling processes using systems to increase efficiencies across all departments in an auto dealership in both their brick and mortar facilities and their newly developing virtual showrooms. You have to be in it to win it and for the foreseeable future the game is being played on the World Wide Web. The most active lanes on the Internet Super Highway are those that lead to social networking communities that share information between automotive advertising agencies and auto dealers as much as they do for their customers.