Automotive Business Industry – Delivering Information With News Articles

If you go online and you will find hundreds of thousands of articles written on automobiles, and if you pick up nearly any newspaper you will find at least one article concerning the auto industry, or some new type of car that is going to be coming out next year. These are one type of automotive articles we find in the news, and in magazines, but if you are well versed and have a lot of experience in the automotive sector or haps you could write articles on the automotive business industry itself.

Indeed, over the years I have written over 550 articles on this subject, and of those nearly 200 are on the business side of the auto industry. These articles have been well received, and I would recommend that any article author that wishes to sell articles involving economics, the future, and the business of our automobile nation to consider the following things.

First, accuracy is the most important factor, so you must check sources. Just because you read a lot of articles in the newspaper, or page through magazines like Road and Track, or Car and Driver, or read articles in the Wall Street Journal about the automotive sector does not mean you know what you’re talking about. Most of these articles are focused on specific subcategories of niches.

Even if you’ve recently read a book such as; “The End of Detroit” or have clippings of articles over the last couple of years from “Investor’s Business Daily” on the automotive industry, this won’t make you an expert. And if you don’t check sources you are liable to get something wrong or incorrect. You must remember that things change very fast. What might’ve been observed last year is no longer the case.

In fact, within the last year the automotive industry has been turned upside down and nothing is as it was. I hope you will please consider this when writing your automotive articles, for the automotive industry.

Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank. Lance Winslow believes that My Replica Wheels and Rims at [http://www.myreplicawheelsandrims.com] is worthy of some good news articles. My Replica Wheels and Rims gives your car a fresh look with a new set of replica wheels, and you can have a pre-buying look on their website with an easy page layout to find the right rims for your car.

Note: All of Lance Winslow’s articles are written by him, not by Automated Software, any Computer Program, or Artificially Intelligent Software. None of his articles are outsourced, PLR Content or written by ghost writers. Lance Winslow believes those who use these strategies lack integrity and mislead the reader. Indeed, those who use such cheating tools, crutches, and tricks of the trade may even be breaking the law by misleading the consumer and misrepresenting themselves in online marketing, which he finds completely unacceptable.

Automotive Advertising Agencies Prefer Marketing Platforms Vs Individual Vendor Applications

In today’s struggling economy and consolidating auto industry consumers, auto dealers and their automotive advertising agencies are demanding more for less. Consumers want to spend less time and money shopping for a vehicle and auto dealers have directed their automotive advertising agencies to deliver more reach, frequency, impressions — and of course vehicles — for less money with less effort since auto dealer’s staff’s have been reduced along with their advertising budgets.

The first wave of solutions that satisfied consumers and auto dealers alike came with the growth of technology driven marketing applications that replicated proven real world selling processes to accommodate established consumer preferences. The Internet provided the efficient media required to effectively deliver the marketing message to a qualified consumer in a cost effective and scalable manner and several automotive advertising vendors developed applications that made the message more relevant and transparent for the consumer.

A prime example of how the virtual world was built on the real world was in the explosive growth of video in online automotive advertising. A generation of consumers that grew up with television quickly gravitated to video on the World Wide Web. The search engines adjusted their algorithms to accommodate them by weighting video over copy or pictures in their search results. SiSTeR Technologies pioneered the automated Video Walk A-Round industry in 2006 before the search engines and auto dealers recognized the preference by consumers for video when surfing the web to purchase a new or pre-owned vehicle. As a result, SiSTeR Technologies has earned a reputation as a dedicated, innovative and progressive provider of video for the auto industry. SiSTeR produces comprehensive video analytical reports and has demonstrated that auto dealers using its video applications enjoy increased conversion rates, more calls and lead submission exceeding 70%.

SiSTeR uses proprietary technology that creates an individual Video Walk A-Round for every vehicle in the dealers’ inventory using existing pictures, data and text. The production process is fully automated without placing any burden on the dealer. One of the most valued and unique features of their process is that every vehicle is described using a real human voice and the music and style of presentation are customized to fit the vehicle’s category.

Potential car buyers are served by the video clips presented through SiSTer’s proprietary 3DF player that is integrated with most web site providers and all of the major industry portals. Thanks to their 3DF technology, SiSTeR provides the auto dealer with valuable information to quantify their R.O.I. including vehicle comparisons and user behavior when they interact with the video.

Of equal importance to the auto dealer is the fact that the video clips are also uploaded to You Tube and indexed by Google. SiSTeR pioneered the video search engine in early 2008 as the first video provider for the automotive industry that integrated with You Tube. Today, vSEO has become an industry standard and SiSTeR was strategically positioned to take advantage by being the first to expand their application into a comprehensive platform that includes their professionally produced videos as well as a variety of complimentary products and services.

According to Israel Alpert, the C.E.O. of SiSTeR Technologies — Many providers are trying to follow but none of them has the depth of expertise and experience that is required to achieve top position on Google’s search result. We just introduced VidBrid — a revolutionary technology that merges the vehicle presentation and the dealers’ branding with full motion video inserts that are perfectly synchronized with the voice over. Our productions are not just boring picture stitching or infomercials that turn the audience away. Our VidBrid technology not only captures the user’s attention but it allows the dealer and the service provider to customize the production to fit every vehicle and style as well as to include the dealers’ messaging, services and special offerings within the video production. Differentiation is the key to successful marketing and SiSTeR has taken that wisdom to the next level. Auto dealers are no longer limited to the same cookie-cutter, one production fits all video to market their vehicles and their auto dealerships.

The true leverage of extending automotive advertising applications into platforms is realized when specialized platforms — such as SiSTeR Technologies Video Platform — merge with non-competing applications and/or platforms to enhance the solutions provided by both. SiSTeR has developed a national network of distinguished resellers, service providers and promoters that already have established platforms and/or applications. Their common goal is to expand their services to their auto dealer clients while improving the online shopping experience for consumers. Their expanding group of respected channel partners can point to direct engagement with large dealer groups. It has already earned them a pilot program with a major OEM which should be announced to the public at the 2010 NADA Convention scheduled in Orlando, February 13th though February 15th, 2010. With a combined network of over 600 sales people in the field supported by their philosophy and focus to stay on the cutting edge of video production and marketing to the auto industry they are recognized by many of their auto dealer clients as an innovative vendor partner who is extremely attentive to the auto dealer’s needs.

ecarlist is an automotive advertising vendor with a variety of applications that comprise a marketing platform of their own. ecarlist recognized the proprietary nature of SiSTeR’s video platform and they recently became their latest channel partner. Their new reseller relationship with SiSTeR Technologies will enhance both platforms and provide added value to their shared customers. ecarlist provides a comprehensive inventory management application and appraisal tool tied to internet sourced market data as well as web site designs and support services which will benefit by their integration of SiSTeR’s video platform.

I interviewed Len Critcher, the President of ecarlist, on my blog talk radio show, Automotive Advertising Experts, that aired on November 14th 2008. The new relationship between ecarlist and SiSTeR Technologies developed after the two companies recognized the value of combining their applications to better serve their auto dealer clients.

Len Critcher is a dealer principal of eCarLink.com, a leading Internet dealership and CEO of ecarlist.com, a dealership software company in Dallas, TX. For five years, eCarLink.com has consistently sold over 1,000 vehicles per year exclusively through online marketing.

Critcher has been profiled in Forbes Magazine, CBS News, American Way, and the Dallas Business Journal for his work. He is often asked to consult dealerships on best practices in selling/marketing online. Critcher’s dealership is currently ranked #8 nationally of ‘pre-owned retailers’ by Auto Dealer Monthly.

ecarlist serves +/- 500 auto dealerships, including the largest Chevy dealership and the largest pre-owned Lexus dealership in the nation. They have been marketing their product for less than 2 years but they have recently expanded their offerings to include the following features and benefits;

Inventory Listing Management

ecarlist provides more than just inventory management capabilities. They are one of the most powerful listing tools available. ecarlist provides multiple ways to input inventory including feeds from a 3rd-party dealer service vendor, integration with an auto dealer’s legacy DMS, or vehicles can be entered manually making the process as painless and intuitive as possible.

Powered by Chrome Systems, one of the most powerful and accurate VIN decoders available, after the initial decode all auto dealers are required to input in most cases is the price, mileage and description (if desired). Their VIN decode even provides available OEM colors and options for that particular make and model. Total and seamless integration with both CARFAX and AutoCheck allow the option to choose the source of a vehicle’s history report, and ecarlist is one of the first platforms to provide a quick-view CARFAX Highlights summary directly from the vehicle’s inventory page. No more wasting time opening and reviewing CARFAX reports!

ecarlist’s description builder develops a seemingly-customized description about a vehicle without spending all of the extra time. Simply choose the categories to describe, click the check box by the respective description and finalize the arrangement of the descriptions. One of the things that make their description builder unique is the ability to save custom phrases and paragraphs-no more opening up word documents to copy/paste favorite openings or paragraphs. Simply type them once, save them to the ecarlist description builder and access them for all future listings. Their description builder will even update the year, make, model, price and mileage automatically into customized paragraphs, which will save even more time!

Auto Dealers can preview their ad and send their inventory to all of the major sites using some of the most recognizable and acclaimed templates available with just one click. If an auto dealer prefers a unique, or more customized template, or they feel that there are some better web sites that they would like to use to advertise their inventory, ecarlist will help them achieve what will work best for their dealership.

With ecarlist’s integrated, multi-site lead management system, auto dealers can view and reply to leads from many of the most popular marketing mediums directly from their ecarlist account. Auto dealers can choose to view leads based on date received or by vehicle. Even monitor all email communications in thread based formatting.

Email Lead Management

Their included E-mail Lead Management system also allows auto dealers to respond to customer questions, accept/reject/counter eBay Best Offers, and avoid unwanted spam e-mails, which will ensure that auto dealers only receive e-mails that pertain to their business.

Market Price Analysis

The days of only monitoring a competing dealer’s specials down the street are over. The dealership of today must understand the National marketplace and must buy/price their inventory accordingly. There is an old saying, profit is made on the buy, not the sale. With ecarlist’s integrated Market Analysis system — dealerships are better equipped during the buying stage as well as the marketing and pricing stages. Auto dealers can use ecarlist to assess trade values looking at many forms of data including Black Book and eBay Motors Market Data. Auto dealers can compare inventory with ‘real-time’ VIN matched vehicles selling online and see exactly what competitors are asking.

A new feature to be added to ecarlist in the near future is their Classified Market Analysis including Auto Trader and Cars.com. Also, improved inventory monitoring and inventory price alerts.

Free Inventory Export to Multiple Sites

From eBay Motors and AutoTrader, to Cars.com and Edmunds, auto dealers can list their vehicles to all of the most popular online advertising platforms with just one click.

Free Window Sticker Creator

Auto Dealers can access customized window stickers and buyer’s guides, on demand, with their Window Sticker Creator. No more waiting for 3rd-party providers to put stickers on inventory, no more waiting for graphics companies to deliver stickers a week after they are ordered and no more paying someone else for something that auto dealers can do themselves for ΒΌ of the cost; simply click and print.

eBay LOCAL Integration

ecarlist is one of only a handful of eBay Motors Preferred Service Providers out of the 30,000+ vendors that eBay works with.

Free Craigslist Integration

Auto dealers can easily send all their inventory to one of the world’s largest free, online marketplaces. With more than 7 billion page views per month and an opportunity to selectively market vehicles in most of the country’s largest metropolitan areas for free, Craigslist is something auto dealers will definitely take advantage of. A full color ad, branded with dealership banners will ensure that vehicles get the attention they need from potential buyers.

AutoTrader Tag Line

The eCarList AutoTrader Tag Line, provides the ability to precede each ad with a customer, sales-person specific greeting, that should increase the likelihood that a potential customer knows who to ask for to eliminate confusion on the showroom floor.

Integrated Lease Quoting System

Auto Dealers can populate their ads with auto-generated lease quotes using generic, make-specific or franchise-specific lease criteria (money factors, residuals, terms, etc.). No more manually entering terms on the back-end, no more guessing what the lease payment might be-ecarlist does the work for the auto dealer.

DMS, CRM or Other 3rd-Party Integration

Duplicate entry, switching back-and-forth between various web pages, reconciling an auto dealer’s inventory and corresponding leads all take up valuable time that should be better spent selling vehicles and making money. That is why ecarlist works so diligently to provide integrations with all of the necessary sources that auto dealers utilize on a daily basis. However, ecarlist goes one step further by ensuring the data from/to these sources are seamlessly integrated into the auto dealer’s account, so the dealer can manage and access everything they need from ecarlist without compromising functionality or accuracy.

Manheim’s Online Vehicle Exchange (OVE) Integration

Lower transaction costs, guaranteed payment, exposure to a national audience of buying dealers…if an auto dealer wholesales any of their inventory, OVE is a necessity. ecarlist is proud to be one of the first 3rd-party partners of OVE by providing their auto dealers the ability to list and manage their vehicles directly to this new auction marketplace. All auto dealer clients need to get started is an eCarList account and their Manheim user-name and password.

24-Hour Technical Support

At ecarlist, customer support is paramount. From their technical support and sales representatives, to their executive officers, their goal is that virtually anyone and everyone on their team is accessible when their dealer clients need them most.

Customized “Framing” Upon Request

Framing is a great way to make ads stand out, establish an online image and preserve dealership-specific branding. Additionally, framing decreases the likelihood that a dealership’s ‘likeness’ or vehicle photos will be used in a fraudulent manner by making it difficult for individuals to steal photos without spending a prohibitive amount of time editing them for use as their own.

VIN Explosion Back-up

Although, ecarlist took great care when researching and partnering with the most robust and accurate VIN decode company available, no VIN decoder has 100% success decoding VIN’s. That is why ecarlist is the first, and to their knowledge, only company around that cares enough about their auto dealer client’s time and the accuracy of their listings to employ a back-up VIN decode system. In the event an auto dealer’s initial VIN decode fails, eCarList wil automatically generate a VIN decode request with their back-up VIN decode partner, VinPOWER.

The diverse and robust series of integrated applications that make up the ecarlist marketing platform provide a variety of solutions for the auto dealer clients of SiSTeR Technologies that SISTeR does not have the skills or resources to replicate. Similarly, ecarlist determined that the specialized skill sets of the SiSTeR development team and the extensive video platform that they have matured in the market represented a sufficient barrier to entry to deter ecarlist from trying to replicate their video solutions. The resulting integration of the complimentary applications/ platforms of the two automotive advertising vendors are a prime example of why automotive advertising agencies are turning to technology driven marketing platforms vs. individual applications to get more for less.

Future Visions of the Auto Industry and Automotive Advertising Based on What Was and What Is

Auto industry social networks all have different rules and protocols to create their unique identities in the auto industry and the inter-dependent automotive advertising industry. While there are differences in format, content and contributors they share the common goal to educate their community members by sharing best practices and insights with the concept that a rising tide floats all boats. To provide clarity and share my vision of the future of the retail auto industry and automotive advertising it must be framed it in the context of our changing geo-political and economic environment. Once the foundation of today is built on the broad picture of our world economy and politic, then the role of the Internet and related technologies can be applied to the one constant that we can all depend on — human nature — to help define tomorrow as I see it.

Any competitive business model must be built to accommodate tomorrow as well as today. Today is obvious. Sales volume, profit margins and inventory are down across all brands. Consumer confidence is falling as unemployment is rising even in the face of the expected temporary increase when the million plus census workers and various government employees — such as the sixteen thousand IRS agents to police our new health care system — are artificially added to the equation. Wholesale and retail credit lines are restricted by both natural business cycles and government intervention. Our economy is directly linked to the world economy along both monetary and political lines and the United States as well as our European trading partners are faced with excessive debt and unstable monetary systems. Our monetization of our debt — basically the fact that we loaned ourselves the money we needed to fund our growing debt by printing more money, since no one else would lend it to us — has insured the inevitable inflation of our dollar or some similar correction to our monetary system. This anticipated correction is already supported when observing the situation maturing in Greece, Portugal, Spain and other European Countries tied to the Euro and the International Monetary Fund, (IMF). No one has a crystal ball, so the only way to plan for tomorrow is to recap today’s critical issues that didn’t exist yesterday. It is these changes in — what was — vs. — what is — that will likely define — what will be and the actions that auto dealers and automotive advertising agencies must take to remain profitable and competitive in unchartered waters.

The current administration was voted in on a platform of hope and change with the expectation that the promised transformation of America would take place within the confines of our constitution and in consideration of our established belief in a free marketplace. The redistribution of wealth was understood by most to reflect the giving nature of the American people as a moral and sharing society. Unfortunately, the transformation began in ways that could not have been imagined by the majority that voted for it with an agenda that is only now coming to light. The inherited financial burdens on our banking system that justified the need for change were matured across Republican and Democratic party lines — as evidenced by the contributions of Fannie May and Freddie Mac to our mortgage crisis and the preferred treatment enjoyed by the unions, Goldman Sachs, AIG and other entities on Wall Street supported by the progressive political movement that is represented within both parties.

By way of disclaimer, I recognize that approximately 30% of our population believes in the collective — We the people — and the associated movement for the — workers of the world to unite — vs. the framers of the constitution that defined it as the individual — We The People — and the rights of the individual as a contributing member of the whole. That said, as the President has clearly stated, elections have consequences and I will attempt to limit my comments and future visions to only those actions that have or will have a direct impact on the auto industry and the automotive advertising agencies that are engaged to serve it.

The empowerment of the unions in the formation of Government Motors is already impacting the marketplace even while it is being challenged in the courts. The mandated consolidation of the retail distribution channels for General Motors and Chrysler preserved the interest of the unions over the guaranteed bond holders and independent dealers contrary to established rules of law. This precedence diluted expectations of both investors and corporations to rely on binding contracts and individual rights in favor of the collective we that our evolving society is expected to serve. Recent adjustments to the language in a variety of Federal powers have impacted previously accepted State and individual rights which must also be considered when projecting the future of the auto industry and automotive advertising — if not our country as a whole.

For example, the change in the definition of eminent domain from taking personal property — for public use — to the new definition — for public good — has already resulted in private and commercial property being taken at distressed market values and given to other individuals that promised a higher tax base to the governing authority based on their position that the additional tax revenue was for the public good. Similarly, the ownership of water rights in the United States has been changed from the previous Federal ownership of all — navigable waterways — to include — all waterways — such as ponds, surface streams and basically any water that the government determines can be used for the public good. The potential impact on the farming industry and our food supplies evidence a shift in government control of society that must be considered when projecting the future of any industry — including our beloved auto industry.

Given the government takeover of the banking industry, General Motors, Chrysler, Health Care and Student Loans that are now part of our history, the point becomes self evident. These single word changes and government takeover of entire industries for the public good dilute individual and corporate rights in favor of the rights of the collective. This is a basic step in the process of redistributing the wealth in accordance with Socialistic and Marxist principles. I am not judging the validity of any of these differing political philosophies since it would risk my ability to remain unbiased in my evaluation of present and pending opportunities in the auto industry. My intent is not to defend our previous constitutional republic over the shift to a Socialistic or Marxist democratic society, but rather to apply them when preparing a business model moving forward for my auto dealer / vendor clients and affiliated automotive advertising agencies.

For example, the recess appointment of Craig Becker as member of the five seat body of the National Labor Relations Board, (NLRB), suggests the intent of the administration to resume its push for the Card Check Regulation that is designed to facilitate unionizing all businesses in the United States. Recess appointments are an accepted practice used by previous administrations to bypass the Congress and the Senate to fill cabinet positions with individuals that are often blocked by partisan agendas. However, Mr. Becker was challenged in a bi-partisan manner based on his role as a senior attorney for the Unions including the CIO and the Service Employees International Union, (S.E.I.U), just before his appointment. The NLRB decides cases involving workers’ rights which directly impacts larger issues between Democrats and their labor allies vs. stated Republican party interests and those of the corporate world When coupled with the intent of Card Check regulation to eliminate the right of workers to a private vote to determine if a business can be unionized, the likelihood that retail auto dealerships will be forced to become union shops becomes a real possibility. The regulation also allows the government to intervene in the event that an employer challenges a union take over with a Federal administrator enforcing the union proposals as to wage and other terms and conditions of employment pending a final determination. Based on reduced sales volume, profit margins and increased costs of doing business the inevitability of these privately held dealerships collapsing under the financial weight of union demands is painfully obvious to any auto dealer that understands his cost of sales line items and their impact on his shrinking bottom line.

Similarly, the administration’s success in manipulating the processes in the Congress to pass its version of Health Care reform will increase expenses to auto dealers regarding insurance costs for their employees either in the form of forced coverage or penalties which must now be factored into projected operational expenses. These expenses may pale in comparison to other increases in the cost of doing business if the administrations’ next stated goal to enforce Cap and Trade regulations are passed. This legislation promises to raise the cost of electricity and other costs of goods in America on many energy related fronts.

For those not familiar with Cap and Trade regulations, think of it as a tax on carbon emissions that would be collected by yet another government controlled body to pay restitution to third world countries who have been breathing our pollution and suffering from its impact on global warming. Of course the same scientists that collected the evidence that global warming exists which supported this legislation have since reversed their position while confessing that they manipulated the data. However, that revelation has not slowed the administrations’ desire to move forward. In fact, they have empowered the Environment Protection Agency, (E.P.A.), to intercede and impose carbon taxes by claiming that carbon is a poisonous gas which they are authorized to restrict. Either way, the taxes will be imposed on American industry while other industrialized countries have already reversed their positions on imposing these same fees. This inequity in manufacturing costs will further reduce the ability for American manufacturers to compete in the world economy and will likely force the exit of many carbon producing industries to countries that do not impose these additional costs while taking their jobs with them.

Itemizing — what is — vs. — what was — has little value other than to cause panic when people realize that there is little that they can do to reverse the changes that they voted in. However, if properly framed in a problem solution format it can provide an opportunity for those that accept — what is, forget — what was, and work towards — what can be. Now comes the good news!

The solution to surviving the promised redistribution of wealth from the perspective of auto dealers and automotive advertising agencies lies in their use of technology to reduce and even eliminate certain fixed and semi-variable expenses. Brick and mortar facilities are often financed with mortgage terms and/or rent factors that were based on now dated real estate values and anticipated sales volume and profit margins to carry the debt service. The commercial real estate bubble of over one trillion dollars coming due over the next eighteen months with no current resource of funds to replace maturing commercial mortgages promise to exasperate already reduced equity positions for auto dealers. The related unsustainable debt service demands a change in the ways that vehicles are sold in the United States; can you say Internet!

Similarly, current staffing needs are often related to processes that are labor intensive. The associated human resource expense and exposure is based on a business model that is antiquated in the face of potential union intervention and government controls; can you say Technology!

Tax consequences resulting from LIFO credits that impacted auto dealerships who could not maintain inventory levels projected in their annual computations due to issues beyond their control are eliminating annual profits. As a direct result of all of these cumulative issues, even captive lenders are balking on maintaining floor plan credit lines or real estate mortgages. Minimum working capital requirements for auto dealers faced with reduced sales, profits and equity to present as collateral for much needed financing has severely limited dealer options to acquire funds to maintain operations.

As already hinted, the solution lies in shifting the focus form brick and mortar facilities to new online virtual showrooms and other Internet based applications that provide more efficient selling processes. Of course real world facilities for sales and service are still part of the projected solution as are the people that will be required to staff them. All processes start and end with people and human nature has and will survive on the Internet. However, the allocation of these resources and the associated expenses must be reduced in the face of the changes already in place as well as those being contemplated to accommodate our new role in a world economy.

Today’s car sales person must be educated to use new technologies and Internet based selling systems much like previous generations needed to be trained with the skills of a mechanized society versus an agricultural one. Computers are already an integral part of our culture so the transition shouldn’t be as hard as some may perceive. Similarly, large central distribution channels that used to provide efficiencies for manufacturing and retail outlets have been replaced by more cost effective online linked resources across the World Wide Web that reduce fixed and semi-variable expenses in a shared manner that didn’t exist before the Internet Super Highway.

Consumers have already been empowered by the Internet to bypass the auto dealer in both the real and the virtual world as the source for the information that they need to purchase a vehicle. Seeking the path of least resistance to satisfy a need is an established element in human nature. An auto dealers ability to accommodate their customers preference to be in charge of their vehicle purchase will be the key to their survival now and in the future. Online customer interaction platforms already allow a dealer to accommodate a two way video communication with real time interaction with the online shopper/buyer sourced from data on the auto dealer’s DMS and linked to their CRM. The transparency of this negotiation process allows the dealer to crash through the glass wall of the Internet with the ability to push and pull the same material that they can at their dealership. The result is the opportunity to accommodate an online transaction with the inevitable ability to reduce staff and facility needs in the real world along with the associated expenses and increased profits.

Social networking is another technology based solution that capitalizes on human nature which promises to change the face of the auto industry and the resources available to automotive advertising agencies to help their auto dealers sell more for less in the future. Consumer centric inventory based marketing platforms fueled by social networking communities that provide word of mouth advertising to virally extend the auto dealer’s branding and marketing messages represent the next generation of applied social media. C2C marketing messaging to social networking communities from the inside out vs. the now dated attempts to market to online communities with B2C messages from the outside in builds on established protocols in social media. Next generation platforms promise to monetize social media for automotive advertising agencies with integrated Ask-A-Friend / Tell-A-Friend features that allow online shoppers to solicit opinions from friends and family. Customer driven posts on their Face Book page drags the dealership and their vehicle into the conversation with the obvious advantage of the increased exposure and the associated viral coefficient to extend their message and online footprint for potential customers linked to the initial online shopper. Google agrees as evidenced by their weighted consideration of real time social media which quantifies the R.O.I. for the dealer with improved S.E.O. for the sourcing dealer’s expanding virtual showroom.

Other technology based solutions that improve online marketing processes converts the pictures on an auto dealer’s web site to professional quality videos with human voice placed on the auto dealer’s site, all third party marketing sites and even the search engines through a dedicated API with You Tube — further evidence the ability of auto dealers to expand beyond the limitations of their brick and mortar facilities and in-house support staff. Extended social networking platforms which allow an auto dealer to empower their sales staff to develop their own websites to market to their spheres of influence with management controls to moderate content and monitor use to prevent employee abuse exist today with the promise to be more widely used tomorrow to build the vision of what will be in the face of a challenging economy.

To extend my vision for the auto industry beyond the technologies that exist today requires a similar understanding that expenses and staff need to be consolidated beyond current expectations. Limited resources for consumers to purchase, finance and/or lease their vehicles won’t eliminate their need for transportation. Future financial instruments that are a hybrid of a lease and a rental agreement could allow consumers access to a pool of vehicles in a convenient central location where their Drivers License could act as a key and a charge card to apply charges against pre-paid transportation credits deducted by their employers and controlled by the government to track personal activities and location along with socially accepted consumption of our limited resources. I recognize that the big brother flavor of that vision may seem foreign in the context of what was and is, but we are talking about what will be based on the new collective society that our country has moved towards.

As for the role of the OEM and the auto dealer in the future, it would be reasonable to accept that the government’s existing control of the auto and banking industry will extend into the energy industry which will set the stage for the government determining which vehicles could be manufactured and/or imported and placed into the transportation pools with the locations determined by public transportation hubs that link to local distribution centers. The government currently owns 51 % of all real estate in the country through their mortgage interests in Fannie May and Freddie Mack and the pending commercial real estate bubble promises to shift a great deal more to public control. In addition. the government has recently changed the funding available to both organizations to be considered unlimited with the full faith and backing of the United States Treasury. That action coupled with the previously stated changes in eminent domain and the fact that millions of acres of resource rich land was recently acquired by the government to build additional — national monuments — suggests that land will be made available as needed to accomplish this community transportation system for the public good. Of course government employees will be needed to manage and staff these transportation hubs which would likely represent the auto dealer of the future.

Simply put, my future visions of the auto industry and automotive advertising is built on the past and the present with a recognition of what will be if we continue on the path that we have already chosen. I assume the constant of human nature and the role of technology in our evolution to date with the expectation that neither will change. Of course, there are consequences to elections so I suppose that I should update my projections after November, 2010 and the presidential election in 2012. In any case, the movement from the real to the virtual world has already started and will surely continue so that part of the vision should remain clear.

Automotive Industry News That Makes a Point

While the average person may not have much interest in automotive industry news, a lot of useful information can be obtained. This would include the interesting reasoning behind why you can’t always find the car you want at a dealership. Many consultants push for dealers to listen to the customers and their needs. Though this suggestion would work when you look at it theoretically, there are some things that are stopping it from happening.

It is not actually the dealers that are dropping the ball most of the time; it’s the automakers themselves. They may not ship what has been requested by the dealers, instead shipping the vehicle they want. This leaves the dealers with an inventory that isn’t what they requested or what their customers want.

This unfortunate circumstance leaves the dealer with the choice of resorting to hard sell tactics or letting the vehicles sit around forever. Those hard to sell cars can continue to sit for a while, but ultimately they will create problems for the dealer, as no customer may really want to buy them. You either hope they have the vehicle you want or sometimes settling on another choice.

Continued build up of those vehicles can leave the dealer with absolutely no cars that will fit their customers’ needs or wants. You will definitely want to figure this in when you head into that local dealership and don’t see a car you want.

Those hard to sell vehicles that continue to sit around are called a “brown banana”, because it’s become overripe and the value has been going down as it continues to sit around. At this point what can a dealer really do about that problem?

Giving away the cars free, while it might thrill customers, is something that isn’t going to happen. Even when they knock off a lot of money on the price, they are hurting themselves as dealerships are held to making a certain amount of profit. If they don’t make that amount of profit, they could be shut down.

Of course dealers could head back to the days when hard sells were being used all the time. However, that isn’t going to make a customer happy in any way. Many people hated to see a salesperson walking up them in those days.

You’ve probably had it done before – you know the old “let me see those keys” routine. They would state they needed to look at your car to value it for trade-in, however, once those keys were gone it took some might serious persuasion for them to bring your car around so you could leave.

It was a process that earned many people a bad reputation in the past. They would wear you down over time, until you would finally agree to the sale. Not only would you get a car you weren’t really sure you wanted, but you may have put yourself into too much debt.

Automotive Direct Mail Marketing – A Proven Approach to Marketing

Automotive direct mail is one of the most commonly read types of direct mail. In fact, an article by DM News cites a survey showing that 73% of car buyers respond to direct mail.

Why do so many auto dealers and manufactures use direct mail marketing?

1. Direct Mail is Cost-Effective

Automotive direct mail campaigns can be shaped around any marketing budget. Direct mail can be as simple as a 4″ x 6″ postcard, or as complex as multi-part letter kit. The smart automotive marketer can use the more affordable pieces for lead generation, while reserving the more expensive pieces for current or past customers.

Automotive direct mail is also cost-effective due to volume factors. Most direct mail companies offer price breaks with increased volume. Under such a system, the more you mail the more you save. Automotive direct mail volumes can be easily scaled up or down to coincide with budget cycles or limitations.

Then there’s the ROI factor:

When used effectively, direct mail marketing can yield a favorable ROI. It has for decades, and it will for many more years. Sure, direct mail strategies have changed with advances in technology, the Internet, etc. But the fact remains that automotive direct mail produces results. Why else would the vast majority of auto manufacturers use direct mail?

2. Direct Mail is Flexible

Automotive direct mail can support any marketing goal. Whether it’s a lead generation program for potential customers, or a service reminder to existing customers, automotive direct mail can produce results. Here are some of the most common uses for automotive direct mail marketing:

New model announcements
Lead generation campaigns
Customer rewards / loyalty programs
Inventory updates
Service reminders

These are some of the most common uses for automotive direct mail, but they are by far not the only ways to use the medium. Forward-thinking automotive companies are finding new ways to use direct mail every day. Direct mail is a dynamic, versatile marketing tool.

3. Direct Mail is Measurable

Direct mail is one of the most measurable of all marketing channels. Once you have a response-tracking mechanism in place (like special 800 numbers, web page tracking, or business-reply cards), the rest is simple math. With television or radio advertising, you have no way of knowing how many people saw your ad, even if you can count responses.

Conclusion

Automotive direct mail can be an effective marketing tool, but it requires a good deal of research and planning. We hope this resource has increased your knowledge of automotive direct mail, and we wish you well in your direct mail marketing endeavors.

* You may republish this article online if you retain the author’s byline and the active hyperlinks below. Copyright 2007, Brandon Cornett.