This is a transcript of MM Podcast Episode 011: The Past, Present, and Future of Automotive Marketing with Ralph Paglia.
Ashley: Welcome to episode 11 of the Motorcar Marketing Podcast. In this episode’s main segment I’m going to be interviewing Ralph Paglia. Ralph has worked in the automotive industry for more than 30 years. He was doing online marketing in the mid 1980’s with the old BBS systems. He’s a true thought leader in the industry and offers us some great information on the future of automotive marketing. So stay tuned for that.
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A couple of quick notes, any website or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on the website in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or want to look at something later on. You can find all of the podcast show notes at www.motorcarmarketing.com/podcasts.
We’ve just completed our quick start auto dealer marketing guide. You get it for free by going to motorcarmarketing.com/guide. It’s completely free. You just put in your email address and the lessons will be emailed to you over the course of the next few days. We’ve tried to concentrate on the high-leverage things you can do with each marketing channel so you can get the maximum results in the shortest amount of time. We’ll be adding more lessons to this guide in the future, but to start out, we’ll show you how to increase your ROI and sell more cars on craigslist, how to quickly get up, get a campaign up on Google pay per click, how to begin generating leads from local search engine optimization, and how to effectively use email marketing to generate leads and correspond with your past customers. Again, this guide is completely free. Just go to motorcarmarketing.com/guide.
So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m talking with automotive expert Ralph Paglia. Just a quick note before we begin. If you’re not already a member, I highly recommend that you join the forum that Ralph runs, automotive digital marketing. I link to it in the show notes, and we talk a bit more about it in the interview. When you join, you’ll start getting emails from Ralph highlighting various articles on automotive marketing. This is a great resource because Ralph is vetting these articles, and you’ll know you’re seeing the good ones. This is a great service as you don’t have to wade through the tidal wave of daily content that’s being spewd out on automotive marketing. Anyway, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome, Ralph, to the Motorcar Marketing Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Ralph: Thank you.
Ashley: So, to start out with, I wonder if you can give us a quick overview of your career and how you got into auto dealer marketing?
Ralph: Well, like a lot of people, I was fresh out of school, and in my case was fresh out of college, and I got my MBA degree and had some great job offers in the securities and financial services industry, and I went out to San Diego, California for a wedding. First of all, San Diego was beautiful; I’d never been there. I met a beautiful young girl, and I decided at that time I didn’t want to take a job in New York or Chicago. I wanted to go to San Diego. So I drove out to San Diego with no job, just 23 years old, and when I got there, I ran out of money very quickly and I met a guy at the beach with some friends I was hanging out with whose father owned 13 car dealerships, and he said, “well, while you’re figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, why don’t you sell cars, and you can make money. The hours are pretty good.” Everything he told me, believe it or not, turned out to be true. I went and got a job at one of his dad’s dealerships. My initial impression was it was really a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. It was a Volkswagen and Pujot store so it wasn’t exactly something that was overly easy to sell where demand exceeds supply or anything like that. But I found that with customers, one of the old guys there had told me something. This would have been 1981, and he told me, he said “Ralph, if you just listen to the customer, most of them will tell you how to sell them a car and then just do it, whatever they tell you to do, do and most of the time you end up selling a car.” I don’t know about most of the time, but I took his advice. I remember the first car I sold, the hardest part for me was what forms to fill out, what was the paperwork process of the whole thing? When selling cars back then you were on commission, and the percentages were pretty good. And there was no Edmonds.com; there was no Internet at the time so the gross profits were pretty good, and I was amazed at how much money I was making selling cars. In fact, I sold cars for about three months, and then I had an offer come to me, one of the people I had interviewed with when I was in graduate school in New York, and I looked at what I was making and the challenge was I wanted to take the job but it would have been about a 50 percent cut in pay to leave the car business so here I am 33 years later, I’m still in the car business, I still can’t afford to leave, not that I would because I love it. But I did the typical–I sold cars and I became a closer; then I became a sales manager, then a GSM, then a general manager. At one point he made me a dealer of record. He gave me a store out in the desert so I got to experience sort of what it’s like to be a dealer principal, and from there I really enjoyed going to his dealerships and implementing processes and systems. One of the guys that was also a general manager of one of the other stores, some people might know Daniel Chasney, in the mid 90’s Danny called me up. He said, “Ralph, we have this training gig with Otto Vitala, and you were doing Internet stuff before anybody knew there was an Internet. Would you like to come on board with us?” And so I started working with his company, and that led to my working for Cybercar in 1999. We focused on Ford dealerships and Honda dealerships and Mercedes dealerships, installed a lot of Internet departments, did a contract with Ford where we did BBC’s. Cybercar was purchased by the Reynolds and Reynolds Company. We became Reynolds Consulting Services which is still around. I worked on that team. I was the practice leader for Reynolds Consulting Services, worked with a lot of car companies developing various programs whether it be Toyota, Ford, Honda, Mercedes Benz, Nisan Infinity. My own personal direct experience was primarily with Ford and Honda and Toyota and then Mercedes. I launched the Mercedes Start Links program, really enjoyed that. At a point in time some of my colleagues had left Reynolds to work for a company called BZ Results. BZ Results was sold to ADP. As a result they wanted to bring me on board. I had a one-year non-compete agreement with Reynolds so I went and managed the online marketing in BDC and internet departments for a dealership in Phoenix called Courtesy Chevrolet where I had a blast from one of the best I ever did in my career. We became the number one GM dealer in the world. We were selling a thousand cars a month, about five hundred coming from online activities. At the end of my one-year at Courtesy, and ADP was saying okay, it’s time for you to come on, I kept going one more month, one more month. So I stretched it out to 20 months, and then I went and did what I was supposed to do, went to work for ADP, and there the challenge was they had just formed the digital marketing group within ADP. They bought four companies plus they had their internal teams. My job was to bring everything together, the products and teams and all. It sounded simple on paper. I definitely picked up a few miles on that net deal, but I loved working for ADP. First I launched ADP Digital Advertising, then we launched the OEM Consulting Team, and then we launched the social media marketing group within ADP. After losing a couple of deals to the Cobalt Group, myself and Michael Saylor, the Vice President at OEM, we stormed things and said God Darn it, let’s buy those sons of guns. Of course, that took a while, but we got that done. So after the acquisition with the Cobalt Group, I decided to take the theory ADP’s a great company to work for. Whenever they have these types of consolidations where they have a large acquisition, they usually create opportunities for executives who want to leave to take a very generous exit package so they can reduce the duplication of management roles. So I looked at that very generous package and said time to start my own business. So I left ADP at the end of 2010 and started Automotive Media Partners. Now before I launched on Media Partners, I had to go build two digital marketing and advertising teams for my partners, one for team velocity marketing and one for Tier ten marketing which that took me about 15 months. I went and hired all the people, trained them, developed their operations manuals, got them up and going so they could start car dealers with digital advertising and digital marketing products, and then it was time to focus on my brainchild which was Automotive Media Partners and that is the model whereby we have sites like automotivedigitalmarketing.com, dealerelite.net and others that are connected to various social media channels such as with pages and groups and channels where primarily what we’re serving up is content that educates dealers on the best practices on how they can be more successful, whether it be in parts, sales, or service departments. In our business model where we generate our revenue is from advertising from suppliers so we use the Google model. The Google model is we’re going to give you something of value, and on the side we’re going to have a bunch of ads. As long as you put up with the ads, then pay attention to the ads a little bit, we’ll be able to make this work, and that’s what I’m doing to this day. Additionally, because I don’t want to take my hands out of retail, I also have a handful of dealers that I have consulting retainer agreements with them, and every month I go visit working dealerships and help them implement a lot of the things we see on automotivedigitalmarketing.com and dealerelite.net and make sure that it works. I find myself doing a lot of interviewing, recruiting, working with contractors on building facilities, doing all kinds of cool stuff for car dealers.
Ashley: Perfect. One of the things I thought was really interesting about your story was that you got into Internet marketing really before there was even an Internet, and I wonder if we could just talk about sort of those wild west days. I remember as a kid I had an Apple 2C, and there were people getting these 36-baud modems and trying to connect these bulletin boards, but you had to be pretty geeky to get on these things.
Ralph: I wasn’t geeky; what I was, was greedy. I love selling cars. I always have to this day, nothing thrills me more, gets me more excited than closing a deal, making a deal. So I’m making it happen, seeing that customer take that car, seeing the tail lights going over the curb on the way home, and they leave the dealership. So here’s what was going on. In the mid 80’s—this would have been 1985, President Reagan was in office, and he was doing this cruise missile project to develop cruise missiles, and a lot of the work was being done by General Dynamics, specifically Convair division in San Diego, and their big Convair division plant was across Highway 163 from my store where they make the Volkswagen, and we would see them testing these rockets, and at night it would just light up the sky like a Cape Canaveral launch. And I kept saying I remember looking at the San Diego Union Tribune, 15,000 engineers being brought to San Diego to work on the cruise missile project, and I thought to myself “they’re all going to need cars, and engineers, they always got good credit; they’ve got money to put down, and they’re kind of geeky enough that we can gross the heck out of them. So I wanted that. I remember this one engineer from General Dynamics bought a Volkswagen and I asked them what’s the best way to advertise to these engineers? He said you’ve got a problem there. We don’t read the newspaper, we don’t watch TV. We don’t really listen to the radio much. I said well, how about billboards on the roads going to work? He said what you need to do is do you have Internet access? I said we have a fax machine. He says no, Internet access. You know they just made it legal that civilians can get Internet. The Internet had been around for awhile, and that’s what all of these military contractors were using. He says we have this hub for the employees’ bulletin board system called a BBS. I remember I spent five thousand dollars on buying a computer from some local computer store with a modem, the kind you take the phone and you put a suction cup on. So he gave me the way BBS’s work, you had to dial in a specific number, and the computer would do that (noise) and then you’d have a log-in and password. He got me set up, and I was on their bulletin board. What I saw were employees selling various dirt bikes, surfboards, a used car so the first thing I did was I took my stock book—you know, the old school stock book with the cardboard cards, those 3 x 5 cards—and I just started picking out one of each model and I would list it on this BBS. And I remember going back the next day saying where are my ads? Well, it turns out that every time somebody lists something, your ad goes down. I’m like well, they’re not going to get me. Then I’d list more cars so eventually they hired a secretary worked every day at her job. This grew to where I had 75 different bulletin board systems for various defense contractors around San Diego. I had a young lady work for me and every day she spent two hours going to each of the different bulletin boards and putting in our inventory and listing the window sticker, and then here’s our price for General Dynamics employees or for Solar Turbine employees, and we sold cars. I didn’t want anybody to know what we were doing. This was my top secret. I would lock the doors in my office; I didn’t want the salespeople to know. All they knew is when somebody came in and asked for me, it was a deal. They used to call them “spoon eats”. The salesperson would bring the customer to my office and they’d be going “Ralph, would you like me to go quote the vehicle? Can I get you guys some coffee? They would agree to let go of these customers if they knew that it was going to be a deal. I think our closing rate on emails, we got off these BBS’s, it was around 50 percent in those days.
Ashley: Was there any blow-back. I mean, it sounds like the ads were like people selling their own service. It wasn’t commercial as per businesses. So were some people getting annoyed with you?
Ralph: Yes. They were and so what I would usually do is I would buy in an employee that had bought a vehicle from us, and I would make him a deal. I’d say can I use your name to list these vehicles for sale, and I gave him a full set of the German formats. It was like 300 dollars in exchange for me letting me log in as him and list our inventory for sale because what we were getting pushed back from in those days was hey, you’re not an employee. This is for employees. And then there were times when I’d put people on specs where I’d say every car we sell as the result of the ads on your company’s BBS we’ll give you fifty dollars or something like that. Actually, in those days honestly—it’s not like it is today—people were so thrilled that a dealer would pay attention to this technology. Most of what we got were engineers saying well, I wasn’t even going to think about a Volkswagen, but do you guys have pickup trucks? They would want to do business with us because they thought it was so cool that we’re going it by email, back and forth, and it was really very different than it is now. People didn’t talk about privacy restrictions. There were no such things as cookies. There was no spam filter so email was a hundred percent. Their emails weren’t even blocked, and I remember my email address was through CompuServe. CompuServe launched their charter Internet service in 1985; I was a charter member. I got a dealership on, and I’ll tell you an interesting story. When the Worldwide Web was actually created in 1991, the first book I got from CompuServe, it listed the 300 websites in existence. There were 300 websites that you could go to using a browser called Mosaic, what a piece of crap that was. It was just a whole different world. Look, I’m not a geeky type, but what I am is a car salesman who–I don’t like to lie; I don’t like to steal because I can’t remember if I lie, and so I just tell the truth all the time—so anything that can make it easier to sell cars has always been very attractive to me. So what I saw from day one was using computers and connecting with people whether at work—in the beginning it was always at work—then fast forward to today, you can connect to people when they have their cell phones with them all the time even when they go to the bathroom—so, to me technology has always been a means to connect with the consumer on a more direct basis than mass media advertising.
Ashley: Let’s talk a bit about sort of some current opportunities. Are there any things that you see working really well for some dealers, but you see a lot of other dealers maybe not doing these things, just some of the low-hanging fruit opportunities, and we’ll try and keep it to just one or two things that you think dealers should be doing and you know a lot of dealers are not doing.
Ralph: You’re talking about one of my pet peeves when you talk about those areas. First and foremost, advertising in terms of advertising that you can track, and then the other side of that equation is advertising that is specifically targeted to your customers. There are so many variations on targeting technology. A dealer who is not using targeted ads as opposed to bulk, visible, a pain for everybody. Let’s blow the ocean—that’s ridiculous. You can’t afford it. We’ve seen advertising expense per vehicle retail go from—I remember when I went to an ADA training, it was two hundred dollars and change; today it’s more than six hundred dollars per vehicle sold. It’s ridiculous. What every dealer should do–and a few of them are but unfortunately there are too many who are not—is having a very detailed and specific program where your advertising is designed to reach very specific customer groups with a message that’s relevant to that group. I don’t need to advertise my pickup trucks to people who don’t buy pickup trucks. I don’t need to advertise my Malibu’s or my Ford Focuses to people who buy pickup trucks because they’re not going to buy a compact car or an intermediate car. That sort of logic I think is something that pains me when I see dealers who are doing the shotgun approach, and it’s like they throw money away when they do that.
Ashley: I mean, I think it’s an old school thing. I mean, you still see a lot of television ads for car dealerships, and that’s kind of a shotgun approach.
Ralph: Well, not necessarily. With cable TV ads, most dealers have the ability if the cable companies will allow it will let you target your TV ads to very specific groups of people, whether it be demographic programs or watching time of the day or zip codes. Here are the households we’re going to have the commercials go into. So, again, I’m talking less about the advertising channel than the means of targeting the ads. There are certain things—and I know direct mail is doing way better than it used to do, but the concept of using fossil fuel-burning vehicles to transport dead trees, I just don’t see the longevity around direct mail. There are going to be people who will say why’d did you do that, Ralph? It’s a personal belief on my part. I don’t particularly like handling a lot of paper. I don’t like having a bunch of junk mail coming to my mail. I really think that anything to do with the mail needs to be very specific to your existing customer base, for example, where maybe you want to buy their car back or something like that. That’s appropriate, but this kind of shotgun approach such as direct mail I think just creates a lot of trash going to the landfills. It spends a lot of money. Email marketing I think is super important. Every dealer, big or small, you have to have a strategy around an ongoing email marketing campaign. Please don’t use Gmail or Yahoo email or use your CRN tool, work with something like constant contact or exact target, use one of these professional email marketing companies where they can make sure you’re not violating spam filter triggers and you’re doing things properly because there are a lot of laws regarding that. Text messaging, chat messaging, you should have live chat on your websites. If you don’t, it’s like saying I’m not going to put my inventory up there because then they’re going to have to come to the dealership to see what I’ve got. We saw how well that worked for those two thousand dealers who went out of business in 2010. To me it seems like common sense that dealers sometimes avoid with the excuse that—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard—well, we do newspaper ads because we know how to do those. We don’t know how to do online ads. Well, for God’s sake, hire somebody that does or pay somebody to come in and teach you how to do it or go online and get some lessons and training on how to do it. To do things the wrong way because you don’t know how to do the right way, that’s not a solution. Learning how to do the right way is the solution.
Ashley: Let’s talk a bit about the future. I mean, I think that’s all great advice. Let’s talk a bit about the future. One of the things I wanted to talk to you about was just being sort of a thought leader, getting out ahead of the curve. What are some things in the next year, two years, three years that you see as really being growth opportunities for auto dealer marketing?
Ralph: First of all, I’ll just say this. I’ve been in business now for 33 years, and to me, everything that has been commented on seems very obvious. So there’s nothing I’m going to tell you about what’s coming that people don’t already know. The problem is that when dealers ignore what’s so obvious so one of the obvious is—
Ashley: In 1985, though, it was not that obvious. You were dealing with those bulletin boards—
Ralph: It was as obvious—okay, maybe not at that point with the BBS although to me, if people are selling like on Craig’s List, I mean, who’s the first dealer to put cars on Craigslist? I put cars on Craigslist the first time it launched in San Diego because it was obvious. If somebody can sell you a surfboard somewhere, I can sell a car; it’s that simple. Now as far as what’s coming, I’m going to say that the biggest thing that people are ignoring, don’t ignore it. Get ahead of your competition, develop an unfair competitive advantage. Competitive advantage is fine, but I want the unfair competitive advantage. That means doing what I competition doesn’t do.
Mobile devices. I develop a mobile strategy. Embrace the fact that most people are going to access the Internet today and tomorrow and going forward on some type of mobile device or some type of tablet, but whether it be an IPad or general tablet device or mobile devices, it’s a little different than what we have been doing, it’s not quite the same as saying let’s take all our Internet ads and send them to people’s cell phones. It doesn’t work that way. What I’m talking about is every dealer should have an app. I’m going to say that every dealer should have multiple apps available. This idea of having a general all-purpose app for people’s cell phones, I don’t think that’s going to fly. I think that once a customer buys a car, what they need in an app are things related to service and owner’s manuals and how to get the most out of your ownership experience with the vehicle, but every dealership should have a branded app that a customer can download to their IPhone or Android device, whatever the operating system is—the new Microsoft Windows Mobile, I hear everybody keeps predicting and never seems to happen—that Windows is going to get popular with mobile devices, but I would say mobile devices, mobile marketing, more importantly, the ways customers can access the dealership’s products and services via a mobile device, make it super convenient. So, for example, I have two jam vehicles because I do some work for Finley Chevrolet here in Las Vegas so I bought a Camaro and I bought a 2014 Silverado, both of my vehicles from a mobile app I can connect to my car even when parked and see how much fuel’s in there, how many miles are on it, where it’s been, anything that the car needs, what’s the tire pressure in the tires or if I’m planning a road trip, I’ll check the tire pressure and know if I have to stop and check or not. These sorts of things that make it convenient for the consumer to do business with the dealer. I think the big competitive advantages to the dealer that make it super easy and convenient to spend money at that dealership. You know, in the old days it seemed like we made it very hard to buy a car. You have to do this, do that, do this, that’s coming to a close. The markets of the future are going to be won by the companies that make it so easy and convenient to do business with them. People enjoy doing business with them; it’s not something you dread or want to avoid, but I think I’ll be able to buy a car, isn’t that great. I’m going to have this great experience. People might laugh when I say this, but honestly the dealerships that I’ve managed, talk to any of the customers, they love coming in because we always made sure that they have a good time. I like to use the hospitality approach. Marriott Corporation does. One of the things that you’ll notice if you go to a Marriott and stay in a Marriott hotel, everybody smiles; everybody welcomes you. Everybody knows how to get any particular place, I think the dealers who use technology to make it convenient and retrain their staff to not avoid customer contact but to seek it out. One of the big myths out there—I love it when a consumer that has never worked in the car business says I’m not going to give that dealer my information; next thing you’ll know I have ten car salesmen call me every other hour trying to sell me something, I look at them and say I wish. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen. Chances are you’ll not get contacted at all. I always say the dealers that really embrace this customer-friendly, yes, we want your business; we want you to spend money here and here we’re going to make it really convenient, for example, do away with paper coupons. Coupons should be able to be loaded on a mobile device. Let your customers bring your coupons to them on their cell phones, and you’ll get more business because it’s easy for me. I won’t forget it at home. I put it on my cell phone, it’s there. I look it up allowing your customers to provide important information, whether it’s in the financing end of it or about their vehicle through a cell phone so, for example, one of these dealer apps all the consumer has to do is scan the barcode on their window decal under the windshield and they can use that for ordering parts and accessories or scheduling service. They don’t have to remember their Venn number; it’s in their phone. Think of it this way, if it’s that convenient for me to do business with the dealership, why would I go to Jiffy lube, why would I go to somebody else. I do it right off my phone, I just push the button. Next thing you know there is the guy from the store to pick up my car and take it in for service. They leave me a loaner car; sometimes I don’t even use it, but then they bring me back my car. I’m going to get it serviced somewhere else? I don’t think so. This is the way of the future, the dealers that make it super easy for customers to do business with them.
Ashley: Let’s talk a bit about your current projects. You mentioned automotivedigitaltraining.com. Let’s maybe give us a two-minute elevator pitch on that so people can learn more about it.
Ralph: So there’s a company that built an online training platform that any of us are familiar with. It’s used by Joe Burney and several very popular trainers. This particular training platform, I have to give credit where credit is due. Sean Bradley and Peter Martin came up with this idea of getting some of the top trainers and speakers and consultants together and creating a centralized place using this particular technology which many dealers are familiar with. So if you’ve ever done the Chrysler training, it uses the same platform. It’s called Light Speed. In fact, they have studios here in Vegas so I’ve been working in their studios doing recordings. So what we did is we got together and it’s fee-based where we put some real meat and potatoes. It starts out with video. Then there are documents and training on how to do practical things. There is very few theoretical stuff in there; it’s very specific. Here’s how you set up a little Google ad campaign. Here’s how you set up video marketing using YouTube and having commercials where you drive people to your videos. Here’s how you set up a PDC; here’s how to train a call center. Here are phone scripts. You name it; if you have to train dealers on it or dealers want to train their employees, it’s available at automotivedigitaltraining.com. I have my channel in there with my material. Jim Ziegler is on there. A very dear friend and brother from a different mother, Daniel Kazme, is in there, Peter Martin, of course. The web doc is in there. Sean Bradley, of course, is in there and several others. So what’s kind of nice is the channels are separated by the trainer so if you don’t like Jim but you like me, then you can look at my stuff. If you don’t like me but you like Jim Ziegler, you can look at his stuff. It’s a very nominal monthly fee. Peter Martin runs the show; he runs all of the digital training. He’s doing a phenomenal job. Of all the projects I’m involved with, on this particular one he makes sure I’m always aware of how many dealers have looked at my training, which sections are the most popular, what are the requests, what are people asking for so I go into the studio and record a session and everything you have to test out the completing section. One thing about the Light Speed platform which is great is you know if your employees are passing the tests or failing the tests. If they fail the test they can take it over again, but you have to do the lesson again. It’s a very disciplined structured system for training employees and extremely cost-effective. So for the little dealer who doesn’t want to send his people away to a conference or training seminar or can’t afford to pay somebody to come on site, it is the most affordable way to get the up-to-the-minute latest training materials. I give Peter credit because all of us are involved. He makes us update our stuff all the time.
Ashley: What’s the best way for people to keep up with you and potentially maybe even contact you?
Ralph: My Twitter handle is at ralphpaglia. My Instagram is @ralphpaglia. My Facebook page is facebook.com/rpaglia because, believe it or not, there’s another Ralph out there; he got his first. He lives in San Antonio which I used to live there too. Some of the real treasure troves are slideshow.net. If you go to slideshow.net/ralphpaglia, I’ve got hundreds of PowerPoint presentations I’ve used for training and conference presentations available for download. I don’t protect any of this stuff. I use what’s called creative commons copyright which simply means you can use my material, people, just give me credit for it. Just make sure you put in there, you know, source, Ralph Paglia; that’s all I ask for.
Ashley: I’ll link to all this in the show notes too so if you’re listening to this and you don’t have a pen handy, just go to the show notes and everything will be linked.
Ralph: And then automotivedigitalmarketing.com and dealerelite.net are both treasure troves of resources and information. Then there’s my name ralphpaglia.com. Obviously I’ve got that along with some variations. I would say one of the things I use social media for, for example, I got a comment that somebody made to me the other day which kind of struck me. He said whenever I see you tweet something that says check out, I always pay attention because I know what that is. There’s an automatic setting when they send something out. I go to digital marketing, the automatic default says check out and then the title of the article and send a link to it. What I realized was that I have a lot of tweets that are just commentary on the industry that some people just aren’t interested in, but when he sees that check out, he knows that that leads to an article, and the only ones I’m going to push out like that are the ones that I’ve read and said this is some good stuff. This is important; this is valuable. So I would say my Twitter is great for the people that follow. I get positive comments. I have over ten thousand Twitter followers. I love the car business. I look at everything from the standpoint of will this help me sell more cars? That’s how I see the world.
Ashley: Perfect. You’ve been very generous with your time. I mean, you’re just a wealth of knowledge. This has been a great interview. I know I’ve learned a lot so I’m sure people out there will be taking a lot of knowledge from this. Thank you very much.
Ralph: Thank you for contacting me. Bye-bye.
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On the next episode of the Motorcar Marketing Podcast, I’m going to be talking with Mark Frost from wikimotive. We’re going to be talking about SEO and content marketing for auto dealers. This is a big part of the online marketing puzzle, and Mark has some real hands-on experience doing this, and he very generously offers some great insight for car dealers.
Just a quick thought on today’s interview with Ralph. I love hearing stories like the one Ralph told where he describes his early days of pre-Internet marketing. The big take-away for me was hearing how open he was to new ideas and how open he was to outside-the-box ideas. As he describes it, he wasn’t super geeky or technical, but he was looking for new ways to market his cars. And we heard about the BBS system, he wasn’t afraid to try something new. It was something that he knew nothing about.
I’ve done online marketing in a lot of different verticals for a variety of different companies, and I can tell you, if there’s one so-called secret to online marketing is that you’ve got to always be trying new things. A lot of the things you’re going to try, they aren’t going to work for you, but that’s totally fine. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, if you succeed just a few times, the winners will more than make up for the losers. There are probably opportunities out there today that no one is talking about or doing and those can be big wins, but you’ve got to be constantly open to try new things or you’re never going to find these opportunities.
In some ways these podcasts is me taking my own advice. I listen to a lot of the podcasts. I think that podcasting is a great marketing medium. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of other podcasts in the automotive marketing niche, but I really don’t know if there is going to be an effective way to market the motorcar marketing services, but I’m out here and trying it and I’m going to see what happens. I really believe, especially the smaller dealerships need to be really creative with their marketing. Think outside the box and try lots of new things and hopefully this podcast can help you in that pursuit.
Anyway, that’s our show. I hope you get some value out of it and I can help you grow your business. Thanks for listening.