>Smarter than the Internet

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by Keith Shetterly, keithshetterly@gmail.com
Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved

To GMs and Principals:  I’m going to explain the Internet to you for dealership business, and you’ll understand it all when I’m done—because you’re smarter than the entire Internet, although you probably don’t know it because Internet-savvy people needlessly complicate it.  It’s really simple!
Smarter than the Internet??  How is that, you ask?  Start with your ink pen:  Consider it, and ask yourself a simple question, “Am I smarter than this pen?”  Of course you are.  And you are also smarter than any ink pen ever made, without question.  Well, a computer is just a smart pen!  It’s the smartest pen in human history, yes, but still a pen.  And, since you are wayyy smarter than any pen, you are also clearly wayyy smarter than any computer.  And you always will be.
And, as noted already, the Internet is made of computers.  Just smart pens.  Get it?
Yes, the Internet, the World Wide Web, Web 2.0, Social Media, websites, internet leads, email, chat, and buzz words and new features all told . . . you’re smarter than all that!  In fact, for your dealership the Internet is the same business you’ve been doing for decades, just done differently.  And here’s how to understand that point:
For you, the Internet is, first, marketing and advertising—and with far more reach and impact than anything ever in print.  Or ever in history, really.  Your newspaper ads and TV/Radio spots can’t react and talk to your customers, but the Internet can, and nobody even opens the Yellow Pages for a phone number any more, they do an Internet search.  And the Internet is your marketing—live!—where you can run weekly (or even daily) specials on your website, email all your customers (as often as is smart) with the latest vehicle sales and service specials, and also help your business reputation with their peers (your website, autoblogs, Facebook, and such).  There are more pieces, but there’s nothing NEW in the Internet except in how the pieces interact with your customers.  And that interaction is the huge advantage of the Internet in advertising.
And the Internet is also sales, as your strongest sales now come from it:  90% of your modern shoppers first visit your online showrooms (website, AutoTrader, etc.), compare your inventory and pricing there, submit a lead or offer, chat on your website live with staff, call your store, or—still!—just come on in.  The Internet just expanded the way you talk to your customers—and also matured your shoppers further towards a sale than ever before.  When shoppers hit your showroom, the percentage of buyers is higher than ever before.  You just have to get them to buy from YOU!
So, this is it, simply put:  We’ve had showrooms for decades.  And a sales phone line.  And advertising, marketing, and sales.  All that the Internet has really done is provide us with new and better ways to do the same old things!
The impact of those “new ways” born from the Internet should never be taken for granted, however—because the Internet has permanently altered key parts of your business for the modern market concerning where you spend your advertising budget, how you do your marketing, and what staff and processes you use in sales.  In both variable and fixed ops, for that matter.  So, now that you understand the Internet, you need to be as smart as possible about how you use it.
You will need Internet marketing, sales, and management training, the right hired skills, and the right purchased services to drive business in the Internet Age, all of which together is not a small task to be profitable these days.  Are your managers able to create effective ads and specials for your website?  Are your salespeople able to close the most educated car shoppers in history?  Is your marketing staff creating and maintaining the most effective and compelling website interaction and social media presence for you?
Maybe now you worry that no one at our dealership really understands the Internet enough to do your business properly in the Internet Age.  Well, perhaps they need you to explain it first!  So, start that today by walking into their offices and the sales tower and saying:
“Look at my pen . . .”
Because, regardless of the Internet, as always they—and your business—go where you lead.

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About keithshetterly

Independent Automotive Consultant. Former eCommerce Director for large dealer group, BDC Director, and Internet Sales manager. Marketing, BDC, Internet, Phone, SEO, PPC, Reputation. Everything from a small business background to Fortune 100 experience. keithshetterly@gmail.com
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