Our newest client, Boston-based DealerRater.com, created the world’s first auto dealer review web site. Today, they’re the #1 resource for car shoppers who want to see what others are saying about a specific dealer team’s performance, from staff friendliness to pricing and overall experience. Every month, millions of in-market buyers visit the site to get the latest unbiased (and thoroughly screened and vetted) reviews about dealerships in their area – as well as who’s offering the best deals. Businesses today cannot afford to be left out of the online conversation – and when it comes to car buying, no one does it better than DealerRater.com.
Personalized service, where and when you want or need it, is an art. Our newest client MyAssist is an amazing company that adds rich technology, such as predictive and location intelligence, to their anytime, anywhere live-agent concierge services. They’re the caring and helpful voice (yes, a real human being) that helps you rebook missed flights, get emergency services or medical help stat, or score a last-minute restaurant reservation. With great clients like Ford, Allstate, Mercedes-Benz, Spirit Airlines and Verizon, MyAssist is all about creating real-time customer happiness and satisfaction at the frontend, with superior technology fueling the backend.
Every outdoor lifestyle enthusiast, whether urban pioneer or avid frontiersman, craves the lure of a blazing fire. For Mike Bertelsen, who grew up in the high desert of the American West, gathering around a campfire was a way of life. To honor that tradition, Mike invented and built the world’s finest outdoor fire pit and grill. The Cowboy Cauldron is handcrafted in the USA and produced from 100% American steel. Made to last for generations, it’ll be your, your friends’ and your family’s favorite spot to gather and make memories (along with some darn good meals). Want more info or interested in an upcoming media event? Give us a call.
When a ballroom filled with car dealers and automotive industry types erupts in applause to the question: “Who in this room thinks it’s a great year to be in the auto industry,” you know that despite all the talk of Washington dysfunction and consumers’ lack of confidence, optimism is back. It’s still cautious in many quarters, as Automotive News reporter Mark Rechtin pointed out in his coverage of yesterday’s 2013 JD Power Western Automotive Conference, held in conjunction with the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Many of our clients, from Porsche Cars North America to The Tire Rack, are in the automotive industry, so we attend numerous conferences and events each year to gauge trends and learn what the people whose daily business it is to design, manufacture, market, sell and service cars and trucks are thinking. For me, the various panels and presentations during this annual gathering offered up three key themes that aren’t just unique to the auto industry. They are valuable considerations for any marketer whose job it is to influence consumer shopping behavior. Here’s what I heard:
1. Mobile Optimization Matters More than Ever
Online shopping is moving to the dealership, just as it has and is in every other category of retail. According to JD Power’s 2013 Sales Satisfaction Study, 32% of shoppers researched dealers digitally first. Among tablet and smartphone users, 23% of users are looking for dealership information. When you add that 75% of auto retail customers are looking at 3rd party ratings and reviews, and over 50% are not committed to any brand at the start of the online shopping process, it’s clear that retailers whose websites are information rich, who post and promote positive reviews and whose content is fully optimized for mobile have a clear edge.
2. Multi-Cultural Marketing isn’t a Trend, It’s Everyday Business
Los Angeles is an epicenter of multiculturalism, and the rest of the country is catching up fast. Yet, as Toyota’s Bill Fay pointed out, multi-cultural doesn’t mean a monolithic approach to marketing. Every segment from Hispanic to Asian consumers has multiple segments within it, so national brands should take advantage of local retailers for the right intelligence on what works within specific communities. A panel of multi-cultural marketers, moderated by Univision Communications VP Paul Sellers, reinforced the importance of integrating multi-cultural messages as part of every campaign. One thing every panelist agreed on is the importance of social and digital channels for reaching these audiences. Whatever their native language, consumers are already comfortable using these “borderless” channels to communicate and data shows they over-index when it comes to mobile usage. One very bright spot: millennials bring a “built-in” multi-cultural mindset and embrace diversity marketing.
3. Traditional Sales Approaches Don’t Work with Millenial Shoppers
Veteran wheels and wings CNBC reporter Phil LeBeau moderated a panel of automaker and auto dealer leaders and one thing is clear – figuring out how Gen Y buyers prefer to do business preoccupies a lot of very smart folks. As well it should: by the end of this year, Gen Y will account for 23% of all U.S. new car sales. From ditching the watch (apparently a key giveaway that you’re not on a Gen Y wavelength) to offering up product information on a tablet versus talk, adapting selling techniques to millennial preferences is critical at retail. Auto marketers and dealers agree that millennial shoppers arrive at the store fully armed with info and with a clear idea of what they want (thanks to all that advance online research). They don’t want to be sold again – they want to complete the transaction, so make it fast, simple and painless.
Sponsorship dollars are still tight in many areas of the industry. That’s why it makes sense for marketers to include public relations in the earliest discussions of a sponsorship opportunity. Do us a favor and don’t bring us in when the deal is inked and the activation mapped out. To extend the ROI of a sponsorship investment, PR needs to be involved from the start.
Here’s one example of how it should work. I had the opportunity to spend a weekend at the New York World Maker Faire at the end of September, traveling with the nice folks at LiquidWrench and a couple of their savvy brand strategy and word-of-mouth-marketing agency partners. The team had identified the event as an intriguing venue for introducing both LiquidWrench products and their Tinkernation community.
While we’re all about automotive, powersports, technology and other fun enthusiast brand stuff here at Brandware, Maker Faire definitely takes the do-it-yourself (DIY) category to some very exciting new levels, thanks to the convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans. While the 70,000 or so attendees could still learn how to solder (courtesy of Radio Shack) and craft kitty toys (courtesy of Purina), new technology like 3-D printers is really sparking the creativity of this new generation of makers.
LiquidWrench did it right. They:
- gave their various agency teams an opportunity to experience the event in person
- interviewed exhibitors and consumers to learn why they were there
- evaluated the various current sponsor activations for popularity and effectiveness
- tested concepts on-site, gauging audience receptiveness and response
- debriefed extensively on the best possibilities for maximizing a potential 2014 investment
Armed with this knowledge, there’s no doubt that any future sponsorship will cover every possible base and opportunity, from creative integration of the brand and product to the benefits that a complementary public relations effort can deliver: media coverage for increased retail awareness, website traffic and inquiries as well as robust online conversation, referrals, leads and – of course – sales.