When a dealership looks into the short-term future to determine their staffing needs one area that should require great planning and time investment should be in the area of Digital Marketing. I recall when Ford launched their Quality Commitment Program (QCP) to drive customer satisfaction, we went through a learning process at our family dealership to learn the unique needs of the Coordinator’s role as well as how to recruit and retain the right person to drive results. Just as the QCP role did at the time for our dealership to drive sales and satisfaction, I think it is time for dealers to make the same decision for their Digital Marketing.
How is Digital Marketing Different?
Digital Marketing is unique in that we have solid metrics available to determine every little detail regarding the online shoppers behavior with our websites and other digital properties we market our products and services on. This data, when studied carefully, spells out clearly where you should invest your digital marketing dollars to drive results. Because of the blend of data and creativity it is essential that your in-house expert be dexterous and capable of studying the information and applying the right tools, technology and talent to leverage the data. Sure, you have a great deal of data available with respect to consumer behavior on traditional media but not with the intimacy and accuracy associated with online media. As such, the right person must be as much of a scientist as they are creative.
A call for Separation of Roles
We all understand the adage “you have to spend money to make money” and it’s no different when it comes to determining whether it is time for your dealership to consider adding the role of a Digital Marketing Manager to compliment your Internet / BDC Manager position. The complexity of the Digital Marketing space has steadily increased in the past 10 years and in the most recent 3 years it has gone crazy with the expansion of Social Media and the influence and inherent opportunities / risks associated with it.
Because of these reasons I feel it is time to consider having your Internet / BDC Manager focus primarily on the role of servicing the needs of your prospects and customers while being free of the burden of Digital Marketing. Of course, this case cannot be made at some dealerships because the volume and size of the market won’t merit it but at most mid-size and larger operations it most assuredly is the case.
This won’t be popular for some Internet / BDC Managers who have become true experts in their current capacity and candidly enjoy the challenges and accomplishments of managing their Dealership’s Digital Marketing. Regardless, a Dealer Principal or General Manager should start the planning process and determine the costs / benefits associated. Who knows, maybe your current Internet / BDC Manager would be the right person and they could certainly help you recruit their replacement if you determine the role is needed at your dealership.
Imagineering the Job Description and Qualifications
In considering the Digital Marketing Manager job description one can imagine the roles and responsibilities would include:
Website Management and Operational Integration – this would include a manufacturer site and perhaps an independent site and the ability to update and integrate the site with the operational systems that support the way your dealership conducts business. It is essential that the right person be able to balance the creative aspects with the data points of consumer behavior on your site. Understanding this information and the nuances of the words your use on the site, the merchandising elements, the search engine optimization architecture, fixed operations and much, much more.
Beyond your website are all the other elements that continue to ebb and flow as consumers click from site to site and you’ll want to create the in-house expertise to excel in each area: Search Engine Marketing, 3rd Party Classified, 3rd Party New Vehicle Leads, Affinity Leads, Free Listing Sites, Online Auctions, Social Media, Reputation Management, and whatever gets launched in the next five minutes by some creative online entrepreneurs. It’s daunting to imagine the opportunities and the challenges that await your dealership as you look forward to the next 5 years.
The right person for this role will likely be someone we have never attracted to a dealership. First off, they will need to be a “Student of the Internet” and have an intimate knowledge of online consumer behavior while also being technically proficient to do a lot of the work themselves. We have seen several dealerships recruit and hire for this role and it’s really interesting to conduct interviews with the candidates and learn of their education, background and capacity. By doing even a dry run recruitment action you’ll quickly understand the value of the investment in the right person.
The advice I would give to any dealer is to consider creating a specific role at the dealership to manage your Digital Marketing investment to ensure the best possible return. Just start with a simple listing of your Digital Marketing actions and rate how well you are at managing the activities involved. From there you can easily line out a job description and make the decision with your current management whether you truly have the need and can benefit from the commitment. This should remind most dealers and general managers of the exercise they undertook to decide if the Service Manager had the capacity to truly manage the day in and day out activities in the department with the increasing demands of the CSI role to improve customer loyalty. It always helps to be prepared and taking the time to weigh and measure your own dealership need is worthwhile exercise.
If you need some ideas on how to get started please let me know.
Best to you,