Friday, March 26, 2010

Selling to Socialites

This week I had the opportunity to share the company of a few very established and credible Internet Consultants in the car business on a conference call including one dealer who had reached out for help, and (I think) 100 more across the country just to listen in. 

In the 'car biz', that is a huge leaping bound of success to be able to come together and share information to help each other.  In the rest of the 'social media' world, these things happen every day, but for car dealerships (not all, but a lot) that once denied the importance of the Internet with every last shed of their being, it's an awesome step forward. 

The following is a synopsis of what I shared on the call.  I hope that all of the knowledge and success I've had as a BDC Manager and now Social Influence Marketeer shone through to offer up some helpful guidance...and sell more cars!

Rocket Science.
 Seems like an untouchable subject unless you're a
science geek, right? Feel the same way about your Internet process
on a slightly smaller scale? What about Social Media?...GASP!
Well, you shouldn't. Here's why.
Good salespeople thrive on connecting with their customers and
providing great customer service in order to gain repeat business. Oh,
and to earn referrals! That's social media, in a nutshell.
Social Media is going to help you create a community again. To
"humanize" your brand/dealership and engage with your customers to
that they spread the word about why it's good to buy from you.
No one should be captalizing off of the social media surge more than
car dealerships.

Social Media = Buyers
 Social Media and Blogging have taught me the importance of information sharing. "Free" information.
There are plenty of big name players in the social media community (Brian Solis, Chris Brogan) that share oodles of free information without losing ground in their extremely successful careers.
Same rings true for brands/business...and car dealerships across the board: the more free information you are willing to give, the more people will follow you...the more customers will trust and buy from you...the more they will spread word of your value.

Action Plan:
1. Be accessible: Someone needs to be in charge of keeping your social media content current, and
consistantly pointing that traffic back o your website.
2. All customers are Internet Customers: Don't separate the process. Be transparent throughout
3. Process: Everything you want to accomplish must be written down, mapped out, and passed out.

Action Plan in Action...some examples.
*To increase a marketable fan base from your Facebook Page:
1. Create an engaging landing tab.
2. Design an opt in form to collect E-mail addresses.
3. Make customer surveys routine.
4. Provide engaging content: contests, video, photos, blog posts,
discussions, etc.
5. 10% of the Facebook Page should be "Deals" and "Sales"
6. Involve Management, Sales, Finance, Service, and Parts.

1. Attracts a different audience, therefore requires separate update strategy.
2. Use Hashtags, Tweet-Ups, etc. to promote events and sales.

*Track it all back to your website:
1. Google Analytics.
2. for all social media links.
3. SEO
*How many of these people are buying? Consider all sales "Internet"...are they increasing?

Internet Leads...what's in a lead?
*The most common problem I ran across as a BDC Manager was lead crossover...leads that had 2 or more different lead sources. It can make it difficult to determine which source handed you the sale. If a lot of those leads are duplicated with leads from your own website, drop them. Try to capitalize on leads from your website first and foremost. I found that those are the most valuable, because they are statistically the most likely to buy from you. That's why all efforts on social media should be pointed back to your website in order
to convert that customer to a lead.

*The process for Internet Leads should be the same in concept as any other lead. Be transparent. Give the customer the information they ask for, and then engage them. Avoidance is standoffish, and in the age of smartphones, will make you look stupid. They'll stand right in front of you, now, and look up the information.
That's why every customer needs to be considered an Internet customer, even if not an official "Internet Lead." Don't let a salesperson take an up without knowledge of how your customer got to your lot in the first place. I guarantee you they did research online...on you...on the brand you sell...what their friends think...and they are all just a click away in their pocket, now. Not sitting at home on their desktop computer. Same goes for finance, service, parts...dude...they know. BUT...are still willing
to pay for quality service.

The 5 P's (Key Processes to Success)
1. Website:
a. engaging content
b. transparency (i.e. inventory with prices listed. put someone in charge, or hold everyone accountable as part of your process.) media buttons- be legit. it human? photos/videos/spotlight on human involvement.
e.SEO-are you doing the "free" stuff?

2. Tracking: you have to actually KNOW what's working.
a.Google Analytics on your website.
b. for social media links.
c. Facebook/Twitter fan/follower increases
d. Your sales! They should increase overall!

3. Marketing: consistency amongst all channels
a. website
b. social media
c. Email campaigns
d. traditional media (tv, radio, newspaper,mail, signage)
e. your dealership.

4. Social Media: Be there and make noise.
a. Facebook, Twitter
b. Blog (depending on amt. of content)
c. You Tube, StumbleUpon, Digg...
d. SEO: can people find you right now?(Google Live Search/Google Buzz.)

5. People
a. First Response Team
b. Sales Staff
c. Follow Up Team
d. Management Accountability

Process 101
How do you create these processes? And how do you keep up with the ever-changing-by the minute element of social media? Well, that's why geeks like me exist. To take the time you don't have to pick it all a part and put it back together. I live in my (what I consider to be pretty awesome) world of connectivity to stay up to date with social media that you know how to apply it to your business before the next thing comes out and it doesn't matter anymore. 

It works, but so do you. You know your business better. Just a fact. I'm here to be an aid to your success with what I know is best, not replace what your doing with what I think might will work.

I never use ALL CAPS because it's unnecessary and ensues rudeness most of the time, but I will here just to stress (not in a berating tone...but rather a picture-me-jumping-up-and-down-on-a-trampoline-with-a-megaphone-and-a-smile tone...or a picture-me-running-alongside-you-at-every-moment-with-a-sign-that-reads-this tone) the importance of a couple of points I'll leave you on.


From the top down, hold your team accountable. Realize that what you do know is more than what you don't know.  Involve your people in creating the process, in the training...approach them with some predetermined
basics that can't be changed, and mold the rest together from there.


You'll do great.
And if you still need my help, here's where you can find me:

Megan E. Bucher, Social Influence Marketeer
Twitter: @MeganBucher
Google Profile

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"There's No Bad Ideas When You're Brainstormin'"...a message to the 'newbies.'

For all the newbie's out there, and those in need of some motivation...this one's for you.
(photo source)

Often, I take lessons from my almost-2-year-old.  The most recent being from the Imagination Movers.  "There's no bad ideas when you're brainstormin'," they sing happily.  Besides the show being a genious motivator for kids to think outside the box with confidence, it speaks to us adults, too.  How many times have you taken a pass rather than dig for a solution...or quit for fear of failing.  Isn't it funny how we're taught to do the very opposite right from the start?

I've recently discovered the adult version of the Imagination Movers...The Third Tribe.  This group of social media marketing professionals has
created an atmosphere that not only makes it fun to brainstorm again, but also fun to set goals for and go after it's end product.  Similar to college alumni and other business networks, The Third Tribe allows you to express your ideas in a forum where it's met with brainstorms...not cynicism.  It's the ultimate competitive environment.  Like a forum full of runners trading training secrets on things they have not yet mastered, and sharing on what they have.  In the end, we're pushing our industry to the next level, and making everyone engaged sharper.

For anyone sitting at the edge of the cliff thinking of taking the risk of a social media venture of their own...I say jump.  Jump now.  Don't wait.  Learn to lean on those around you who are willing to help you achieve your goals.  Then, as you learn, give back what you now know to those searching for it. 

Here's your motivation in 3 simple steps.
1.  Brainstorm.  Let it storm a Nor' East-er on Mother Lake Erie.  Write down that hot mess.  Mold it into some sort of madness that makes sense to you, and then begin extracting goals and steps to their achievement.

2.  Get an Education.  College?  Yes.  There are qualities of stamina and fortitude that you take from there along with the knowledge that you pack into your brain that will take you to the top.  Not to mention the extremely huge network of alumni that you take with you.

Know the market you wish to attract, and what attracts them.  Subscribe to at least 15 blogs in the field you wish to master or be a part of.  Join a forum to interact with those doing what you want to do.  Engage yourself.  Set a goal at the beginning just to read through all of your RSS feeds by the end of each week, commenting on 2 or 3 a day.  For Social Media, no one says it better than Brian Solis.  This should be an automatic subscription add...invaluable content. 

3.  Network.  If you like someone's blog entry, comment on it.  Then, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, subscribe to their blog...and whatever else you feel obliged to do.  Most importantly, get out there and start joining the conversation.  You never know where your next opportunity may come from.

Have confidence in Social Media Marketing.  It's not going anywhere.  In fact, it's growing faster then just about any other segment of Marketing in existence.  It'll eventually be the core of every business's Marketing plan, instead of just an add on or an afterthought.  It'll be necessity. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"The Hardest Part..."

"The hardest part...," pulled from one of my favorite Cold Play songs, seems applicable to this month's blog-a-roo.

What a month of change. Of course, right? I'm in Social Media. It's always changing.

And with that in mind, I'd like to give a shout out to one of (I feel) the biggest changes this year...Seesmic. I'm completely impressed and blown away and have started using the multiple versions. Tweeting from Look is so much easier than any other method of tweeting. There are a lot of people that are going to Tweet more because of it. I said Twitter would have to do something big to gain on Facebook? Well, Twitter should 'Tweet" Seesmic a big ol' thank you note. If you're a business looking to make a mark on Twitter, a Channel through Seesmic is the coolest way to interact with your Tweeters that I've seen yet. Check out Red Bull's always, they are right on the cutting edge of the extreme...and this is extremely awesome as far as Twitter goes.

Don't mistake me, I'm still a loyal Facebook cheerleader. It still reigns at the top of the Social Media kingdom. If they could only come up with a valid way to receive alerts from Administered Pages it would be a perfect world. Until they do, however, they now offer Page Administers a statistical view of how comments and post are being perceived and interacted with right under the said text itself. Pretty cool...and a great step forward. After all, Facebook would be wise to head the advice of Page Administers...

Important no-brainers for your Facebook fan page. "Content is King!" For marketing's sake and sanity, engage your fans with what I like to call "human" stuff. Sales/promo's should only account for 10% of your social presence on any given medium. That doesn't mean that 10% isn't important. It is....extremely! A majority of your fans are either loyal to your brand already or looking for a deal. Once fans, they want to be a part of your brand. Create an interactive community.

The word interactive leads me to my next two insights. The first on Haiti. While I hate to call attention to this tragedy in terms of Social Media, it created a powerful message to the world on the most productive way to achieve a cause or purpose. Cool how the entire world interacted live on the Twitter map at to rally support for Haiti. If you haven't seen now how Social Media is encapsulating the human spirit worldwide than you just might not ever. Out of tragedy the human spirit becomes stronger and more united. Neat that what I used to call my 'small little nerdery' has now become enormous enough to hold a strong foot in such a noble cause.

Interactive, in second, is now synonymous with Smartphones. Seesmic and Foursquare are two very powerful apps I'd be involved in right now. Though less than 20% of the population owns one, the next wave has already crashed down in Smartphone-ville. Apps will be a huge market for businesses to reach out and converse with their target markets this year. It will be a break out year, and with competition from Android, I personally look for Smartphones to become a more accessible form of cell phone communication for the general public. Come on, 4G...let's go!

Social Media is new age 'word of mouth' marketing. As eMarketer smartly pointed out this month, it's not the ads that sell your brand, it's the marketing.
So brilliant, and makes me feel needed and loved as a Marketeer. Even a Social Influence Marketeer. "Word of mouth and conversational marketing, up more than 23%..." Music to my ears, since my whole blog is about using Social Media to 'humanize' your brand and create buzz (word of mouth!) I love it!
OK, soap box temporarily retired.

I'll leave you with my reflection on the loss of a 'car biz' colleague.

For those who've never done a stint in the car biz before I'll paint the picture as I experienced it: scary and miserable but funny as hell. If you've ever seen a spoof on car dealers and thought it was completely unrealistic, you never met Greg. I often wanted so badly to hate him for his 'sense of humor' but just couldn't...because he was hilarious...and always made a point. I learned a lot from him in the short time I spent as his office neighbor. That "a lot" fit's in very random categories of my overall learning experience...but I developed a respect for him in spite of it all, and it felt good that the feeling was mutual.

I will forever bust a gut picturing him during a Saturday 'Slasher Sale,' megaphone in hand, running around the lot slashing prices.

He was one of those people that just 'get it.'

RIP, Greg. You're irreplaceable.