Allen Dobbins | President & CEO • AutoStar Solutions, Inc.
Published in A*QUA Issue005, Q2, 2011
This edition of A*QUA is dedicated to marketing. Like you, my sales department often wishes that I had the marketing capital of Nike, Coca Cola, or Rolex. These companies spend millions of dollars a year on branding to gain trust as well as a new following. They rely on marketing to increase shareholder value and grow their business. Indeed, just during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, Nike and Coke spent a combined $1.5 billion on marketing! Regardless of how much you spend annually on marketing, do you know how much your sales increased as a direct result of this expense?
Many car dealers spend money on local newspaper advertisements, radio station campaigns, mailers etc. to gain new customers. But how many are measuring the success of each campaign? How many set benchmarks that have to be met before a campaign is deemed a success and worth trying again? Are all leads and prospects tracked back to the source? If you do not set benchmarks and perform analysis on money that is spent to improve and increase your business, you have no idea on what works. In a nutshell, does marketing really work for you?
One of the tools that many companies use as marketing themselves is a website. When AutoStar went through our website makeover, the first thing we did was ask ourselves what we needed the website to do. The general consensus was for the website to be an education platform for our existing customers but also to give new prospects an insight into what we do, and what makes us unique from everyone else. The call to action is for new prospects to call our sales department.
Many of you use your websites to showcase inventory, take a credit app and hope that prospects come to your place of business, with the notion that because you’re online, the site will take care of itself, and money will simply roll in. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Like all sales tools, your website needs set measureable benchmarks. Tracking analytics, target lead goals, and clear communication paths are vital to succeeding in today’s online marketplace. Without these, you are simply wasting your time and resources, and more importantly, any potential customers as well.
During 2010, to solidify AutoStar as a true end-to-end solution, we launched a new product: AutoStar Design Service (ADS). The ADS team is in place to help our customers in all aspects of marketing. From branding to logo’s, corporate stationary re-design, ad creation and most importantly, web design. The web is fast becoming the most effective way for many of our customers to reach new clients. Our team of web designers are some of the best in the industry and they can create a website for you, from simple to elaborate, in weeks. The websites include inventory of your vehicles, integration to third party sites such as CraigsList, AutoTrader.com, and best of all, it’s fully integrated to AutoStar and designed to be Search Engine Optimized. You can even run analysis reports that provide you critical information on how people are navigating through your site and monitor leads as a result of web visits. Now you can use your website not simply as a tool to showcase inventory but as a real sales and marketing machine. Marketing is only effective if you measure and track the success of it. We are here with advise and resources should you need our help.