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Jeff Cryder Jeff Cryder

What car dealers and other local businesses need in 2012: A Digital Manager

Jeff Cryder

After delivering a keynote at last week’s Driving Sales Executive Summit at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, three things emerged from listening to other speakers and talking with many of the dealer principals and owners that attended the event:

  1. Social media is still a mysterious creature as it applies to direct sales businesses such as for car dealers.
  2. Local advertising and marketing are becoming focal points and the tech-savvy dealers at the event knew it.
  3. Few dealerships have the right person in place to meet the needs.

What most of them need is a digital manager. It’s not the internet manager, a position whose primary role is to generate and route leads from the internet. It’s not the general manager who is often too busy to devote the time required to perform the duties associated with a digital manager (let alone spend the time learning and keeping up with the latest trends), and it’s definitely not the college kid who knows how to use Facebook but doesn’t really understand either the car business or the marketing arena.

It can be the marketing manager (for those dealerships or dealer groups who have someone specifically designated for marketing), but even then it will only work if the primary focus of the manager is to maintain online assets rather than simply managing Adwords campaigns and buying newspaper ads.

This applies to nearly all local businesses, but car dealers make for the perfect case studies because of the infrequency of the purchase. For other local businesses like bakeries and barber shops, missing one opportunity can be corrected in days, weeks, or at most a couple of months later. Losing a car deal can eliminate that individual opportunity as well as the opportunities that can spring from it for years.

What is a digital manager?

A true digital manager is responsible for the online presence of the dealership. Notice that I didn’t say “digital marketing” or “social media profiles” – those are both portions of it but should not be the primary focus. True digital marketing in today’s local market happens as a result of proper digital management and social media profiles are simply a minor tool in the promotion of this end.

As American society swiftly becomes more net-savvy, more socially-connected, and more reliant on specifics rather than generalities, it is through a proper online presence that dealerships and other local businesses can excel. People trust other people more than they trust what businesses say or what advertising tries to tell them and they trust their friends and family more than they trust other people. As a result, social media, localized search engine results, reviews, and mobile access are the absolute keys to continued growth.

The biggest challenge is timing. It’s a roadblock that can often delay or dismiss the appointment of a digital manager. Businesses want more business today. It’s not that they don’t want business in the future, but long-term planning often makes business owners feel they are missing on the short term gains. Today, it’s all about instant gratification and something like proper digital management seems to be too long-term. In reality, it isn’t; it can yield results very quickly, but here is not the place to attempt to convince anyone of that. Instead, let’s take a look at what they actually do.

A digital manager:

  • Controls the online assets for a company. Websites, microsites, landing pages, social media profiles, search engine optimization, PPC marketing, local ad buys, local listings – all of these and more falls under the category of “online assets”.
  • Coordinates the branding and message on and offline. If it’s an offline campaign that needs help, the digital manager ties the online assets into a support role. If the online campaigns need a push from offline assets, the digital manager coordinates those efforts as well or communicates with the person who does.
  • Contacts customers. All customers. Past, present, and future customers should get a touch from the digital manager. It could be in the form of emails, tweets, Facebook contacts, text messages – anything other than face-to-face or phone conversations should be handled by the digital manager and his/her team. This is NOT to say that they reply to leads – that’s still for the internet manager and sales team to handle. The digital manager is responsible for getting more leads through and nurturing further relationships.
  • Content creation – arguably the most time-consuming yet important responsibility of the digital manager. Blog posts, status updates, videos, infographics, wall posts – in lieu of a PR firm that handles it all, the digital manager must be keeping the name out there as much as possible and presenting the dealership or business in ways that are positive for the company.

There are other small duties, but those are the primary responsibilities of a true digital manager. They do not work leads. They do not set appointments. They do not sell. They nurture. They create. The brand. They engage.

We will be posting more about this in the near future, but for now, think about what’s happening at your business. Do you have a true digital manager, or is one or more people sort of handling the things listed above that can dramatically increase sales now and in the future?

  1. pre { font-family: “Liberation Serif”; }p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

    Your post really helped me to understand this. It has great details and yet it is easy to understand.That’s what i was looking for. I will definitely share it with others.Thanks for sharing.


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