Article

Google your Dealership

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Todd Swickard - Also by this author

Go to your computer and try this experiment. Try typing your dealership name in the search area of your Internet browser. Does your dealership come up? Are you even ranked first, second or third? Now try typing in a few different combinations like the makes you sell plus your town or used makes and your town (Chevrolet St. Louis, Used VW Pittsburgh). Coming up now?
Based on my research, I guess about 90 percent of you won’t appear. That isn’t necessarily your fault or your Web site provider’s. It is something that you need to fix. Back in the “old days” (last year) it really didn’t matter how you appeared in the search engines. In this day and age the Internet search engines are the new Yellow Page ads. If you didn’t have a yellow page ad in the past, chances were you wouldn’t get the first call. Search engines are the exact same way. You have to be there for them to call your Web site.

Google has become the leader in the online race. You may have heard of this little company whose stock has doubled in less than a month. I get questions all the time about why Google stock is so much. It is because advertisers, advertising companies and consumers can connect and connect easily without all the junk that is on other sites. People are looking for easy ways on the Internet to find the information they need. Google connects you to your customer.
Some will say they don’t use Google. You might use MSN or Yahoo or 20 other different engines out there. It doesn’t matter which one you use. You have to be there on all of them in some shape or form. You can pay a company to do it or you can research it yourself and make it happen.

Most people don’t know how valuable having a good ranking on the search engines can be for their business. The ones that do know it don’t want others to find out. When you look at all the other media out there and you break it down, it becomes really simple to see why the manufacturers are dumping money into online advertising. It is cheaper in relative terms and in many cases provides a large return on investment.

The rules have changed for everyone. Many manufacturers now allow you to co-op this advertising expense. Instead of the Internet being the evil stepchild of advertising, it is now one of the shining stars for dealerships. If you don’t know already, find out if your manufacturer allows co-op Internet advertising and be the hero of the dealership by finding a way to bring more qualified traffic and leads to your site.

As recent as last year, they said Internet advertising was dead. It nearly was. The difference is it evolved. It changed from epileptic banners all over to the place with deceptive offers to letting the customer search for something and then giving them a choice whether or not to find out more information. With the evolution of choice and the sites directly marketing to customer needs, it has made Internet advertising the home run ad agencies and advertisers have tried to find since the direct mail piece was printed.

I have preached in many articles that taking a serious look at Internet advertising should be something each dealership should do. Some have listened. Finding the best solution for your dealership is in your hands. Those who get started on this journey will be in a better position tomorrow. The Internet is constantly evolving.

Imagine back in the ‘70s if you had bought a Honda dealership. Yes, there was an upside from gas crunches and the trend toward more fuel efficiency. You didn’t sell them like they were going out of style. Imagine what that dealership would be worth today in a nice growing metro area.

The point of the story: investing in the Internet today is like buying a Honda dealership in the ‘70s. Except this time you have the foresight to see what is coming up over the next few years. Building your online presence is a return you will reap for years to come no matter how small or how large the investment. So find a way to start making it work for you today. Search engine advertising and marketing will be done in your area. Lock it up with your operation now before your competition does.
 
Vol 2, Issue 1

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