September 2009, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Twitter, Facebook, blogs, grapevine—of these four choices, which do you think has the potential to provide tremendous growth in leads? If you said Twitter, Facebook and blogs, you’re right. And, for the record, I don’t care how many “friends” I accumulate on Facebook, or how many people follow me on Twitter, they’ll never compare with the familiar and soulful sounds of The Miracles singing “I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (Motown Records, 1966). Until a few weeks ago, I had no idea what Twitter or Facebook are. However, I’ve been reading, listening and learning. The next big wave in business success is social networking via the Internet.
I had a million questions about this new computer stuff. Even the words sound funny: Twitter and Tweets. What does Twitter mean? How do you get started? If I have a Facebook profile, will I get a truckload of spam in my inbox? Does anyone in the business world really read those things? Isn’t this computer stuff really just for the young people?
I am a Baby Boomer and I remember watching TV on a small black and white television set (with no remote control!). When I revealed this to my 30-year-old nephew, he rolled his eyes and chuckled at such a notion. He then asked me if I still had a land-line into my house. Yes, I do. He asked why and I gave him the standard “in case of emergency” refrain. He was now laughing at me. “Uncle Jim,” he said, “Don’t you realize they have GPS on your cell phone now and can even get satellite images of your house within seconds?” You see, he grew up with computers in every classroom.
There is a group of young people who have has never known the reliance upon newsprint advertising or the delay of waiting weeks or even seasons for marketing plans to be realized. They know no real privacy (remember hand-written letters and phone booths?) or ownership of ideas. Their world is instant and in full view. In other words, they have instant access to each other and to singing lessons, pot roast recipes, editors, job opportunities, cancer research, film archives, dating advice, antique appraisals, dog-sitting services, and even new car dealerships. They are finding new ways in the art of communication and business through current technology and networking
Many of your employees are in that same group. The preferred way to communicate now is by texting. They find it more efficient to text someone down the hall rather than get up and go talk directly to them or even talk with them on the phone.
It seems the world is changing faster and faster. Maybe all progress is viewed that way from behind the curve. Learning how to adapt to technology is essential to prospering and growing your business. Here is the reality: You’ve got to jump into this technology with both feet now. I promise you, your competitors are thinking the same thing, and we all know that whoever is first to the market wins the biggest.
I am always looking for new ways to learn and improve my own business. I just finished reading a book entitled, “World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories” by David Meerman Scott. This book helped me understand about this new technology and something called inbound marketing, or getting people to call me. Let me say that again: Business prospects will call me instead of the other way around!
This is a huge idea and a major shift in the business of sales. Like many of you, I came up in the sales culture where one had to make numerous calls every day to be successful. This new book (and this new idea) is telling me the opposite is now true. As I read this book, I thought of car dealers and the challenge of letting go of some of the old ways. I’m not saying all the old ways of getting people in the showroom are useless, but imagine a day where the customers eagerly seek you out instead of the other way around. Very few people even read a newspaper anymore, let alone the ads and fliers that are thrown away immediately from the mailbox. Instant access, instant communication, and inbound marketing. It’s the difference between a friendly stream and a powerful tidal wave. It’s the World Wide Rave.
Do you as a dealer create rave about your business? Maybe you can’t even imagine anyone raving about a car dealership. How do you tell people about your offerings? How do you get people excited about buying, and then make them want to buy from you first? Odds are you use the old fashioned way: TV, newspaper or some kind of direct mail.
A World Wide Rave is when people around the world are talking about you, your company and your products. It’s when someone eagerly links to your Web site. It’s when viral marketing and social networking drives buyers to your Web site. It’s when customers visit your Web site and your blog because they genuinely want to be there.
You can buy a copy of David’s book or download a free e-book at www.DavidMeermanScott.com/products_ebooks.htm.
Next, you need to sign up for Twitter (a simple process) and start following others. (Note: “following” is a phrase used in Twitter loosely meaning that you, and others, are communicating by “following” a line of information.) You can follow me on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/jacksonlive. Get on Facebook, and you will understand more as you read World Wide Rave. You can join me on Facebook; just search for friend Jim Jackson. LinkedIn is www.LinkedIn.com/in/jimjacksonlive.
You need to learn about utilizing new technology to grow your business. Inbound marketing and the World Wide Rave are big, and they’re happening right now. I have a client in Houston who estimates that maybe 140,000 cars drive by his dealership every day. Billboards, TV ads and the newsprint aren’t making them stop. He could build a community social site on the Internet sponsored by his dealership, a site where locals post what is happing in the neighborhood, and once registered on Twitter and FaceBook, he can invite every customer and all his friends and neighbors to follow him.
On my community site, we have a local taco shop owner who Twitters meal deals once a week. Last night was “dollar taco night.” Guess where I had dinner, and the restaurant was packed.
The key is to use technology to get people familiar with you and your brand. A great example of who is using this technology is Auto Dealer Monthly. On their site, autodealerpeople.com, anyone can participate in a discussion on what is relevant that day in the automotive world. You could easily start there or create a similar site for your business.
Your challenge right now is to decide whether you’ll step into the next big thing or hang back and do what you’ve always done. I promise you if you do what you have always done, you may get left behind.