I spoke with Scott Gruwell, owner of Courtesy Chevrolet, the No.1 Chevy dealer in Arizona.
I asked about his philosophies on digital marketing, relationship management and the future of digital marketing in light of his recent quip: “Digital marketing has left the building.”
My question: Did digital marketing really leave, or is it just out back having a smoke?
“From my perspective, it’s evolving,” he says. “It’s a lot more savvy, and this includes social-media marketing.”
Consumers use smartphones to daily fact-check and shop. If they use their mobile device to shop your store, they should encounter positive online messages along the way.
“Technology is changing the way we do business,” Gruwell says.
Say a consumer sees a dealership’s TV or online ad, uses a smartphone to check out a vehicle and then contacts the store. A dealer with sharper real-time pricing has an advantage. If that dealer follows up properly, the chance of a sale goes way up.
Gruwell makes a great point about dealers who spend massively on advertising, only to constantly get poor online reviews. These dealers fail to effectively manage and respond to those reviews.
An ad plan is hurt if a consumer step-by-step gets closer to your business only to encounter scathing ratings towards the final step.
“You can spend all the money in the world in advertising, but if your social- media reputation is bad, why bother?” Gruwell says. “Would you buy a car from a 1-star dealer?”
An occasional complaint review can help build credibility, especially if it’s handled correctly. Be sure to reply to a complaint posting with a dealership apology and an offer to help. Show good intentions to unhappy customers and demonstrate gratitude to happy buyers.
“Having negative social media is like having graffiti on your dealership,” Gruwell says.
“The days of it being OK to irritate a customer are over,” he adds, noting the reach of social media. “It’s thousands of people knowing. It’s very transparent.”
Build the consumer shopping experience. Analyze every step the shopper takes. Make appropriate improvements along the way. There is little margin for error. OK, mistakes will be made. Just don’t repeat them.
“We’re not perfect,” Gruwell says. “It’s an ongoing, every-day process.”
Adam Armbruster is a senior partner with ad consultants Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co. He can be reached at [email protected]