Printed Media is Still Valuable.

(Originally published in Fall of 2010 while writing for Xspond.)

As a blogging, Facebooking, forum posting, copy writing, Tweeting person I get to see my work published all over the web on a regular basis. This is very fun for me but I have gotten used to the medium I am in. The Internet is so vast it seems like not a lot of people proportionately see what I post, normally. There are those occasional, fun, and shining moments when a post catches some momentum and I get to celebrate and spend a couple of days replying to comments, but they are occasional so far.

The other day when I arrived home from work and retrieved my mail I was delighted to find a local free newspaper had published my article about a client event on the front page, along with the pictures I took. I sprinted up the driveway eager to show my husband that I was indeed published, on paper. Then I was baffled at myself. Why am I so excited? If I had posted this on a Facebook page or blog I would not be screeching for my husband to read it. (It was not my best piece of writing by a long shot.)

So I have been pondering it over the last day or so and have come to accept the fact that no matter how many tools we have at our disposal for sharing information, the printed form still holds a certain value that web media does not have. I am happy to be my own devil’s advocate when I state that certain audiences get zero value from printed media, but I would also argue that most still take printed matter more seriously.

That being said, I don’t imagine this is a fact that will stay true forever. I can already see a shift occurring in my five year old son. He is currently learning to read. Every digital cable menu, every computer game, and every video game menu that he sees on screen he will read perfectly. But when I sit him down with a book, he is bored, struggles to stay focused and absolutely does NOT want to take the time to read it.

So while I continue to get completely giddy over my stuff being printed on paper, I will also continue to remind myself that there is absolutely value in my digital material. I am one of the lucky ones who gets to embrace both print and digital media. I am being careful to balance my marketing efforts across all mediums during this transitional period, what are you doing to feed your customers’ love of printed materials?

Update: Since I wrote this reflection and let it simmer before posting, Xspond has been featured on the front page of the Business section in the Detroit News. The energy around the office yesterday, when the article hit was unreal! Everyone in the office reacted the way I did when my little local article hit. I will keep you posted on what kind of interest our company gains from this fabulous article that was written. I am curious to observe whether this article gets us more relevant traffic than some of the blog articles that have taken off across the blogosphere & twittersphere recently.

Dealership Analytics = Elementary Math Lesson: “Double-check you work.”

(Originally published in July 2010 while writing for Xspond.)

What would Mrs. Miller say if she saw most of us today? Would she be sorely disappointed that we have all abandoned the process? Would she grab us by the ear and walk us to the front of the class making an example out of us?

I don’t know about you, but nightmares of that embarrassment keeps me on the straight and narrow in regards to doing my best and double checking it when I am done. In business the best way to begin checking your work is through Google Analytics and Webmasters Tools.

Just one scenario of analytics saving a website; we redesigned an entire dealership homepage 10 days after we launched it, for a seemingly insignificant design choice. By watching where people clicked we found that from their perspective it was not clear that the Used Car link was indeed a link. By adjusting that feature we were able to get users to the used cars inventory as quickly as possible. Check your work, check it often, and fix it if it isn’t working. Here’s a small clip [of Mitch] from an Analytics discussion we had at Insights Group the other day.

Do you know how many leads your site generates, do you know how much traffic your site gets and where they are coming from, do you know how many people get to your site and bounce right out, do you know where you rank in a search engine, do you know if your site is optimized for google keyword searches, do you know if people are finding what they came to your website for?

If the answer is no, we recommend you call your web provider and have a discussion about your Google Analytics and Web Masters Tools. You will want to watch your analytics regularly, and look for areas of improvement.

3 Reasons Why Dealerships Should Use Foursquare

(Originally published in July 2010 while writing for Xspond.)

Foursquare is a Geo-location phone application that allows users to “Check-in” wherever they are at using their mobile device. This allows the business to see who is coming and going, and it allows the user’s friends to see where they are. Which is in essence letting everyone know where their friends shop, getting your business an automated word-of-mouth.

I know what you’re thinking, “How can Foursquare be of benefit to my dealership when people only buy cars once every three years?” Here are some quick reasons and ways that Foursquare can help you.

Promoting Customer Loyalty

Mayorship awards. By rewarding the person who is at your dealership the most it will create a game among local patrons to win that coveted role. To do this they would come to your showroom to check out the new cars, come to your service department for oil changes and other maintenance, and come to your parts department to pick up anything they need. If they are the mayor you would provide them with a very special deal that no one else can get. This deal you give them should be a discount on your services, so that when they visit you, they get an incentive to keep coming back.

Offer a frequency based deal. For every x number of visits the user gets a discount. This could be a perfect set up for a car dealership service department. If it is recommended to rotate their tires every third oil change and you can cater to their exact needs by giving it to them for free every third visit, that will encourage them to get their oil changed with you to ensure they earn that free tire rotation. They have to get their oil changed anyway, they might as well earn another service for free while they do it.

Notifying People in the Immediate Vicinity of Current Specials

Offers Near By. Setting up offers to automatically alert people who are in the vicinity allows you to capitalize on your locality in a major way. Anyone who check in to Foursquare while sitting at the coffee shop next door can get an alert offering them a coupon for an oil change. The application will use the user’s GPS location to offer them any deals that are currently in the area. This can be a valuable tool for someone who may need a reminder that their oil needs changing. They are right next door or right across the street, they might as well swing in.

Finding Out the Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of your Visitors

When you set up your dealership on Foursquare you get immediate access to real time stats about your visitors. Similar to the way Google Analytics helps you know more about your Website visitors, it gives you invaluable information about your physical visitors. Here is what you can learn and how it can help you:

  • By knowing the most recent visitors who have checked in to your dealership you can find out if your employees did a good job getting contact information. This could be a great checks and balances tools for Customer Service.
  • Knowing the most frequent visitor will allow you to create a welcoming community for this frequent guest. By doing this you can find out why they frequent you so much. If they are browsing your used car lot for a specific car they cannot find, maybe you can help them find it elsewhere. If they are constantly in your service shop, you can offer them a courtesy ride to wherever they would like to go, along with a discount on the services they are using so often.
  • What would you do if you could tell the number of unique visitors each day, and find out who they are? Would you be interested in tracking the return rate of these unique visitors? Would you be interested in finding out if you have a huge group of returning customers and very few new customers? This information would prove to be invaluable in how you market yourself. If you have tons of return customers and not a ton of new, then you would certainly adjust your advertising efforts accordingly.
  • One of my favorite bits of information that Foursquare can provide is the time of day people check-in. What if you find that people are frequenting your lot after hours? Or better yet, what if they are not frequenting your lot during open hours? This can help you adjust your employee schedule to help you minimize expenses during typically slow periods of the day.
  • For a long time we’ve been able to track customer demographics through sales made, contacts made, and web customer tracking, but what if you knew the demographics of those who visit your lot but do not share their contact information? This would certainly allow you to customize your on-site efforts to cater to the specific people that are coming to your lot. Maybe you find that young mothers are on your lot a lot more than anyone else? Would you do anything different to make the experience better for them? Would you put your best family cars out front?

If you want to know more about what Foursquare actually is, please check out their website. And please keep in mind that this is just a tool, one of many, and should be used in coordination with all of your marketing efforts.

What Foursquare offers have been successful for you?

My Hiatus

I am currently doing the #1 No-No for blogging. I am not currently updating my site regularly.

While I agree it is important to blog regularly, I also believe that when you can’t you can’t. And forcing it will simply lead to a bad first impression, and a lot bullshitting. Any of you who know me, know I don’t bullshit. You know I am quiet and mindful. When asked a question, I like to think it through. When writing an article, I write it, sleep on it, reread it, rewrite it and sleep on it some more. (Usually)

Please forgive my absence. I know this blog looks lame. But, that is fine by me, I’d rather be invisible than filling your RSS feed with bullshit. When I do begin to write again, it will be when I am ready to do it right. If things go well…I’ll see you in April! Until then I will be on Facebook & Twitter.

Stop Marketing like Muhammad Ali – You’re not him!

You can shout all day about what you know, how smart you are, how great you are, and all the things your customers can buy. But if they don’t want to know what you are telling them, and they are not buying right now,  they don’t and won’t care. (Unless you float like a butterfly & sting like a bee!)

Get into your clients shoes. Find out what they need and want to know. Ask yourself, “What expertise do I have, that my customers WANT to know?”

And then give it to them.

Now you ask, what does this do for me and my business? (Yes, I know, ROI and all of that)

“I’m an Expert” vs. Being an Expert

You become the go-to person for your customers in your area of expertise. You are the expert. The listener. The person who cares about them. Not “them” as the customer. But “them” as the person. So when they DO need your service or product. They will pick you over your competitor. No doubt about it.

Still Skeptical?

Put your consumer shoes on. Three businesses are competing for your money. One says “We’re the experts.” The second has the lowest price, with bare minimum customer service and knowledge base. The third listens to your concerns and questions, gets to know you, provides you with the expert knowledge you seek, and works tirelessly to make sure all your needs are met.

Where will you shop?

Some, undoubtedly want the cheapest price, no matter what the experience is. There is no avoiding that. But do you want to be the business to provide them the lowest price? Reaping the lowest margin? With absolutely no chance for customer loyalty? Probably not.

Have you become the expert in your field? How has it changed your business?