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TrueCar Sponsors Ten Full Ride AutoCon 2013 Scholarships – The 2013 AutoConnections Conference and Exposition

AutoCon 2013 Announces a Special Program Sponsored by TrueCar to Award Ten “Full Ride Scholarships” for Dealership Managers to Attend AutoCon 2013*

Automotive Media Partners, LLC is proud to announce the creation of a “Full Ride Scholarship*” program sponsored by TrueCar of Santa Monica, California.  TrueCar’s pioneering sponsorship of this program provides the funds to cover the costs of transportation to and from Las Vegas, lodging at the Aria Resort and full AutoCon conference registration. 

One of the most surprising aspects of TrueCar’s sponsorship is that the company has funded ten (10) AutoCon “Full Ride Scholarships*”.  Ten automotive professionals will receive the educational, networking, inspiration and innovation benefits from attending the 2013 AutoConnections Conference and Exposition at no out of pocket expense for travel, meals during the event or conference fees to themselves or their dealerships. 

  

The TrueCar AutoCon Scholarship Program is further evidence of the remarkable transformation that has taken place at TrueCar since the beginning of 2012. After receiving a remarkable level of criticism within the auto industry during the second half of 2011, TrueCar has evolved and revised their automotive purchasing programs for consumers and affiliated corporations to be far more dealer friendly. 

TrueCar’s objectives supported by these changes have included raising dealer profit margins to levels that provide more room for dealers to cover facility costs and the staffing levels needed to properly service new vehicle buyers sent to them by TrueCar.   


TrueCar understands and recognizes the need for ongoing training and thought leadership within the ranks of the retail automotive industry.  Their management team has decided that one of the best ways to demonstrate this commitment to betterment of the industry is to commit the funds necessary to support independent dealer focused educational events such as AutoCon 2013. 

 

TrueCar executives Bernie Brenner and Mike Timmons approached the founders of the Automotive Digital Marketing and dealerElite professional communities, Ralph Paglia, Chris Saraceno and Mike Myers because these online networks have served as “Ground Zero” for some of the industry’s harshest criticism of TrueCar in the recent past.  Surprising for a company as large as TrueCar is, their management team has reviewed the criticism published by members of the ADM and DealerELITE networks and taken corrective actions, changed their business models and worked with State dealer associations to create vehicle purchase programs that make sense for participating dealers. 

How will the TrueCar AutoCon Scholarships be Awarded?

TrueCar has asked that the AutoConnections Conference Management Team take full control and responsibility for ensuring that the 10 Full Ride Scholarships be awarded based on merit and need.  Criteria will include a wide geographic representation by selecting automotive professionals from every region in North America.  Another consideration will be to award scholarships to professionals who represent a diverse range of vehicle brands and positions within the dealerships they serve.  

Written TrueCar Scholarship Application

The application process will be a simple online application that includes all the expected contact information, a description of the applicant’s role in the dealership where they work and space for them to describe in their own words why they should be awarded a TrueCar AutoCon Scholarship to attend the AutoConnections Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas from September 4th to the 6th

Video TrueCar Scholarship Application

If you are better at explaining your reasons why you should be selected for a scholarship in a verbal manner, the AutoCon 2013 TrueCar scholarship committee will also be pleased to accept your proposal in a video format. Simply explain why you should be selected in a YouTube video that is either uploaded or embedded to eitherAutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com or dealerELITE.net . Please be sure to include the link to that video in your scholarship application where you write out your explanation of why YOU should be selected to receive a “Full Ride Scholarship”.

The AutoCon Scholarship Selection Committee is comprised of Ralph Paglia, Chris Saraceno, Mike Myers, Carrie Hemphill and Brian Pasch.  As applicants are being considered they will be contacted by a committee member and interviewed via phone and email.  Final selections will be made by committee vote and the awardees notified by email and phone.

AutoCon 2013 Scholarship Selection Committe

  • Ralph Paglia
  • Chris Saraceno
  • Mike Myers
  • Carrie Hemphill
  • Brian Pasch 

                                                    

Applications for TrueCar AutoCon Scholarships will be accepted starting Monday July 1, 2013 and award selections will begin Monday August 5, 2013.

 

With 10 TrueCar AutoCon Scholarships being awarded, the odds of being selected are probably better than any other similar program in the auto industry… So, do not hesitate to apply and encourage other automotive professionals to do so!  All of us who are stakeholders in the AutoCon event are thrilled with the investment being made by TrueCar to support what we believe is the best event in the auto industry.  The TrueCar sponsorship of AutoCon 2013 and the Full Ride Scholarship Program is appreciated and respected. 

In the past, TrueCar was a company that received an enormous amount of criticism, much of which has been emotionally charged and at times, crossed the boundaries of decency and professional behavior.  Many other companies faced with similar criticism and public ridicule would have released a barrage of legal actions to defend themselves.  TrueCar has consistently taken the high road and responded to their critics with program changes and by sending their senior executives to major auto industry events and meetings. 

 

The TrueCar sponsorship of AutoCon is further proof that this company is led by professionals who want to be valuable contributors to the overall success of the auto industry.

 

On behalf of the AutoCon team and the 10 auto industry professionals who will receive the benefit of these scholarship awards, a sincere thank you to TrueCar is extended.

Apply for a TrueCar AutoCon Scholarship online at http://AutoCon2013.com

    

*PLEASE NOTE: “Full Ride Scholarship” is the brand name for this category of award and is owned by Automotive Media Partners, LLC.  All “Full Ride Scholarships” associated with an AMP promoted event with include a travel stipend that reimburses the scholarship recipient for airfare expense submitted up to a maximum dollar amount. Recipients will also receive lodging for the nights of the conference itself. Any room charges authorized by the scholarship recipient, or incidental expenses are the responsibility of the scholarship recipient. Also included are the conference fees for registering and attending the event, which will usually include scheduled breakfasts and lunches that all event participants receive. It is important for scholarship recipients to understand that ANY expenses outside of airfare to and from the event, hotel lodging and conference registration fees are NOT INCLUDED in our version of a “Full Ride Scholarship”.  Furthermore, we strongly advise all scholarship recipients to travel with a valid major credit card and two forms of government issued ID. Adequate cash should be brought by scholarship recipients to cover meals outside of those scheduled on the conference agenda, local transportation and miscellaneous expenses… After all, you will be in Las Vegas and “Cash-In-Fist” is strongly advised!

   

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You Have A Lot of Work to Do.. – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

 

You Have A Lot of Work to Do..

Last month, my focus for the article was on “why” today’s automotive professional needs to build a personal brand.  Now that I’ve convinced you that it’s an amazing idea that will help you dominate your marketplace, I’m going to go into more detail on how to develop yourself into the recognizable, reliable name that people can count on.

First thing’s first:  GOALS. What are your goals? What are you looking to accomplish with your brand?  Of course you want to sell a lot of cars – there are a million ways to sell a lot of cars without committing to investing a large chunk of your time and money into a personal brand.  For example, my goal is to be the name in my area (target marketplace) that people think of when they hear words like Hyundai, new car, great customer service, educational, quick and hassle-free, car shopping experience, etc.  They have no choice but to think of me.  I want my brand to be stamped into their brain from an exceptional experience that they personally had with me, or someone they know told them that they had with me.  They could have read about great experiences with me on the internet, or social media platforms.  I want my name – my brand to be everywhere that those key topics are discussed.  You with me so far?

Next.  AUDIENCE.  Figure out who and where your audience is.  This is also called your target market place. (our geeky internet terminology)  Where do the people live that you are selling yourself as a brand to?  What are they looking or shopping for?  Who are these people?  What is their age range?  Are they male or female? All of these answers should be readily available to you with little effort.  This should be pretty self explanatory.  If you know your product and know what you are selling then obviously you know who you are selling to.  We’re in the car business people.. our manufacturers spend ridiculous amounts of money and consult experts in this field figuring out the majority of our target marketplace FOR US.  Tap into these resources.   This one is kind of a no-brainer.  In order to sell your brand to the right kind of people you need to know your brand and yourself.

Which brings me to number three.  KNOW WHO YOU ARE. What makes you unique?  What do you bring to the table (or can you bring) that is going to set you apart from the rest of the sales associates in your area?  Lyndon B. Johnson once said “What convinces is conviction.”  You have to believe in yourself, your goals, and most importantly – your product.  You can’t be the milkman delivering pizzas.  BE REAL.  If you’re not driving what you’re selling, I’m not sure who you’re trying to fool.  Wake up.  If you don’t personally want to own what you’re selling buddy  you’re in the wrong business and you definitely can’t be the expert.  If you can ‘t close yourself on a payment that you supposedly can’t afford, how do you ever expect to convince your customers to do the same thing?  If you truly believed inside of you that your product was the best overall value YOU AND YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY WOULD HAVE ONE IN YOUR GARAGE!  Why are people going to come to you, across town, instead of someone who is right across the street?  You need to know exactly what you are offering.  Sit down and make a list!  What can you consistently deliver over and over again that will set the bar just a little bit higher; however – most importantly- is GENUINE and REAL.

Once you set your goals – know who you are selling to and what you truly are selling – you need to BUILD YOUR PERSONAL VISUAL IDENTITY.  Some of you may refer to this as a logo.  As I mentioned before, logos are not necessarily imperative; however, they are strongly recommended.  What is the first thing that you see in your head when I say “Apple?”  THE LOGO.  If you can successfully and consistently complete the previous steps, then you need a visual aid to add to the value of your consistent and genuine brand name.  Like I said before, KNOW WHO YOU ARE.  What is a symbol of who you are?  It can be simple.  It can be complex.  All that matters is that it represents you and your commitment to being the brand that you have made for yourself.  For example:  Look at my stunningly handsome headshot above.  I wear glasses.  I make them look good.  I have several different shades, shapes, brands, and styles of geeky, thick-framed glasses that are as much a part of me as the service that I offer to my customers.  When anyone sees the logo on my cards, mailers, pens, brochures, websites, stickers, magnets, etc., they always make a comment about how amusingly it reflects who I truly am.  Nobody knows the real you better than you…well, or at least they shouldn’t.  Anyway, the point is:  Spend some time thinking or consulting with others (who know you very well and their opinion is valued) before you decide on a logo – should you decide to embrace this part of your own brand.

Ok, I know this all sounds like  A LOT of work.  Not gonna lie to you – it is.  Keep chasing pavement on that lot if that’s your choice.  If all of this sounds overwhelming, you haven’t seen anything yet.  I’m just getting started!!  We haven’t even touched on how you market this brand that is essentially, basically and most importantly, YOU.

 

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Can Car Dealers Use Twitter Promoted Tweets To Drive Traffic and Calls? – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

Twitter Says Promoted Tweets Are Working for Businesses, Including Car Dealerships…

Twitter has released some initial findings from its Nielsen Brand Effect for Twitter beta survey tool, which allows advertisers, including car dealers, their marketing service providers and OEM advertising agencies to measure the impact of their Twitter campaigns on traffic, awareness and branding performance metrics. The results suggest that “Promoted Tweet” campaigns have had their intended effects, driving greater message association, campaign awareness, dealership location association, brand favorability, and purchase intent.

The study cites as validation that across the beta results analyzed, users exposed to a Promoted Tweet impression had an average 22% higher message association than those not exposed to Promoted Tweets. Whether this association can translate into click through and traffic generation remains to be seen.

According to Twitter, the data supports their strategy for automotive advertisers that while Promoted Tweets are priced on a cost-per-engagement basis (similar to Pay Per Click), advertisers can also benefit even when users don’t engage.

In other positive results touted by Twitter, multiple exposure to a Promoted Tweet campaign generated an average 10% lift in make, model or dealership brand favorability versus those exposed to the campaign a single time. Finally, those who engage with a dealership or car company’s Promoted Tweet report a 30% higher brand favorability and 53% higher purchase intent than non-engagers.  Although it seems to me that this could be attributable to a predisposition of those who engaged with such promoted tweets having an affinity for the make, model or dealership in the first place…

One of the most exciting developments is that the completion of the study has triggered Twitter moving the capability out of beta status and opening it up to automotive marketers and advertisers in the US, UK, and Japan.

Promoted Tweet exposure drives stronger message association.

Across all the Twitter beta studies analyzed, exposure to a Promoted Tweet impression drove a 22% average increase in message association compared to users not exposed to Promoted Tweets. This finding demonstrates that, although Promoted Tweets are priced on a cost-per-engagement basis, advertisers don’t only benefit when users engage. Even a Promoted Tweet impression can be valuable for brands.

Brand lift is amplified by multiple exposures to Promoted Tweets.

Multiple exposures (two or three times) to a Promoted Tweet campaign lead to 10% lift, on average, in brand favorability compared to users exposed to the campaign once. This illustrates the value of an always-on Promoted Tweet strategy to continually reach interested users with brand messages.

Engagement with Promoted Tweets translates to higher brand favorability and purchase intent.

Users who engage with a brand’s Promoted Tweet report on average 30% higher brand favorability and 53% higher purchase intent than non-engagers. This study result highlights the value of an engagement on Twitter and the importance of reaching a relevant audience with compelling Tweet copy to further drive Tweet engagement.

How brand surveys on Twitter work 

To create a user experience that feels native to the Twitter platform and increases the likelihood of participation, brand surveys on Twitter are embedded within Tweets. Unlike other major publisher platforms, Twitter does not require a click through to an external site or interrupt the user with a pop-up. Another unique feature of the Twitter brand surveys: advertisers are able to measure and compare survey responses from users who have been exposed across devices – desktop, tablet and smartphone.

More information about how the surveys work can be found here.

Data Source 1: MarketingCharts.com/promoted-tweets-are-working

Data Source 2: Nielsen-Brand-Effect-for-Twitter-How-Promoted-Tweets-impact-brand-m…

Which Presidential Candidate is Right for Automotive Dealerships? – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

 

The social media sites were hot last night during the presidential debate between Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and current President Barrack Obama.  Since the election of former President Bill Clinton, our nation has been evenly divided over which man is the best person for the job of leading our nation amongst the world.

As a small business owner who helps companies, specifically automotive dealerships, build their business and “Win Customers for Life”; I have some very strong opinions about who I feel should become the next elected President of the United States of America.  However, I will let the reader research and decide who I am for, and who I am against.  (James Schaefer) This blog is meant to encourage voter participation and look at one philosophical point of view of each candidate and who is the best person for business.

I will try to take a simple common sense approach and put forth the facts as if I were hiring for an executive position within my own company.  This essentially is what Americans will be doing in November when they go to the polls.  However, just like in the real world; some people would not make good business owners or managers, and some people need to reevaluate whether they are making the right decisions when they vote.  Now remember, I am writing this blog about one of the many issues that is very important to me and my company.  I am not writing this issue concerning healthcare, defense, or government sponsored programs.  Therefore, a truly informed voter should look at all of the issues individually and way them to how their interest would be affected by the outcome of this year’s election.

Automotive Internet Sales 20 Group Composite – Chicago, October 23-25 2012 At The Downtown Hilton

I am proud to be one of the presenters selected to speak at the Automotive Internet Sales 20 Group in Chicago from October 23rd to the 25th and highly recommend this event for dealers and managers who are seeking to improve their Internet sales results. The way Sean Bradley has designed this event, participating dealers will be included in monthly conference calls to review participating dealer composite reporting ala “Dealer 20 Group” style, but specifically for handling online marketing and sales.

Eighth Element of the Automotive Consumer Journey – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Want to Sell More Cars? Then don’t forget Eighth Element in Modern Automotive Consumer Journey from Shopping to Buying!

When I read The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) I think back to my early sales days – with more hair and less weight! – standing in the showroom next to a brand spanking new Dodge Aries. From that vantage point, I’d see consumers who would drive from dealership to dealership, gathering information and brochures while adding or removing cars from their consideration list. In-store sales processes back then were constructed around stopping the shopping, and if we failed to do so, our manager’s idea of constructive criticism and coaching was to call us “weak.” Yikes! What a memorable First Moment of Truth (FMOT) that must have been for the consumer!

We know from ZMOT that seven of the top eight automotive buying influences are online. The “eighth element” is your in-store processes. Sadly though, as I’ve witnessed in too many dealerships, a winning ZMOT strategy combined with antiquated in-store processes equals a recipe for disaster. Digital processes are improving, but what about the 89% of consumers whose First Moment of Truth takes place over the phone or by walk-in? For many dealerships, the eighth element, phone and in-store processes, is as antiquated as a K-car.

 

Tips and Tricks for Creating a Modern In-Store Process

  • Manager Meet and Greet: The Manager T.O. worked great when cars still had retractable seat belts and cassette players, but now consumers don’t want to be turned over to a manager after they have made a decision to leave…or introduced to some mysterious person when a deal can’t be agreed upon. Dealership managers should get out from behind their desks and walk the showroom meeting and greeting customers at the beginning of the sales process, not at the end. This simple change in your sales process creates a friendlier environment for the consumer and injects a feeling of transparency into the sales process. If this is not a standard practice in your dealership today…it should be!

 

  • Customer Qualifying: Let’s start with some good news: if they are physically in your dealership, you’ve already won the Zero Moment of Truth! But you still need to win the First Moment of Truth, and expanding your qualifying process can easily help you deliver a victory for your dealership. Embrace the fact that your consumers will likely have received some serious education by the time they set foot in your showroom. Let your customer know that if they have questions or need access to additional information while they are shopping, that you have a computer or iPad available where they can privately get online. This simple statement provides transparency in the shopping process and helps you remain in control of the sales process. It’s better for the consumer to do additional research in your dealership than leaving to do it at home.

 

  • Negotiating: Consumers want transparency as well as an expedited sales process. They don’t want to spend five hours in your dealership buying a car. As Sales Managers, you control the deal flow. So when it comes to negotiating price, don’t implement a sales process that requires your salespeople to run back and forth negotiating numbers with the desk. Your dealership sales process should allow the sales manager’s first pencil to be directly with the consumer. Remember, your consumers are educated and have the same information in front of them as do you. So get out from behind the desk and go in and close the deal! If your sales process includes the Manager Meet and Greet as mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to delivering a positive First Moment of Truth.

Do we still want to “stop the shopping?” Of course! But today, by the time the consumer has entered the dealership, they have stopped shopping. They have narrowed their consideration list to a small handful of vehicles and dealerships. With seven of the top eight buying influences occurring online, it’s up to dealers to deliver that critical eighth element that is going to take shoppers from the floor to over-the-curb.

 

Written by Steve Hanson, Cobalt Performance Improvement Consultant

 

THE CAR BUYING JOURNEY

Introducing Google Now – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

From a strategic positioning perspective, I see Google Now as the alternative to iOS Siri on iPhones and iPads.  The intersection of GPS location with time of day is fascinating.  Let the competitive development wars continue… Will Siri include contemporaneous integration like Google Now seems to have?