Friday, June 26, 2009

Stephanie Thompson Intro

Hey all-so yes I thought I'd do a quick Q & A with myself as I haven't done anything in a long time introducing myself. As you can imagine this was a really fantastic interview!
Stephanie Thompson
Sr. Account Manager
The Direct Mail Diva
Q. Just what makes you the Diva of Direct Mail?
A. I've been consulting dealers here at Tri Auto for the past 5 years. During that time I've literally worked with well over 200 dealers myself. After working on close to 1,000 different direct mail campaigns to date I've learned what works and doesn't work. More important than that, is while experiencing markets all over the country I'm in tune with what is helping dealers TODAY. Not six months ago, or worse, 2 years ago.
Q. Where is your favorite place to be?
A. I'm a pretty simple gal. My husband and I really enjoy traveling, but my favorite place is our backyard with Andy, our two four legged girls (yes they are dogs we haven't procreated mutants), and a glass of white wine at sunset.
Q. How do you see this new dedicated account team making the client's experience even better?
A. I see it helping in so many ways. Now instead of me and Katy part time (in the past she's worked with other reps in addition to me), there are three brains completely devoted to coming up with new ideas and ways to help our dealer partners. On top of that we are all very skilled in different areas so there will always be an expert on hand for whatever the client needs.
Q. How will your role change in the team environment?
A. Honestly not a whole lot. I will continue to consult with clients and dealers who are looking for guidance on direct mail & marketing, along with putting together unique marketing campaigns. Katy will be doing some of the daily communication with clients that I currently handle and Ashley will be helping with our team marketing, and doing initial research for new partners and current clients. Don't worry--I'll still be writing the Diva blog! :)
Q. What was your first job?
A. When I was 13 Mom & Dad informed me if I wanted a car at 16 I'd have to pay for it. That summer I started detasseling corn. I detasseled for close to 10 years-even showing up for a few years during college. A lot of the leadership & sales skills I have now I learned in a corn field "motivating" jr. high kids to put in a full day of work in 100 degree weather.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Katy Peat Intro

Katy and I have been working together since the day she started three years ago. She's always been the go to girl when it comes to zip codes, art changes and all the little details I seem to miss. She's now taking on a new role within our team as she explains below.
Katy Peat
Account Executive
Q. What is your favorite part of working at Tri Auto. I love my co-workers. A. I enjoy the friendships I’ve made as a result of working here as well as the ability to laugh away stress with some extremely funny people. Q. Tell us about your first car? A. My first car was a ‘91 Accord handed down from my mom, to my brother, to me. It was maroon which also happened to be one of my high school’s colors. We’d take “Zippy” to all the football games, decked out with painted windows, window flags, and all my friends in our jerseys. Q. What will your primary new role on our team be – how is it different than what you were doing? A. My primary role now will be account management. I’ll will be keeping in touch with our existing client base and consulting on future promotion ideas. The biggest difference for me will be adding in more consulting from the beginning as opposed to now, where I consult after a majority of the decisions have been made. Q. If you have the day off what are you most likely doing? A. Spending time with family or friends that live out of town or that I don’t see very much. I’m sure some kind of shopping is involved too! Q. What do you consider your areas of expertise when it comes to dealer marketing? A. I stay pretty in tune with what pieces and hooks are working. I will be the first to say, “Don’t take that off” if it’s a hook I feel strongly about. In addition, I understand how important it is to target the right customers in a market, while taking into consideration being able to hit the best zips without constantly hitting the same homes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BEWARE-Cash For Clunker Websites

Immediately following the release that this bill was becoming a law "official websites" have popped up claiming to help consumers get in touch with an "approved dealer" or helping dealers become "approved." I was even duped by one & posted it two days ago (it has since been changed). I've been digging into this for the past 2 days and seems to be the only official site with government information on it. These other sites are looking to collect dealership & consumer info to then sell to marketing agencies. I'll keep you posted as I find out more on the details behind how to get your dealership on the list. Beware of impostors! :) Happy Tuesday!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Introducing the Diva Team - Ashley Beck Intro

Happy Monday everyone! I have some very exciting news for all our current & future clients. The past few weeks we've been working on creating an even better customer service experience for YOU. We've now put together dedicated account teams, so there are now three people devoted to making sure you have the best results possible and always have the information you need. This week I'm going to introduce the three of us so you can meet the face behind the voice and see what everyone will be doing to improve your experience with Tri-Auto. Out of lack of creativity I'm referring to us as the Diva Team :) The team consists of me, Katy Peat, and new team member Ashley Beck! Thought we'd start out with the new face on the team Ashley, we had a hard hitting interview late last week.
Ashley Beck
Account Development Specialist
Q. What is your favorite part of working at Tri Auto A. Knowing that I have smart, creative, hardworking people all around me and we are all on the same team. I was an athlete growing up and the general theory of working together towards a common goal has definitely carried over into my career. Q. Share with us a little known fact about you? A. I spent 3 months hiking, sailing, and rock-climbing in the Pacific northwest with Outward Bound. Q. What are you most excited about for your new role on our team? A. Being able to use my talents and creativity for the benefit of my team and our clients. I enjoy learning, and I have acquired an amazing array of new skills required to carry things out on the back end, like running list counts, processing jobs, and making changes to the art work. Who knew a Mac was so easy to navigate once you got the hang of it (Our "Macs" are the computers we have all of our art programs on)?! Q. What will you be doing for our clients in your new role A. Can I say “Anything they need me to do”? :) I will probably be the first person the new clients talk to, and the one who actually gets the information for each sale entered into our system. I will also be putting together the strategic marketing plans that clients have discussed with Steph or Katy. Q. What's your favorite "guilty pleasure?" A. Red wine. Hands down. Doesn’t have to be expensive, just has to be good. Right now I’m hooked on a Yellow Tail Cab-Shiraz blend.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cash for Clunkers Bill set to Pass

Cash for Clunkers is all but passed as it awaits the President's signature. For those of you that aren't aware this will go into effect on any vehicles sold after July 1.
Here's a site that has a lot of questions & answers about the bill on it. It's could be a good idea to drop the website into some of your marketing to help educate your customers & your market.
There are a lot of opinions out there concerning the bill, I found this quick blog post an interesting commentary on it.
Regardless of if you love it or hate it--I think you'll be missing out if you don't' take advantage of the marketing gains with something like this.
We already have a piece ready to go, if you're thinking of promoting it with mail shoot me an email. I'd also love to hear from YOU what your thoughts are on the bill in general.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What is a landing page?

Here at Tri Auto we are constantly looking for additional tools & resources to help make dealership marketing stronger. What we realized a year or so ago was that to improve something you have to be able to measure it...which is why MarketVision was born. Now that we can measure every angle of our direct mail scientifically (foot traffic, phone traffic & web traffic), we're trying to help dealers measure all their marketing in an effort to get the most bang for their buck with their ad budget. This is where Landing Pages come in. A landing page is a simple website that's name typically matches your store name or the name of the promotion you are running. When someone goes to this website it prompts them to enter their contact information in exchange for some kind of reward (service coupon, raffle entry, etc). Find an example here. They are then redirected to YOUR website. In essence, it does three things for you:
  1. Captures contact information for follow up (and building email databases for future marketing).
  2. Allows you to track what forms of advertising are working and what aren't.
  3. Drives additional traffic to your website.

For the first time ever--yes ever--I'm offering a blog special. If at the time we start your next mail job, you mention this blog post, I'll hook you up with a FREE landing page to use on your mailer or on any other form of advertising you're running that month.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

R.I.P. 11x17 tri folds

I wore black today in honor of our old friend, the 11x17 self mailer, tri-fold.
People, I'm just going to be blunt--this thing is DEAD.
This is more of a public service announcement than advice to our current clients as most of them have known this for quite some time.
Here's the deal-we have this very cool, fresh technology that tracks all the traffic at mail sales. Over 90% of our sales have this tracking tool now so we know exactly how much traffic is walking through the doors off of different mailers.
.49% of people that receive an 11x17 tri fold (with a scratch off and a prizes, etc) will show up
2% will show up for a jumbo postcard with a key - that's an average not a "best sale" or the average of the good sales
So you have to do almost ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND 11x17 tri folds to get the same traffic you would off of 20,000 jumbo key mailers.
Don't skimp and think you are getting more because you are getting a higher quantity--with times as they are I know you all need to be spending as wisely as possible. The data speaks for itself

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Social Networking for Sales-Interview with a real dealer Part #3

What advice would you give other dealers thinking of starting their own social networking program? I could give a ton of advice on this subject, but first would be--decide if you're going to do it. Many people "decide" they are going to start trying to build relationships online only to quit a month or so later because of a lack of results. This isn't a quick fix like much of automotive advertising can be. This is a slow process that takes time, but Social networking is viral once it starts and once it grows, it grows exponentially and virally, which is the whole power. We started in January and saw very little from it for the first three months. In April we sold a couple off of it and May was huge. The key is just to stay consistent and let things build - eventually it will pay off. The other benefit is, that unlike paid advertising that runs out once the money runs out, social marketing continues to grow and grow with little effort once its done. William Bryant is not only knowledgeable on the use of social networking sites, dealer websites and blogging but also has a great background in the technical side of things. In a very new industry there are few experts that can provide the whole package when it comes to assisting other dealers. If you'd like some help getting started William also offers consulting services. He can be contacted via email or learn a little more on his website. Thank you William for taking the time to share your insights on this exciting new way to build lasting relationships (that lead to sales)!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Social Networking for Sales-Interview with a real dealer Part #2

Tell me about the different online and social networking avenues you used to promote the dealership?

We're on Twitter, Facebook and You Tube. We also have a very interactive website that has a live chat feature and videos of every pre owned vehicle. Our videos are on YouTube and in a link in all of our vehicle descriptions. People can then access them through or our website as well.We have close to 800 friends on Facebook. A good tip for other dealers is to hire a service to do an email match on your database. They actually go in to your database and find email address (valid ones!) for many of your customers. You can then just drop the emails into your Facebook account and ask them to be your friend.

I'm also on Twitter for the dealership, posting updates and interesting content for our customers and followers. We have a lot of customers scheduling service appointments and asking questions via our Twitter & Facebook accounts. It's easy for them as they are already on those sites daily and we're able to stay top of mind for them because we're just another one of their "friends."

I feel a lot of online interaction is the customer testing the waters to see if they can trust you. A lot of dealers have tools like live chat on their websites but don't use it correctly. Recently I mystery shopped another dealer and the sales person on the other end of the chat asked me several times for my phone number so he could call me. It isn't about that-it's just about providing the information they need and being helpful and considerate.

A lot of people ask me as a blogger to quantify the sales results I've experienced through social networking, I've always struggled with that. Do you have any way of putting into numbers the success you experience through this marketing? Not really. I can tell you that in May we sold a vehicle to a woman in Florida-she saw one of our vehicle videos online and flew up to purchase and drive home her vehicle. When she got her she said she felt like she already knew us through the video. I also sold a vehicle on Twitter last month. It's one of those things that builds and grows and it literally costs nothing but your time. Take a moment to check out William's Social Media use for Steve White Motors: Steve White Motors Website Steve White Motors Twitter Account Steve White Motors Facebook Page Steve White Motors YouTube

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Social Networking for Sales-Interview with a real dealer Part #1

William Bryant, Internet Sales Manager, Steve White Motors
On Twitter I follow several dealers that are using Social Networking for business. One of the most active is Steve White Motors in Greenville, SC. Recently I contacted them to find out who the man behind the account was and get his perspective on using Social Networking for Sales. The next three posts will be on my interview with William. William Bryant is the Internet Sales Manager at Steve White. They carry Audi & VW and of course also provide pre-owned vehicles. William got started in the car business a little less than 5 years ago as a college student. Looking for part time work, he found school in the mornings and selling cars in the afternoons to be a great opportunity. This 23 year old has now created & fulfilled an online strategy that is producing 30% of the store's sales every month. We were able to spend a few minutes on the phone together one evening this week and I wanted to share this with you all as soon as possible.
Tell me about your dealership-Steve White Motors? I came on in January of this year, the last dealer I worked for didn't see the benefit in online marketing and it was a struggle to get any budget at all. The owner at Steve White just turned 30 and understands that this is the marketing of the future. He's very willing to give me the time and budget needed to make this department work. As a dealership our sales are up 8% year to year. We mostly use Radio, Email campaigns and our website/social networking work to advertise. I attribute a lot of our success to our products-as Audi & VW are still strong brands. However, a lot of it is how we treat our customers. We're finding 100 miles won't stand between someone and good customer service. After mystery shopping other dealers in the area I find we are one of the few to just talk to people and find out what they need--there are still a lot of "old school techniques" being used that just turn customers off. That and we give people a lot of different ways to contact and interact with us--they choose the way that works best for them.