I have worked in the automotive industry for 19 years.  Most of my career I have worked for some of the largest automotive vendors in sales and sales management.  Because of my insider understanding of the pitfalls faced by the “big guys” I founded Dealer Authority with the goal of being anti-establishment. I’m happy to report it was a smart move.  Here are some of the HUGE fallacies that we hear from dealers today that are being pitched by vendors.

  1. The large vendors can provide an integrated solution

This sounds good and makes a lot of sense on the surface.  Buying all your digital solutions from a large company that has a vast portfolio of products/services should be easier to integrate.  Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Most companies are highly departmentalized.  You don’t really think the person managing your social media is also managing your paid advertising or SEO, right?  Websites present a whole different set of problems, but you probably don’t have to worry about the big companies managing your website content because their philosophy is “set it and forget it”. How many dealerships were sold the dream of BZ Results ten years ago and realized they bought an expensive flash website and basic ILM.

  1. I should go with the OEM program because of co-op

I have asked hundreds of dealers over the year the question, “How much is co-op costing your dealership?” I usually get a strange look but it leaves a lasting impression. The whole point of doing advertising is to differentiate yourself from the competition.  If you are looking to check the box with solutions like social media and want to go with the OEM-endorsed solution, good luck.  You are not going to differentiate yourself from the competition when the vendor is sending the same syndicated content to every dealership in the country. You are inadvertently telling the OEM that we should all just sell cars like Tesla.

  1. All SEO companies basically do the same thing

Correction, all SEO pitches sound the same.  Your friendly sales rep will discuss their keyword analysis, on-site content, offsite signals, social signals, and if you’re lucky they might throw in some pop and sizzle with technology.  The key is to get beyond the canned sales pitch and go deeper with your questions.  A little investigation will quickly result in the realization that you’re paying for a little work during the initial setup and next to NOTHING ongoing, yet they still send you a monthly invoice. Ask for examples of their offsite content and review other posts on the site.  Is there a variety of content? Do the links in articles have relevance to the article?  Is the content interesting or is it built for solely for algorithms? (Plot twist: human car shoppers read this stuff.)

You must ask for examples of onsite content.  Is the content well written?  Does the content not only highlight the vehicle but also your dealership and convey your “Why Buy” message?  Are the pages aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate with quick links to inventory?  You must ask about expectations for results and what happens if those expectations are not achieved.  Lastly, be certain ask for examples of analytics.

  1. I should make my decision based on who has the best technology

In some solutions, technology is a crucial part of the decision-making processes.  I would argue that the individuals who comprise the company you are considering are more important.  Technology changes and a lot of automotive digital marketing companies are not building technology to help dealerships.  They are designing software to remove the most expensive cost of running their companies, employees.  Time is money.  I know from experience that larger companies will assign hundreds of PPC clients to a single individual to “manage.”  They have technology in place which alerts the employee if spending goes over or under parameters setup in their system.  They typically look at a client’s keywords once a quarter.  The vendors are lining their pockets with profits based on automated solutions that are less effective and managed by entry level employees rather than digital experts.


  1. They must be the best because of all the industry awards they have won


Does anyone still believe vendors are not paying for those awards?