High-level marketing concepts can be daunting for a lot of dealers out there, and oftentimes, it takes guidance from an expert in the field to cultivate a winning strategy. But no worries if you don’t have an expert on hand, because today, we do. Please join me in welcoming back Brian Pasch, Founder and CEO of PCG Companies. Brian is an international auto marketing expert, thought leader and renowned speaker who provides his expertise to CBT every week as the host of Auto Marketing Now.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Brian, welcome back to CBT News.
Brian Pasch: And it’s great. I think this is one of the first times I’ve dialed in remotely. Normally I’m in the studio for a show.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I know. Usually you’re right here in the studio conducting your own interviews on Auto Marketing Now, so we appreciate all your content over the years. We get such great feedback and people that get so much out of your contribution here, so thanks again for that. But let’s jump right in and talk to us a little bit about what trends you saw in 2019 and what trends that you think we need to focus on as we move into 2020.
Brian Pasch: Well, I think that in general at the beginning of 2019, Jim, your show covered really some of the uncertainty, not showing too much direction, whether the economy for auto dealers was going to be a hard year or a decent year. It ended up being a decent year. Number of stores hitting records. I think same thing, dealers are a little bit more confident since the floor didn’t drop out in ’19, that the momentum keeps on going.
Brian Pasch: I think in general what we saw as dealers getting smarter with their advertising, with their marketing strategies, expecting more of their vendor partners, and this is really a long time coming because for many years I think dealers were a little bit in the dark on how to properly plan their market.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, there’s no question about it, and they were really at the mercy of their vendors that would march into their conference rooms and say, “Here’s what you got to do. Don’t ask any questions. We’ll set it and you forget it.” Right?
Brian Pasch: That’s right.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And I think that through your teachings and other things that are out there and available to dealers, they become a little bit more empowered and understand the landscape a little bit better, don’t they?
Brian Pasch: Absolutely. I think what’s happening is that dealers are realizing that digital marketing is just like any other channel. It has to show a proven ROI. They need to be more efficient and lower their operating costs. So this normal inclination of digging in is going to be a trend that will continue. And I think as dealers are also looking at their business for 2020, fixed ops is going to be more of a focus, not operationally, but from a marketing standpoint.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, I agree. We also heard in 2019 a lot about video again, about dealers utilizing video. Talk to us a little bit about that.
Brian Pasch: Yeah. So as we look at our own lives, whether you’re a cord cutter using Hulu or YouTubeTV or others to get all your content, we’re on the go, so when I see people on planes today, I see a lot of people with their laptop or tablets watching content and video content. Video watching is on the rise. Why? Because we’ve made it so easy to catch up on things and binge watch. So video will continue to be an effective way to communicate the passion associated with car driving.
Brian Pasch: For 2020 though, I will tell you, I’ve already talked to executives at Spectrum Reach and now Effectv formerly Comcast Spotlight. Man, the political money that’s coming into 2020 is unbelievable, so if dealers don’t get their video strategy locked in, they may find that there’s no inventory left for them if they wait till later in the year to make their buying commitment.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Boy, that’s so true, especially when you’ve got a few billionaires running right now. I guess three billionaires running for office, so they’ve got nothing but money to drop into these markets.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Let’s talk a little bit about you wrote an article on December 20th of last year, and it was titled My 2020 Vision, which I love the play on that, Hyper-Local Marketing for the Automotive Retail Dealers. You talked about Google My Business and such. Let’s drill down and talk a little bit about that.
Brian Pasch: So I’ve been fascinated with online marketing, and I started doing SEO, and over the last 15 years have evolved into helping dealers with a number of strategies, but I missed a big opportunity, and that was fully understanding the power of Google My Business. In fact, as I looked around big dealer groups or individual small point stores, everyone missed the full configuration power of Google My Business.
Brian Pasch: So I launched a book in November called Hyper-Local Marketing for Automotive Retail, and that book is truly the blueprint for dealers to significantly increase local search traffic. The book has gotten so much attention that I’ve been being approached by businesses outside of automotive.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow.
Brian Pasch: And they’ve been saying, “Brian, well doesn’t these principles apply to me?” And I’m like, “Yes.” So in 2020 I’m opening up a new agency division for non-automotive. It’s called [Low Caliente 00:00:05:46], and that will be based here in Florida and in Milan, and we’re going to approach hyper-local marketing for all businesses that are looking for a competitive edge, especially when consumers are searching on their mobile phone and use Google Maps.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about fixed operations market. I know that’s something that’s a passion of yours. Talk to us about that in 2020 and the importance of dealers dropping some money in this area and doing it right.
Brian Pasch: Yeah. There’s an amazing number of consultants in fixed ops that are doing a great job, meaning there are conferences dedicated to fixed ops, and they’re talking about products and the service drive and multi point inspection technology, and there’s so much attention and meaningful conversation on fixed ops in an operational standpoint.
Brian Pasch: But listen, I haven’t found one dealer in the United States yet that had their Google My Business set up properly for fixed ops, meaning they’re missing thousands of free local impressions for local service. I haven’t found one person other than myself talking about the absolute clear solution on how to compete with independents and why independents dominate Google maps for any service, why franchise dealers are completely absent. So for 2020, I’m going to compliment all the great work from the other coaches and consultants and talk about specific marketing strategies to give dealers and franchise dealers a competitive edge against independent service efforts.
Jim Fitzpatrick: What other tips for 2020, now that we’re going down this path, do you recommend? What should dealers and their marketing teams be focused on, not just in the first quarter, but for the balance of 2020 and beyond?
Brian Pasch: Sure. I think that dealers need to ask questions of their digital agencies about how they’re using paid search for inventory. I’m just going to use Chrysler as an example. A Chrysler dealer knows that those Jeep Wranglers are going to move off the lot very quickly. They probably don’t need any advertising help. Most dealers will have their cars on cars.com and Car Gurus and Autotrader, Edmunds and such-
Jim Fitzpatrick: Those buyers will find them.
Brian Pasch: … and their own website. They have the fastest turn rate. Why are all 100% of the dealer’s inventory being loaded up and advertised as if they’re equal?
Brian Pasch: The other thing is each month there’s stair-step or incentives that dealers can earn some extra money on the backend if they hit certain sales levels. Most of the inventory management programs with paid searches load everyone up and not allow dealers to incrementally adjust budgets by these promotions. And so I’ve been working with a number of companies and dealers to create a more sophisticated advertising strategy, and I’m just focused on dealer groups because they have the most upside because normally they’re in a local market, they’re competing with each other, it’s really sad, and so need to bring some rationality that each vehicle has its own story and our paid strategy should address that.
Jim Fitzpatrick: A couple of other things before I let you get out of here, and thank you so much for your time today; I know you’ve got a busy schedule. Last a year at NADA, I guess, yeah, it was the last year at NADA, you held a panel about digital retailing, and I know that’s also been a passion of yours to get dealers to wake up and pay attention to this. Where do you think the industry stands with regard to digital retailing? Are dealers coming to board? Are they adapting to the idea of a vehicle being sold and delivered completely online, and where do you think we need to be on that?
Brian Pasch: Well, it’s interesting, Jim. I got an email from someone in the industry who read the article that you referenced, the five things that I’ll be focusing on in 2020, and the person said, “Brian, where’s digital retailing on your list?” And it’s like you’ve been so heavily pushing that in 2019. I purposely didn’t put it on my list because honestly I’m a little discouraged.
Brian Pasch: I don’t think there’s much incentive for dealers to change, and the support systems out there to help them change just don’t exist, meaning there are a lot of technology companies that are sending a message to dealers, “Hey, just bolt this stuff on your website and you’re going to sell more cars or you’re going to be more transparent,” and the truth of the matter is digital retailing is more about leadership and vision, merchandising and marketing more than anything else. And to tell you the truth, when I tell dealers you need a modern brand promise, you need to be talking about speed of transaction, convenience, all they’ve been doing for the last 30 years is saying, “We’re the biggest, we’re the cheapest, we’re family owned and operated. We’re going to treat you like family,” or some other vague promise, which no one really cares about. People care about time and convenience.
Brian Pasch: So I’m a little frustrated because en masse, dealers are plugging things on their website, they’re not seeing much results, and I say, “Hey, what’s your market message?” “Well, we don’t have one.” “Are you changing the way you do business?” “No.” “Are you marketing this?” “No.” “Are you merchandising?” “No.” I’m like, “Oh, okay.”
Brian Pasch: So I think we’re stumbling our way towards a better retail experience. I think it’s years out. I mean, I can’t see the retail network changing without any true motivation.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. The dealers that we talked to that, as you said, kind of dabble in it, have it. It seems as though the ones that have this component available to consumers, that’s all they do. It’s just, it’s kind of available if you want it. “Oh yeah, we can do that too.” It’s kind of a, “We also have this,” but they’re not embracing it. They’re not putting it in their ads. They’re not encouraging the consumer to purchase a vehicle the same way they can currently through Vroom and Carvana by saying, “Hey, you don’t even have to leave your couch. We can do the entire transaction online and deliver that vehicle directly to you with a seven day return policy.”
Jim Fitzpatrick: The dealers that we talk to are like, “Yeah, we have that. If the consumer really wants to go down that road.” And then of course the signal to everyone in the dealership is the same that, “Yeah, we kind of have that, but we’re not going to push it. We’re not going to really use it unless the consumer forces us to use it,” and that’s not something consumers want to do with their dealer.
Brian Pasch: Yeah. And listen, even for the dealers that are all in, and if they’re honest, they’re saying, “Yeah, we had to pull some bandages off. We had to really change things,” and they’re super happy that they did. They’re just in the extreme minority today.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. Yeah. They really are. They really are. It’s kind of like EVs, right? It’s that same percentage.
Brian Pasch: That’s right.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Hey, talk to us about the things that you’ve got coming up from PCG, and I know you’ve always got great conferences and such, so what’s the next one? Talk to us about that.
Brian Pasch: Yeah. Let me give you three events that your viewers can jump on. Number one, I believe that the number one marketing dollar that every dealer should spend is to invest in fully merchandise Google My Business. To that degree, I’m doing a master class, a one day full day immersion in Google My business for sales, service and parts. That’s going to be in West Palm Beach, where I live in Florida, on February 4th. And again, those events can be found on BrianPasch.com.
Brian Pasch: And then my first marketing workshop for fixed ops will be the Automotive Marketing Bootcamp for fixed ops on March 11th. That’ll be in Fort Lauderdale. Again, information on that is at BrianPasch.com. And then we run two big conferences a year. Jim, you’ve been at all of them, and the 11th annual Digital Marketing Strategies Conference will be in Napa in May, and it’s a really great event for dealers who want to catch up with the latest strategies, and of course they can learn more about that at DigitalMarketingStrategies.org
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay. Okay, great. And what a great time to be in Napa. My wife and I are huge fans of Napa, and that is a beautiful time to be out there.
Brian Pasch: it is absolutely a beautiful part of the country. If we’re not in Italy, we like to be in Napa.
Jim Fitzpatrick: So you’d give up your citizenship of the US soon and just become an Italian citizen?
Brian Pasch: Well, my grandfather was an immigrant from Italy, and we love the country, but nothing beats the United States, so we’ll just be jumping between the two places as often as we can.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I hear you. I hear you. Well Brian Pasch, founder and CEO of PCG Companies. You guys know him here on CBT News. He’s been hosting his own show here, Auto Marketing Now, for I guess probably going on five or six years now, right Brian?
Brian Pasch: That’s right. It’s been a great, great platform to help educate dealers, and Jim, thanks for making the investment to allowing coaches like myself to really help the industry grow at a more efficient and rapid pace.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Thank you for that, but we wouldn’t be anything without you and the other coaches that we have the shows on, so thank you for your contribution and certainly would love to catch up with you again here shortly, and maybe next time you’re in the studio we can catch up on a few of these things as well.
Brian Pasch: Great. Love to do it.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Safe travels, and we’ll see you next time. Thank you so much.
Brian Pasch: Okay, thank you.