Your #1 source for auto industry news and content


Creating a Brand Promise

On this week’s episode of Auto Marketing Now, Brian Pasch of PCG Companies discusses how critical it is to create a brand promise if you plan to embrace digital retailing.



Brian Pasch: Hi, this is Brian Pasch, and welcome to Auto Marketing Now. On today’s show we’re going to talk about creating a brand promise and how critical that step is if you plan on embracing digital retailing. And of course we’re going to have our popular email grab bag, so what are we waiting for? Let’s get started with today’s show.

Brian Pasch: My brother Glen and I have been traveling the country talking with dealers who want to embrace digital retailing. And the way I like to describe it is to create a more modern retail experience where consumers feel more in control and they save time because we all know on a busy weekend if a consumer wants to buy a car on a Saturday, they could wait hours in the showroom because the F&I office gets backed up, staff shortages. Well, another logistical problems, just even getting the cars ready and detailed in time.

Brian Pasch: So let’s step back. For those of you who don’t understand the term digital retailing, I’m talking about a modern approach to updating the tools that are on our websites, the way we communicate with consumers before they come to the store and then when they arrive we pick up exactly where they left off.

Brian Pasch: Today it’s not uncommon that there’s disjointed communication with the consumer from multiple parties within inside the dealership. The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing and more importantly, it’s not uncommon that all of the conversations that were done before the consumer arrived get kind of thrown out and the salesperson addresses the consumer as if they were a fresh up with no communication.

Brian Pasch: Now there’s variations to this story, but I’m speaking the truth that depending on the day, depending on staffing, the retail experience could be awesome or really less than ideal. That creates a negative impression on the car buying experience. For example, sometimes we wonder why consumers don’t service their cars at the dealer.

Brian Pasch: Well, let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute. In our current way of doing business. A consumer could be exposed to a promotion like a Toyota sale and it’s the end-of-year sale and it’s Toyotathon and they’re seeing the national commercials and maybe a tier two website pops up in their path. They go to the dealer’s website, they know it’s a promotion, they pick a car they like, they submit a lead, they talk to the BDC agent. Maybe the BDC agent even sends them a credit app to save them time.

Brian Pasch: It’s not uncommon that this consumer could have the perception that by setting an appointment, by telling the sales rep exactly which car they want, and maybe even filling out the credit app that the transaction in the dealership should go very smoothly.

Brian Pasch: But if in their mind they said, Hey, maybe this takes an hour, maybe this takes two hours, turns into a four to five hour experience and it does, then do you wonder why they don’t come in for service? If their impression was, Hey, this took an hour in my mind to get done after all the prep work I did and it took four hours, well, how long is it going to take for an oil change?

Brian Pasch: How long is it going to take for a tire rotation? Well, sometimes the impression that we leave in the sales experience really impacts fix ops. So digital retailing is an attempt to upgrade our websites from lead collectors to engagement tools. From chase the consumer via email to serve the consumer when they come, and there’s a number of great companies out there. There’s over 30 companies that have some aspect of the digital retailing ecosystem, whether it’s tools for the website, tools for the showroom, the data, providers behind the scenes, there’s a lot of people in this ecosystem.

Brian Pasch: But before you dive into digital retailing, I’d like to talk about a modern brand promise. You see many dealers haven’t updated their brand promise for 20 years, 30 years, 40 years. And I’m not picking on anybody, I’m just speaking from the heart here that most brand promises that I see today have very little impact on today’s shopper.

Brian Pasch: Let me go through a few. Let me deconstruct a few brand promises. People still advertise we have the largest inventory and that may have been a brand promise that was awesome before the internet. I’m one of five boys, if my parents went to go car shopping on a weekend and putting five boys in a station wagon, going to the car dealer, well, going to the dealer that had the largest inventory was probably a smart choice because they could probably find exactly what they want.

Brian Pasch: I remember growing up [Reedman 00:05:28], I think it was Reedman Chevy was like the place where people said, Oh my God, that this Reedman place. We drove a few hours to Pennsylvania, but they had everything there and we found a great car at a great price.

Brian Pasch: That was before the internet. Today, the largest inventory is, it’s Car Gurus, it’s Auto Trader. You see consumers don’t care about the largest, they care about what they want. They know that they want an orange Toyota RAV4, with cloth, with these wheels. I’m just going to find the dealer that has it or that will get the car for them as quickly as possible.

Brian Pasch: So the largest inventory is the internet has very little value to a consumer because they are educating themselves on choice online. Here’s another popular one. We’ve been in business 50 years, 75 years, even some dealerships have the pleasure of saying a 100 years.

Brian Pasch: I did a focus group with some college age girls and I asked them to respond to different brand promises and I said, “What do you think about 75 years in business and unsolicited?” One of the girls said, “Well, they probably passed bad habits down from one generation to the other.” I was like, wow, man, I wish I recorded that response.

Brian Pasch: You see 75 years in business if the auto business has a bad reputation, just means 75 years of doing the wrong thing to consumers, to today’s shopper. When I was growing up, we went to one bakery, we went to [Pat Natalie’s 00:07:13] Bakery in Plainfield, New Jersey. We went there. It’s like, Hey, we’ve been buying rolls there forever.

Brian Pasch: When I was older, we would go and pick up rolls at Pat Natalie’s Bakery until it closed. We always went to Talies’s Bakery in North Plainfield because they had the best pastries. And we knew a little bit about the family and I went to school with the daughter of the baker. But today, how many years someone’s been in business isn’t so important about, well, do they have what I want? Is it at a good price and is it easy to do business with them?

Brian Pasch: I don’t like standing in lines ever. I don’t care if a restaurant is hot and exciting. If you said you have to wait in line for an hour, I’m like out the door. We love Amazon, we love Starbucks mobile app. We love convenience. We love Uber eats. And yet most of the brand promises today have nothing to do with time or convenience. We have the lowest prices. Consumers don’t believe that.

Brian Pasch: They’ve heard stories of bait and switch. You’ve seen still today in the newspaper cars that are showing $15,000, $18,000 off MSRP because it’s comboed incentives, one of them is like webbed foot promotion. If you have webbed feet, we’ll give you an extra $3,000. You can laugh and say, Brian, yes, we know these things but our brand promise is working. How about vague brand promises?

Brian Pasch: We’ll treat you like family. I don’t know about you but you probably have some family members who have not treated you well, maybe even stoled or lied to you. There was another brand promise I saw recently, join our family. It’s like, Hey man, I got enough problems with my family, let alone joining your family. You see what I’m trying to say is has anybody stepped back and said is being the largest, is being the oldest, is treating people like family really what consumers want?

Brian Pasch: When we wrote our book Just Faster, Thomas Gage and I surveyed consumers with a simple question in two words, explain how you would like your next car buying experience. And that experience was described as faster, easier, mostly online, convenient. You see today consumers need to hear that because their perceptions of the car buying experience can really have a full range from excellent to horrible.

Brian Pasch: If you want to grow market share, you have to first determine the service level you want to provide and it better, your brand promise, better talk about saving time and mostly online and reducing the time in the dealership, making it fast, easy and convenient. These, if your brand promise has none of those words, you need to get back to the drawing board because once you determine what you’re going to deliver, a modern brand promise, you’re going to need to give that experience a name.

Brian Pasch: It’s not just bolting on roadster to your website, it’s not bolting on Gubagoo digital retailing, you need name for it. What are you going to call it? Fast Lane, Express Buy, Speed Lane, whatever. It needs a logo, it needs branding, it needs videos.

Brian Pasch: Your brand promise has to include videos that show how to use the tool. Now there are some great dealers who are doing this and it’s amazing how creative they’ve gotten to actually show consumers how to use these new tools on the website. But when you listen to these videos carefully, you hear fast, easy, do as much as you want before you come. We’re going to save you time. When you’re in the dealership, it’s fast and sign a few things. Then you’ll be on the road before you know it. These are what the commercials are doing. What are they doing?

Brian Pasch: They’re explaining or showing the brand promise. They’re showing the tools on the website and showing people how to use them. You can bolt any new widget on your website, but if there isn’t a vision for what that experience is going to be like, if you haven’t created a crisp, clear brand promise, then broken that brand promise into videos and then merchandised your website, use those videos in your marketing strategy on YouTube, Facebook, on your linear OTT and premium video channels, well, you’re missing the point.

Brian Pasch: And then obviously if you have a modern brand promise, you’re going to have to live up to it. And tell you the truth what I’ve found is there are dealers raising their hand, I want digital retailing and then I tell them, well, we can’t have people wait four hours on a Saturday to buy a car. And they’re like, yeah, I can’t do anything about that.

Brian Pasch: Oh, there are people doing something about that. There are great leaders, Todd Caputo, the Dolan Auto Group is embracing modern retail. The Schomp Automotive Group embracing modern retail, the Morrie’s Automotive Group embracing modern retail. There are tons of people who are experimenting, but few have the courage to create a true modern brand promise.

Brian Pasch: I see a lot of widgets, Cox can tell you they have 5,000 dealers with their digital retailing or CDK can say, we have 5,000 dealers with digital retailing. Hey, guess what? That they’re just bolted on the website. There’s no new merchandising. There’s no change in process. It’s just another lead capture widget.

Brian Pasch: If you’re going to embrace digital retailing, I want you to understand that the majority of the success is about leadership and vision. And then creating a modern brand promise, documenting it, breaking the brand promise into elements and creating videos for it, and then coming up with a marketing and merchandising strategy that everywhere in the showroom, everywhere online is talking about a message that resonates with consumers.

Brian Pasch: Even to the point when someone comes to your receptionist, you have a velvet rope with a red carpet, and this is Pasch Fast Lane. If the dealership was called Pasch and just like Marriott with a bond boy elite desk, when a customer comes in and says, Hey, what’s this fast lane? Oh, that’s our new way you can buy a car online and save time when you come in to pick it up.

Brian Pasch: Meaning it’s about a brand vision, a brand promise, it’s communicating the brand promise, it’s merchandising the brand promise. Digital retailing is just a tool that most people think is going to solve the world, it’s not. It’s about leadership, process, vision, marketing, execution, and it’s a lot more than just throwing a new widget on your website. So if you’re thinking about embracing these tools without doing the homework, without building the proper foundation, it’s bound to fail.

Brian Pasch: You’ll be disappointed. And any marketing that you do promising a different experience, well is even going to hurt you even more because now you’re out there in the market saying it’s a new way to buy a car. And it’s really just the old way with a new button to click and frustrate consumers.

Brian Pasch: I hope you found today’s message helpful to you. If you need help crafting a modern brand promise, there’s a lot of good agencies that can help you. We’ll be more than happy to refer a few people who can work with you to create the brand promise and then break that out in video. I have a number of companies that work with automotive dealers, I can work with you to really nail that down. And then if you need help with the marketing and merchandising strategy, while of course, just shoot me an email, I’ll be more than happy to share with you what Glenn and I have been learning as we travel the country to create a modern retail experience.

Brian Pasch: And that ends today’s segment on creating a modern brand promise. And now for today’s Email Grab Bag question, a marketing manager wrote in to ask Brian, is LinkedIn advertising effective method of reaching more consumers for our dealership?

Brian Pasch: And those of you who are watching today, if we’re not connected on LinkedIn, send a request. I’ve found LinkedIn to be an amazing B-to-B platform. I’m writing three or four articles every week to help dealers at tier three with their marketing strategy, with digital retailing, just sharing ideas that help people get better. So let’s connect.

Brian Pasch: But I do see occasionally somebody posting a new car or a unique car on LinkedIn and I tell you my reaction is, boy, that’s kind of odd. See LinkedIn is more about thought leadership, sharing case studies, challenging the status quo. Obviously, there’s a number of motivational people there, experts sharing content. I don’t really see LinkedIn as a, let me post my inventory up and get more customers, but I will give you a couple suggestions.

Brian Pasch: If you said I wanted to test LinkedIn, what would I do? It kind of goes along with our show theme today, which is about a brand promise. If you’ve created a modern brand promise and if you’ve implemented cool technology in the showroom to make it easier for a consumer to do work online, pick up where they left off and get out in a much more expedient way, I’d videotape that like as a news story.

Brian Pasch: I would say for example, Rydell Chevrolet as innovating automotive retail and I do the whole film reel, maybe interview some people because look at the worst, you’re going to see some activity from the OEM, maybe automotive news, maybe some other news outlets that will come and to your dealership and interview you. That could be local news stations, but there are decision makers that live in your local community who will see it.

Brian Pasch: Especially, people who are maybe the HR director at a local hospital or a school or maybe it’s someone who’s into fleet buying. My point is that if you’re proudly sharing your business success story, then other business people might connect with it and help you get that out. Meaning if the HR director of a big company sees that and says, we have a lot of people who we’ve done car buying programs with but they all have had a bad experience.

Brian Pasch: Wow, this dealer in town seems to be doing something differently. Maybe I should test reaching out with them about a new employee buying program. You see you should be talking about that or let’s just say you implement a new technology in the service drive. Maybe you’re using LivePerson in texting. The article could be how we’re saving our customers time and increasing profitability by 20%.

Brian Pasch: That’s a business story. What you are doing is bragging a little bit about how good your organization is and then again that has local traction. You can target local business owners even if you wanted to pay a little money and promote that. The idea here is it’s not about pushing out inventory. I don’t think that’s correct.

Brian Pasch: It should be about the way you do business, business success stories, how you’re creating a modern retail or service experience. I think those things are good for LinkedIn. I wouldn’t be pushing out my inventory. I think what that ends up doing is just creating more people to block you from being connected. Now there’s some exceptions, a very rare car, a very unique event at your dealership that would maybe appeal to a unique group or a high end group of people. Okay, maybe that works perfectly for LinkedIn, but otherwise I would look more towards other social media channels to get your brand out in front of consumers.

Brian Pasch: And of course, I’m a big advocate of video and a video everywhere strategy. So before pushing too much on LinkedIn, I make sure I’d have a very regular and dynamic video campaign on Facebook, on YouTube, on Linear, on OTT and premium addressable television. That’s where I would put my efforts.

Brian Pasch: But thank you for the question. If you have a question, I’ll use it on the show. I’ll send you a free copy of my latest book, Just Faster. It’s a discussion on creating a modern retail experience to help dealers meet where the consumers are and to sell more cars in the digital age. Thank you so much for watching today’s show and I’ll see you next week on Auto Marketing Now.

Automated: Thanks for watching Auto Marketing Now with Brian Pasch. This has been a JBF Business Media Production.

Brian Pasch
Brian Pasch
Founder of PCG Companies and BPE Enterprises, Brian Pasch is a thought leader, effective strategy driver, and industry change agent. In tune with the fast pace of the digital marketing environment, he successfully leads OEMs, dealers/dealer groups, and ad agencies by helping them harness data, eliminate waste, and incorporate efficient marketing tactics.

Related Articles

Manufacturers In This Article

More Manufacturer News

Latest Articles

From our Publishing Partners