One of the hardest positions to hire for, train and keep in an automotive dealership is a digital marketing manager. Owners spend thousands and, in many cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars on digital marketing products, yet they struggle to have someone internally who can help them understand what results they are getting for their investment.

In the case of a single point automotive dealership or a small dealer group, there is conversation amongst leadership regarding the need/affordability of hiring someone for this position. I would like to discuss three important points you need to understand as you think about the need for this role.

  1. Be Careful of Creating a Hybrid Role

Some leaders don’t fully understand what skills are needed or the time needed to dedicate to this job. The need for digital marketing education for these leaders is so important. They must understand this role should not be a part-time position.

What tends to happen is they create a hybrid position to offset costs. They find someone internally who understands marketing or social media and they ask them to run marketing as well as handle internet lead forms to sell cars as well.

This dilutes their focus on creating a marketing strategy and working with vendors to hold them accountable for results. It also creates a reactive form of marketing.

  1. Who Will Train Them or Hold Them Accountable

Digital Marketing is a constantly changing industry. When a new person is hired into this position, the expectation is they will continue their education. One of the struggles for dealerships is that no one internally can help with this education and the creation of a proper digital strategy.

For many leaders, their frustration is rooted in the fact they have done every job in a dealership and feel comfortable inspecting results and training performance. This digital marketing manager role snuck in behind them and they are not sure what questions to ask or whom to trust with the answers.

The goal of this education is to have someone internally who can hold marketing vendors accountable and understanding what results matter. I have been privy to marketing reports for certain vendors and I even have a hard time understanding the value of the reports. Unless you have someone internally to drill down into these reports, you are most likely wasting marketing resources.

  1. Retaining This Top-Level Employee

Now this leads me to one last point — the value of this position to other companies. You must understand the fact this skilled individual could end up being “headhunted” out of your store. Even if you hire right and have a good environment, these individuals are in high demand.

Just when you feel you have somebody in place, you may not be able to really relax. Your mind wanders, thinking of what happens if they decide to leave and want to another opportunity and how am I prepared for this event. Who can be my backup plan?

This battle continues every day. I speak with dealers often and the dread of vendor phone calls is real. Reviewing marketing reports without the confidence needed at times becomes an act of surrender. Speaking with two dealers, they had similar feelings.

“I don’t have time to understand all of this and the vendors make me feel defensive. Making me feel as if I should not be questioning them. I need someone on my side.”

“Even if they told me what they were doing I wouldn’t know where to look. I wouldn’t know if they did it right and I wouldn’t know if this was what should be going on anyway.”

The question is not “if” a dealership needs someone to do these things, it is how do they find a solution for these issues. I believe it is a combination of education to hire correctly, a willingness to say, “I don’t know” to build up the skills over time. And having an ally in the industry who can help. As I have said in previous articles, if you took 2 percent of your marketing budget and invested it in training, it would impact the 98 percent in a much more positive way.

If you would like to discuss your situation, please reach out. I would love to offer my time to help.

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