On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome Marco Schnabl, Co-CEO and Founder of automotiveMastermind, a predictive analytics and marketing automation technology provider for the automotive industry. Jim and Marco discuss how highly targeted, customizable customer communications can reduce marketing costs, and provide customers with individualized experiences.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Hi everyone. Thanks so much for joining me on another edition of CBT news. I’m so happy to have with us today, Mr. Marco Schnabl. You know that name I’m sure in the industry. He is Co-CEO and founder of automotiveMastermind. Welcome into the show again Marco.
Marco Schnabl: Thank you, Jim. Good to be here. Appreciate it.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Great, so let’s kind of jump right in here. You’re a large tech company that’s been very successful with the dealer community. Give our viewers a quick explanation of the value that automotiveMastermind brings to the dealership at it’s core.
Marco Schnabl: Sure. It’s all about value and driving the results Jim. When we think about Mastermind, we talk about our platform, about our sales platform called Market EyeQ. What Market EyeQ does, it’s the comprehensive technology for a dealership to identify customers in a local market, communicate with these customers and ultimately close the sale with those customers. And rather than thinking about the client being in a certain bracket, be it a loyalty bracket or a service bracket or conquest bracket, we like to think about the customer as a human being in the entire market, that we help the dealership find, identify, really understand and then have a personalized approach in communicating with them, that ultimately helps drive the sale.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. And thinking along the lines of the Amazon world that we live in, consumers today really want the businesses that they do business with, to know about them, right? To save time and to have an more of an efficient sales process right? And, and if I’m not mistaken, that’s really what you guys bring to the table, right?
Marco Schnabl: Yeah. Think about it. You, I’m sure, just like myself, have ordered on Amazon. I’m not even going as far as thinking about how, how Alexa or Siri can take your order and turn it into a package arriving at your door the next day. But just think about the convenience by Amazon knowing and understanding your purchase habits, your purchase patterns.
Marco Schnabl: So I have a coffee machine, a German coffee machine at home, and every once in a while I run out of coffee. And fortunately Amazon knows the approximate point in time when I run out of coffee, and make sure they order and remind me to order that coffee just in time before my final cup comes out of that coffee maker. So that’s just a good example of obviously one of those largest retailers and technology companies out there, making the life of the consumer very easy. And quite frankly, I don’t think it’s creepy, right? I understand it. And I think the consumer today expects it, that this particular pattern gets understood in our purchase cycle so that we can have a more convenient experience. And that’s what we want to do for the automotive industry.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Let’s drill down a bit. How much interaction does a GM or GSM have a with your platform? Walk us through a day in the life of a typical user?
Marco Schnabl: Yeah, that’s a great question. So what’s a typical user? I would say it really depends on the dealership. We try to, and we do customize our approach, our technology, to what each dealership’s needs are. So if we take a dealership that has 20 sales consultant, be it new sales consultant, used sales consultant, has a BDC, has an [inaudible] department, we try to have a unique user experience for each particular user. And we try to have our dealer success manager, dealer relations manager, work in a very customized way with each of these user personas. However, a general manager you mentioned or general sales manager might want to get a more, a broad view of what the user activity look like. So they want to understand is the product really being used the way it should be? What am my costumers opportunities look like?
Marco Schnabl: So we predict each customer’s behavior and then we encourage the engagement with that customer. And we also automate the engagement, as I said, through marketing. So we make that outreach and I think if I was the general manager, I’d want to make sure that the money I invest into this technology, into Mastermind, into Market EyeQ, is driving the necessary results. And that results can be new vehicle sales, used vehicle sales, that can be profitability, can be customer satisfaction. So we try to provide as much information back to that general manager, so that they really understand, are they getting the ROI. But beyond that, we also give a general manager, a general sales manager, whoever the user would be in a given dealership, the opportunity to really understand their local markets. So we provide competitive intelligence within Mastermind, within the product, so that a general manager can prepare all of their activities, their market activities, specifically to their markets and to their market situation.
Jim Fitzpatrick: So having this kind of knowledge and having this kind of data at your fingertips as a dealer, and I’m putting my car dealer hat on here for a second, it’s got to make your advertising so much more efficient. I mean, you’re literally being able to bring down the cost of advertising for a dealership, right? Rather than spreading your $100,000, $200,000 ad budget all over the place, this really takes it right down to a very targeted approach. Right?
Marco Schnabl: Yeah, that’s right. And, and we typically displace not just an equity mining tool or a data mining tool, we also displace marketing services, because Mastermind at Market EyeQ is so very targeted in the outreach and the communication with the consumer, that you don’t need to blast every month, every customer with a standardized message. We really believe in that there should be this very customized approach in the communication, in the journey that a consumer has with a given dealership and brand. And we, we now also work very deeply with the OEMs, to align the two marketing messaging from a tier one to a tier two and tier three, a channel perspective. So it’s being smart about how you communicate; it’s leveraging data and technology to have that very personalized experience with a consumer, with a customer. That’s what we try to do better.
Marco Schnabl: So that specific intelligence, that relevant information, that’s what matters to consumers, right? The shortening of the sales cycle, by providing value in the outreach is what we want to provide to dealerships and their customers. And by doing that we were able to reduce other expenses such as marketing agencies or costs or particularly technologies that that tried to do that as well.
Jim Fitzpatrick: For a dealer that brings on a sophisticated program like this such as yours, what kind of training or support goes into that?
Marco Schnabl: Yeah, it’s also again very dependent on the dealership. We pride ourselves with very, very high [inaudible] support. Typically our dealer relations manager does not work with more than 25 to 30 dealerships. So that’s the assigned partners that each dealer relations manager interacts with and works with. And we try to see every partner every 30 to 45 days, you know, depending on size, we try to see them sooner. Some partners rely on a more digital or outreach components, so we have more of a phone conversation with them. There is, you know, I would say a very short learning curve to the Mastermind technology, but there is ever changing strategies at the dealership level that we need to be deeply involved and engaged with, to drive maximum value.
Marco Schnabl: You know, it’s so important to us to be a good partner. That’s what we push our team for every single day. We don’t believe in just simply being a technology provider or data provider. We believe that especially in the current economical environment, pressure on the market, ever changing technologies coming in, we have to be a partner that tries more than just our own interests, our own product. So we try to consult with the dealership if necessary, on a daily basis, to think about what we can do different in the particular dealer environment.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Since being acquired a few years ago by IHS Markit, what new products or capabilities have you added to the platform for your users?
Marco Schnabl: Yeah, that’s, that’s a great and exciting question. So we have been partners of IHS Markit for seven years. So since we started the business, we have actually acquired data assets that are really relevant and powerful, not just for dealerships or other technology providers, but also OEMs. So IHS Markit is a very comprehensive data and information services company for the automotive industry, but also for other verticals such as the energy business or the financial sector. So we have access to all of those raw data assets now. And you know, one good example would be social demographic information. So knowing the household at its core and how the household is composed, thinking about the garage composition of a household. So what make and models are registered to a specific household. All that information sits with our parent company at great detail, and we now have access to all of that data and can incorporate that into our predictions.
Marco Schnabl: Our sister company is Carfax, right? I think a consumer brand that’s enormous and widely successful in the automotive industry. Think about all the assets we can analyze there to help dealerships find their next best customer. So it’s very exciting. You know we have built, we have built exciting new conquest technologies and features. We have also, through to help of IHS Markit, a deep relationship with TransUnion to help identify customers in the service drive that didn’t buy from you. So there are a variety of products and features that we work on every day that wouldn’t have been possible without the acquisition that happened almost exactly two years ago.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. For the dealers that are listening, clear this up. Does a dealer need an advertising agency or a marketing company in addition to having automotiveMastermind? Or do you replace that for them?
Marco Schnabl: I think again that depends. I do want to be clear on the answer. A dealership should have a good marketing strategy and having an agency that can help them think that through, is very, very important. But Mastermind is one product, one technology, that can help supplement one specific arm. So where you typically pay someone else for a mail blast that just say come by and buy, is not necessarily the best use off of a dealership’s funds. So we can help be really, really targeted there with a more comprehensive online channel campaign that would go out to a customer with an intelligent message, with a relevant message that a customer or consumer can act on. So a dealership should always have a marketing strategy. I think a good agency can be a great partner there, but I think we can play an important role in that strategy with the technology that we provide.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Well Marco Schnabl’s Co-CEO and founder of automotiveMastermind, I want to thank you so much for joining us on CBT news. Been very enlightening. You guys are doing some dynamite work at your company and certainly dealers need to go online, learn more about it, connect with you and find out how you guys can help them at their dealership or at their dealer groups. So thanks again very much for your time today.
Marco Schnabl: Thank you Jim. That was great. A lot of fun as always. Thank you.
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