I just returned from the Automotive Analytics & Attribution Summit in Florida where on more than one occasion, a dealership attendee expressed their frustration when talking about their current digital agency partner. For many, they shared the feeling that they had to drive the digital marketing strategy, versus the agency, even though they are paying them a good deal of money.
- “ I feel like I have to tell them what to do”
- “I hired them because they understand this. Why do they ask me what I want to do?”
- “I am being charged a lot of money and I have no idea what I am getting for it!”
- “My calls last 15 minutes and we never talk about strategy or plans to increase results. Just numbers regarding what they did and even then, it’s not really a great call.”
Sound familiar? Have you said any of these to yourself?
For transparency’s sake, I own a digital marketing agency specializing in the automotive vertical. At PCG Digital, we work diligently on our client relationships, so let me share with you what I told these dealers when they asked me what I believe an agency should be responsible for based on how we interact with our clients.
Firstly, both the dealer and the agency have a role in the overall performance of any marketing efforts. It is not a one sided process that falls entirely on the agency’s shoulders—collaboration is necessary for success. Once this is understood by both parties, creating a marketing plan set up for progress becomes easy.
Secondly, we need to understand what has created the situation in which the client is looking to change agencies. Is it communication? Is it results? Is it change of leadership internally? (This seemed to be a big reason.)
Once we realize this, we can then begin to work towards identifying the dealership’s goal. Just saying “sell more” is not helpful for an agency. Whether you want to increase sales in a certain geographical area, push other services more, or focus on a specific model, specificity is key.
All of these conversations help guide the agency’s strategy each month and as the relationship evolves, this allows pivoting quickly into different directions as needed.
Next, both sides should begin to explore the dealer’s market through a series of specific questions. Our goal through this, and the responsibility of the client, is to share what they see and experience on the ground when interacting with customers.
What types of individuals buy certain models? If a consumer looks at a certain model in their market, what other brands/models are they looking at? Are there colleges, large businesses, or military bases nearby? Are there certain incentives or programs the dealer offers to certain qualified candidates?
This information helps because many times we are physically in a different state. Some dealers prefer to hire a local agency, thinking they will understand the market better. A word of caution: automotive marketing is a whole different beast. Make sure the local agency you decide to work with is keeping up with current digital marketing strategies for automotive, because the general marketing approach that many small agencies use as a “one size fits all” tactic won’t work in the auto world.
My team’s responsibility is to take this information and create custom campaigns and strategies to increase qualified shoppers interacting with the dealer’s website and online presence. In turn, this will lead to more sales opportunities for our clients. We report each month specifically on what campaigns worked and which ones didn’t, what we will be adjusting and launching in the current month, and what we are building for future months.
Ultimately the goal of any agency is to communicate how it spent the money it was given. It should not only report on numerical results, but present a strategy for what campaigns are coming next and how they will continue to build momentum in the marketplace.
Without this ongoing conversation, how can the agency and the customer partner together to increase opportunities? Without specific feedback and frequent interaction the only thing increasing is a sense of frustration.
I hope these few tips give you an outline to help you communicate better with your current digital agency partner.
If I can ever be of service or if you have a question about these tips, please feel free to reach out. I appreciate you taking the time to read this.