Local Search Engine Marketing is just one animal in the Online Marketing zoo. It is also one of the more untamed animals. That is because search engines have evolved from global to ever more local precision over time. The bleeding edge (for our purposes) is local search, but those that depend on it to make a living are typically not yet able to ride this beast.
The first search engines were concerned with indexing everything on the Internet (global search). The logical path of this evolution is ever more granular and complex search, be it local, image, voice, etc, and not to forget that the engine itself is evolving towards AI (artificial intelligence).
All retail is migrating online. If the trend does not somehow change, we will continue to have fewer and fewer retail stores dotting the landscape. What we will have are ever more impressive and centralized “showrooms” where we get to touch the items we might like to buy – think Apple Stores. If you live in the countryside, chances are you will have to drive farther and farther to see a product before purchase. Or in typical Amazon style, you can buy it and return it – no questions.
Now retail automotive is an interesting case study. The car dealership is already a showroom so the evolution taking place is not so obvious to a bystander. But inside the business, everyone in the industry, from the manufacturer to the salesperson is touched by this evolutionary process. Many may not perceive it on a day-to-day basis, but this process is all about Local Search Marketing.
Most consumers are shopping for their next vehicle in exactly the same way they go about buying an iPhone. Some manufacturers (Tesla) are even setting up stores in malls, and look just like Apple Stores. The connection between the consumer and the nearest store is – you guessed it – the search engine and location-based search. The technology-infrastructure is already there. The challenge for most manufacturers and car dealers (and salespeople) is mastering the controls of the technology – riding this Local Search Marketing beast.
Getting the consumer from the Internet into the showroom is really where the game is won today.
Its entirely understandable. And it seems so logical and so easy that anyone should be able to do it. What are the impediments?
First Mover Advantage. You know how the “King of the Hill” game works – usually only one manages to climb the slope while keeping the others working harder while fighting for traction. Eventually the weaker give-up. In any geographic area, there is usually just one dealer group that crushes all the others and it can mostly be understood with this analogy. This is sometimes described as “first-mover advantage”, and the time to have been a first mover is long past. If you are not already King of the Hill, you have to be very smart and stubbornly persistent to use the bleeding-edge technologies of the moment to regain that top spot. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this post is about the bleeding-edge. We’re getting to it.
High turnover. I have personally witnessed the “King of the Hill” fall to “Also-Ran” because of brain-drain. There are many bright people in the business who are adept at manipulating the levers of the Internet Marketing machinery, and they know it. They are obviously also smart enough to go wherever the environment is best. Management can and does cause the talent to find greener pastures. Herein lies a whole host of management does and don’t that are beyond the scope of this post. But you can protect yourself by having an outside audit and blue-print of your Internet Marketing infrastructure and processes before hand. If there is blue-print on hand, your Internet Marketing can be reconstituted in case of an sudden, unexpected brain-drain.
Education & Enlightenment. The opposite of ignorance. This seems obvious, but many decision-makers in the business simply don’t know. They don’t know that they don’t know. They can’t grasp the intangible concepts with which to make decisions. Obviously, evolution has a way of dealing with these types. How do you know you are not one of those?
Vapor. As a result, I have seen dealers buy geo-fencing services and then not use it. And worse, I have seen vendors sell “geo-fencing” services that they do not have the capability of providing – knowing that the dealer does not have the ability to know they are paying for nothing, or what we used to call “vapor-ware”. If this point gets your spider-senses tingling, seek help.
Missing the big picture or is it laziness or denial? Im not sure which but you can guess where this is going. While I’m not young, I still like learning, and besides, its called work for a reason. On the other hand there are those who find staying current too tedious or the learning curve is just a bit too steep, and that frustrates the acceptance of many things related to contemporary retail processes. This frustration may turn into denial. But its a fact – the consumer already knows if your asking price is too high. What can you do? You either accept that this is the world we live in and keep pace, or continue down your unhappy path.
The bottom line to riding this local search marketing animal is to evolve with the ever more granular local search technologies that connect the consumer to the showroom (and salesperson). Trust me. If you stay abreast of all things in this vein, you will climb to the top of the hill and prosper.
Do you keep abreast of the bleeding-edge? How many people engaged in selling a car understand “geo-fencing”? (I have always preferred to call it hyper-local advertising) This bleeding-edge advertising technology is neither widely understood nor utilized – yet.
Imagine. There will be a time when a sales manager can watch on his monitor, in real-time, as a shopper drives up, and before the shopper even opens the door, this sales manager will know which model they want, maybe even in which color and maybe which options. And the technology will inform him if there is a vehicle like that in stock. Oh! And he’ll also know which other dealerships they have shopped already! That is already technically possible today, it is being rolled-out. But you missed that announcement in August 2018.
Its coming to a showroom near you.