Fighting the Walmart Mentality in Automotive Digital Marketing

Walmart Logo

Walmart Logo

There are two reasons that Walmart has become the dominant retail for all ages. They have convenience down to a science. You can go there and knock out a dozen chores while crossing off complete shopping lists that used to take 4 or 5 stops to accomplish. Their bulk-pricing model is challenged only by companies like Amazon. As a result, cheap and easy rule for hundreds of millions of American shoppers every year.

In the automotive industry, the same mentality is taking shape. Mega-vendors are consolidating, buying smaller and even larger companies to make the convenience level for dealers to be much higher. Rather than having a dozen digital marketing vendors, many dealers have opted to take on a single vendor that handles everything. This helps from a pricing perspective as well. There are some vendors that offer some of their products for free to dealers who have a larger product package.

The Walmartization of the automotive industry is both encouraging and disheartening at the same time from a dealership perspective. For some dealerships, it makes perfect sense to consolidate. It’s easier to pay one company rather than to get a handful of invoices every month. More importantly, it’s easier to call one person who can handle multiple needs. This is a good thing for most dealers and a good chunk of them will embrace the model because it’s cheaper and easier.

Those dealers that embrace the model are (and no offense if you’re one of those dealers) the ones that aren’t really that interested in success. To them, a website is a website, a CRM is a CRM, and SEO is SEO. It’s all the same, right?

I love dealers like this. They’re the ones that make it easier for me to take aggressive clients to the top to steal their sales. That’s not a sarcastic statement. If everyone worked with specialists and experts rather than using the one-stop-shops that have bulk SEO strategies, my job would be much harder.

The concern (and the reason for this being a fight) is that so many dealers that really do want to be aggressive and succeed aren’t informed enough to see the difference between high-quality, effective automotive SEO and the plug-and-play automated techniques that the mega-vendors are pushing. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not their fault. I’ve spent 7 years tenaciously researching, delivering, and adjusting SEO strategies and there is no way that I nor any team in the world could deliver quality SEO to 1000 car dealers. It’s simply not possible. SEO isn’t scalable, not in 2014. Google and Bing are looking for quality. They’re looking for individuality. How can a vendor with 10 or more dealers in a state selling the same cars possibly get them all ranked high for their keywords.

They can’t.

So, the fight goes on. Our goal is to educated dealers to understand that one SEO product is completely different from another. I can see the differences very clearly and it’s scary in many ways because I know that most dealers can’t really see the differences. Just as someone from a different culture probably couldn’t tell much of a difference between a business suit bought at Walmart and a tailored Italian suit, dealers often can’t tell the difference between bulk automotive SEO and real automotive SEO.

Do you buy your suits at Walmart? If not, why are you buying your SEO from a vendor that serves thousands of dealers?

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