A few years ago, I published an article about the need for a full time marketing manager in every automotive dealership. This view was met with resistance from those in leadership positions inside dealerships. Some comments were based around the cost of having an additional full time employee. Other comments focused on what this person could possibly do each day to justify the cost. Lastly, some said they, as a general manager, could handle the responsibility.

In today’s automotive environment, those reasons are no longer valid. Having a full time employee in the dealership overseeing all marketing, especially digital marketing, is non-negotiable

Having a full time employee in the dealership overseeing all marketing, especially digital marketing, is non-negotiable.

A quick question before moving forward: Which department in your dealership spends thousands or in most cases hundreds of thousands of dollars that go unattended by someone full time? Or is given a “check-in” meeting at the end of the month

The answer is none – except for marketing. Every dealership needs someone on their team who is responsible for the efficiency and effectiveness of these dollars.

If we can agree on this, let’s address some of the previous concerns and also a few important points as you develop this role for your dealership.

THE COST OF THE ROLE

As an exercise, add up all of the money spent yearly on advertising. Both offline (TV, radio, print etc.) and online. Then add in website cost, all technology tools on the website, your CRM cost, your service technology costs and any other technology related to marketing or servicing clients.

Now, the salary for a good marketing manager, depending on the area of the country could be around six figures. Before you stop reading, take the salary as a percent of the total spend and in most instances, it is around 10% – 20% or less. So paying 15% of the budget to maximize the total marketing spend and the technology as well seems a great investment.

I know what you are thinking…

What Could They Be Doing All Day?

The list goes on and on. There is no shortage of things to fill this full time position with to maximize your budget. Before someone is brought in there are a few potential obstacles which need to be addressed as well.

Who Will Train Them or Hold Them Accountable?

Digital Marketing industry is constantly evolving.. The individual filling this crucial role must continue their education. One issue is no one internally can help with this education, so it must come from certifications or attending online and in person conferences. This must be understood from the dealer level that investment in skills will only benefit the dealership.

The goal of this education is to have someone internally who can hold marketing vendors accountable and understand what results matter. Unless this individual is trained to cut through any potential “vendor speak” to drill down to metrics that matter, the dealership is likely wasting marketing resources. They can then be the point person to field vendor calls for new products and services as well, freeing up the general manager’s time.

The General Manager Will Handle This

Question: Does the general manager run the day to day of the service department? Does the general manager run the day to day of the BDC? The point is they have so many other departments to oversee, they should treat marketing the same. This means the general manager needs a high level understanding of the metrics to have a meaningful conversation to guide the marketing strategy. They cannot be burdened with deep diving into the metrics with marketing vendors. 

A few general managers shared their feelings of frustration which led to them having someone full time on their staff:

“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.”

Do Not Create a Hybrid Role

If leadership does not see the value or feels there is not enough to fill this individual’s workday, a hybrid position is created to offset costs. If the individual is brought in from the outside, the marketing is seen as a part time job and they are asked to do IT or computer type work. Or they are promoted internally to run marketing as well as working in the BDC handling internet leads.

Since sales is always the driver, in this example the BDC takes precedence. This dilutes focus on creating a marketing strategy, working with vendors to hold them accountable for results and it creates a reactive form of marketing.

The question is no longer “if” a dealership needs a full time marketing manager. Marketing is evolving be it digital or traditional. From changes to data tracking and privacy or to social media marketing and advertising on streaming services. Dealerships need a highly trained employee to maximize the marketing and technology to stand out in your market.

PCG Digital has a series of online training classes designed for the general manager and the marketing manager. If you would like to discuss your situation, need a job description, or want to know how to structure for interviewing for such a position please reach out. I would love to offer my time to help. You can reach out to me directly with the email button below.

Glenn Pasch
Glenn Pasch
Glenn Pasch is a Partner and CEO of PCG Digital. Glenn continues to author articles for multiple industry publications, blogs and forums as well as continuing his writing online at www.glennpasch.com.
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