This column is part of a continuing series about career opportunities in the retail car industry.
Today, I want to talk about the marketing manager and the business development manager. The role of the marketing manager has evolved significantly over the past decade, and much of that change has been driven by digital/mobile marketing and social media.
The marketing manager is a relatively recent phenomenon at auto dealerships. A generation ago, most dealerships didn't even have one; marketing duties often fell to a sales manager or a dealer principal.
The business development manager isn't a new position at dealerships and his/her job description has remained consistent: maintain customer loyalty and retention.
In the past two decades, dealership marketing has been dramatically transformed. A 2014 McKinsey Report showed that consumers visit, over average, 1.6 auto dealerships while shopping for a car, down from an average of five dealerships 10 years ago.
Roughly 95 per cent of all car shoppers now conduct their research online, and they spend 18 hours, on average, researching their purchase. During that 18 hours, consumers will visit manufacturer and dealership websites, dealer review websites, consumer websites, and auto journalist websites and social media sites.
Our dealership websites attract between four and five thousand visitors per month, and our RV Centre website attracts approximately 10,000 visitors per month during our peak season. Analyzing the viewing patterns of these visitors is one of the ongoing challenges for our marketing teams.
All of this has meant that today's marketers must be experts in "pull media" - providing relevant information that viewers can consume at a time of their choosing , and on a platform of their choosing (tablet, smartphone, PC).
The four full-time marketers who work at our dealerships have marketing diplomas and understand the tools, platforms and services that must be utilized to engage with customers and prospects in this age of connectivity.
In many respects, marketing is a multi-disciplinary profession that includes a wide assortment of disciplines, including direct marketing, public relations, branding and communications. The job involves working with colleagues in-house and with third party providers that specialize in specific areas of expertise.
These areas include SEO (search engine optimization), website optimization, PPC (pay per click) advertising, e-marketing (e-newsletters), mobile marketing, social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), and web analytics.
Marketing managers also monitor and analyze market trends, present findings and ideas to company directors and other managers, study competitors' products and services and attend trade shows and conferences.
One of the challenges for marketing managers is not only attracting customers to their websites, but providing a positive user experience online. Dealers realize that consumers are hungry for information, they are in a hurry and they wield considerable influence in the market.
Dealership websites are loaded with user-friendly features, such as live chat, pre-owned inventories, online service appointment forms, digital brochures, shopping tools, videos, service coupons, links to social networking sites, newsletters, and more.
The expert marketer must be able to optimize a dealership's website to provide visitors with the best user experience possible. If they don't, the competition is just a click away.
If you want to learn about a marketing career in the retail car industry, contact your local new car dealership, community college; or visit the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association's Career Exhibit at the 2015 Canadian International AutoShow (February 13 - 22, 2015 / autoshow.ca).
The automotive business never stops - just look at the highway.
Once again, the TADA is proud to support Prostate Cancer Canada. This year, our Association has donated a specially-modified 2015 Ford Mustang GT for the Rock the Road Raffle. I've seen the car and it looks spectacular. For more information, visit www.prostatecancer.ca or www.tada.