All Together Now: PIVOT!

The word pivot started to show up early in 2020 about the same time that we all realized COVID-19 was going to be with us for more than a couple months. At first, we recognized that all of us (businesses and individuals) were going to have to pivot in order to avoid being swept away. It became clear that we would not be able to hunker down for a couple months, sign up for government assistance and wait for the “all-clear” signal. When it became obvious this was at least a one-year (probably two-year) event, the concept of pivoting became the new reality.

Now that we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s becoming obvious that another pivot will be necessary; not a pivot back to normal, but a pivot to a new undefined normal.

Things we viewed a year or two ago in the sales and marketing world as being “nice to have” or “nice to do” sometime soon are now need to do right now. Technologies that were trying to find a justification or prove their economic viability have leapfrogged to the current best practices list. In the retail auto industry, dealerships are seeing the slow creep of OEMs moving into a direct relationship with individual customers turning into a race to takeover major elements of the sacred sales process.

Nissan Canada’s launch this month of Nissan Studio (NissanStudio.ca) is yet another step by an OEM into an area that the technology makes possible at the same time as customers (with a strong nudge by COVID-19) are embracing in a surprisingly enthusiastic way. Although there are some progressive dealers and dealer groups who have taken a lead in recent years to integrate new digital technology into the sales process, I have witnessed many on the front lines hesitate to embrace even the use of tablets, for example, by sales and service staff. (Kudos again to Nissan who developed the proprietary NCAR app for use on sales and service team iPads which are being used to engage customers on the sales floor as well as in the Service Lane). Often, it’s only when OEMs impose penalties for non-compliance that we see anywhere near widespread acceptance at the dealership level of these types of digital process improvements. It turns out that customers like these innovations and proof is evidenced by higher closing ratios and significantly better customer satisfaction scores.

Earlier this year, autoTRADER.ca partnered with Motoinsight to launch a new digital retailing service using the MotoCommerce platform where consumers can configure pricing, review accessories and protection plans, complete trade-in appraisals, apply for financing, and deposit and finalize agreements without going to the dealership. As with the system introduced for the Genesis launch (and more recently adopted by Hyundai), the Motoinsight technology is proving very quickly that consumers (if not all industry members) are ready and eager to accept digital selling solutions. What is your dealership doing to integrate digital technology in a way that makes the sales process more customer-friendly? If you’ve worked at a dealership, you already know that means eliminating those big chunks of time waiting for the desking manager, waiting for the F&I manager, and waiting for answers to questions that can can be found quickly on the salesperson’s mobile device.

Every industry now needs to be considering their digital marketing strategies post COVID-19 and determining how they are going to pivot in 2021. The following are some issues that we should all be thinking about regardless of industry:

  • Marketing leadership: Creating a culture that resonates with your customer
  • Disruptive marketing strategies driving your industry (Are you outfront or playing catchup?)
  • Evolving your go-to-market strategy in the changing landscape
  • Advancing your industry/business social media 
  • Building a content supply chain that actually works
  • Your industry’s revolution & how this will change you in 2021
  • Perfecting the art & science of customer experience digital marketing
  • AI/AR/VR & machine learning to automate digital journeys (e.g., Nissan Studio)
  • Bridging marketing & IT in a digital revolution
  • Turning loyalty into advocacy: The future of loyalty marketing
  • Enhance your B2B & B2C multichannel digital campaigns
  • Utilizing big data to tell stories & streamline your engagement & pipelines

This post was inspired by: 2021 BioPharma eMarketing Summit: Impact of COVID-19 is Forcing Marketers to Pivot Strategies – San Diego, United States – June 1st-3rd, 2021 – hosted by ResearchAndMarkets.com

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Gordon N Wright

Gordon N Wright

Helping Car Dealerships Make Their Sales & Service Teams the "Stars of the Dealership". A Sales & Marketing Professional on a mission to bring effective and practical digital solutions to dealerships and salespeople working on the front lines.