January Newsletter – Digital Control

The biggest decision facing dealers over the next 24 months will be what I call “Digital Control.” Who is in control of managing your digital properties and executions and why are they qualified?

It’s a new day for automotive retailing in America, but traffic is still what you depend on the most. So why are so many dealerships relying on an internal manager or a third party vendor with no long-term vested interest to drive your future success? I see it simply as many fail to see the power of a perfectly executed digital strategy compared to checking the boxes in digital marketing.

Most dealers I know have land and property investments in excess of $10 million. They build immaculate facilities that comply with manufacturers’ regulations for physical appearance and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in cleaning, maintenance, landscaping, and general upkeep.

When it comes to the website, a property that generates far more visits a month than any physical location, there is usually very little money spent on its physical appearance. More importantly the “control” is left up to someone who will not be with your company a decade from now. Most third party search and optimization companies never even send an employee to visit your dealership as everything is communicated over webinars and conference calls. Yet you let this person or organization control your digital destiny?

I know some dealers like this but also ones who can touch and describe every digital element that is happening in their strategy. They know not only who manages the campaigns but also what the campaigns are and what the goal is.

In four years it will be 2020, the year I was told as a child would have people living on the moon. While we are still a little far away from that, we are staring into a future that many will be lost in because they simply never took control of their digital strategy.

About the author

John Paul Strong: For someone who spends an average of 135 days outside of the office meeting with clients, John Paul Strong remains the driving force behind his Birmingham-based advertising agency, Strong Automotive Merchandising. Strong began his career as a fresh-faced account executive at Martin Advertising. Learning much, but never satisfied, he convinced his father to partner with him in reopening their own advertising agency in 2004, catering exclusively to the automotive industry. The company started strong but humble. The original roster of 10 employees and eight clients has exploded today, growing to 100 full-time employees and more than 220 automotive dealers. And it hasn’t gone without notice. Along the way, Strong Automotive Merchandising has been recognized as a perennial winner in Birmingham’s Best Places to Work contest and as a Top 20 Agency among Google’s National Ad Partners. Yet, Strong still finds time to share what he’s learned along the way. As an avid writer, he has published two books in the Next Day Traffic series, along with more than 1,000 automotive-focused blog posts. He is also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, and his success has been recognized in the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2013 “Top 40 Under 40” feature and the 2017 CEO Awards. The foundation for Strong’s career began at the University of Montevallo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and advanced public speaking. Always staying ahead of the competition, Strong later went on to study in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program. Amid all of his endeavors, Strong always makes time for what matters most – his family. He is a proud husband to Amy, and father to Lilly Grace, Anne Charlotte, Hudson, and Ford.


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