Autospeak-Straight Talk contains articles covering digital and social media marketing social communities and events marketing

WTF Is The Future Of Business- Brian Solis has an Answer

(Posted on Aug 3, 2013 at 12:15PM )
Have you ever wondered what the future of business will look like? Maybe you figured it’s going to be something like business in the past: buy stuff, sell stuff, try to make a profit by selling stuff for more than it cost you to make it, building a better mousetrap, winning friends and influencing people, crossing the chasm, riding the long tail to the tipping point with the other outliers, going from good to great, and dealing with cheese that keeps moving around.

The future of business won't be like that. The future of business is all about dazzling people with amazing customer experiences, says Brian Solis, whose new book, What’s the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences, has a cover with the letters “WTF” in huge block letters -- a hint, perhaps, that this is not going to be some ordinary business book, but rather a radical manifesto about change, innovation, and disruption. It's business with a dash of irreverence and punk rock thrown in, a little sneer that says, Look, people, the world has changed, there's this thing called social media, have you heard of it? 

In this new world, the marketing of products becomes as important as the products themselves. Marketers are the ones who create experiences. Which means suddenly marketers stand at center stage, instead of off in the wings. Suddenly all eyes are on you. Are you ready for your close-up? Read this book and you will be.

The Influencers' Influencer Who is this Brian Solis? Folks at HubSpot know him as a pal who will be speaking at our INBOUND conference this August alongside Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, and Nate Silver. But according to the book jacket, Solis is “globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in new media,” as well as a “digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist.” He's an influencer's influencer, whose blog,, is considered a must-read for marketers. Solis is a rare web intellectual, a guy who can melt your brain on Twitter but can also think and write convincingly in chunks of more than 140 characters. At INBOUND, Brian will talk about how the pace of innovation has sped up and impacted the pace of change within business overall, and probably expand upon the ideas presented in his book.

His Bold Ideas But what is the book about? It has one big takeaway. Companies are on a journey of transformation. We’re living in an age of digital Darwinism where you must innovate or die, all because consumers are more empowered than ever with the internet at their disposal.

And in this new age, Solis argues that we shouldn't segment these consumers by age -- Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z, Boomers, and Matures. Instead, we should use “Generation C,” in which the C stands for Connected. Generation C serves as umbrella to describe consumers who are active on the internet and social media, regardless of age. “Gen C is not an age group -- it is a way of life,” he proclaims.

In this worldview, the binary is between those who are Connected and those who are Not Connected. The chief distinction is that, “To Gen C, experience is everything. What they feel about your products and services now and over time is shared through these connected networks.” The challenge for brands is to design the experience that those people will have, and “design the journey that they will embark on.”

Too many companies are using social media but still not really talking to customers -- and that’s partly why they fail to deliver a complete experience, Solis asserts. Presumably these companies deserve points for trying, and it's nice that they've hired someone to run their Twitter feed, but they’re not making the most of the medium. To paraphrase the late great Steve Jobs: You’re doing it wrong. Solis shows you how to do it right.

What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences is an ambitious and ultimately optimistic look at the challenges companies face as they adapt to a digital world, a world where empowered and ever more demanding consumers bring to each transaction a new set of expectations. It’s not just a how-to book, though plenty of advice is offered. Rather it is a call to arms, a call to action, a wake-up call to brands in every industry, a book that will help anyone in marketing do a better job of surfing the storm of change that surrounds us. A must read.

Also, don’t forget to come see Brian Solis speak at the INBOUND conference Aug. 19–22 in good old Boston.

DealerNet Services

From The Top Down “WHERE’S THE BEEF?”

(Posted on Jul 28, 2013 at 07:01AM )
There have been a lot of postings and discussions over how best to improve a Sales Organizations performance. I personally have written many of them.
One thing that they all have in common is the need to have the right people in the right positions and the need for Leadership.
It all starts with Leadership because a true leader will posses all the qualities needed to do the things necessary to make a business successful. Because a true leader is always striving to hit that next level of success and surrounds himself with other leaders who have the same goals.
True leaders are the people who can leave the emotion out of the equation. All emotion stems from insecurity and has no place in running a business or in life in general for that matter. Insecurity gets in the way of truly clear thinking and objectiveness that is the benchmark of a true Leader.

And this is where we hit the first wall to climb because in my career I have not met many totally secure people who fit the true definition of a leader.

You can have all the systems in place that are designed for success but if you don’t have true leaders it won’t matter how well the system is designed it will not function properly.

One big reason that Businesses today lack the leadership needed to build a truly successful business is the lack of compensation. This for some reason lately has become a dirty word in some circles.

All this touchy feely talk about remembering someone’s birthday, giving extra time of and pats on the back in lieu of compensation is just placating the powers that be. Anyone who talks like this is either doing it so as not to upset clients or have never been in the trenches in commission sales trying to make a living-or both.
All this is good stuff but if it isn’t backed up with proper pay for performance you will never attracted the true Leaders that can get the job done.

And other members of these circles are comprised Darryl, Darryl and Darryl (For those of you who remember) who are quarterly driven publicly owned companies that will do anything for a buck for Top Line and Bottom line growth. Doing more with less for the Bottom line and ethically questionable things to grow the Top Line. We have all seen it.
Unfortunately a lot of private companies have adopted the same kind of practices to their own peril which brings me to to “WHERE’S THE BEEF”

You can have all the proven systems in place that you want if you don’t pay for performance the true Leaders will find another home in the same or different Industry. Because the real talent in sales can perform anywhere.
If you think about it and have studied or have been in the Automotive Industry long enough the forerunner of the 4 square, the track system, came along in the late seventies, early eighties.
This system owners thought, would give them the ability to hire any sales clerk off the street at lower compensation and get the same results as the real talent.

This didn’t last very long and I know because I was one of the salespeople who left when they lowered commissions. On top of that, in the early eighties, I was making much more money as a Manager “then” than is being offered today. Add the rise cost of living into that and it gets ridiculous.

Before I went back on my own in 2010 I was making much more as a salesperson than most managers without all the responsibility.

The Commission Sales Industry is a unique Industry in the fact that commissioned sales is one rung below being self-employed. There are a very limited number of truly talented professionals in management or sales who can make it happen consistently.

You give me a group of talented professionals with a pay plan that is going to draw them and I’ll take any system out there and make it seem like the best thing since sliced bread.

I recently wrote an article where I talked about compensation and even offered anyone interested in a "pay for performance" pay plan to e-mail me and I would gladly sent it to them.

I even gave an example of a Dealership who had this pay plan who had the highest front and back end grosses in their region and district and were growing sales.

I received “0” requests.

You can argue all you want about systems and team work but in the end if you  don’t get off that diet your on and put the “BEEF” on the menu to attract the real heavyweights you are doomed to high turnover and mediocrity.
Written By Bill Cosgrove
DealerNet Services

Omni-Channel Retail: Joining Up The Consumer Experience

(Posted on Jul 22, 2013 at 09:55AM )
By using an omni-channel approach, the Topshop brand has generated a year’s worth of average Facebook activity in just four days. Photograph: Kin Cheung/AP The exponential growth of digital has created an environment that 20 years ago didn't exist, and even today we are still finding our way around it.

Young people have grown up in this digital environment and are unafraid to use it. What is clear is that if we want to survive and prosper in this new digital era, we need to look at not only what it can do for our brands, but also what it can't.

And the one thing that online can't reproduce is the physical interaction between your consumer and the product. Offline gives us the opportunity to fulfil other senses that are involved in making a purchase. A physical place is somewhere to return a product, to have a conversation with someone face-to-face. It's a place where an issue can be resolved immediately. Online customer service has a lot to live up to.

In a recent survey, 60% of respondents said that they expected converged retail channels to be the norm by 2014. But more than half of shoppers said that most retailers lack consistency in the way they present themselves across channels.

Your customers will trust someone who is reliable, consistent in what they say, how they say it and what they promise. But more importantly, they expect to have the same brand experience wherever and whenever they interact with your brand.

The future is omni-channel By 2014, nearly everyone in western Europe and the US will have access to a smartphone connected to the internet. The world is already populated by brand-savvy consumers who are now in control. They say where and when they want to shop, and in some cases, what they are prepared to pay for a product. Retailers can't afford to let any moment of their customer brand experience to be less than rewarding, responsive and reliable.

The future is omni-channel: a mix of all the different ways people like to shop, blended together but all saying the same things. This means in store, on the web, through mobile, TV and social media.

Global research expert Forrester has speculated that the future consumer will want not just responsive interactions but adaptive ones, with content delivered in a way that best suits them as individuals, and their particular device.

Digital experiences will need to be more contextual, possibly including location, purchase history and recommendations. Devices will sync together and with other products allowing people to order from one device and check progress of delivery from another. And information visualisation – shortened to "infovis" – will need to be mainstream.

Brands taking the leadAlthough this digital integration is still in its infancy, some brands are already beginning to adopt it, including Burberry, Topshop, Hollister and M&S. Topshop recently launched a campaign where shoppers received a free styling and make-up session and were invited to create a digital 'Wish you were at Topshop' postcard using Instagram.

Once the postcard photo had been taken, they were given a copy to take home and were also able to upload it to Facebook and the Topshop gallery. To date it has generated 640 blog posts, with a reach of 1.4 million, as well as 5.3m views on Facebook and 2,000 comments. That's a year's worth of its usual Facebook activity in just four days. And as a result, it has become the number one fashion retailer on Instagram.

Or take M&S, a stalwart of the high street, yet embracing online and offline integration with Wi-Fi in store. The brand is also investing in connecting mobile web to the in-store experience. M&S sales assistants will carry tablet devices, and touchscreen kiosks are placed throughout stores to engage shoppers and make customer service easier.

If all channels are connected, customers can start their journey on one channel and complete it on another, creating seamless experiences that increase convenience and engagement, and with consistent brand experience.

Written by Max Eaglen

DealerNet Services

A Giant Misconception? (Food For Thought During The Debacle)

(Posted on Jul 13, 2013 at 05:22AM by William Cosgrove)
After watching the podcast with Jim Ziegler and Tim Martell about this purportedly growing epidemic of deception and self-serving practices of the giants that historically seem to look out for their interests ahead of their constituencies we must take stock 

Today with the explosion of digital marketing and more giants being created that are affecting the Automotive Industry I wonder if transparency is headed for extinction. The giants of the classified marketing space and now marketing and Dealer services companies who have all but or are attempting to monopolized the the Automotive Industry have dealers thinking that for the moment they have no other option but to pray at the their alter.

I am sure that if there were viable alternatives dealers would be making other choices BUT if we think about there are viable alternatives. There are local classified sites that serve the local communities within a Dealers market area that can do as well or a better job of serving the Dealers. Who came up with the idea of selling customers outside your market area anyway-think about it- The GIANTS.

Dealers in urban areas have population densities that can provide sustainable growth within their market areas and save valuable resources that could be allocated in more productive ways.

The Giants have been conditioning Dealers into thinking that their way is the best and only way. With today’s advances in technology there are much more efficient ways of marketing and operating without the need to constantly be looking over your shoulder for the next knife to be thrown.

This is food for thought that every dealer should ponder. There are plenty of boutique marketers and consultants out there that specialize in their field that are more nimble and have fresher ideas and have the Dealer’s best interest at the top of the list with all ultimately being served much more efficiently and productively.


Posted By Bill Cosgrove

DealerNet Services

The Front Lines Where The Real Battles Are Fought

(Posted on Jul 12, 2013 at 07:44AM by William Cosgrove)

Here are some stats that Most of us already know and most Dealer Principles and GMs may already know. But let’s give it another read because this is important to your business.

Not all buyers use the same criteria to choose a dealer or are influenced by the same dealer experience and sales processes.

According to the Foresight Research 2013 Dealership Report, Taken from UCN News, based on a study of 7,543 recent U.S. new car and truck buyers, experience with a brand drives most purchases.

While 17 different automotive marketing communication channels are analyzed in this study, none are more influential to the purchase decisions of new car and truck buyers than the dealership experience with the exception of prior brand experience. Forty-nine percent of all buyers this past year report that their dealership experience was highly influential to their decision to purchase the vehicle they did. 

The average new-vehicle buyer today is older (nearly half are over age 55). They are also wealthier and experienced with the buying process. Dealer reputation and relationships are key to this group.

Younger buyers (many of them first-time buyers) bring a narrower set of expectations into their buying process. These buyers want and need dealer assistance, but one out of four say their dealership experience took too long.

Buyers aged 35-54 (representing 37 percent of current buyers) reflect a mixture of their younger and older counterparts. Like younger buyers, they are very concerned with getting a good price/deal, and financing options. Yet like older buyers,
they have high expectations of their dealer experience.

So let’s think about this. This means that the people on the front lines and by this I mean the salespeople, including those in the BDC department, Service Writers, Parts and Body Shop Departments. Now why did I just refer to all these people as salespeople?

Because they all better be. These are the people that are selling you, your services and products and if they don’t know how to sell and how to treat people-your losing a great deal of business.

So why do a lot of you think that you can get these people on the cheap and expect great results. You pay a lot for your marketing and other vendors services and hopefully they are doing the right things.

But these employees I just mentioned are your most valuable asset and you are not going to get or have the right people on the cheap. I showed in one of my last posts a dealer who was paying top dollar and getting top results. These stats just gave me the opportunity to maybe shed more light on my mission to prove my point.

You can hire consultants to train, train and do more training and give people all the tools in the world to do a job but if you don’t have the right people your just wasting your money. And by the way what are your managers doing?

You need consultants who know how to get the right people in right the positions first Which means consultants who have proven themselves on the front lines and in the trenches who can find right people you need. And again, what are your managers doing?

If you need to hire consultants, (And again what are your managers doing), find one who is going to weed out all the non-performers and who is hire by and who is looking out for you the owner and not the management that may be the root of
your problems.

A lot of good salespeople and managers have already left the Automotive Industry because they can perform in any Commission Sales Industry and are going where they can be rewarded for their talent.

There are those who would like to commoditize the Industry and have store clerks waiting on people. But I can tell you that if this happens there will no longer be room for the Small and Medium Size Franchise Dealer.

By having the right people you don’t need to train them because they’re professionals and are driven to perform. So if you take all that money you pay to train and get no return from and put the right people (Including Management) on the front lines- you will not only save most of the money you spend on consultants and realize that the ones on the front lines are your real ROI.

Author Bill Cosgrove

Bad Management - It's Also Just Plain Bad For Business.

(Posted on Jul 8, 2013 at 08:49AM by William Cosgrove)
This is another subject for discussion from my posting " A Business Model That's Just Plain Bad For Business"

Bad management runs rampant in organizations. For my discussion I will focus on Automotive Sales and Finance Management. I say this because this is epidemic in many Industries and I don’t want to appear to be singling out Automotive Dealerships.

All emotions stem from insecurity and must be controlled because it has no place in a work Setting. It is a disease that will eat away at and hold back any organization.

A bad manager will not hold on to good people and staff does not want to go to upper management for fear of retribution. This has devastating effects on performance of the department. Always be suspect when a manager says “What goes on here stays here” or “It’s my way or the highway”.

I cannot stress enough the need for companies to have a consultant come in once a year to audit the operations and make recommendations on improvements that could be made to improve profitability. Even if operationally things are functioning well, someone on the outside looking in can always see things that the entrenched management cannot that could mean a significant improvement.

There are many different factors that define a bad manager. One kind of manager is the one who is inconsistent saying one thing and doing another without explaining his actions and who is arrogant in believing they are always right and makes sure everyone knows it. This type of manager is often egocentric and makes every issue about them, doesn’t listen to advice offered but ignores it before even considering it. This inhibits the staff from even mentioning any ideas they may have and leaves them feeling helpless and feeling that nothing will ever be done to improve on a bad situation.

 These managers are also often self-centered and do not support, encourage or look out for their team. The worst are mean and abusive and make people feel bad for no reason.

Then there are managers who micro-manage and Refuse to delegate anything, despite what they say. This isolates them so they often don’t involve others in decisions and rarely look for ways to support or encourage the work of their team. This is often is caused by incompetence the lack of basic communication, intellectual, or emotional skills needed to for their role.


Then you have the complacent manager who is content with the way things are and is not open to change. They like things the way they are because they have become lazy or are thinking about other things. I once had a GSM that spent more time outside the dealership hobnobbing with hockey players from the Boston Bruins who were spokesman for the dealership.

I have also be part of organizations where a manager spent valuable company time in generating options as solutions to problem but the problem was created by this same manager. Incompetent managers create more problems than they solve and then waste time to solve the same problems they created in the first place.

Posted By Bill Cosgrove


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