What the La Brea Tar Pits Can Tell You About Social Media Marketing

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automotive-social-media-marketing-consulting-trainingIn grammar school, our favorite field trip was to the La Brea Tar Pits. If you’ve never been, it’s big pool of sludge off of Wilshire Blvd. in the Miracle Mile. It was there before Los Angeles was ever thought of. It has a museum now but what I remember most are the cool dinosaurs surrounding it with one or two stuck in the sludge.

The La Brea Tar Pits exhibit was based on a discovery in the 1940s and 50s of large Woolly Mammoth bones. It caused a huge amount of excitement in the city. By the 70s there were much smaller specimens discovered and it was all so very interesting to a 5th grader. The Mammoths got caught in the sludge and never came out alive.

A few days ago I got a call from a dealer client letting us know that a “corporate” decision had been made and they were going to use another company for their Social Media marketing. My contact at the dealership didn’t want to let us go but a “cost cutting measure” was put into place and there was nothing he could do. Our prices are very competitive so that got me wondering.

This is a dealership that has not yet open for business. We were contracted a few months ago to start a marketing campaign to build their social presence. We did a pretty great job; surpassed all the goals we had set. So to say I was disappointed in the turn of events is an understatement. It just didn’t add up why they were cutting ties with us.

Then I pressed further for the backstory. A website company had contracted with the corporate office to provide websites for the entire dealer group. As a “bonus”, they were going to do their Social Media marketing for FREE. Yes, that’s right….FREE. You can’t compete with free but then why would anyone try?

It baffles me why businesses would care so little about their social voice as to hand it over to someone who’s promising the world…for FREE. There is nothing free in this world. The way they’ll pay for this is in the harm it will do their brand and Social presence.

What also baffles me is that all the other forms of marketing cost money so why would someone think Social Media is different? There’s so much written about Social lately, especially Facebook,  in terms of revenue and advertising.  The opportunities are boundary-less…But you have to pay!

I’ve been blogging about dealership Social Media marketing for 4 years now. I’ve done my best to get the word out about its value, specific tips, where the pitfalls are and what to do if you get stuck. As a former executive manager of some of the most successful dealerships in the US, I find it amazing that a salesperson from a website company can convince a business owner that it’s a good idea to go with….FREE.

  • How will they grow their communities on the Social platforms?
  • How will they communicate what it’s like to do business with this particular store?
  • How will they get their content seen by their fans and followers?
  • How will their salespeople begin to understand and use Social channels to sell?
  • How will they get their content seen on Facebook now that it’s “pay to play”?
  • How will they generate leads and turn fans into customers?

Losing a client to someone who’s doing it for free is surreal. I guess because I’ve been talking about it for so long and I feel I’ve done a pretty good job at getting the message seen and heard. This just shows that I have much more work to do.

I made the choice to go into Social Media marketing for dealers because I was one once and I knew others were going to need help. I could make an impact on the industry I love. But I can’t care more about a client’s Social voice than they do. Kruse Control works with clients who see the value of Social Media, are eager to have their voice heard, enjoy a community of raving fans and are willing to walk with us to awesome heights.

I think it’s time for another field trip to the La Brea Tar Pits, which will be a full-circle moment for me. Perhaps it will help me accept the fact that those who think Social Media is free are destined to go the way of the Woolly Mammoth.

Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse is an Automotive Social Media Marketing Expert, Blogger, Speaker, Coach, Author and Founder of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people”, Kathi’s passion for the car business spans a 30-year career managing successful dealerships in Southern California. Kathi is the author of “Automotive Social Business – How to Captivate Your Customers, Sell More Cars & Be Generally Remarkable on Social Media”. Her Kruse Control Blog is the leading Automotive Social Media blog in the US.
Kathi Kruse

@kathikruse

Automotive Social Media, Online Reputation Marketing/Coaching/Training. Blogger, Speaker, Author: AUTOMOTIVE SOCIAL BUSINESS. Founder/CEO Kruse Control Inc
Social Selling: 21 Ways to Engage Your Network for Referrals and Leads http://t.co/DiprWf0VUA | Kruse Control Blog - 11 hours ago
Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse
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  • David Sharp

    Very well said, my friend.

    • krusecontrol

      It had to be said. Thanks for reading it, David.

      • David Sharp

        Of course!

  • Anne Kruse

    The brilliant Ken Blanchard has always said, “Move With The Cheese.” There are far reaching reasons why he does NOT say, “Eat the cheese because it’s FREE.” Business is not a happy hour buffet where the free cheese sweats all night awaiting consumption by drunk people who don’t care about bacteria.

    Kathi, well said and unfortunately the “hard way” to learn for some folks is the only way they learn. Still some will not learn even then. They will blame “social media” for “not working” instead of taking responsibility for their short-sighted nincompoopery (that’s a word now in case you were wondering). Hang in there being awesome.

    • krusecontrol

      That is priceless! “Eat the cheese because it’s FREE.” Bon Appetit!