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Car Buying Highlights A Dilemma

Bill Green over at Make the Logo Bigger is currently chronicling his car buy experience. And I have to say that these insightful posts are eye-opening about the classic disconnect between sales and marketing.

For those of you who don't know him, Bill is a regular panel member on our marketing podcast, The BeanCast. And his blog is a look not just at advertising and marketing, but the cultural relevance of our industry.

The Great Brand Divide

This particular series of posts starts with impressions of the dealership ad and marketing materials. And in his latest post he tackles the on-site experience. But what's striking to me (beyond the humorous take on the process) is that he is revealing how the dealership/promotional part of the auto-buying equation systematically dismantles the brands.

Think of the effort that goes into the creation of a car brand. You have the design and manufacturing elements, crafted carefully with the marketing potential in mind. You have numerous focus groups to make sure that the identity of the car is clearly communicated in the user experience. You have logos and design guidelines to create, ads to design, photos to shoot, videos to produce -- it's seemingly endless the details that must be addressed.

Then all that hits Big Dave, who won't be undersold...and neither will his dog.

The Universal Marketing vs. Sale Conflict

But isn't this what always seems to happen when marketing objectives are put in the hands of sales realities? I've talked about this before, but this has always been the number one internal dilemma of marketers -- especially B2B marketers. You go into any knew program with the assumption that sales is going to ignore it and do what they want anyway. It's inevitable.

In the case of the car dealerships, I won't even venture to say I have a solution. I think it's clear that it's time for them to be ejected from the model. Or at the very least, take on the retail model of a single dealer selling many brands. Kind of a CarMaxfor new cars, like was discussed on Twitter during a recent #carchat.

But when you don't have a sprawling network of dealers to contend with, I have a suggestion.

Enlist Rather Than Fight

I offer up this simple reminder: 

You can't win against sales.

 They will short-circuit you every time. Sometimes they'll do it just for spite. So always enlist rather than fight.

Dealing with internal sales teams is exactly the same as dealing with external customers in a loyalty scenario. You engage, you enlist, you listen, you respond and you create advocates who do your work for you. Just like any retention effort, you find the key influencers among your sales staff and make them your friend. Give them extra attention. And then rely on them to do you selling of new programs. Pretty soon this person's success will be all the pitch you need.

So good luck to you and your internal efforts. And good luck to our friend, Mr. Green. Personally, I'm rooting for the Fords.

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