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Autos, Social Media & Pitchmen: An Interview With Peter Drakulich

Peter Drakulich has 17 years in the automobile dealership industry, today he runs a company that optimizes sales for companies, Driving Up Sales. We were chatting recently and talked about the lead generation approaches using social media and trade shows:

John: Peter has a number of ideas about the structure of the automobile dealership industry. He believes that there are a number of steps dealerships can take to increase leads using social media. Peter can you explain how you think social media can be used for marketing?

Peter: In the Sales Departments you can start right away by getting your entire sales staff involved with social media networking. Notice I didn’t say “Marketing or Selling”. Start with your happy customers and invite them to join you. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Orkut it is a great start. By accepting your invite it enters you into their direct circle of influence.

John: You believe that companies need to develop content that will generate discussions around the service a company has provided.

John: In the service department Peter believes that dealers should split their services departments into two, one side of the business focus on quick repair issues like oil changes and break jobs, the other side of the business conducts more extensive repairs. How would this work?

Peter: During the Express Oil changes you can determine additional work that can be scheduled for a customer’s next visit. This way the customers aren’t waiting for 2 hours for an oil change. If customers need more work done they can decide to do it now or schedule it for a more convenient time.

Automobile dealers can increase sales leads through reorganizing their repair department. I think email service reminders are a good way to drum up some business. I think Twittering service reminders will be the future in Service departments.

John: Why do you think social media is becoming so important for auto dealers, why not use traditional channels?

Peter: The biggest area effecting dealers is the decline of traditional marketing mediums. Television, magazines and newspapers are dead, Radio is still too expensive and more and more listeners are on satellite or on HD Radio flipping through more stations than ever during commercials.  It’s really the power of the internet that has given consumers the power to find what they want when they want it.. They can find and research everything they need to know about the car and who they want to buy it from in a fraction of the time it took before.  Dealers who have ventured into Social Media are finding their old marketing style is not working. My Dealers are finding that it’s not an overnight pill but rather a long term relationship builder. Once this system is in place it becomes much more effective than they ever imagined. It’s also more affordable.

John: Peter also helps companies with their trade show lead generation efforts, he believes that trade shows are like theaters and that success in trade show lead optimization comes from giving short theatrical demonstrations to crowds of people. Would you give me an example of how this works?

There’s a NYC street seller who sells potato peelers for $5 each. The guy demonstrates how this product can benefit the buyer and how it can be used in many interesting and entertaining ways and as a result a crowd of people purchase the peelers at the higher price.

Here’s the potato peeler street seller:

Peter: I believe trade show managers should take the same approach to promoting their booths, bring crowds into the booth and entertain them with relevant information, that gets people to sign up for further information.

I have observed that businesses spend huge amounts of money to attend trade shows and then fail to do the 2 of the most important things. 1 being able to draw a crowd and 2 have what the late Billy Mays would call a “Wow” demonstration.  It is so important to have people stop by your booth but it is more important to be able to demonstrate how your product can solve someone’s problems or just make life easier. You have to do this all in about 120 seconds. The old adage applies that if you tell someone they will only remember 20% of what you told them. If you just show them they will only remember 40% of what they saw, but if you demonstrate your product by showing, telling and involving them they will retain over 90% of what you taught them.

John: Thanks Peter!