Communication Vehicles

Communication Vehicles

When I talk about Communication Vehicles, I am talking about Blogs, Podcasts and Newsletter.

The world has truly changed. I was first on the Internet in 1973 with a business called I.P Sharp Associates. Ian Sharp tried to bring me on with his Company but I was having too much fun and learning too much at the Caterpillar dealership in Montreal called Hewitt Equipment. The internet was available via two different telecommunications networks Telenet and Tymnet. Their speed was a rip-roaring 30 bps. Can you imagine that? The “computer terminal was an IBM Typewriter type device and the Modem was an “Acoustic Coupler” that you put the telephone handset into. I thought it was absolutely the end of the world. Fantastic.

Today the Internet has speeds that boggle the mind and I am constantly complaining that it takes too long. At Learning Without Scars, we are using a Learning Management Software package called Litmos from SAP. We use a credit card payment tool called Stripe. We use Quick Books for all of our accounting. I have grown used to Microsoft Software so I used Outlook and Excel and Powerpoint and Word. We use Word Press to drive the Website. We use MailChimp and Buzz Sprout to drive our Podcasts and we use Zoom to create our Candid Conversation with our guests for our Podcasts. We have come a long way with software and hardware in my work life since 1968.

For nearly twenty years we have used the “Blog” as a communications device. First on our Consulting business website www.rjslee.com and now with our employee development business www.learningwithoutscars.com. More recently, at the beginning of March, we have started a Podcast. These Podcasts will explain with an audio track the content of our classes in a more complete manner than the landing page for each class or assessment. They will also be the platform for what we are calling “Candid Conversations” with Industry leaders and influencers. And coming soon, July 1, 2021, we will launch a Newsletter. We are going through the process now of networking with my address book and asking the recipient of the email if they want to subscribe to the Newsletter.

 

This is all about communication, isn’t it? The website has evolved itself. In the earlier form, it was like a brochure. It had the company history the vision or mission statements, key employees. It was a Yada Yada Yada form of communications. Then we moved to having our inventory on the website with pictures and in some cases even prices. It became what I called Brochureware. The internet and websites have come a long way since then. However, many of us are stuck with the old methods and thinking. As an example, I still have a landline telephone. I know, I know leave me alone. So, it brings to mind a question I used to ask relative to the rapid pace of change in technology. “What do you do with a dead horse?” The first answer is “Change Riders.” A close second is “Buy a Stronger Whip.” Followed by “Harness together many Dead Horses.” And finally, “Promote the Dead Horse.” Clearly, tongue in cheek but change has become almost too much for most of us to be able to handle.

We are trying to communicate with YOU on our website. We are using three main vehicles to do this. The blogs, the Podcasts, and now a Newsletter.

  • The Blog
    • We give you articles we contribute as well as thought leaders in Industry on a weekly basis. Specific subjects that we feel will be helpful to you, our customers. We post these blogs every Tuesday evening.
  • The Podcasts
    • We give you audio tracks describing our classes or assessments. These audio tracks run between five and ten minutes and provide more detail than the job function assessment or subject-specific landing page on the website.
    • We also provide a Candid Conversation with thought leaders from the Industry. We do these with a recorded Zoom meeting. These conversations are with people in North America, Australasia, Europe, South America, Russia, India, and the Middle East.
  • The Newsletter
    • We will publish this newsletter four times a year, typically at the beginning of each calendar quarter.
    • It will contain articles of interest from us and significant thought leaders worldwide.
    • We will keep you posted on changes within the education community on current thinking and research into learning tools and methods.
    • We will highlight any special news on our progress on becoming your primary employee development product.

Please remember we are always interested in and will be responsive to YOUR needs and wants as our valuable customers. We wouldn’t be here without all of the support and encouragement you have provided over the years. Next year we will celebrate our thirtieth year in teaching within this Industry through Companies specifically involved in training personnel in the Construction, Agricultural, Engine, Material Handling, On-Highway, Forestry, Mining Equipment Industries.

We sincerely thank you for your continuing support.

The time is now.

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We All Engage in Social Media

We All Engage in Social Media

In this week’s post, guest blogger Mets Kramer shares that we all engage in social media and this blog is just one example. Other platforms include Facebook, LinkedIn, and of course, the large number of websites we all visit for information.  

As the digital world grows, we understand it is necessary to have a social media presence for our dealerships. We want people to see us and whatever online presence we create, we want it to have a positive impact on our business.  In my last article, we looked at how to use metrics for your website, with a specific focus on using the information collected to understand your customers’ and visitors’ engagement with your digital dealership.  Our goal for investing time and money into our online presence is to increase the engagement we have with our audience.

I’d like to look more closely at social media strategies. Each platform has its strengths and can contribute to your website traffic and engagement.  There are 3 main things to consider when building your strategy: who is your Intended Audience, what kind of Content do you want to post, and lastly, a call to Action, or in other words, how do you want them to respond?

Your audience consists of both active and prospective customers, in addition to a large number of people who many have no need for your services.  When developing your strategy, it’s important to consider who will see your social media posts on each platform and understand the demographics of these audiences. For example, joining small contractor groups on Facebook may get you a large audience of owner/operators who love equipment and are busy each day on site.  LinkedIn has a more professional and corporate audience, with larger business decision-makers or influencers.  It’s important to understand who the audience is when determining what kind of content, you want to show them. We all can appreciate the effort in personalized messages, on a card or in an email greeting; this is no different for social media, be personal.

The second aspect to consider is content, which can include product images (equipment for sale), application content (showing the product at work), general information to educate your audience or pure branding content so the audience becomes familiar with your company’s “face”.  Remember social media is social. This means that all the content you post, needs to also focus on you or celebrating people in your business. When you can associate a person with your online content, it helps your audience build a social connection with your business. In your digital marketing strategy, the goal is to build a virtual experience between your dealership, you and your audience; both active and prospective customers. All this to say, if you’re only posting images of your inventory with no links to your website, you are not successfully building a social connection within your online presence.

This brings us to the final aspect of engaging in social media: the call to action. What is the action you want your audience member to take after seeing your content? This is where the strategizing comes in. It is imperative to create content that motivates potential clients to move away from “doomscrolling” and drive them to your website. Doomscrolling can be defined as mindlessly scrolling through news articles, social media posts, or other content on sharing platforms.

So, what is your call to action?

Decide if you want your viewer to click on the content and be redirected to your website so you can further engage with them, or do you want a direct response? An example of a direct response is posting an image of a machine you have for sale, with pricing details and contact information. Here, the call to action is “Call me to buy this machine”. This type of strategy has been shown to be very effective on platforms like Facebook where you have groups of contractors, but it’s generally frowned upon on LinkedIn. A more strategic approach on a platform like LinkedIn, would be to have the viewer click on your post, directing them to your website. Now, you have the opportunity to present your dealership fully, presenting all the aspects of your business and focusing the user to think about how your dealership can meet their needs.

In conclusion, the main objective for any strategy should be a call to action. We invest time and money in social media platforms to redirect our audience members to the right place: generally, your website. If you can construct each post with the knowledge of the kind of audience you are marketing and a clear expectation of what you want their response to be, it will help you determine the kind of content you should post.  If your audience is full of buyers, show them something to buy. If your audience is full of influencers, build a connection, build your brand and drive traffic to your website so they get the full picture.

One last note.  Find a social media management app to execute your strategy.  Check out Hootesuite, Social Pilot, Buffer, Sendible and others.

For access to our classes, please click here.
For more blogs, please click here.

Metrics For Your Website

Metrics For Your Website

Metrics For Your Website

Today’s guest blog is from Mets Kramer, sharing knowledge about the metrics you need for your website, and understanding your digital traffic to better engage your audience.

You use metrics for every other part of your business, so it’s time to learn more about them for your digital marketing, specifically your website.  This is a continuation of my previous blog on Engagement Digital Marketing.

Growing up and working in the equipment business, we are all familiar with metrics.  My first experience with them was the measurement of invoice days, or rather days between last labour and invoice date.  As service supervisor, I learned it was a good indication of one aspect of our operational efficiency.  Later, I would learn invoice days was one of several metrics which would provide a complete picture of the efficiency of the operation.  For example, I found receivables days was a complement to invoice days, and if we invoiced too fast, with poor quality, receivables lingered.

Your digital marketing work is no different from your other business operations.  Metrics, or measurements, help you understand what is happening with you digital marketing efforts.  What each of us need to do, is understand what the metrics mean, how they relate, and how you can affect them.  It is also important to pick a set of metrics that drive to something valuable for your business, not just target numbers that seem good.

In this blog I would like to look at a few common metrics for your dealership website.  They are Visitors, Bounce Rate, Average time per page/session and Conversions.

Visitors are great!  Of course, we want traffic to our websites, if no one visits, does it really exist? But what does it mean?  Think of Visitor traffic as the top of your funnel (or crusher if you prefer).  It tells us how many people have visited the website and had a look at the pages they landed on.  Visitors can enter the site through the main page, or directly to specific pages using links on other sites.  Either way, it is the starting measurement.  Having high traffic levels sounds great, and is certainly better than very low, but the other metrics will tell us more about what happened when those visitors viewed the site.

Bounce rate: this is a very common metric used by internet people, partially because it sounds fun.  Bounce rate measures the number of people who landed on your site and then left without looking at any other pages.  This means bounce rate, on its own, is not a great measure of success, or of a good website.  A very high bounce rate is generally an indication that people have low engagement with your site, and so warrants investigation.  However, if you are bringing people directly to your site, targeting specific pages, a high bounce rate needs to be viewed alongside a metric such as Average time on page to understand what it means.   For now, consider bounce rate a measure of “are people clicking to other pages on my site before they leave”

So that’s the first two, we have people coming to the site, and we know if they are clicking around or not.

The next measure is average time per page or per session. How long are people spending on each page, and how long is each session.  For Bounce rate, a high rate is often considered bad, but if you are driving traffic directly to a page, like this blog, and the visitors are spending enough time on the page to read it, average time on page can be a measure of success, even if they bounce after reading.   Remember our Digital Marketing strategy is a strategy of engagement, so more time spent on your site means higher engagement, even if they only visit one page. For other visitors, look at how long they spend on the site or pages, it should match the content on the page to determine what a good metric target is.

Finally, Conversion Rate.  In the end, for equipment dealers, your websites should be more than just information sites.  Our sites should be designed for action.  This is often called a “call to action” when reading about website performance.  Just like we talk about a complete set of metrics for other business areas, Conversion Rate is important final goal for measuring website engagement.  Conversion Rate can be determined using a contact form, a button to call your dealership or generating a lead in your CRM.  Typically, an average conversion rate is 2%, but as with all these metrics, it depends on numerous other factors of your site.  It is important to see your engagement digital marketing efforts in relation to conversion rate, a tangible result.

Collecting these measurements can be done with numerous tools.   The most obvious is Google Analytics, but there are WordPress plugins that do the same, and other content systems have their own dashboards as well.  The important thing is to get them set up and use them.

Obviously, this topic is extensive, and I can not provide a comprehensive explanation in one blog.  I hope each of you understands a little more about what website metrics mean, how they relate and how they can guide your digital marketing efforts.  If your dealership has a website, and you are investing money in your digital marketing, it is important to understand the value you are getting for your investment.

All these metrics apply to all forms of traffic, including referrals, organic and paid.  In my next blog I will look at these topics from the perspective of paid traffic.

If you would like to learn more, or want to get some help with these topics, please contact me and I would be happy to explain or put your in touch with some trusted people that can help you execute.

For more information on our classes and assessments, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

Complacency

Complacency

Complacency

Tonight’s guest blog on Complacency is from Ross Atkinson. Ross spent his entire 33+ year career in the Heavy Equipment software marketplace with PFW/ADP/CDK. He was the architect and software designer for most of the applications in the rewrite of the core Dealer Management System called IntelliDealer. Having been in many roles with the Company from installation to ownership, he has first-hand knowledge of the system requirements of dealerships and the people who use it. His specialty is the ability to design and create solutions to ensure the best user software experience possible.

Complacency

Even for the most computer savvy person, the rate of software change can be overwhelming. In many cases, your staff is too busy and is not given the time to understand what the changes are before yet another iteration has been introduced. I guess that could be the subconscious excuse for never venturing beyond the basic functionality and just using what they know to get through the day. Simply said, complacency!

From my many years in the heavy equipment software industry, I learned that there are few exceptions to this statement, however, the dealers that do overcome this self-inflicted shortcoming are very successful, not only in the utilization of their business system but also financially.

How do you make time?  Well, it starts from the top down: a commitment from management to the ongoing education of those who use the software every day. You educate your technicians so why not the rest of your staff who use their “tool”, your business system software?

I can also guarantee you that there is functionality that your business system has today that you are not using or are even aware of. You need to understand what’s available at your fingertips. This is followed by the opportunity to test the features and functionality first hand. It’s one thing to sit in a classroom or virtually listening to trainers, it’s another to try it yourself and see it in action; using your data.

Through this learning process, your staff can determine how these capabilities can benefit your day-to-day processes. The goal is to improve efficiency but also the opportunity to gain a better understanding of your customers and the services you offer.

Once you have mastered the commitment to education, challenge yourself and your employees to understand how you can “tweak” or change your business processes to take advantage of functionally and systems you previously deemed unusable.

I recall doing some classroom education many years ago when the dealership principal stood up, interrupted my session, and made the following statement to his staff, “Not changing is not an option!” Imagine if that was your dealership motto?

For more information on our classes and assessments, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

Systems

Systems

Systems

Tonight brings us another guest post from Steve Day. Steve is discussing the importance of the systems we have within our businesses.

This is another topic that could probably take up an entire book and I am going to give it short shrift.  I am really only bringing it up because I think too many people blame their operating system for their inventory problems. I don’t buy the argument.  If your operating system can’t control inventory then you made a really bad investment decision.

I am a lot more optimistic.  Your operating system is probably better than you think.  If you have one of the more popular distributor operating systems that has hundreds of Constructions, Mining, Agriculture or OTR truck distributors using it, it probably does that thing you need it to do but don’t believe it can do.  You just haven’t asked the question correctly yet.

The last operating system I used was not perfect but it was pretty darn good.   We almost always figured out how to get the information out of it we wanted.  I took some evil pleasure in finding out the system would do something when an operational manager told me it would not.  Folks eventually learned to push the system because they grew tired of amusing me.  It was a very solid system.

Because of employee turnover at the systems provider, I have seen cases where they were not even aware of all of their systems capabilities.  Always send your Inventory Control Manager and when possible, the Inventory Control staff, to your systems providers training sessions and to their annual meetings.  It will pay off.

You may want to add on a reporting system like TARGIT if you have not already done so.  Microsoft also offers a system as do other companies.  I am simply more familiar with TARGIT because that is what we used.  It will allow you to have some great automated reports that tell you more than you can stand some times.    It also let us build these reports for our branch operating people on a dashboard that gives them all the reports we looked at but just for their operation.  Most of them updated daily.  I have found that most of my distributor buddies who have these types of reporting capabilities have found a real improvement in their managers understanding of operational imperatives.

For more information on our classes and assessments, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

 

 

Dealer Websites

Dealer Websites

This week, we have a new guest blog from Mets Kramer.

Dealer Websites

In my last article, I discussed the difference between Billboard Digital Marketing and Engagement Digital Marketing. With the world and our industry becoming more digital everyday, I wanted to expand on the topic of websites and why it’s worth building your own site to engage your customers.

Websites are the easiest way to present your dealership and explain to visitors who you are, what you do and what sets you apart from the industry. Additionally, a custom domain, with emails to match, is a simple way to gain better control over your brand and manage your team. (i.e. Company name: Strategic Evolutions, email: mets.kramer@strategicevolutions.ca).

However, for equipment dealers, it is a little harder to present your company, your team, services and products. This is because our products, or inventory, are always changing. Our products tend to be serialized construction equipment, so listing your inventory requires a more complex website and should include an easy, quick way to update your information.

While this is a challenge, it is possible! It will give you better control over your digital presence and, also, help you build your brand, developing stronger relationships with your customers.

Here are 4 reasons why you should build your own website:

  1. Present your dealership and team the way you want. Focus on the strengths and values that you feel are important. Add content that brings value to your clients, expand on the services you offer and present your inventory in the style you feel has the greatest impact. Just like you design your dealership lobby to focus on your customer’s experience, a website is a digital representation of your company’s “face” and its physical building.

When creating your website from scratch, focus on engaging the customer, drawing them in.  Then, present your value proposition or promotions.  Consider metrics like bounce rate, time on site and pages viewed as a measure of engagement.

 

  1. Add a blog, picture gallery and of course, VIDEOS. These features are great to post on social media using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. Each social media post links visitors back to your website. Increasing the links and traffic to your site helps you rise to the top of internet searches when people are looking for equipment or services. Additionally, this type of content improves your content score, also improving your search position.

To understand this better, assess your own online experience.  Do you use TikTok, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook?  What do you prefer to view?  Research shows visitors engage more often and longer with video content more than pictures.

 

  1. Present your inventory without directing customers to an external advertising site. Capturing customers and their engagement is the name of the game. Once you have people looking at your equipment, hold them there and answer their questions. Throughout this year, digital presence and selling has become that much more important. Current research suggests customers are doing 90% of their research PRIOR to contacting any dealers about a machine. Make sure your inventory is presented well and contains all the information your customers would initially ask for. You want to provide everything they need so picking up the phone is easy!

When you build your own site, present your inventory with video, images, detailed descriptions, links to specs and any support documentation you have to prove to visitors “This is the machine you want!”.

Building your own site prevents them from ending up on an advertising platform where other options are presented to them.  FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a REAL thing! It has been shown to motivate people out of fear to keep clicking, if they weren’t satisfied by what they found.

  1. Analytics Systems. Take advantage of the market’s best analytics from either the website platform, Google or others. Understand who’s visiting your site, where they came from, what they saw, and how long they stayed. Understand how to improve your Bounce Rate (Users that leave without clicking anything on the site) and Conversion Rate (Users that act by clicking a contact button). Understanding this aspect of Digital Marketing helps you change and update your site to improve your visitor engagement.

A website visitor is the equivalent to a person visiting your dealership.   During an in-person visit, it’s communication and addressing their needs that closes the sale, so use the same approach for your website. Engage!

For more information on our training programs, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

For more information about Mets Kramer, please visit his website at Strategic Evolutions.

 

 

Information Stagnation

Information Stagnation

This guest blog is from Brad Stimmel. Brad Stimmel is the retired CEO of Ascendum Machinery.  He was also the President of the Volvo Dealer Advisory Council for 10 years. In addition, he was a 15 year member of the Executive Forum group that provided updates twice per year for studies in Executive Management led by the International Negotiation & Management Co. (INM). His rich experience and expertise brought about this writing on information stagnation.

Prior to this, Brad worked with 4 other dealers that represented major OEM’s such as Caterpillar, Komatsu, and Ingersoll Rand.  During his career he has served in various roles – Sales Representative, Service and Parts Manager, Remanufacturing Center Manager, Branch Manager, Regional Manager, and VP & General Manager. He has been in the construction and industrial equipment business for over 43 years serving always at the dealership level.

Brad Stimmel holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from North Carolina State University and an International Negotiation and Marketing degree from the Executive Management Institute.

Information Stagnation

Today’s “Digital Information Transition” is well underway for all equipment dealers willing to take the big step. Once dealer leadership has embraced it, all operations have more current information than ever before.  Many forward planning dealers have made great use of current technology to make better decisions that can leapfrog the past costly mistakes caused by delays in data collection and reports.  Most of the time, in the past the mistakes were identified long after the time to correct them had passed by.  If you have been around the business for a long length of time, then you know in the past that some reports or even financials were created monthly, quarterly, annually, or not available at all.  The ERP systems of today have evolved rapidly. More information is available on a real time basis. Drilling down into data is instantaneous. Dashboards are available by individual responsibility level.  Let us name this “Digital Awareness”.

Congratulations if your top management has embraced Digital Awareness. Sadly, many have yet to make the move. In some cases, this procrastination is appropriate.  This paper is written for those that are already making the digital transition and may be working to make the best use of this new powerhouse of current information.

Many of us remember the past times when the cliche “Analysis Paralysis” was used to describe spreadsheets of data that were historical in nature and caused a pause in action but no real current impactful corrective change at the operational level.

So, what are the pitfalls of Digital Awareness. Sometimes the free and easy access to real-time reports create an avalanche of graphs, comparisons, complex information communication, unrelatable information, misunderstandings, and false reports due to wrongly organized analysis.  This will now occur at all levels of the organization.  Sometimes the reports are created by the finance department and delivered to operational managers with not clear expectation of the decision needed to avoid mistakes or worse, no training as to what the graph even represents.

Now enters “Information Stagnation”.  The typical manager is faced with daily tasks that occupy most of his time and thoughts.   They have years of experience with real-time solutions that create customer and employee satisfaction, and these events happen every hour.  After all this has always been their primary objective.  There is little time left to work on improving company efficiency by acting on the new current information. This will require strategic planning and complete understanding of what is indicated by the data presented.  The data is available with high accuracy and floods the computer daily. Top managers of the company are likewise flooded with reports covering possibly all stores, or all departments, all inventories, all employee performance measure, or all financial metrics.  This overload is eventually eliminated by the employees who ignore the redundant or misunderstood report and send it to the digital basement. Not because of complacency but just a self-defense mechanism. The skilled employee goes back to what is familiar and comfortable based on the many years of experience they have collected over their career.

Is there a solution? Yes, but they are not easy steps to take.

First, do not let the CEO, CFO, or CIO embrace the temptation creating reports and force feeding the departments with an avalanche of data analysis.  I recently learned of a CFO that was exuberant about the capabilities of the new digital transition and created hundreds of graphical reports that were sent out to the managers. That CFO quickly realized that she had created information stagnation and set about ways to start correcting her mistake.

So, follow some simple steps.  The first step is to create a brief and simple set of measurable objectives for each main area of the company at the executive level. Then communicate these to each employee that has the responsibility to impact or improve these objectives. Of course, they should be broken down by department.  Next, create an orientation presentation that fosters trust in the new digital awareness data. TRUST is the key word here. The data must be clear, easy to read and pertinent to each person’s role.  Since communication at this point is critical, ask for follow up written confirmation of understanding of the objectives and the reports, dashboards, or graphs.  Most of the time this can be best completed with a task force of current experienced employees.  A team discussion is best and can be a good use of virtual meeting technology.  But if the company is large, a senior Digital Implementation Manager might be appropriate.  The new position will need to be a person that possesses good people skills and strong technical knowledge of the operations and the software.  This should come from within the company.  The primary objective will be how to best facilitate the transition and engagement.

The next step is leadership.  To prevent future “information stagnation” ongoing, executive leadership should create robust follow up communication measures with all levels to identify and celebrate successful objective completion.  This is the most difficult step because it requires the executive dedication of time and resources to accomplish.  Also, the intestinal fortitude to be continuously adapting and communicating the objectives and its measurable results as they are continuously evolving.  This is the step that will cause meaningful results improvement short and long term.  But each company will have to create its own methods to do this based on the organization circumstances.  Each executive manager should analyze the company’s true culture and then act.  Not doing this will cause the company to fall back to information stagnation in the future.

I spoke recently to a CEO of a large dealer that has been doing this for over three years with success but exclaimed to me that it is an ongoing evolution of subtle change and reinforcement.

Best of luck as you venture on this journey.

For more information on our classes and assessments, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

 

 

Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing

Mets Kramer

Digital Marketing: Billboard vs Engagement

“At the moment, our research shows buyers making 90% of their purchase decision before contacting the dealer.” And there it was. I had been having thoughts like these swirling around in my head for a few months now. But when Charles Bowles at Trader Interactive spoke with me, I had no idea how much our industry had shifted.

I have a theory about Digital Marketing in our construction equipment industry and I believe it can be considered in two ways.

  • First, is what I’d like to call Billboard Marketing, which refers to digital strategies geared towards establishing and maintaining digital visibility. These approaches are often additional marketing strategies, while continuing the existing methods of communication.
  • The second approach is called Engagement Marketing and includes digital activities to connect and develop engagement opportunities with your target audience. Dealers who implement Engagement Marketing consider their digital marketing presence as transformative and suggest these methods could replace most, if not all, past marketing approaches.

There are three aspects of Digital Marketing that I would like to look at and compare Billboard and Engagement strategies. They include Websites, Email Marketing and Advertising campaigns.

  1. Websites

Most dealers have a website today, which is a great start, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Listing your equipment, providing contact information and location falls under the Billboard approach: you present your information to visitors and hope they contact you. However, for Engagement Marketing, your website should provide a virtual visit to your dealership; images and videos of your inventory, and related documents showing the quality of the equipment and records of its health and maintenance. The icing on the cake would lead the visitor to a button they can click on to take them onto the next step. (Replace “Contact for more information” with “I’m interested in Buying”) But let’s be real, this call to action isn’t the icing, it’s the entire cake! How do you measure whether you are leading your visitor into an engaging relationship? Make sure you provide ample information about the machine so they can decide on the spot. If there’s not enough detail, Bowles says 90% of visitors will go to check out another listing to find what they need. Hop onto Google Analytics to help you assess whether you’re Engaging or Billboarding.

  1. Email Campaigning

The next common aspect of Digital Marketing is email campaigning.  Email campaigns are a great way to stay connected to customers and present new products. To use email campaigns effectively, it is important to consider your audience and develop strategies in order to create a continuing conversation. Mail programs such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp provide the tools to send information to tens of thousands of people.  A Billboard approach sends the same message to everyone who drives by it – no matter who they are or what they are looking for. We don’t want to use email campaigns the same way. Instead, consider a more strategic approach, engaging different segments of your audience based off their interests. Provide a mixture of Equipment For Sale messages and industry, fleet focused education. Use the tools provided by the email platforms to understand who is interacting with your campaigns and change the messaging and frequency for each segment to further engage your audience. While email campaigns can feel like a one-way communication, change your mindset and remember, email is most effective as a conversation tool. So, create campaigns that encourage your audience to talk back!

  1. Digital Advertising

Finally, Digital Advertising, whether Google, Facebook or others, are designed to bring visitors to your digital dealership: your website.  The Billboard approach will stop at bidding on generic words (ex. Caterpillar excavator, Komatsu bulldozer, Case backhoe, etc.)  which will hopefully bring visitors to your website to see what your dealership has to offer. But let’s keep in mind that digital advertising can be expensive, so the set up and focus of your advertisements should be focused for an Engagement approach. Let’s milk every opportunity! How about bidding on specific machines that are in your inventory? Specific combinations like Komatsu D65EX, for example, will have less bidders, making them cheaper and bringing visitors exactly to what they are looking for, the machine on your website.

The digital marketplace is real and becoming the source of future sales.  All leading industries are showing signs of transformation into the Engagement model of digital marketing.  Automotive sales, Commercial trucks are some but do not forget about Amazon and similar services. We are all proof that Engagement Marketing and Sales keeps us coming back for another slice.

We will continue this discussion soon.

To continue to develop your expertise in Marketing, please visit our website at Learning Without Scars.

Automation

Automation

Are you noticing the changes?

The world is becoming even more confusing and complicated as we are faced with increasingly rapid and dramatic technological advances. The most disquieting aspect of it now is that it is not just physical activities, using robotics for example, but now it is cognitive skills as well.

We are surrounded by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Autonomous Vehicles (AV), and Disrupting Demographic Destinies (DDD). Things are changing very rapidly.

This is sometimes called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

We are also seeing this affect different generations in different manners. From Millennials to Baby Boomers these technological changes are viewed very differently. And not everything is positive.

The technology around us has been something that millennials have grown up with and they are very comfortable with it. Baby Boomers not so much. But there are other aspects of technology that are beginning to come under more critical scrutiny. It seems that social media has the same effect on the brain as alcohol and drugs. You get a hit of dopamine, the very same response in your brain to alcohol and drugs, every time you get a response to your posts. Think about that for a moment.

Technological advances, particularly in cognitive activities, are not going to be slowing down anytime soon. Robotics will be coming to your operations. Order processing in the parts departments have been changing over the past four or five decades. I first saw an automated distribution center in Stuttgart, Germany. It was a Kodak plant. When I walked in the warehouse the lights went on. There was not one person in the building. This was the central distribution center for Kodak for Europe. When an order was entered, at any region in Europe, for which there was a need for a “part” robots went to work. They were given instructions by computer and they then went out to the warehouse, found the right aisle, turned into it, found the right elevation, went up to it, found the specific location and centered in front of it and then it picked the parts. They scanned the units and in so doing they were able to pick the correct quantity. It was very eye-opening experience for me. That was 1973.

Today, a friend of mine, who currently works for Google, has multiple patents pending where he can control the cursor of your computer only with his eyes. No mouse, no keyboard, exclusively with his eyes. Imagine that? Just pause and think about the prospects of things to come when there are inventions and innovations taking place like that already in the works.

The problem with all of these advances in technology seems to be that we are not realizing the gains in productivity that should be a byproduct of these changes. After all the main indicator of productivity gains is the average hourly wage. That hourly wage is starting to increase again after a few decades of gradual declines. That is not a good thing for society as a whole as the haves get more and the have nots struggle more.

As a society we need to work on solving this productivity problem. I have often said that we spend trillions of dollars on technology but very little on sociology. How society evolves to embrace the new technologies and jobs will be interesting to observe.

Today there are more job openings than there are people looking for work. The employment participation rate is finally starting to grow again after nearly a decade of decline. New and younger employees approach their lives in different ways than my generation. They are less patient than we were in their progress in a company. They want to be constantly learning. They are very curious – often asking the magic question “Why do you do it that way?” They don’t like the answer “because that is the way we have always done it.” They also want to continue to learn, to continue to grow as individuals. If they aren’t learning something from you they will leave. Gone are the days when people would think that when they left school learning was over. Today it is just the beginning.

With more job openings than employees to fill them we are on the cusp of some big changes in wages. John G Fernard, an economist at the Federal reserve Bank of San Francisco is quoted as follows – “You could meet the demand for a while by hiring workers, but with the unemployment rate at 3.8%, eventually you are going to run out of easy-to-find workers. Because workers have other opportunities, you end up having to pay them. And once you see wages going up, you say -We have to become more productive to cover our costs.” We are right at this point today. What is interesting to note is that the last time productivity grew dramatically was also when unemployment was at 4%.

This Fourth Revolution, is about adapting yourself to the New Realities of the work place. There will be differing methods, and processes, and systems brought into life. That will also require more adaptable employees. People who will embrace change because that is what they expect to happen. A constant evolution of work. This will focus on the customer and their needs and wants and also about being the “Lowest cost supplier of the highest value products or services.” That will only be possible with talented, well trained, properly paid loyal employees.

We are presenting you with the learning tools. You have to provide the opportunity to your employees.

The Time is NOW.

 

The Learning of Tomorrow Is Available Today

The Learning of Tomorrow Is Available Today

At Learning Without Scars we are on the leading edge of internet-based employee development. We have developed Industry specific programs within the capital Goods Industries. We are following in the footsteps of the Khan academy, learning for elementary, middle school and high school students, and Udacity, a more recent platform for University learning specific to the technology Industry.

We develop our programs from a subject specific beginning. Each of our programs follows a similar path. A pre-test, the learning program and a final assessment.

Using In-depth personnel assessments help business identify the specific skill level and knowledge of each employee which also allows them to develop on a timeline of their choosing. These assessments present twenty multi-choice questions. This allows the employer to place each employee along one of our many learning paths. The results help you identify potential top performers in key areas of sales, finance, operations and leadership. Employers can leverage this knowledge to transform their company, ensure specific competitive advantages and in the end to realize significant sales and profit growth. Each of our video programs contains slide content, audio tracks matched to the slide and we insert film clips during the programs to break up the learning and provide emphasis on specific aspects of each program.

Learning is becoming more of a life long program with tools such as these. No longer does an employee have to attend a school at night or weekends, they simply sit in front of their computer. There is no shame in the learning process. Often in classrooms students don’t ask questions when they don’t understand a specific topic. In the online world there is no embarrassment in asking questions, as many times as the student desires. The important truth is that each student wants to learn, they want to understand the content and in the online world it is easier for them to accomplish.

Each program is assigned a badge. There are four categories of badges; sales, finance, leadership and operations. As the student’s progress through the various programs they accumulate badges. This accumulation leads to higher levels of skills and knowledge and this is recognized with a learning status; platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Each student then is recognized for their specific knowledge across the four disciplines. Those disciplines cross the parts business, the service business, parts and service selling and parts and service marketing. Each employer can see the status of each employee. They will have a much better understanding about what the student knows before hiring or in the annual performance review.

This is the learning platform of tomorrow. However, it is currently available at Learning Without Scars. So what is holding YOU back?

The Time is NOW.