When it comes to marketing, make sure you're partnering with best.

BY CEO & Founder Steve White May 31

For decades, advertising enjoyed a fairly predictable business. Print, radio, and TV coalesced into a three-pronged approach that was mastered after decades of relative stability. Simply put, if a vendor demonstrated expertise, then clients willingly trusted them, generation after generation. Then the Internet happened.


The ones and zeros that began streaming through our phone lines created a reverberating disruption to media that is still being felt wirelessly today. From video pre-roll to dynamic targeting, to machine-readable content, advertising has been dealt an onslaught of changes. While some merged, and others went out of business, some have faced the tide, developed new capabilities and are standing tall against the emerging, digitally native competition. Or, so they’d have you think.


While there are some very talented agencies out there, the sad truth is that many advertising mediums talk the talk but do little to walk the walk. Understanding today’s advertising strategies takes lots of thought and research. Nobody denies that it is complicated. Advertising vendors know that. Sure, they can speak the industry jargon, but when it comes time to spending the money and executing, the stakes are high, and it is truly a digital game of craps, some just using junior talent and white-labeled tools.  Some will win, some will lose, and some of them just sing the blues.


Unfortunately, some advertising vendors can’t attract the talent to properly shift into an omni-channel media strategy. Omni-channel media is a term used to describe all forms of consumed media, from billboards to computer monitors. Outside of the mega-budget ad campaigns, the newer, digital-first strategies can nimbly navigate the ever-changing digital landscape, while simultaneously reverse-engineering traditional media deployments. Hypertargeting granular demographic and psychographic segments is a way of life. Traditional media companies are sometimes too mired in the way things were to strategically implement new media campaigns. Instead, it’s merely treated like a tactic to convert consumers to traditional marketing channels.


What clients are faced with is a watered-down version of a digitally naive strategy. Instead of developing services in-house, key pieces are outsourced. New technologies are offered, but frequently gutted of the novelty so that it can be offered to a broader client base. It often looks cookie cutter because it is. Often, the outsourced components are marked up dramatically in the process, driving up the costs for hollowed services. When it comes to offering support, some traditional vendors can do little in the way of help, other than offering to “check on it.” Nobody wins in this situation.


There are some incredibly talented agencies for you to work with. If your advertising partner starts or continues, to offer new digital services, please do your research. Discuss what metrics they track and how they obtain the data. It’s not hard for an advertiser to take a report, throw its name on it, or white-label an existing tool while charging a premium in the process. As with any vendor, find out who some of the other clients (similar to the size and composition of your dealership) are, to get a better indication of performance for yourself. It’s not that your existing vendor can’t do these things. It’s a matter of them offering these services overnight.


While the stability of traditional advertising channels has created a foundation for lasting partnerships, today’s technology requires vendors to get smarter and faster. While it’s easy for a vendor to say they offer enhanced product offerings, it’s much harder to actually make these offerings successful. Make sure your vendor is adding the talent, training, tools, resources and technology to demonstrate that they are fully committed to a digital strategy.


What’s more important: maintaining your vendor relationship or reaching new and existing customers as their media consumption changes?