Crazy Sexy Content Marketing: Get in the Game

Whoever said content doesn’t sell products was seriously disturbed.

Starting now, content marketing has eclipsed traditional sales copy ten to one, and it’s time to get your head in the game if you want your piece of the new revenue pie.

Fact: Modern man rejects push marketing.

Fact: Modern man is so saturated with offers; it’s going to take more than 10% off to inspire sales.

Fact: Modern man has elevated shopping research to an art form.

Welcome to the new marketing game. Education is the new offer. Fans are the new leads. Blog posts are the new ads. 30 tips is the new 30% off. Transparency is the new bait-and-switch. The best expertise is the new lowest price. Review stars are the new dollar signs.

And bombarding your prospect with features and functionality at the first point of contact is like trying to get to third base on a first date: it’s really inappropriate.

Engagement Metrics are for Amateurs

If you are still considering fans, followers and blog comments to be “conversions” it’s time to up your game. Engagement is not an end-goal metric. It’s the tip of the iceberg, the opportunity, the hand in the air.

Similarly, a new Twitter follower is not a return on investment. It’s a lead. And a blog comment is not bottom of the funnel activity. It’s beginning of the funnel activity.

So how are you going to parlay all your awesome engagement efforts into leads and sales? By creating great magnetic content that’s going to push prospects further down the sales funnel.

How do you do this? Easy. Feed their vice.

People who subscribe to blogs, follow Twitter streams, and Facebook pages have revealed one key fact about themselves: they are shameless information junkies. So feed their addiction. If someone read and commented on a blog post, send them a series of videos on that topic, your latest whitepaper, or invite them to a webinar. Don’t leave it at that, however! Content marketing is content PLUS marketing, so don’t forget the second half of the equation. A good rule of thumb is, after a lead has partaken of 3-5 pieces of content on a particular service or product, try to engage them with a next-step marketing offer: a free 30 minute phone consultation, a free trial, or a free gift with purchase. From there you can go about your normal sales process.

And commenting is the new not commenting, so tell me about your own crazy, sexy content marketing efforts below!

About the Author

ImageJade Makana is the Senior Social Media Analyst at Cobalt, An ADP Company. Jade specializes in bringing corporate brands to life through emerging media. As a formally-educated social media expert, her social media work has been linked in The New York Times, CNN Money, and InStyle Magazine.

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A ‘Pinteresting’ Experiment: The Case of the Pink Car

By Kayla Schafer on May 3, 2012

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 Mini Series: Part 4, Final Episode. 

Putting together everything we have learned in this miniseries, I created a little experiment. I created a “Car” Board on my Pinterest profile to see what kind of results I would get. I posted 2 “beefy” trucks and 2 classic cars. I added hash tags like #ClassicCars, #CustomTruck, #Chevy and #ChevySilverado to see if this would help in search visibility. The results are in-and they surprised me!

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Here’s the verdict: my classic pink car got 2 likes and 21 “repins” in the four hours since it’s been posted. It’s my most successful pin to date. In the four weeks since posting, the total stats are 12 likes and 68 “repins.” My trucks were more of a slow boil. Currently, the white truck received 38 “repins,” where as the red truck only has 6 “repins.”

Slowly, I added in other vehicles to see how they would perform. Check out the image below.

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Toyota Celica: An Overnight Celebrity

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Yesterday afternoon, I posted the new 2012 Toyota Celica rumored to hit the market this year. Overnight, this pin got 12 likes, 1 comment and 47 repins. What does this mean for your dealership? Volume and visibility! The more people that “repin” your image, the more likely it is that that person’s followers are going to see the pin and potentially “repin” or like the image, therefore increasing brand visibility.

Compare these results to familiar sites like Facebook or Twitter. When was the last time you got 21 likes on Facebook in the span of a single morning, or 21 retweets in the afternoon? This gives you an idea of the true explosive reach of Pinterest, and why it’s a must for car dealers to set up a drool-worthy candy store on the Internet’s most active new playground.

In conclusion, Pinterest can be a great asset to a dealership. Like in the case of my pink classic car pin, a dealership can post images on Pinterest and inspire new visitors. If that pink car was linked to my dealership website, we could potentially drive 21 new visitors (and potentially new customers) to the website in just four hours. Not too shabby!

If you would like to see my “Cool Cars” pinboard follow me on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/kaylacobalt/

 

Kayla Schafer, Digital Advertising Specialist, has worked in digital for the past 4 years. Her specialties include social media, search engine marketing and account management. Kayla’s first car was a 1982 Datsun 280Z Turbo, 5 speed, color red.
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A ‘Pinteresting’ Experiment: The Case of the Pink Car

A Mini Series: Part 4, Final Episode

Putting together everything we have learned in this miniseries, I created a little experiment. I created a “Car” Board on my Pinterest profile to see what kind of results I would get. I posted 2 “beefy” trucks and 2 classic cars. I added hash tags like #ClassicCars, #CustomTruck, #Chevy and #ChevySilverado to see if this would help in search visibility. The results are in-and they surprised me!

Here’s the verdict: my classic pink car got 2 likes and 21 “repins” in the four hours since it’s been posted. It’s my most successful pin to date. In the four weeks since posting, the total stats are 12 likes and 68 “repins.” My trucks were more of a slow boil. Currently, the white truck received 38 “repins,” where as the red truck only has 6 “repins.”

Slowly, I added in other vehicles to see how they would perform. Check out the image below.

Toyota Celica: An Overnight Celebrity

Yesterday afternoon, I posted the new 2012 Toyota Celica rumored to hit the market this year. Overnight, this pin got 12 likes, 1 comment and 47 repins. What does this mean for your dealership? Volume and visibility! The more people that “repin” your image, the more likely it is that that person’s followers are going to see the pin and potentially “repin” or like the image, therefore increasing brand visibility.

Compare these results to familiar sites like Facebook or Twitter. When was the last time you got 21 likes on Facebook in the span of a single morning, or 21 retweets in the afternoon? This gives you an idea of the true explosive reach of Pinterest, and why it’s a must for car dealers to set up a drool-worthy candy store on the Internet’s most active new playground.

In conclusion, Pinterest can be a great asset to a dealership. Like in the case of my pink classic car pin, a dealership can post images on Pinterest and inspire new visitors. If that pink car was linked to my dealership website, we could potentially drive 21 new visitors (and potentially new customers) to the website in just four hours. Not too shabby!

If you would like to see my “Cool Cars” pinboard follow me on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/kaylacobalt/

Kayla Schafer, Digital Advertising Specialist, has worked in digital for the past 4 years. Her specialties include social media, search engine marketing and account management. Kayla’s first car was a 1982 Datsun 280Z Turbo, 5 speed, color red.

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Setting the Stage on Facebook: Why You Need a Compelling Cover Photo

By Megan Ramaley on April 26, 2012

So I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the guidelines surrounding the cover photo for the new Facebook business pages. There is a laundry list of rules out there but no clear direction as to what should be on a cover photo or how to properly use it to brand your page.  

When in doubt, emulate those that have been successful. There are some great examples out there of brands that are doing it well; Starbucks and Coca Cola, two brands famous for their conventional marketing as well as their social media presence. Both companies have great photos that really showcase the brand. So, what makes these cover photos so great, and how can you choose a stellar cover photo for your dealership?

1.       Chose something that is visually compelling but simple. If you look at Coca Cola’s cover photo, you will notice; the photo doesn’t distract, or confuse you. It uses a few different images to catch your eye and keeps the coca cola name in each of the smaller images for branding purposes. Take a few hints from Coke and throw together a few related images to create a new one. Have some photos of how the dealership has progressed and changed over the last 20 years? Create a time lapse photo. You could even do the same thing with an iconic vehicle within your brand. Have a few great shots of cars on the lot? Put a few together making sure your brand is clearly represented. The key take-away here is keep it simple and visually compelling.

2.       Showcase your personality. Have a mascot or an icon that people in the community will recognize? Work that into your cover photo. Love your staff and want people to see what goes on behind the scenes at the dealership? Take a great staff photo or an action shot in your service bay, use that as your cover photo. Showing your fans and followers that you aren’t just the same old car dealership can make you stand out and seem more approachable. Go on, have fun with it!  Remember, the one thing your dealership has that no other in the world has is YOUR PEOPLE and YOUR customers.

3.       Showcase your product. The Ford Mustang page does a great job of showing off their product. Is your dealership known for a specific product like performance vehicles, fleet vehicles or trucks? Showcase it on the cover photo. Have a great shot of someone driving one of your vehicles? It’s a great way to place your product.  Are you proud that one of your brands vehicles won an award? Show it off, it’s OK to gloat.

4.       Be unique. This doesn’t mean since every other dealership is using an image of the front of their building that you can’t, but pay attention to what others around you are doing.  Think about what sets you apart from your competition (vehicle selection, CSI scores, a large service bay that can accommodate more vehicles etc.) and channel that into your cover photo. Are you in a geographically unique area? A photo of your surroundings or a snapshot of a map could be a great idea.

Whatever photo or combination of photos you choose, always remember the basics; the photo needs to be 855 x 315 pixels and it must be clear, sharp and aligned correctly. I would even recommend changing your photo often, as it will show in the news feed every time a photo is updated (extra branding points for you). Finally and most importantly, always abide by all of Facebook’s rules. What do you want your cover photo to say about YOU?

Megan is currently a social media marketing specialist at Cobalt, assisting dealers with social media strategy as well as implementation and monitoring of their social platforms. She graduated from Western Washington University where she majored in Political Science. Previously, Megan was an Account Advocate at Cobalt, where she consulted with dealers on their online marketing strategies.

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The Handoff: Don’t Settle for Just One Sale!

By Jon Quade on April 25, 2012Image

“With one of the most prolific arms in the entire NFL, Aaron Rodgers is always a threat in the pocket – you have to honor his ability. Which is, of course, what makes the draw play such an excellent call for the Packers.”

Ah, yes…the handoff. Though it is seldom used in today’s National Football League, it’s still exceptionally effective in the right situation. Like, say, right after you’ve consummated a vehicle sale.

Wait a second, Quade: how does a bread-and-butter NFL play relate to delivering a vehicle?

Stay calm, my friend. The vital handoff of which I speak is the one that transitions a customer (especially a new customer) from the sales department to the service department. Now, let’s be clear: this is not a pass off, where you turn the customer over to Fixed Operations, but just a temporary handoff to encourage customers to utilize all dealership departments.

Unfortunately, as in the NFL, the handoff is used sparingly at best in the dealership world, which is one reason why so many independent auto repair and maintenance shops have sprung up all over the U.S. So, let’s set the stage with a properly-executed sales-to-service handoff and identify who benefits and how:

Mary, Sales Consultant: “Susan, before we finish, I just want to show you one more thing – what to do when you bring your new car in for maintenance or service. First, pull right in front of one of these garage doors, drive over the hose, and the door will open. Pull up as far as you can into the Service Drive, and one of the advisors will assist you from there. In fact, Robert here is one of our top-rated service advisors – let’s go say hello. Robert, this is Susan and she’s picking up her new car today. I just wanted to introduce you to her so she knows who will be helping her when she comes in for maintenance.”

Robert, Service Advisor: “Hi, Susan – thank you for your business! Here is one of my business cards; feel free to contact me any time your new car needs anything. I’ll be happy to help and you can just ask for me when you come in.”

You get the idea. Now, who benefits from such an interaction?

  • The sales consultant. Customers who have their vehicles serviced at the dealership are statistically much more likely to become repeat purchasers.
  • The service advisor. When customers ask for you by name as they enter the dealership, you have the opportunity to build a long-term, trusting relationship.
  • The customer. Customers prefer to have someone to ask for when they come in, and when we’re expecting them, they feel especially cared for.

Start including this vital handoff in your sales delivery process and you’ll see your customers much more often in the service department…and in your sales department!

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Rules of the Road: Best Practices for Pinterest

A Mini Series, Part 3

Now that we’ve gotten the creative juices flowing, here are some best practices before you start “pinning” away.

1)      Do not self-promote or blatantly advertise your dealership. Keep the content light and fun. The goal is to showcase your dealership’s character so people can identify with you and/or your brand.

2)      Make your images search engine-friendly by incorporating hashtags. However, avoid “overhashing!” A rule of thumb is to only use the two or three best hashtags that describe the image (any more than that and it will look like spam-gasp!) For example, some good hashtags would be: #CustomChevy #MuscleCar. #LittleRedCorvette

3)      Again, I must reiterate the importance of high quality photos. Car shopping is a very visual experience, so make your Pinterest boards into virtual candy stores for your dealership. The better the quality of the images, the more your brand will stand out. In addition to high-quality photos, use vehicles with bright or unique colors, such as pink, yellow or red, as well as images with contrasting colors to help the image POP in the Pinterest dashboard.

4)      If the vehicle is on your lot, place the image on your website or blog and then ‘pin it’ so you are the source and can drive traffic from Pinterest through the established link. (Note: “Pinning” directly from Facebook is not available at this time.)

 Here is a great example of a Lexus dealership building their brand on Pinterest.  

ImageThis GM dealer is using Pinterest by labeling their “Boards” after their vehicle line-up such as Chevrolet Cruze, Malibu, Camaro, Volt as well as Cadillac and Buick models too. In addition to the vehicles, they are using other “Board” as creative pieces to give their dealership some local flavor and personality by including “Boards” called GM Classics, Ontario (where they are located), Travel and so forth. 

Once you have created your “Boards”, users can interact and “repin” these images, thus creating greater brand equity in a fun new visual way.

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Getting Our Hands Dirty

You might think that working in the digital space means staying inside all the time, chained to our keyboards and cranking out code.  Read on, and think again.

Last week, over 70 Cobaltians got out of the office, into the fresh air and got their hands dirty…sometimes literally. Over the course of four days and at five different locations, we collectively spent about 388 volunteer hours packing carrots, planting trees, pushing wheelbarrows, and more. But don’t take our word for it! Here’s a few thoughts from the folks who got out there and did it.

Tending the Giving Garden for Solid Ground

Tending the Giving Garden for Solid Ground

Solid GroundApril 10

For Solid Ground, our volunteers  helped with Lettuce Link’s Giving Garden at Marra Farm, learning about food security, organic farming and food justice through hands-on work.

Lidija Kamansky remembered something said by Solid Ground’s on-site staff. “Sue spoke about the importance of supporting local farmers and what the Marra Farm does for the community.  It really brought home what we were doing there yesterday and also things we could do in our day-to-day lives.  Then grabbing a pitchfork and getting started!  Also, just looking around and seeing everyone from Cobalt hard at work throughout the day.”

Amy Nelson also enjoyed all of it. “We got the sustainability lesson and I spent the day planting, so there wasn’t anything not to like. There were a variety of activities for different interests.” Lidija didn’t want to go home at the end of the day, “leaving one of the beds that we had been working on unfinished.  So much more to do!“

Packaging meals in the Chicken Soup Brigade kitchen

Packaging meals in the Chicken Soup Brigade kitchen

Lifelong AIDS AllianceApril 11

Lifelong’s volunteers helped with tasks such as packaging meals and grocery bags in the Chicken Soup Brigade kitchen and warehouse, and processing clothing donations in the Thrift Store.

Jessika Skipsnes said that “it felt great to be helpful – they are doing so much good there for people!”, while Nichole Murray loved “working in the kitchen and reading their board about how many meals they distribute a week. Over 3,000!”

Jessika also recalled a few of her favorite parts of the day. “We watched a video with the background on Lifelong, had someone that led everyone to the volunteer areas.  At each area (kitchen, warehouse, thrift shop) they had separate people in charge, leading the volunteers with each little project.  Most of the tasks in the kitchen and the warehouse were very repetitive easy things, so it was nice to get into an efficient groove.”

Packing food for those in need at Northwest Harvest

Packing food for those in need at Northwest Harvest

Northwest HarvestApril 12

Volunteers joined John Holt to help sort and repack food that to be distributed to neighbors in need throughout the state. By the end of the day, volunteers had moved over 8700 pounds of food!

Erik Allen found a lot to like in the day. “Got my workout, got to help others, and got to work next to John Holt!” Hieu Pham also pointed out that it was hard work: “Most of the day was enjoyable – only thing is I’m very sore today from all the frozen carrots!”

Working in Treehouse's Wearhouse

Working in Treehouse's Wearhouse

TreehouseApril 12

Treehouse had our volunteers working in the Wearhouse, a unique store where foster children shop for free for new and gently used clothing and other essentials.

Karen Sherwin has volunteered for Treehouse previously. “What a GREAT organization…the store was open and it was so fun meeting the clients and talking with them.”

Josh Dand (no stranger to giving where it counts) was also a returning volunteer, and also really enjoyed “being able to be on the floor while the store was open and seeing the families who benefit from the services we volunteered.”  His only regret was when the day was over. “Each time I’ve been there, the natural inclination is to want to do more, go longer and come back soon.”

Keeping things moving at Camp Long

Keeping things moving at Camp Long

Nature ConservancyApril 13

More than 25 Cobaltians met on this sunny day at Camp Long to remove invasive plants, resurface trails and plant new native plants.

It was a rewarding day for Stacey Overturf. “I really liked the history of Camp Long, information about the Nature Conservancy, and the tour of the park. Really, it was the completion of our project though that was my favorite part of the day!”

John Stark agreed – the accomplishments made all the hard work worth it. “To be able to look around and see the impact we made at Camp Long was a really good thing.”

Volunteering for the community

That’s a lot of work, and most of the volunteers wanted to do more. As Erik Allen said, “Keep having these events, this is such an amazing part of this company.  I really love being able to help others and I love that I can be supported by the company that I work for in doing so.  Thank you Thank you Thank you.” Thank you for being a part of it!

To see more photos from last week’s community outreach, head on over to our Days of Giving Facebook photo album.

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