Building Online Relationships
If you have spent more that 5 minutes talking to me over the last several years I have probably jumped up and started preaching about how you can be successful on the Internet. My rant just about always includes a reference to Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” and more specifically on the “Circle of Concern” and the “Circle of Influence”. To be successful on the Internet you don’t need the newest and coolest tools, you need to build relationships. This may sound strange, but think about it for a second. The most successful Internet entrepreneurs have become so by giving to their communities. Whether it be valuable products, advice, or just information they give and give and give. Just like you can’t make a withdraw from your bank account until you have put money in, you can’t ask people to trust you until you have earned it. Which is why you need to focus on your circle of influence online.
Think, what can I give my clients and my community via the Internet. Start with just keeping your inventory up to date with descriptions etc. Or maybe you could offer space on your websites home page to local businesses or charities. Write a blog or monthly column on information that has value. What ever it is start doing it now and keep doing it. Then make sure your internal processes reflect how you want your clients to see you. If you are still working deals the same way you have been for the last 20 plus years, you may want to step back and look at a different way. Earn trust while your customers are on the showroom floor and you will have their trust and praises online too.
Adding Value First
By always thinking how to add value to your customers first you won’t ever have to worry about getting the Google slap. Look at what happened to J.C. Penny’s, Forbes, and Overstock recently and the offenses that got them in trouble with Google. In every case their actions didn’t add value to the end user. Buying and selling links that create artificial authority online can bare temporary fruit, but will inevitably turn rotten.
Be careful of creating micro-sites that don’t add value to the end user. Don’t get me wrong micro-sites can be a great tool to help you with SEO and get leads, but start asking the question: “how can I use my site(s) or micro-sites(s) to add value?” Take them one at a time and define what it is that you can offer. This is a question that I have had to ask myself lately as our sites and micro-sites have become a little stagnant and aren’t giving the value that I would like.
Your Website is Alive
Your website(s) should always be changing and evolving. As your marketing changes and your clients needs change so should your website(s). Because of this never be afraid to try something new and maybe even a little bit crazy. Now that website platforms have the ability to give you more control you can make changes on your website as easily as you can send an email. So if you don’t think that your website is a true reflection of your dealership at this exact moment in time… change it.
Keep learning and keep expanding your online relationships with good valuable content and with time you will have success.