Vendor Mapping – Allow the Past to Inform the Future

Maya Angelou famously said, “You can't really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” Can the same be true for digital marketing and vendor management as a whole? The answer is yes – undoubtedly, you and your team have had your fair share of success and failures as it pertains to agencies and vendors alike that have been tasked with managing one or more components of your digital marketing strategy. However, the real questions are how many of you can honestly point to who was responsible for the successes, and who was responsible for the failures? Who continues to do good work, and who has not met expectations in the past (sometimes on more than one occasion)? What are your representatives’ names, and when was the last time you spoke? When was the last time your input was taken into account prior to a decision being made?  If hindsight is 20/20, perhaps we should consider allowing the past inform more of our future.

Like most things, digital marketing is worth doing right. Naturally, hiring out one or more components of your strategy is a fact of life in the automotive industry. Who you hire is an important decision that should be made with great care and research. Unfortunately, accountability overtime can begin to dwindle, and due to the fast-paced nature of the industry, vendor management becomes an afterthought, which is when things can become expensive. Advertising is a top four expenditure on a dealership financial statement and should be treated more as in investment more than an expense. Understanding the vendor and agency makeup within your digital marketing strategy will help you make informed decisions in the present and the future.

As such, the simplest solution to increase efficiency and avoid wasted spend is to map your vendors. While you may have a few notes saved under a contact in your phone or an index card with names and numbers, what may be required is a specific and dedicated system that allows you to assess the consistency and efficiency of your vendor lineup at any time. But why is this important?

For example, consider a dealership in a metro market that sells 200 cars a month. The dealership has Agency A managing the Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Agency B managing paid Facebook ads and Agency C running video pre-roll campaigns. Of course, this is separate from the three third-party vendors also in the marketing mix. Conservatively, the dealership has at least six vendors who are spending money in the marketplace. Is the strategy of each vendor aligned? Are budgets and message set to compliment or compete with each other? If campaign adjustments are needed to compliment a major retail holiday or shift funds from one vendor to another, who can the dealership call?  

While it may be easy to understand why vendor mapping is important, it may also be difficult to understand what it looks like. Below is a simple example to illustrate how all the pieces fit together. When you understand where you spend and with whom you spend, you can begin to make the changes necessary to avoid duplicating spend or veering away from your strategy. Your vendor map should suit your needs and may include attributed sales by month or notable success from a particular campaign. While it may look different by store, it should always help keep you, your strategy and your vendors aligned.

Vendor

Purpose

Budget

Notes

Contact Name/Email/Phone

Service Started

Dashboard Login

Agency A

SEM

 $  10,000

 Low funnel "ready to buy" terms on 4 Core Models

 

Mar-18

 

Agency B

Paid Facebook

 $       750

 Remarketing (New/Used) and Service Offer 

 

Jun-20

 

Agency C

Video
Pre-Roll

 $  2,500

 Remarketing and Behavioral 

 

Apr-20

 

Third Party-1

New/Used Listings

 $  3,000

New/Used Listings

 

Jan-13

 

Third Party-2

New/Used Listings

 $  2,250

New/Used Listings

 

Jul-14

 

Third Party-3

New/Used Listings

 $  2,500

New/Used Listings

 

Dec-18

 

For more information on improving your vendor mapping and digital marketing strategy, reach out to us at dealerships@dhg.com.

CONTRIBUTORS

Tyler Rauch
Senior Manager, Dealerships

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