by Jim Boldebook
The Power of Personal Branding: Facebook Personal Branding for Auto Salespeople
My January Dealer Magazine article, Me Incorporated, the Power of Personal Marketing received tremendous response from readers, not just dealers, but managers, salespeople and media professionals. As many of you know I’ve been involved in automotive marketing for almost 30 years, mostly on the retail side. For all of those three decades I’ve preached the power of ‘empowerment and involvement’ as the secret weapon of maximizing dealership marketing success. Simply, the more every person in your organization understands, believes and supports your ‘brand vision’ the greater your exponential aggregate success. The famed pioneer of 24-month leasing, Eustis Wolfington, would frequently talk about ‘advertising to the salespeople’. “Your advertising should ‘sell’ the salespeople,” said Eustis, “And once they ‘believe’, they will sell your customers.” Fast forward to 2013 and the power of digital/social marketing not only enhances ‘personal marketing’ opportunities, but the emergence of social sites such as Facebook provide even greater opportunities for your team members to put their best ‘face’ forward and develop their own ‘personal branding’.
Forty years ago most of us ‘auto marketing devotees’ read about people like Joe Girard who labeled himself ‘World’s Greatest Salesman’. Joe gave out thousands of business cards and never missed an opportunity to tell everyone he met, proudly, that he sold cars! In January, I shared the story of a young salesman working for a dealer I’ve known over 15 years setting the world on fire by combining Girard’s time proven tactics, coupled with the new age digital opportunities to sell that salesman’s ‘personal brand’. When I interviewed the young man, he told me that one of the reasons he is doing so well is the reputation of the dealership he now represents. “I’ve got energy, ambition and determination to be the best,” said Brett. “This dealership has a gold plated reputation. Why wouldn’t I want to tell everyone in the world I sell cars here?” He says ‘making sure as many people as possible know he sells cars for a living and exceeding customer expectations by at least 150% is his goal.
Here are some of things this salesman (and his wife) are doing:
Writing personal letters to every friend, relative, neighbor and acquaintance, including several business cards and a self-addressed, stamped, return post card and an email address if the person would like to be on a list to get notice of special deals and VIP events that come up.
- Distributing an average of 500 color business cards (with a picture) each month.
- Managing a personal branding website and Facebook page.
FACEBOOK PERSONAL BRANDING
When you think about it, empowering, encouraging, educating your team members to create their own Facebook (or other social site/blog) page is the easiest, most affordable way to develop the best possible presence in the shortest time to the greatest number of people. But (and this is an important BUT) there are common sense rules everyone needs to play by to make this work to the advantage of the dealer and the salesperson. Here are a couple of links (copy and paste into your browser) of salesman Facebook pages to give you some idea of what I’m talking about. If you’d like a list of links to others, just email me and I’ll send along.
Rules of the game
Even though the page is personal property of the sales person, he/she must understand that the dealership’s reputation and legal responsibility requires respect of some basic rules.
- DO NOT use the dealership logo or indicate/suggest in any way that the dealership is sponsoring the page. This is the sales person’s personal page. (use of the dealership name in context is fine: “I’m Dave and I sell cars at Acme Ford”.
- DO NOT make claims (I can sell cars cheaper) offers or even reprint dealership ads (unless dealership OKs and there is full legal disclaimer included).
- DO NOT make it ‘all automotive’ Sure you sell cars, but you also have a life. It’s good to have a picture of you coaching your son’s little league team and your vacation in Italy.
- DO NOT use vulgarity/obscene text or pics.
- DO NOT discuss politics or religion and promptly delete the comments of anyone who does. This ain’t the place to alienate people.
- DO NOT personally denigrate ANYONE including competitors. (Look up and understand the words ‘slander’ and ‘liable’.)
- DO put your best foot forward. Treat this like a digital business card. Always use this test: “Would I be comfortable having ANYONE see what I’m posting?..Is this something I would be comfortable in showing to ANYONE I’m greeting on the showroom floor?” If not, don’t post it.
- DO make it fun! Some of the facebook pages I’ve seen have the salesperson singing or playing an instrument. Some of them interesting photos.
- DO allow your customers to post pictures of themselves and the vehicle they bought from you, however, reserve the right to approve the post before it goes up and make sure you have an email (or other doc in writing) that says the customer gives you permission to use their pic.
- DO freshen the page. Preferably daily. Always use your own personal pic as a profile pic and consider changing the poster/banner pic on a regular basis for events, seasons, etc.
- DO include some short interesting videos, such as you doing a walk around of a new model at the dealership. Caution: Make sure you are not violating any copyrighted material without specific written permission of origination.
If you’re a dealer, consider having a meeting on this subject, showing some examples of what other successful people are doing. Brainstorm and discuss ideas. Maybe have one of your best ‘tech social savvy’ people give advice on creation. How about a contest for the sales person that creates the best Facebook page (as voted on by everyone in the entire dealership)?
Consider allocating a portion of your advertising budget to support the efforts of PERSONAL BRANDING for your sales team. Guide, measure and always inspect. You’ll be thoroughly pleased with your R.O.I.!