Change has become a normal part of the automotive industry and despite the hopes and expectations that we may be closer to the end of the pandemic, there are many things that will be forever changed. There are also many things outside covid to consider about the future of the automotive industry. Electric vehicles, disruptions to the supply chain, the great resignation and tech shortages, increased competition in the used marketplace, dealership consolidation, on-demand mobility, changing privacy laws, and numerous other concerns or opportunities are all common topics among dealer principals and other auto business owners.
For the team at Reunion, change is also an expected and enjoyable part of our company culture. Near the end of last year, I had the pleasure of delivering a keynote speech at Driving Sales after we won the industry’s Most Valuable Insight competition. The primary theme was the success that comes with overcoming change, often by overcoming the fear and hesitancy to adapt to that change. Before beginning Reunion, I led the marketing team for a 33 store dealership group managing an $8M marketing budget. We experienced a 400% increase in leads the last three years before leaving to start Reunion, which contributed towards a near 75% increase in overall revenue for the group during that time. That came with dumping the newspaper, drastically cutting many of our stimulus channels, and focusing on the digital marketing channels that allowed for greater budget targeting and a focus on in-market customers while few dealerships were employing the same cutting-edge strategies. Consumer behavior was changing, we adapted, and we created an incredible success story that built the confidence to leave the group and launch Reunion.
Reunion was full of change from the beginning too, of course, and this is ingrained in our culture. Myself and our Co-Founders went from a large corporate environment to working out of our houses and apartments, self-funded without the backing of a major organization. That culture of change over the past six and a half years has allowed us to grow into one of the most highly respected marketing companies in the industry and now working with hundreds of dealerships across the country. Our team thrives in a culture of experimentation that allows us to quickly discover how the latest marketing trends and innovations impact our dealers and have built a strong support environment to really understand how our efforts are impacting our partners. Unlike companies where each support person supports 50, 60, 80… 100+ stores at a time we cap out our Client Success Specialists at approximately 25 dealerships so we can truly understand how our ongoing efforts are working for our clients. I’d like to say thank you to all of our dealer partners for the great feedback and the great relationships that are a true cornerstone of Reunion Marketing. And to our strong support team that allowed for a 98.8 percent partnership retention rate over the second half of last year!
This year though I’m certain will be even more exciting. There’s a lot for our partners to look forward to in terms of innovations and benefiting from our culture of experimentation. We continue to embrace our expectations that Google, Facebook, and other platforms will continue to expand upon their on-platform shopping experiences because of the changing privacy landscape. GDPR, the California Privacy Act, ios 14.5 and legislation to come have all contributed towards a need for these channels to create shopping experiences without driving traffic elsewhere or targeting and shopping behaviors will be lost. The transition has begun and many dealerships who have not been as tuned in during the pandemic may already be behind on this transition. Cost savings and stronger ROI both come with adapting to this changing landscape. Below are just a few of the exciting things we have already implemented or are in the process of experimenting as we maintain our position at the forefront of change and innovation. If you have questions about any of these topics, please feel free to reach out to me directly and myself or one of our expert team members can help share perspective and information about any of these concepts or strategies. The proven results for several of these combined with the initial experimentation performance has us incredibly excited about our sustained excellence and ongoing growth as a leader in the automotive marketing space.
- Google Vehicle Listing Ads
- Google Business Profile optimization automations
- Content technologies for even greater landing page volume
- Competitor Display
- On Destination AIA
- Greater volume of social media ad diversification
- First Party Data enhancements
- Custom Intent Display
- Image Extension enhancements
- In-Market Display
- Adapting to Apple’s changing platform
- Furthering the complexity of our IHS and Polk data integration
This literally just scratches the surface of what our 2022 will have in store. We’ve never moved faster. We’ve never been more aligned. We’ve never been better. At a time where Stellantis is leading the industry to allow all companies to participate in co-op for SEO and social media marketing, we are confident in our advantage over many competitors because our focus is on innovation and results and not being tied to limitations often seen in these programs. We are co-op eligible for most OEMs, but have always preferred to stay outside of the imposed limitations on innovation that come with these programs. That and the mandates to charge commission on ad spend, something that as former dealers we have always been opposed to participating in!
Change and innovation are part of our DNA and process. It’s who we are as a team. It allows us to tackle our primary high-level company initiatives for the year. Growth and the Reunion Experience. We have invested heavily into automations for greater efficiency, greater accuracy, and to allow our team less time doing manual work and more time for critical thinking, brainstorming, and to focus on growing their skills and knowledge. Regular training is crucial to deliver upon our expectations for Unrivaled Customer Service and that’s now another core component to our success. We are always learning and always growing, both professionally and personally. We support each other and as we create more success through experimentation and learning across the entire organization, everyone in the organization grows as a result. The employee experience is something that we will even more fully build upon and define this year. We are great because of our team, and building upon that might bring me the most excitement of all.