page contents Automotive Thought Leadership: Ralph Paglia: 2014 My title page contents

Friday, December 26, 2014

Evolution of Email Marketing in a Mobile World by Bill Cress

Evolution of Email Marketing in a Mobile World 

Bill Cress, Cobalt Performance Improvement Consultant
by Bill Cress, Performance Improvement Consultant

Is Your Email Campaign Optimized for Mobile?

According to the Movable Ink US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q1 2014, as of April, 2014, 47.2% of all emails are read on a smartphone and 18.5% are read on a tablet.  In other words, about 66% of emails are read on a mobile device. What this means for car dealers is quite simple. The email you just sent was probably not viewed on a PC or laptop--- it was probably read on a mobile device.  
With that in mind, there are some questions you need to ask yourself about your current email content:
  • Are your emails too long? Based on the same study, only 38% of iPhone users and 34% of Android users spend more than 15 seconds reading an email on their smart phone. When responding to customer inquiries, do you have a lot of unnecessary verbiage before you get started answering the customer’s questions?  On a smart phone, how far do you have to scroll to see the information?
  • Do your emails contain graphics?  If so, how do they look on a small screen? Does the consumer need to stretch or pinch the email to read the message? Also, do they load automatically, or does the receiver have to give permission for the graphic to load? If the graphic does not load (or the receiver does not give permission), does your message still get through?
  • Do your emails include properly formatted phone numbers?  If so, do they show as click-to-call on a smart phone screen?
According to BlueHornet “Consumer Views of Email Marketing” (2014), these difficult to read emails will probably get deleted.
BlueHornet - Consumer Views of Email Marketing - 2014[/caption] What the BlueHornet study shows is that less than one in four of these hard to read emails will actually get read!

How Dealers Can Respond in a Mobile World

So, understanding that our message may be received very differently on a small screen than it is on a big screen, what are some specific actions that dealers can take to make sure that their message gets through and is understood by their prospective customer?  Here are a few best practices I’ve learned from working with different dealers that can help you reach your mobile email customers:
  • Test all emails before sending - Not just on one mobile phone, but across various different platforms. According to Comscore.com, as of January, 2014, 51.7% of all smart phones are on the Android platform.  Make sure you test on one of these.  Android phones really struggle with tables, and customers frequently have to scroll from left to right to see the entire table.  iPhones represent 41.6% of all smart phones, so test on these too. There are 3rd party resources such as ReturnPath that can generate accurate previews of how your email will display across multiple 
  • Shorten your emails – Cut out all unnecessary verbiage.  Customers don’t want long, drawn out emails anyway. But on a mobile device, longer emails are even more aggravating.  Get to the point and answer the questions – especially regarding price and availability.  Keep everything left-hand justified, and it will be more friendly to mobile devices.
  • Design some of your follow-up messaging primarily for mobile – Use very short messages that almost look like texts.  For example, ask a brief question, such as, How is your car shopping going?  If the purpose of an email is to start a conversation, these short messages often inspire responses when longer messages or offers do not.
  • When using graphics in emails, include more than just the graphic. Remember... images alone are unreliable. They may or may not load. If your offer is buried inside a graphic that never loads, your recipient will never see it. Make sure you display that same offer within an html text format that will be seen regardless of whether or not images are loaded.
This is also a great opportunity to include a message below an image offering assistance. Type beneath the graphic. Having trouble reading this? Please call Mary Jones at 555-555-1314 for details. You'll be surprised how many people who cannot see the graphic wind up calling the number and asking for the details. These are wonderful opportunities!
  • Test all three phone number formats on the two major smart phone platforms to see which works best for click-to-call.  In other words, send an email with 3 phone numbers to an Android, and iPhone account.  Have one phone number be set up as 555.555.1213, one as 555-555-1213, and one as (555) 555-1213.  Check to see if one or all of them are set up so that you can click on the phone number to call.  Click-to-call is critical with smart phones, as customers are just as likely to call you as email you – provided you make it convenient.
  • Make sure your dealer website is optimized for mobile – This will allow those who are reading your emails from smart phones to better utilize the links you might send them. Mobile phones require mobile sites, and you stand to receive better quality phone calls and leads if mobile customers land on a mobile-optimized site.
Mobile phones are a fact of life, and are growing fast. A 2014 Pew Research Center studyfound that smartphone use among US adults grew from 35% to 56% from May 2011 to May 2013. With growth that fast, dealers need to think mobile – it is definitely the future of our business!

About the Author

 
Bill Cress is a Performance Improvement Consultant with CDK Global. Since 2010, he has served as a Social Media and Reputation Management Consultant, and then as a Digital Marketing Consultant for Ford Motor Company with ADP. He has been working in the automotive space in various dealership capacities since 1981, and has been in the consulting and training field since 1994. Email him at Bill.Cress@cdk.com.
Learn more about CDK Global’s suite of dealer email market

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Best Practice Example of Reputation Marketing

Meet Steve Henigan at Toyota of Des Moines

1650 SE 37th Street

Grimes, IA  50111



VM#  515-333-5682

txt#  515-559-4222

See what others have to say about Steve Henigan:

http://www.dealerrater.com/sales/Steve-Henigan-review-13636/

-OR-

check out my FB page for the latest and greatest offers and a little fun too.

It's called:

Steve Henigan at Toyota of Des Moines


Referrals = Rewards  

Send me the first and last name of potential car shoppers you've met (with contact if possible)

...if they buy from me directly, I send you $Money$!!!

I offer a $50.00 finders fee for anyone you refer to work with me for their vehicle purchase.

Make sure the customers you send let me know that it was you who sent them (& they ask for me when they're here).  

I will give them the same quality service that I have tried to afford you.  


Now, here's how you can double it...

Question of the Month:  
What is the biggest Christmas present ever given in the United States?
**call or email back with your answer 

(515-559-4222)

If you answer, I'll double your next referral!! ($100.00)**In the spirit of Christmas I'll double this one through January 15th. ($200.00!!)

Many have won AND most have collected (another happy winner last month)... don't miss out!


Answer to last month's question:  How long was the first Thanksgiving?


If you can't make it through the daylong celebration of food, football and family be thankful that you weren't around for the first Thanksgiving. That celebration took place in the fall of 1621 in Plymouth Colony between European settlers and the Wampanoag Indians and it lasted three days. Talk about a food coma!


Ten (minus one for the question of the month ;) Fun Christmas Facts:


2. Santa Claus was a real Saint. He lived in Myra in the 300's. Myra is in what's now Turkey. The German name for Saint Nicholas is Sankt Niklaus. 

3. The first artificial Christmas Tree wasn't a tree at all. It was created out of goose feathers that were dyed. 

4. Christmas has many, many names. Do you know some of them—aside from, of course, Christmas? How about? Sheng Tan Kuai Loh (China), or Hauskaa Joulua (Finland), or Joyeux Noel (France)? In Wales, it's Nadolig Llawen, and in Sweden, God Jul. 

5. That "Xmas" stems from Greece. The Greek "X" is a symbol for Christ.

6. Riga, Latvia was home to the first decorated Christmas tree. The year was 1510. About 36 million Christmas trees are produced each year on Christmas tree farms.

7. The Candy Cane is one of the most familiar symbols of Christmas. It dates back to 1670 in Europe but didn't appear in the U.S. until the 1800's. The treat we see today, where the shape is Jesus's hook to shepherd his lambs and the color and stripes hold significance for purity and Christ's sacrifice, became common in the mid 1900's.

8. The Christmas Stocking got its start when three unmarried girls did their laundry and hung their stockings on the chimney to dry. They couldn't marry, they had no dowry. But St. Nicholas, who knew of their plight, put a sack of gold in each stocking and in the morning the girls awoke to discover they had dowry's. They could marry.

READ WHAT'S NEW

Hope you are enjoying your Holiday Season.  I know I"m excited about next week...a couple days off with my favorite people in the world...Nothing could be better.  We have all the presents ready to go for the girls and Autumn will be enjoying her first Christmas with us.  My mom and Rachel's mom will be joining us (weather pending).  

I like to say that I feel truly blessed to be part of your monthly read and thank you again for being true to yourself.  I appreciate everyone I've met over the years.  This is probably a carry over from Thanksgiving but Thank You, Thank you!!  I feel it's time to take stock and appreciate how blessed I really am.  I spent a whole day with our new baby Autumn yesterday and we did nothing but hang out, eat, play and nap together.  If you've never done this with someone you love before, I highly recommend it.  We sang songs to Pandora radio on my phone, she talked to me...was so much fun and it really opened my eyes.  That little girl has enlightened me more than I could have ever imagined.  Sorry to run on about it, just a happy dad I guess.  I wish you the best and hope you get a chance to stop your world for a brief moment and spend it with the ones you love.

Happy Holidays!  Merry Christmas!!...and have a Happy, Happy New Year!!!

Steve Henigan
Internet Sales Manager
Toyota/Scion of Des Moines
1650 SE 37th Street
Grimes, IA  50111
Office: (515) 333-5682
TXT:    (515) 559-4222
shenigan@toyotadm.com
website:  toyotadm.com
Ask me about ToyotaCare - 
our complimentary 2yrs maintenance program!
See what others have to say about Steve:
http://www.dealerrater.com/sales/Steve-Henigan-review-13636/

My Hours:
Monday        (12pm - 8pm )
Tuesday       (8am - 5pm )
Wednesday        (Off)
Thursday      (12pm - 8pm)
Friday         (9:30am - 6pm)
Saturday      (8am - 6pm)
Sunday           (Closed)
 

You are receiving this email because you inquired about or purchased a vehicle from Toyota Scion of Des Moines recently or in the past. If you prefer not to receive further emails from us, click here to unsubscribe

Alternatively, you can send a written request to the address below. We'll remove you from our list as quickly as possible. 

This email was sent to rpaglia@gmail.com on December 18, 2014.

To contact us please visit http://www.toyotadm.comor call (515) 276-4911.

This email was delivered to you by:
Toyota Scion of Des Moines
1650 SE 37th St
Grimes, IA 50111 

[Posted from Ralph Paglia's iPhone]

Ralph Paglia | President 
ADM Advertising & Consulting, LLC
2701 N. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 2202

Las Vegas, NV 89108

W http://AutomotiveSocial.com 

http://RalphPaglia.com 

http://LinkedIn.com/in/RPaglia

http://Facebook.com/RPaglia 

Twitter and Instagram: @RalphPaglia 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Influencer Marketing: How It Can Make Your Dealership's Brand More Powerful

Influencer Marketing: How It Can Make Your Dealership's Brand More Powerful

Influencer Marketing: How It Can Raise The Value Of An Auto Dealership's Regional Brand 

 
I have seen automotive digital marketing emerge from being a curiosity in the minds of most car dealers, and become the generally accepted "Smart Money" portion of a dealership's marketing communications budget...
Along the way, the "Content Marketing" category within automotive digital marketing has been transformed by a few savvy car peeps into being referred to as "Influencer Marketing".  The term has a natural positive vibe within the auto industry, which has always been chock full of car buyer influencers (Third basemen) for over a hundred years... So, it is easy to understand why Influencer Marketing is one of those buzz word combos that you come across every once in awhile, especially when a solution provider is trying to sell you something. However, very few car dealers and automotive marketers understand how to use this form of marketing effectively, with a tactical implementation designed to get the best results for a dealership within the scope of their overall digital marketing strategy.

What is Influencer Marketing?
In offline context, children, family, friends and colleagues - all are big influencers in the consumers' decision to buy cars, get vehicles serviced or just about anything else. In online context, influencers are individuals who have a persuasive voice, authenticity and an audience on the web. Car Dealers can leverage these social influencers to gain voice in user content and feedback surrounding their products and services. This is what influencer marketing is all about... Extending your dealership's brand and messages through cultivated advocates.

In other words, one can define influencer marketing as a subset of automotive digital marketing, where a car company/dealership focuses on recruiting and enrolling people who have an established credibility and audience on various social media platforms to spread the good word about its brand, people and offerings.

Why Influencer Marketing Makes Sense for Car Dealers
Influencer marketing is a powerful and significant tool which should play an important role in a dealership's social media strategy. What makes this tool so important? Because automotive consumers are listening to people online before, while and after making their vehicle purchase decision... While at the same time traditional ads are becoming less important and less credible to these very same automotive consumers.

A Nielsen study suggests that influencers on social media help grab those audiences who have begun tuning out of traditional ads, banners etc, and have become more active on social media.
 
74% of automotive consumers make their purchasing decisions on the basis of what is said on social media, reports a study conducted by digital marketing agency ODM Group. 78% respondents of this study said that the companies' posts on social media impact their purchases, while 90% of them trust peer recommendations, and ads are trusted only by 33%. As per the data shared by Mindshift Interactive, information by brand advocates is 70% more likelier to be seen as good and credible, and social media referrals are 71% more likelier to result in a purchase decision.

Highly Influential Content on Social Media?
Influencers on Facebook and Twitter seem to have a say on the digital medium. 92% of the social media influencers have an account on Facebook, and 83% of them post more than once per week. About 88% of these influencers have a twitter account, and 71% of them tweet at least once a week.

According to a research by SproutSocial, out of the 53% people who use Twitter to recommend any company, service or product, 48% purchase that product or service. Twitter is said to be the number one platform for influencing high dollar MSRP related purchase decisions, says research by Mashable.
Zafar Rais, CEO of MindShift Interactive says:
"Influencer Marketing is crucial in today's times towards building evangelism & adoption. As social media climbs the communication ladder with speed, businesses must further understand & embrace the value of influencers. Many popular brands in the region are approaching the 'Twitterati' as they play an important role in creating awareness, promoting products and in encouraging online communities to try new things. These influencers are passionate and when they are made to understand a brand appropriately & be part of it as ambassadors, they can be of great advantage towards helping your brand gain momentum and sustain it, which should be the ideal strategy."
     

Tips for Influence Marketing Success
When creating marketing campaigns and initiatives whose purpose is to influence your targeted audience's influencers using social media, automotive marketers should carefully consider the following factors and recommendations:

  • When scouting for influencers for your car dealership, go beyond the demographic filters and explore the passion and interests of your most powerful and connected potential influencers. This ensures a deeper connect and better fit between your dealership's product and services, with the right influencers.
     
  • Indulge and engage the influencers with high value content that interests them. This will add value that they appreciate and distill for their audience, which means better results for your dealership. Use your insider access as a franchised dealer to obtain information not yet available to the public and share on an exclusive basis with your influencers... Maybe even bring a few to various OEM sponsored meetings or "Ride and Drives" as if they are dealership employees.
     
  • Influencer Marketing is not about generating huge lead numbers or prospective buyer referrals; it is about building quality connections with your dealership's primary automotive consumer audience. So, be smart about it by focusing on the quality of interaction you get out of your influencer marketing approach.
     
  • Don't treat automotive influencers as if they are not as important as actual car buyers or service customers. Invest time and effort in understanding them and building a long-term relationship with these important marketing partners.
     
  • Keep track of how effectively the interaction and engagement initiatives involving your targeted influencers have generated results in the form of objective measurables, such as leads, conversations, referrals, attendance at dealership events, etc.
     
Sources:
Data: www.BusinessInsider.in/InfluencerMarketing-How-It-Can-Make-Your-Bra...
Brand Advocate Image: http://crowdly.com/blog/category/featured-articles/
Infographic: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/248260998182275421/

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Going Beyond All-You-Can-Eat In Loyalty - Automotive Digital Marketing

Going Beyond All-You-Can-Eat In Loyalty - Automotive Digital Marketing

Going Beyond All-You-Can-Eat In Loyalty

 
When consumers think of loyalty programs, they typically think of racking up miles, or frequenting a business in exchange for rewards, perks or freebies.
No matter what business you patronize, there is a good chance that it is offering some sort of loyalty incentive. In fact, many argue that loyalty programs are so prevalent nowadays that they are losing some of the initial qualities that attracted consumers to them back some 45 years ago. Namely, that feeling of being treated special in exchange for the customer’s ongoing business and continued loyalty. Today, some loyalty programs choose not to even offer rewards. Instead they just provide the concept of receiving lower prices. Many grocery store chains have the regular price and then a loyalty member price. Sale prices are reserved just for members of their loyalty program.  Your information and transaction histories are exchanged with the grocery store for a slightly lower total at the checkout counter.

Loyalty programs have certainly evolved.
Many companies are shifting away from traditional rewards and offering experiences and other perks instead. The restaurant chain, Olive Garden, found that it’s “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” promotion was by far the most popular. So it decided to take it a step further and last month introduced the “Never Ending Pasta Pass.” The pass allow customers to enjoy all-you-can-eat pasta as many times as the customer wishes for a period of up to 7 weeks. The offer also allows the customer to extend some of the pass’s perks to as many as 7 guests dining with them. Olive Garden made the offer exclusive by offering just 1,000 passes through their website, at a cost of $100 each.

They sold out completely in just 45 minutes.
Some may view this as a loss leader promotion. However, according to an article in USA Today, the restaurant chain came up with this promotion as it wished to provide a VIP experience for some of its most loyal and profitable customers.

Similar to the Starbucks metal gift cards that sell out annually, the Never Ending Pasta Pass offers Olive Garden’s most enthusiastic customers the opportunity to enjoy a VIP experience as many times as they like. It also generates instant (and quantifiable) revenue, while encouraging the pass holder to bring guests. This clever addition helps generate more revenue with each additional dining partner. In addition, a promotion like this (obviously) can generate press, blog articles and social media buzz. Olive Garden even teased consumers who were not able to purchase one by dangling carrots of extra passes that will be handed out through social media properties.

What do you think about adopting such a program as a car dealership?
Imagine offering a limited quantity season long car wash pass that includes some service perks over and above what you would normally do for a customer. Or some other privileges, while also extending discounts to the customer’s friends and family members that bring their vehicles in with them.

In general, people like to feel special. Whether it’s showing off a metal gift card at Starbucks, laying down the Never Ending Pasta Pass at Olive Garden, or getting an on-demand car wash without waiting. When creating incentives for your loyal customers, thinking outside the box can make them feel very special while providing a reason for them to bring new customers to your store. And that’s one of the most important attributes that any loyal customer brings to any business – more customers.

The Top Ten Auto News Stories of the Week: October 18 - 24

The Top Ten Auto News Stories of the Week: October 18 - 24 

  1. 11 Photos That Will Never Sell a Car Online

I wish I could have started a slow clap after reading this blog. Taking photos of vehicles for your inventory is an art and a science, and I’m glad somebody finally broke things down for us into something other than “Stock Photo vs. Real Photo”. Well done, John Sternal!

CarGurus and Truecar Among Top 5 Google PPC Spenders Across All Categories

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Local Media and Marketing Tactics for Car Dealers - Who Uses What and Which Works Best?

New Research Shows Which Local Media and Marketing Tactics Work Best for Car Dealers... According to their own perception!

 

BrandMuscle Research Report Reveals Local Media and Marketing Tactics Used by Car Dealers and other Local Franchised Business - But Does The Report Answer the Question About Who Uses What and Which Works Best?


Not too surprising to many of Automotive Marketing Professionals, traditional media remains a significant part of the local automotive marketing mix... The adoption of various new media tactics that have become available (including automotive digital marketing), is hindered by cost and for some dealers, complexity finds BrandMuscle [download page] in their recently-released study.

 

Results from the survey of franchised dealers and other local businesses with national franchise brands seem to indicate that digital marketing, while scoring high satisfaction rates for its effectiveness and ROI, tends to be seen as too complicated or time consuming by many of the car dealers not using it.

 

Get The Complete Market Research Report

The complete BrandMuscle research study and its findings can be downloaded by www.ADMPC.com Professional Community members in PDF file format by using the "Save As" right-click command on the following link or the cover image below it:

BrandMuscle Marketing Research Report - State of Local Marketing 2014 


 

The study, based off a survey of “hundreds of local dealers, independents and franchisees across a wide range of industries” indicates that the top media tactics in use by local dealers and businesses are: 

  • Coupons (83%)
  • Direct mail (81%)
  • Local events (79%)
  • Email (72%)
  • Website (72%)
  • Community sponsorships (71%)

Tactics in use by half – or fewer – respondents include:

  • TV (50%)
  • billboards (45%)
  • magazines (45%)
  • Twitter (43%)
  • daily deals (29%) 

 

Cost Is A Factor 

The study suggests that the primary reason why local affiliates aren’t using digital tactics such as email, social, online display and paid search is because they are too expensive. Among those not using traditional media such as TV, radio and print, cost is the primary complaint.
Satisfaction With Results 
When it comes to satisfaction ratings for local dealers using various types of marketing and advertising media tactics, "local events" win out with 80% of dealers satisfied... Shown below are the satisfaction rankings followed by the usage and satisfaction charts published in the referenced report:
  1. local events (80%)
  2. coupons (77%)
  3. email (76%)
  4. direct mail (75%)
  5. Yellow Pages (48%)
  6. newspapers (46%)
  7. magazines (44%) 

Advertising Budgets

On the budget side of things, results from the survey indicate that newspaper, radio and community sponsorships occupy the largest shares of the overall pie.  Earlier this year, a study from Balihoo found that more than 8 in 10 national brands expected to increase their overall advertising budgets allocated to local media.

Details of Media Types Included in Survey

Direct MailDisplay & Rich MediaEmailFree-Standing Inserts & CircularsLocal & Directories / Small BizMagazinesMarketing BudgetsNewspapersOut-of-HomePaid SearchPromotions, Coupons & Co-opRadioSocial MediaSpending & SpendersSponsorshipsTrade Shows & EventsTraditionalTV Advertising

 

Sources of Data and Content:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Could Chat be Seen as Texting? Why is Chat Becoming More Popular for Car Shoppers?

Why Chat is Becoming More Popular for Car Shoppers - Automotive Digital Marketing 


Some say that it's the technology that hasn't truly evolved much that's the culprit, but we know that reason is simply untrue. First, lead-generating technology and website platforms have improved. Second, chat technology (something I know very well) has also improved at the same rate. However, the number of people chatting and the number of leads generated by chat are on the rise, so there's more to the equation than technology fatigue. Consumers still want to communicate with dealers, but more and more are choosing chat over lead forms and phone calls. Why?
Nobody likes to miss an opportunity, so we continue to test (as we always do) not just the methods of improving website chat but also the science behind the increase in frequency. What is it about chat that makes it more appealing today than a couple of years ago? For the answer, we turned our attention to good ol' common sense.
Texting has been on the rise since the first text was ever sent. Unlike voice calls and lead form fills, texting is the one component of the mobile experience that has grown over the past couple of years. Some dealers have even tried to implement texting as a lead option on their websites with varying degrees of success. Yet, chat continues to rise. Is there a correlation.
Our contention is that chat, when done properly on a dealer's mobile website, offers a similar experience to consumers who adore texting. However, it's better for many of them because it offers an anonymity that they do not get from texts, voice calls, and lead forms. They have the ability to get their answers in a format very similar to their beloved texting without having to hand over their personals up front.
We have seen the biggest increases in chats and leads when the mobile chat is proactive on their phones and when proper scripts are used by the operator to prompt the leads accordingly. People are still skeptical about giving their personal information, but they're willing to give it to you once they are comfortable. That's the purpose of chat, to create a gap between the dealership and the consumer that they're allowed to cross at their discretion.
When you put the right chat interface in front of them and allow them to control the initial part of the conversation, you'll be able to improve the overall lead-generation on your website. With leads comes more sale. Isn't that what we all want?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Secret FTC Investigation of Car Dealers Who Declined Truecar Discovered by DC Reporter - Automotive Digital Marketing ProCom

Secret FTC Investigation of Car Dealers Who Declined Truecar Discovered and Revealed by Washington DC Reporter

 

FTC acknowledges auto dealer probe after discovery bust-up...

Edited Excerpt from Article Written by Harry Phillips
The Federal Trade Commission's battle to get Ralph Paglia, a car industry blogger to hand over confidential communications, private email, subscriber lists and documents about Truecar, an online price comparison website has shed new light on the antitrust authority's ongoing and ill-advised investigation of what they claim to be potential wrongdoing among thousands of car dealers.  
(Harry Phillips is a reporter for "Global Competition Review" in Washington, DC. They cover antitrust news and frequently report on the Federal Trade Commission.)

Mr. Phillips wrote a story last week on news that the FTC has filed a petition in Nevada Federal Court asking it to compel Ralph Paglia to provide documents and give testimony in connection with its ongoing investigation of the auto dealership industry and an alleged refusal by many car dealers to do business with TrueCar.com in late 2011 and early 2012.
   
The FTC alleges that Ralph Paglia failed to provide various records and documents requested by the FTC within each of several civil investigative demands (CID subpoena). FTC states that the first CID was sent to Paglia in May 2014, and is now seeking an injunction in a Nevada Federal Court compelling Paglia to cooperate.
   
The big question that Harry asked Ralph was whether or not Ralph would comply, and if so, he sought Ralph's confirmation that he now planned to comply with the FTC's demand... Or alternately, would Ralph oppose the commission's demand for an injunction? He sought Paglia's comments on the petition and the FTC's investigation of Car Dealers who either cancelled participation in the TrueCar Auto Buying referral system, or never signed up in the first place.

Ralph Paglia's email reply to Harry Phillips is shown below:

"Mr. Phillips,

Thank you for reaching out, and I would like to speak with you about the matter via phone. Since the NSA and presumably the FTC is studying all emails I send despite the illegal nature of such surveillance, I would feel more comfortable speaking with you by phone.

I can tell you that I have never refused access to any information or records by the FTC, but I am not going to do their jobs for them. I believe slave labor was outlawed quite a few years ago and I am mystified about why the FTC seems to believe they can compel me into forced labor when their staff gets paid plenty to do the work themselves.

Beyond the Nazi-like zeal the FTC seems to have for compelling Americans to do work without compensation, I simply do not understand where the Federal government gets the authority to try and squash freedom of speech, freedom of the press and determine whether an individual should to do business with a particular company.

Ralph Paglia
rpaglia@gmail.com

Point of Contact: 
Harry Phillips, Senior Reporter for "Global Competition Review"
www.globalcompetitionreview.com/usa
Depending on your e-mail client, you may be able to follow the link in the email. If not, please open a web browser and open this link:  http://globalcompetitionreview.com/news/article/36841/ftc-acknowled... For more information, please visit: http://globalcompetitionreview.com/
  

 

From the Most Recent FTC Filings in Federal Court:

FTC STATEMENT OF FACTS
The FTC is investigating whether certain participants in the retail auto industry, including auto dealers and industry consultants, have engaged in an unlawful group boycott of TrueCar, Inc., a firm that helps auto dealers market their cars. TrueCar operates websites that provide detailed information about specific vehicles to potential automobile buyers, and attempts to match potential buyers with sellers. In late 2011 and early 2012, numerous comments about TrueCar appeared on various websites, online blogs, and online social networks that are frequented by auto dealers. These comments criticized TrueCar’s program of online reverse auctions, and other features of TrueCar’s websites, as unfavorable to dealers, and asserted that TrueCar was inducing dealers to sell cars at prices that were too low. Many of the comments urged dealers to discontinue their participation in TrueCar’s reverse auctions, and to terminate their dealings with TrueCar. During this period of time, the number of dealers participating in the TrueCar program and the number of auto sales consummated using TrueCar’s websites declined. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶2.

In February 2012, TrueCar announced that it was eliminating the reverse auction feature on its websites and narrowing the set of pricing and cost information that its sites would reveal to consumers. After TrueCar made these changes, numerous auto dealers resumed doing business with TrueCar. These changes may have made it more difficult for consumers to comparison-shop using TrueCar’s websites, thus relieving pressure on dealers to offer aggressive bids to consumers, and possibly leading to retail price increases. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶3.
On January 17, 2014, the Commission issued a Resolution Authorizing Use of Compulsory Process in Non-Public Investigation, File No. 131-0206 (Pet. Exh. 2). As part of the investigation, the FTC staff is inquiring whether certain consultants, dealers, or other persons or firms involved in the retail automobile industry may have organized, facilitated, or participated in a group boycott of TrueCar. Such actions can constitute “unfair methods of competition,” which are prohibited by Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶2-4.

Respondent, Ralph Paglia, provides auto dealers with consulting services, information, and training relating to online marketing. Mr. Paglia writes frequently about online marketing and other topics of interest to auto dealers, and disseminates his writing through blog postings, comments on online social media networks, and publications on other online forums and websites. He also operates, manages, or moderates several such blogs, websites, and online social networks. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶5-6. Many of the communications criticizing TrueCar’s business model and urging auto dealers not to participate in TrueCar’s reverse auction program appeared on websites and blogs that Mr. Paglia operates or administers. Moreover, materials on Mr. Paglia’s websites and blogs indicate that some industry consultants, dealer groups, and other businesses may have communicated with one another outside of the websites about matters relevant to this investigation. Id. ¶6. FTC staff asked Mr. Paglia to provide such information on a voluntary basis, but those efforts were unsuccessful. Id. ¶7.

On May 2, 2014, the Commission issued a CID (Pet. Exh. 3) requiring Mr. Paglia to produce specified documents and to respond to written questions. On June 18, 2014, the Commission issued another CID (Pet. Exh. 4), requiring Mr. Paglia to appear and give oral testimony under oath at an investigational hearing to be conducted by FTC staff at the Office of the United States Attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pet. Exh. 4, at 1. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶8, 11. The Commission served both CIDs via Federal Express, with receipt-signature requested (and secured). Id. ¶¶9, 12; see Pet.Exhs. 5, 6.

Mr. Paglia failed to comply with either the May 2 CID or the June 18 CID. He has not produced the documents or other information specified in the May 2 CID, and did not appear at the investigational hearing, as required by the June 18 CID. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶10, 13. Mr. Paglia neither petitioned the Commission to quash or modify the CIDs pursuant to the applicable statute and Commission rules, see 15 U.S.C. § 57b-1(f); 16 C.F.R. § 2.10, nor did he submit any objections to any of the particular specifications or terms in the CIDs. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶10, 12. To date, Mr. Paglia has not communicated with FTC staff concerning either of the CIDs, nor responded to their other attempts to reach him. Id. ¶14.
  
FTC HAS AUTHORITY TO CONDUCT THE INVESTIGATION
The Commission unequivocally is authorized to conduct the investigation and issue the CIDs at issue here. Congress has granted the FTC broad authority to investigate acts or practices that may violate the FTC Act’s proscription on “unfair methods of competition.” 15 U.S.C. § 45(a). Section 3 of that Act empowers the Commission to:
“prosecute any inquiry necessary to its duties in any part of the United
States.” Id. § 43. Section 6(a), in turn, authorizes the Commission “[t]o gather and compile information concerning, and to investigate * * * the organization, business, conduct, practices, and management of any person, partnership, or corporation engaged in or whose business affects commerce,”
with certain exceptions not applicable here. Id.§ 46(a). And, as noted above, Section 20(c) of the FTC Act authorizes the Commission to issue a CID to any person who may be in possession of documents or other information relevant to an FTC investigation. Id. § 57b-1(c)(1).

The two CIDs at issue here concern an investigation into whether certain automobile dealers, consultants, or other businesses engaged in “unfair methods of competition,” in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, by “agreeing to restrain competition” or “agreeing to refuse to deal with TrueCar, Inc.” Pet. Exh. 2 (Compulsory Process Resolution), at 1. Accordingly, the investigation to which the CIDs pertain is well within the scope of the FTC Act’s Section 5 prohibition. See 15 U.S.C. § 45(a) (“Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, * * * are hereby declared unlawful.”). Thus, the Commission indisputably is authorized to conduct its investigation and to issue the CIDs to Mr. Paglia.
EVIDENCE SOUGHT IS RELEVANT TO THE INVESTIGATION
Both CIDs are designed to elicit material information that is relevant to the Commission’s investigation. The specific document requests and interrogatories set forth in the May 2 CID required Mr. Paglia to produce documents containing or relating to Mr. Paglia’s communications, correspondence, or meetings with TrueCar and other auto dealers, as well as documents, including blog posts, pertaining to the effect of TrueCar’s services on retail auto prices, auto dealers’ decisions on whether to stop participating in the TrueCar reverse auction program, and Mr. Paglia’s role in operating and controlling the content of the relevant websites and blogs. See Pet. Exh. 3, Schedule, Specs. 1-6. The June 18 CID sought Mr. Paglia’s oral testimony on the same topics. See Pet. Exh. 4, at 1, 3.
The FTC investigation is focused on whether those communications or other interactions among such parties constituted or related to a potential group boycott of TrueCar. As the FTC’s lead investigating attorney has testified:
“the investigation would be furthered by obtaining information Mr. Paglia may have in his possession relating to the online communications, direct communications, and other activities at issue in the investigation.”
Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶7; see id. ¶¶5-6, 14. See Dynavac, 6 F.3d at 1414 (in seeking judicial enforcement of its compulsory process, the government’s “slight” burden “may be satisfied by a declaration from an investigating agent.”).

The CIDs seek information that is demonstrably neither “incompetent [n]or irrelevant,” to the Commission’s lawful investigation. Golden Valley, 689 F.3d at 1113-14; see also Karuk Tribe Hous. Auth., 260 F.3d at 1076 (same); Children’s Hosp. Med. Ctr., 719 F.2d at 1428 (same). They should, therefore, be promptly enforced by this Court.
  
DECLARATION OF
MELISSA WESTMAN-CHERRY 

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, I declare as follows:

1. I am an attorney employed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission) in Washington, D.C. I am authorized to execute this declaration verifying the facts that are set forth in the Petition of the Federal Trade Commission for an Order Enforcing Civil Investigative Demands (Petition). I have
read the Petition and have reviewed the exhibits thereto (referred to hereinafter as “Pet. Exh.”), and verify that Pet. Exh. 2 through Pet. Exh. 6 are true and correct copies of the original documents. (This declaration is Pet. Exh. 1). The facts set forth herein are based on my personal knowledge or information made known to me in the course of my official duties.

2. I have been assigned to work on an investigation into conduct relating to TrueCar, Inc. TrueCar is a California-based company in the business of operating websites that match potential automobile purchasers with sellers and provide detailed information to consumers about the pricing of specific vehicles. In late 2011 and early 2012, numerous comments about TrueCar appeared on various websites, web logs (blogs), and online social networks targeted to auto dealers. These comments criticized TrueCar’s unique program of online “reverse auctions” and other features of TrueCar’s websites as unfavorable to dealers, and asserted that TrueCar was inducing dealers to sell cars at prices that were too low. Many of the comments urged dealers to discontinue their participation in TrueCar’s reverse auctions, and to terminate their dealings with TrueCar. During this period of time, the number of dealers participating in the TrueCar program, and the number of auto sales consummated using TrueCar’s websites, declined.
3. In February 2012, TrueCar announced that it was eliminating the reverse auction feature on its websites and narrowing the set of pricing and cost information that its sites would reveal to consumers. After TrueCar made these changes, numerous auto dealers resumed doing business with TrueCar. These changes may have made it more difficult for consumers to comparison-shop using TrueCar’s websites, thus relieving pressure on dealers to offer aggressive bids to consumers and possibly leading to retail price increases.

4. In connection with this investigation, on January 17, 2014, the Commission issued a Resolution Authorizing Use of Compulsory Process in Non-Public Investigation, File No. 131-0206. This Resolution authorized the issuance of Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) to gather information about “whether firms in the retail automobile industry, including automobile dealers and industry consultants, may be engaging in, or may have engaged in, conduct violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. §45, as amended, by agreeing to restrain competition, including by agreeing to refuse to deal with TrueCar, Inc.” Pet. Exh. 2 (Compulsory Process Resolution), at 1.

5. Respondent Ralph Paglia is a consultant who provides business advice and training to auto dealers regarding online marketing, lead generation, and related matters. He is President of Automotive Media Partners LLC, which has its principal place of business at 2701 N. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 2202, Las Vegas,
Nevada 89108.
6. Mr. Paglia writes frequently about online marketing and other topics of interest to auto dealers, and disseminates his writing through blog postings, comments on online social media networks, and publications on other online forums and websites. He also operates, manages, or moderates several such blogs, websites, and online social networks , including www.dealerelite.net, ralphpaglia.blogspot.com, www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com, www.automotivedigitaltraining.com, and automotivesocial.com. Many of the comments criticizing TrueCar’s business model and urging auto dealers not to participate in the TrueCar reverse-auction program appeared on websites and blogs that Mr. Paglia operates or administers. Moreover, materials on Mr. Paglia’s websites and blogs indicate that some industry consultants, dealer groups, and other businesses may have communicated with one another outside of the websites about matters relevant to this investigation.

7. Accordingly, the FTC staff believes that the investigation would be furthered by obtaining information that Mr. Paglia may have in his possession relating to the online communications, direct communications, and other activities at issue in the investigation. The FTC staff made a number of attempts to secure such information from Mr. Paglia on a voluntary basis, but Mr. Paglia declined to provide any information in response to the FTC staff’s inquiries.

8. On May 2, 2014, the Commission issued a CID (Pet. Exh. 3) requiring Mr. Paglia to produce specified documents and to respond to certain written questions. Specifically, the May 2 CID required Mr. Paglia to produce documents containing or relating to communications, correspondence, or meetings with TrueCar and auto dealers. The CID also sought documents, including blog posts, pertaining to the effect of TrueCar’s services on retail auto prices, auto dealers’ decisions on whether to stop participating in the TrueCar program, and Mr. Paglia’s role in operating and controlling the content of the relevant websites and blogs. Pet. Exh. 3, Schedule, Specs. 1-6.

9. The Commission sent the May 2 CID to Mr. Paglia via Federal Express on May 5, 2014, with a requirement that the package be signed for upon delivery. The Federal Express tracking receipt (attached hereto as Pet. Exh. 5) shows that the May 2 CID was delivered to Mr. Paglia’s address and signed for on May 7. The May 2 CID directed Mr. Paglia to produce the requested documents and information by May 21, 2014. See Pet. Exh. 3, at 1.

10. Mr. Paglia neither petitioned the Commission to quash or modify the CID, in accordance with the relevant statute and Commission rules, see 15 U.S.C. § 57b-1(f); 16 C.F.R. § 2.10, nor did he submit any objections to any of the specifications in the CID. Nonetheless, to date, Mr. Paglia has not produced any documents or information in response to the May 2 CID.

11. On June 18, 2014, the Commission issued a second CID to Mr. Paglia (Pet. Exh. 4), requiring him to appear and give oral testimony under oath at an investigational hearing to be conducted before me. The June 18 CID specified that this hearing would be held on July 10, 2014, at the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, at 333 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Suite 5000, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101, commencing at 10:00 a.m. Pet. Exh. 4, at 1.

12. The Commission sent the June 18 CID to Mr. Paglia via Federal Express on June 23, 2014, with a requirement that the package be signed for upon delivery. The Federal Express tracking receipt (attached hereto as Pet. Exh. 6) shows that the June 18 CID was delivered to Mr. Paglia’s address and signed for on June 26. Commission staff also made informal attempts, by letter and email, to contact Mr. Paglia to discuss the upcoming investigational hearing. Mr. Paglia neither responded to this correspondence, nor filed any objections to the terms of the CID, nor petitioned the Commission to quash or modify the CID. 

The entire document comprising the FTC filing in Federal Court is available for download using this link: FTC_TrueCar_Paglia_CID.pdf
         

Monday, September 15, 2014

How Important Is It For The Leader To Be Great In order For The Team To Be Great?

Automotive Digital Marketing 

Does A Great Leader Make A Great Team?

I recently read a fantastic article that an HR Professional wrote about her experience buying a MINI. The article itself focused on lessons in leadership she had learned from a sales manager at a MINI dealership while purchasing a new car. In her message she relays that this sales manager had built a better team by listening and allowing his team to build him. There were additional lessons  about how his team created an excellent customer experience in arguably one of the places consumers dread going to the most – a car dealership. Our company works with MINI  so we are aware of their quirky and fun branding style. Staying consistent with this public persona, MINI encourages its dealerships to think and act differently.

An example of this is a story I heard recently about an automotive vendor named Bob. Bob has been in management positions in the automotive industry for  over 30 years. This gentleman has worked mainly in highline stores including Porsche, BMW, Maserati, Ferrari and others. His normal attire consisted of tailored high-quality suits, starched dress shirts and shoes that always had that military spit polished shine. Recently, he became the GM for a MINI dealership.  MINI encourages its franchise dealer employees to wear what they call “MINI gear.” For lack of better words, these uniforms consist of polo shirts and other more casual branded clothing. This is designed to reinforce the brand and make customers feel more comfortable. This was quite a change considering what Bob was used to, but helps promote the MINI way of doing things when even the GM is dressed in a casual manner.

The most notable point in the MINI purchasing article is that “great management makes a great experience.” While a great leader is important, having a great team behind him or her is even more so. You can have the greatest quarterback in history but if the team doesn’t support him, you will lose games. Creating an excellent customer experience takes more than great leaders. This sales manager’s management style is exemplary. I applaud his commitment to doing the right thing, respecting his team, allowing his team to review him and being reflective of those criticisms.

Some of the smaller details of the article should be reiterated, because that is what  shaped the buyer’s experience from a being a good one to being a great one. Here are some of the details that caught my attention:
  1. The author was immediately greeted by a salesperson who not only introduced herself, but began the conversation by selling herself with some personal information.
     
  2. She was knowledgeable about the product,  but if there was something she didn’t know, she admitted it and then found the answer.
     
  3. Throughout the buying process, “everyone gave me a sense of trust that they were all playing straight.” This can’t happen without employees who are engaged and committed to the organization’s success.
     
  4. The salesperson introduced the detailer as the dealership’s “best kept secret.” How often do behind-the-scenes people not only get recognized but recognized in front of customers?

These small things were the genesis of the customer’s great experience – one she attributed to great management. There is little doubt that the leader of this dealership is doing an excellent job cultivating an exceptional customer experience.  Actions he takes as a great leader are a direct result of the fact that he has a great team behind him. His philosophy makes him better at his job, but the way he conducts himself make his employees and staff want to succeed as well.

One of the greatest quotes in the article is also one of the best ways to be successful not only in life but in management:
“…learn from everything, make the good better, and turn the bad around.”