You need gas for your car and you’re driving aimlessly looking for a gas station. Then you pull out your smartphone and in seconds you have an application listing the address, phone number and even gas prices to compare. Isn’t it amazing? Yeah, it’s great if you’re the customer… But what about that gas station across the street you passed up because the one down the street was 2 cents cheaper?
With the advent of new technology, small business face even more pressure to remain current. Social media is a new platform that many people use. Smartphones and mobile applications have made a big social media impact with people looking to connect with others and offering bargaining power to consumers. This type of services not only empowers individuals with the power of instant communication but puts the pressure on business to keep up with customer’s needs. The automotive industry and especially small business in this arena face the question of adopt or adapt?
Adopting (and investing) in new technology is tricky and quite expensive for small businesses. You spend resources to be customer-oriented and a minute later comes out the next best thing and there goes your investment. Think about it: TV set with the VHS built in, stand alone CD players, they’re all extinct. Not to say that rejecting technology is the solution, but how much is too much and when isolation is a good idea?
In the case of the auto industry, aside from a good website with prices and the occasional coupon deals by email, do you really need more? Like many others, I personally don’t go around clipping coupons and comparing prices unless I am ready to buy. And we all know spam filters are a must in those cases. Which brings the obvious into question: How are small business to advertise and remain competitive, how do you adapt?
In a changing and challenging economy, staying still equals extinction. Darwin preached adaptation and business after all is about survival of the fittest. Small businesses in the auto industry therefore must thrive in this challenges. There are so many websites with amazing designs and really interesting blogs, but buying decisions are not based on pictures or comments alone. You read reviews, you research prices. Purchases are based on prices and service. And that’s where the auto industry should adapt.
Online coupons, unpublished prices to preferred customers, limited-time offers, targeted discounts. It’s no longer about looking for the customer, it’s about the customer looking for you. Word of mouth is not about talking anymore, “Cellphones Now Used More for Data Than for Calls” according to a 2010 New York Times article. We need to become more user-friendly and have the consumer want to find you. Social media in this case, is only the medium to help prospective clients find you easily. In turn, the auto industry must value the customer by respecting the limits of advertising, not spamming and above all, not reselling our information. That’s the only way to trust the interest of the auto industry in social media.