Video Walkarounds Done Right

If you work at a dealership and want to learn how to present a vehicle in a video walk around on YouTube, the first place you should look is saabkyle04’s channel.  Watch the video above to see what I mean.  Here are the points I think a saabkyle04 in training can take away from this master of video reviews of cars on YouTube.

Consistency:  Whether saabklye04 is reviewing a Ferrari, a Ford, or a Fiat, he has a consistent presentation in each and every one of his videos.  Sometimes he may deviate on  the introduction (as seen with the video above on the Mustang), but each of his videos otherwise are strikingly consistent.  Viewers appreciate this as they know what to expect and what information saabklye04 will share with them.

Enthusiasm:  You can tell how much saabkyle04 enjoys what he is doing.  If he doesn’t, he fooled me and probably many of his viewers.  Remember that no matter how your day may be going, you have to be top notch when presenting your product.  If you’re having an off day and can’t shake your feelings, save the video for another day.

Descriptions and Tags:  Think about if George Lucas filmed Star Wars but only showed it to his friends.  YouTube videos are no different.  You can make the best content around, but if you don’t distribute it, no one is going to see your efforts.  Check out saabkyle04’s descriptions of the videos.  Also, pay attention to how he tags his videos.  In this particular video, he has over 60 tags.  In a nutshell, tags are words you use to describe to YouTube what your video is about.  All of his tags help YouTube determine whether his video is relevant to a particular viewer’s search.  His view count (the number of times his video has been played) shows that his distribution model works and he’s getting his videos in front of many viewers.

Know Your Stuff:  Saabkyle04 shows the viewer that he knows his material.  Prepare and study your product so you come across to the viewer that you know what you’re talking about.  Practice your presentation, and don’t be afraid to do several takes to dial in your presentation.

Editing/Sound/Lighting:  To me, many videos on YouTube suffer from poor sound, editing and lighting.  When choosing a video camera, make sure that you have one that has good sound recording capabilities and consider using an external mic.  When filming, check to see how well the vehicle and surrounding area is lit and whether your camera can handle the lighting of the environment properly.  The more expensive the video camera, typically, the better low light performance it has.  Cameras such as a flip or an iPhone require lots of lighting to make good video so keep that in mind when choosing the area to record your video.  Also, once you’ve finished your video, use editing software to make it look great and flow as well as it should.

Never Stop Learning:  Embrace change that comes with new techniques and technology.  See how to tweak your videos for better results.  Understand analytics offered by YouTube on your videos and test how to increase your viewer count.  Don’t be afraid to participate with your peers on forums such as Kain Automotive Idea Exchange and Driving Sales and learn from them.

If you have any examples of great video walk arounds on automobiles, powersport vehicles or anything else, post them below.

Automated Slide Shows vs. Walk Arounds for Dealership Generated Digital Content

HD video cameras such as the Flip and content hosting sites like YouTube and Vimeo ushered a golden age of sharing digital video content.  Before this democratization of digital content creation and distribution, it was prohibitively expensive for dealerships to fully leverage existing technology to create compelling visual content.  Back then, because of these costs and distribution venues limited to broadcast/cable television, the format of video content was almost exclusively commercials, focused on particular bargains offered for a limited time, and to a lesser extent, infomercials, which spanned a wide variety of topics.  Very rarely would you see dealership-generated content broadcast on television that varied from a deal-specific advertising message.

Now, with a HD video camera, relatively inexpensive and standard on a host of smartphones such as the iPhone, and decent editing software, dealers can create compelling digital content and distribute this content to viewers in their local market and around the world.  But, while the tools are more accessible than before, the challenge now is creating content that resonates with consumers.  Various vendors that serve the automotive industry have stepped in to fill this content void that many stores face.

At my previous dealership, we used a service similar to the dealer below to generate content for YouTube.  This format is known as a ‘slide show’ because the video is created using photography provided by the dealer:

Some dealers are using another approach, which is to generate content specific to a particular vehicle in a “walk-around” format created by an actual person and not a digital service.  In the automotive industry, a walk-around is a presentation on a vehicle where a sales person literally walks a customer around the vehicle, noting particular features and benefits that the vehicle has.  For example, with the customer at the rear of the vehicle, the sales person may explain the LED tail lights that are standard on the vehicle and how LED lighting fires quicker and is brighter on average that a typical bulb, which notifies people who you are in front of, thereby reducing the risk of accidents.   Below is an example of this approach:

The slide shows are automated, while the walk-around presentation above is labor and time intensive.  The quality of a particular walk-around presentation depends solely on the skill and expertise of whoever at the dealership is tasked with creating this content.  If the dealership has the wrong person making this video, a consumer may be turned off because of issues with the video like poor audio, poor video or poor information provided in the video.  While slide shows are not labor intensive, do not rely on the skills of the dealership’s employees, and can be executed on a consistent and timely basis, they are far from perfect.  The program often mispronounces features and equipment, is very impersonal and may not highlight the features and benefits important to consumers.

So, which do you think is a more effective method?  If you were looking to purchase a vehicle, which format would give the seller top-of-mind awareness, assuming quality was the same?  How should a dealership measure effectiveness; views on YouTube, conversions on the dealer’s website, or some other method?  Is there a place for both, or neither, in a dealer’s digital marketing plans?

Lincoln’s Quest for a ‘Personal Touch’

To say Lincoln has not shared the same level of success Ford has experienced lately is an understatement.  While Ford has flourished, Lincoln has languished.  Lincoln’s woes arguably began a decade ago with scuttled attempts to make Lincoln an American BMW and Ford Motor Company’s financial meltdown that eventually lead to Alan Mulally’s appointment as CEO.  Today, Jim Farley, Group Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales and Service of Ford Motor Company, has advanced several visions of what Lincoln is and what it should be.  One is to be a Tier 1 luxury brand, occupying the rarefied air of the luxury market dominated by thoroughbred luxury manufacturers BMW and Mercedes.  The other is that Lincoln will offer a ‘personal touch’ to luxury buyers that other luxury manufacturers lack.

The distribution model Mr. Farley has chosen to meet these goals is the wrong one.  Perpetuating a trend that began prior to current management’s reboot of Lincoln, Ford Motor Company encourages the co-mingling of Ford and Lincoln vehicles in the same showroom.  Once considered taboo, the configuration of Ford-Lincoln is the dominate distribution model for Lincoln today.  Combining a non-luxury brand and a luxury brand in the same channel is a concept foreign to the sales of luxury automobiles.  No other luxury manufacturer uses this model, including those such as Audi, Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura.  Cadillac is moving away from allowing the co-mingling of its non-luxury products brands with Cadillac in major metropolitan markets.

Why is this problematic?  A dealership, like any other business, has limited resources and will distribute these limited resources to their best use.  Logically, if a market represents a small share of the dealership’s overall business, that market will not receive as much of the staff’s focus as the larger parts.  Lincoln products now have to compete for shelf space with Fords and used vehicles, which, in many cases, offer a sales person more gross profit for less effort to sell.  If the Lincoln product isn’t sufficiently differentiated from the Ford product, it becomes a selling tool to sell more Fords.  For example, a sales person may show a customer a Limited Taurus and Lincoln MKS.  Both cars are on the same platform and both offer similar features.  The Taurus is thousands less than the Lincoln.  From a value proposition, the Taurus seems like the better deal, and the sales person may then use the Lincoln to show how good of a deal the Taurus is.  Even if significantly differentiated, Lincolns still have to compete with a wide and deep shelf of Ford products, from small cars to full size trucks, with many that offer content and features identical to Lincoln counterparts.

How does the dealership deliver a shopping experience Mr. Farley envisions with a ‘personal connection’ to the luxury buyer?  Does the dealership democratize the whole process, and offer the Ford buyer the same experience as the Lincoln buyer, or does the dealership try to segregate the two buyers even though they will shop in the same showroom and be served by the same staff?  How does the dealership treat a consumer who buys a Lincoln for his personal use and a Ford truck for his business?    Is this person a ‘Ford’ customer or someone who deserves a ‘personal connection’ like a Lincoln buyer?  What of a Ford buyer that purchases a Titanium Fusion (the highest price and most lavishly equipped Fusion) or a top of the line Super Duty truck?  Is he or she not worthy of a ‘personal connection?’  Instead of elevating the Lincoln shopping experience, the shift will be to reach the lowest common denominator between the brands.  This is a possible advantage for Ford, as it means an upgraded shopping experience for Ford consumers.  But how will luxury buyers feel when cross-shopping Ford-Lincoln dealers with dealers that offer only BMW, Mercedes, Audi, etc.?

Ford Motor Company has a great pool of talent, and its management team has made some great strides with putting the shine back on the Blue Oval.  Ford brand products are winning the hearts, minds and hard-earned money of American consumers.  It is far from certain, however, that current management can replicate these successes with Ford at Lincoln.  A legacy distribution system that favored the combination of Ford-Lincoln dealers may outweigh any strides Lincoln designers may make with the lineup.

Farley Touts Lincoln’s ‘Personal Connection,’ Automotive News.

Welcome to Auto Law JD!

Thank you for visiting my blog.  I’m currently a 2P (a 2L part time student) at a law school in the NYC area.  To call me a ‘non-traditional’ law student is an understatement.  I embarked on my candidacy for Juris Doctor at the ripe young age of 35.  My career before attending law school was in the automotive industry.  I started as a zone manager with an automobile manufacturer and then became the general manager of a new vehicle dealership in Virginia.

So, this will be a blog about gardening or cooking, right?  Not exactly.  I plan to write about what I know and what I love; the automobile industry.  Most individuals who work in the automotive industry either work entirely on the OEM side (manufacturers, distributors and companies that service them) or on the retail side (dealerships and the businesses that serve them).  Since I’ve worked in both, I have a unique perspective on this dynamic and exciting business.  I plan to discuss legal and nonlegal matters that shape this industry and my take on where our industry is heading, best practices and my own observations on how processes and technology are changing the automotive industry like never before.  I’ll stray a bit from the automotive industry by sharing my observations on the legal industry, legal education and some of my hobbies.

Thanks again for taking the blog for a spin.  I look forward to sharing more with you soon.