Mark Sowerby – Co-Founder of Drive Agency – talks to us about early experiences with General Motors brands, digital lead generation plus a brief appearance on Japanese TV!
What were your first experiences of the automotive industry?
Very early on in my marketing career I worked at an agency that was responsible for national and dealer marketing for a number of General Motors brands – it was a great insight into the challenges automotive retailers face in the continual drive to sell more vehicles and how to craft compelling communications for different brands that resonate with customers.
How has it changed since then?
The biggest change has to be the tidal wave of digital communication channels that are available to dealers now. Back in the day there was a real focus on print ads and ensuring that local press was showing the latest ads as well as regular printed newsletters that were posted out to customers and promotional door drops.
Now that’s all been taken online – the way customers research, compare and buy has completely changed. In general, customers are better informed and it’s easier for them to purchase from anywhere in the country. So dealers aren’t just competing within their region but with the entire network.
It’s never been more important to demonstrate professionalism, quality and a customer-first ethos.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing automotive retailers right now?
It has to be the quest to generate and convert as many leads as possible in the most efficient way they can.
There’s ground to be made up as we emerge from the pandemic and those automotive businesses that have slick lead-generation backed up by efficient lead nurturing and professional conversion will be the winners.
Having been hit hard financially it’s a real challenge for many automotive businesses to scale a team that can deliver effectively in all of these areas.
It is also crucial they establish and effectively communicate their proposition to stand out in a hugely competitive market.
What do you think are the biggest opportunities for automotive retailers right now?
It’s been said so many times but there’s a huge opportunity for automotive businesses to embrace digital technology to enable them to work smarter to generate more profit.
We’re privileged to work with businesses that are creating software and platforms that are genuine gamechangers in this space – embracing robotics and artificial intelligence to take care of manual, repetitive tasks or nurture leads.
By embracing these new solutions, automotive businesses can liberate the human members of their team to focus on what they do best – delivering impeccable customer experience at every touch point.
In an era when consumers often face information overload, with constant, repetitive and sometimes lazy communications coming from multiple brands and retailers, there is also a real opportunity for some to create real standout by injecting care and creativity into messaging that will actually engage and entice people through the door or onto your digital platforms.
How do you help automotive retailers?
We offer a suite of branding, design and copywriting services for automotive businesses – ensuring their marketing communications stand out for the right reasons.
We help them look their best on and offline as well as ensuring their key messages are communicated with clarity.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
It’s the chance to ensure people get their message across clearly and to help their business grow. Often being embroiled in the day-to-day whirlwind of running an automotive business it can be easy to lose sight of what it is that makes your business different.
We provide a new perspective that re-energises a team and accelerates their journey to achieving their commercial goals. That puts a smile on my face.
What excited you most about the chance to join Hub365?
To be able to work with likeminded automotive industry experts – united by a common goal to drive the industry forward.
What’s the most interesting fact about you?
I was once on Japanese TV declaring my love for the San Francisco 49ers – even though I had never seen them play (or knew who they were!).