Automotive Advertising Agencies Prefer Marketing Platforms Vs Individual Vendor Applications

In today’s struggling economy and consolidating auto industry consumers, auto dealers and their automotive advertising agencies are demanding more for less. Consumers want to spend less time and money shopping for a vehicle and auto dealers have directed their automotive advertising agencies to deliver more reach, frequency, impressions — and of course vehicles — for less money with less effort since auto dealer’s staff’s have been reduced along with their advertising budgets.

The first wave of solutions that satisfied consumers and auto dealers alike came with the growth of technology driven marketing applications that replicated proven real world selling processes to accommodate established consumer preferences. The Internet provided the efficient media required to effectively deliver the marketing message to a qualified consumer in a cost effective and scalable manner and several automotive advertising vendors developed applications that made the message more relevant and transparent for the consumer.

A prime example of how the virtual world was built on the real world was in the explosive growth of video in online automotive advertising. A generation of consumers that grew up with television quickly gravitated to video on the World Wide Web. The search engines adjusted their algorithms to accommodate them by weighting video over copy or pictures in their search results. SiSTeR Technologies pioneered the automated Video Walk A-Round industry in 2006 before the search engines and auto dealers recognized the preference by consumers for video when surfing the web to purchase a new or pre-owned vehicle. As a result, SiSTeR Technologies has earned a reputation as a dedicated, innovative and progressive provider of video for the auto industry. SiSTeR produces comprehensive video analytical reports and has demonstrated that auto dealers using its video applications enjoy increased conversion rates, more calls and lead submission exceeding 70%.

SiSTeR uses proprietary technology that creates an individual Video Walk A-Round for every vehicle in the dealers’ inventory using existing pictures, data and text. The production process is fully automated without placing any burden on the dealer. One of the most valued and unique features of their process is that every vehicle is described using a real human voice and the music and style of presentation are customized to fit the vehicle’s category.

Potential car buyers are served by the video clips presented through SiSTer’s proprietary 3DF player that is integrated with most web site providers and all of the major industry portals. Thanks to their 3DF technology, SiSTeR provides the auto dealer with valuable information to quantify their R.O.I. including vehicle comparisons and user behavior when they interact with the video.

Of equal importance to the auto dealer is the fact that the video clips are also uploaded to You Tube and indexed by Google. SiSTeR pioneered the video search engine in early 2008 as the first video provider for the automotive industry that integrated with You Tube. Today, vSEO has become an industry standard and SiSTeR was strategically positioned to take advantage by being the first to expand their application into a comprehensive platform that includes their professionally produced videos as well as a variety of complimentary products and services.

According to Israel Alpert, the C.E.O. of SiSTeR Technologies — Many providers are trying to follow but none of them has the depth of expertise and experience that is required to achieve top position on Google’s search result. We just introduced VidBrid — a revolutionary technology that merges the vehicle presentation and the dealers’ branding with full motion video inserts that are perfectly synchronized with the voice over. Our productions are not just boring picture stitching or infomercials that turn the audience away. Our VidBrid technology not only captures the user’s attention but it allows the dealer and the service provider to customize the production to fit every vehicle and style as well as to include the dealers’ messaging, services and special offerings within the video production. Differentiation is the key to successful marketing and SiSTeR has taken that wisdom to the next level. Auto dealers are no longer limited to the same cookie-cutter, one production fits all video to market their vehicles and their auto dealerships.

The true leverage of extending automotive advertising applications into platforms is realized when specialized platforms — such as SiSTeR Technologies Video Platform — merge with non-competing applications and/or platforms to enhance the solutions provided by both. SiSTeR has developed a national network of distinguished resellers, service providers and promoters that already have established platforms and/or applications. Their common goal is to expand their services to their auto dealer clients while improving the online shopping experience for consumers. Their expanding group of respected channel partners can point to direct engagement with large dealer groups. It has already earned them a pilot program with a major OEM which should be announced to the public at the 2010 NADA Convention scheduled in Orlando, February 13th though February 15th, 2010. With a combined network of over 600 sales people in the field supported by their philosophy and focus to stay on the cutting edge of video production and marketing to the auto industry they are recognized by many of their auto dealer clients as an innovative vendor partner who is extremely attentive to the auto dealer’s needs.

ecarlist is an automotive advertising vendor with a variety of applications that comprise a marketing platform of their own. ecarlist recognized the proprietary nature of SiSTeR’s video platform and they recently became their latest channel partner. Their new reseller relationship with SiSTeR Technologies will enhance both platforms and provide added value to their shared customers. ecarlist provides a comprehensive inventory management application and appraisal tool tied to internet sourced market data as well as web site designs and support services which will benefit by their integration of SiSTeR’s video platform.

I interviewed Len Critcher, the President of ecarlist, on my blog talk radio show, Automotive Advertising Experts, that aired on November 14th 2008. The new relationship between ecarlist and SiSTeR Technologies developed after the two companies recognized the value of combining their applications to better serve their auto dealer clients.

Len Critcher is a dealer principal of eCarLink.com, a leading Internet dealership and CEO of ecarlist.com, a dealership software company in Dallas, TX. For five years, eCarLink.com has consistently sold over 1,000 vehicles per year exclusively through online marketing.

Critcher has been profiled in Forbes Magazine, CBS News, American Way, and the Dallas Business Journal for his work. He is often asked to consult dealerships on best practices in selling/marketing online. Critcher’s dealership is currently ranked #8 nationally of ‘pre-owned retailers’ by Auto Dealer Monthly.

ecarlist serves +/- 500 auto dealerships, including the largest Chevy dealership and the largest pre-owned Lexus dealership in the nation. They have been marketing their product for less than 2 years but they have recently expanded their offerings to include the following features and benefits;

Inventory Listing Management

ecarlist provides more than just inventory management capabilities. They are one of the most powerful listing tools available. ecarlist provides multiple ways to input inventory including feeds from a 3rd-party dealer service vendor, integration with an auto dealer’s legacy DMS, or vehicles can be entered manually making the process as painless and intuitive as possible.

Powered by Chrome Systems, one of the most powerful and accurate VIN decoders available, after the initial decode all auto dealers are required to input in most cases is the price, mileage and description (if desired). Their VIN decode even provides available OEM colors and options for that particular make and model. Total and seamless integration with both CARFAX and AutoCheck allow the option to choose the source of a vehicle’s history report, and ecarlist is one of the first platforms to provide a quick-view CARFAX Highlights summary directly from the vehicle’s inventory page. No more wasting time opening and reviewing CARFAX reports!

ecarlist’s description builder develops a seemingly-customized description about a vehicle without spending all of the extra time. Simply choose the categories to describe, click the check box by the respective description and finalize the arrangement of the descriptions. One of the things that make their description builder unique is the ability to save custom phrases and paragraphs-no more opening up word documents to copy/paste favorite openings or paragraphs. Simply type them once, save them to the ecarlist description builder and access them for all future listings. Their description builder will even update the year, make, model, price and mileage automatically into customized paragraphs, which will save even more time!

Auto Dealers can preview their ad and send their inventory to all of the major sites using some of the most recognizable and acclaimed templates available with just one click. If an auto dealer prefers a unique, or more customized template, or they feel that there are some better web sites that they would like to use to advertise their inventory, ecarlist will help them achieve what will work best for their dealership.

With ecarlist’s integrated, multi-site lead management system, auto dealers can view and reply to leads from many of the most popular marketing mediums directly from their ecarlist account. Auto dealers can choose to view leads based on date received or by vehicle. Even monitor all email communications in thread based formatting.

Email Lead Management

Their included E-mail Lead Management system also allows auto dealers to respond to customer questions, accept/reject/counter eBay Best Offers, and avoid unwanted spam e-mails, which will ensure that auto dealers only receive e-mails that pertain to their business.

Market Price Analysis

The days of only monitoring a competing dealer’s specials down the street are over. The dealership of today must understand the National marketplace and must buy/price their inventory accordingly. There is an old saying, profit is made on the buy, not the sale. With ecarlist’s integrated Market Analysis system — dealerships are better equipped during the buying stage as well as the marketing and pricing stages. Auto dealers can use ecarlist to assess trade values looking at many forms of data including Black Book and eBay Motors Market Data. Auto dealers can compare inventory with ‘real-time’ VIN matched vehicles selling online and see exactly what competitors are asking.

A new feature to be added to ecarlist in the near future is their Classified Market Analysis including Auto Trader and Cars.com. Also, improved inventory monitoring and inventory price alerts.

Free Inventory Export to Multiple Sites

From eBay Motors and AutoTrader, to Cars.com and Edmunds, auto dealers can list their vehicles to all of the most popular online advertising platforms with just one click.

Free Window Sticker Creator

Auto Dealers can access customized window stickers and buyer’s guides, on demand, with their Window Sticker Creator. No more waiting for 3rd-party providers to put stickers on inventory, no more waiting for graphics companies to deliver stickers a week after they are ordered and no more paying someone else for something that auto dealers can do themselves for ΒΌ of the cost; simply click and print.

eBay LOCAL Integration

ecarlist is one of only a handful of eBay Motors Preferred Service Providers out of the 30,000+ vendors that eBay works with.

Free Craigslist Integration

Auto dealers can easily send all their inventory to one of the world’s largest free, online marketplaces. With more than 7 billion page views per month and an opportunity to selectively market vehicles in most of the country’s largest metropolitan areas for free, Craigslist is something auto dealers will definitely take advantage of. A full color ad, branded with dealership banners will ensure that vehicles get the attention they need from potential buyers.

AutoTrader Tag Line

The eCarList AutoTrader Tag Line, provides the ability to precede each ad with a customer, sales-person specific greeting, that should increase the likelihood that a potential customer knows who to ask for to eliminate confusion on the showroom floor.

Integrated Lease Quoting System

Auto Dealers can populate their ads with auto-generated lease quotes using generic, make-specific or franchise-specific lease criteria (money factors, residuals, terms, etc.). No more manually entering terms on the back-end, no more guessing what the lease payment might be-ecarlist does the work for the auto dealer.

DMS, CRM or Other 3rd-Party Integration

Duplicate entry, switching back-and-forth between various web pages, reconciling an auto dealer’s inventory and corresponding leads all take up valuable time that should be better spent selling vehicles and making money. That is why ecarlist works so diligently to provide integrations with all of the necessary sources that auto dealers utilize on a daily basis. However, ecarlist goes one step further by ensuring the data from/to these sources are seamlessly integrated into the auto dealer’s account, so the dealer can manage and access everything they need from ecarlist without compromising functionality or accuracy.

Manheim’s Online Vehicle Exchange (OVE) Integration

Lower transaction costs, guaranteed payment, exposure to a national audience of buying dealers…if an auto dealer wholesales any of their inventory, OVE is a necessity. ecarlist is proud to be one of the first 3rd-party partners of OVE by providing their auto dealers the ability to list and manage their vehicles directly to this new auction marketplace. All auto dealer clients need to get started is an eCarList account and their Manheim user-name and password.

24-Hour Technical Support

At ecarlist, customer support is paramount. From their technical support and sales representatives, to their executive officers, their goal is that virtually anyone and everyone on their team is accessible when their dealer clients need them most.

Customized “Framing” Upon Request

Framing is a great way to make ads stand out, establish an online image and preserve dealership-specific branding. Additionally, framing decreases the likelihood that a dealership’s ‘likeness’ or vehicle photos will be used in a fraudulent manner by making it difficult for individuals to steal photos without spending a prohibitive amount of time editing them for use as their own.

VIN Explosion Back-up

Although, ecarlist took great care when researching and partnering with the most robust and accurate VIN decode company available, no VIN decoder has 100% success decoding VIN’s. That is why ecarlist is the first, and to their knowledge, only company around that cares enough about their auto dealer client’s time and the accuracy of their listings to employ a back-up VIN decode system. In the event an auto dealer’s initial VIN decode fails, eCarList wil automatically generate a VIN decode request with their back-up VIN decode partner, VinPOWER.

The diverse and robust series of integrated applications that make up the ecarlist marketing platform provide a variety of solutions for the auto dealer clients of SiSTeR Technologies that SISTeR does not have the skills or resources to replicate. Similarly, ecarlist determined that the specialized skill sets of the SiSTeR development team and the extensive video platform that they have matured in the market represented a sufficient barrier to entry to deter ecarlist from trying to replicate their video solutions. The resulting integration of the complimentary applications/ platforms of the two automotive advertising vendors are a prime example of why automotive advertising agencies are turning to technology driven marketing platforms vs. individual applications to get more for less.

Home Improvement Tips: Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

Reasons for A RedoHome improvement projects often begin with someone saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if… ?” usually followed by a wish for a remodelled kitchen or a room addition for space to accommodate every family member’s needs. More often than not, reality and dreams don’t coincide, due to limited funds for realizing the dream, or limits on the available space. The trick: turning your dreams into reality. Begin with a realistic evaluation of your needs. Homeowners usually consider home improvements for one of the following reasons.You may feel the need to update something that is out-of-date. If your kitchen colour scheme was perfect a few decades ago but no longer works, now may a good time to update it.Some home improvement projects grow out of an immediate need to replace broken or inefficient fixtures. If a sink, tub, or toilet needs to be replaced, consider taking advantage of the opportunity to do a makeover on the entire bathroom.If you’re preparing to sell your home, you’ll want to be sure to get top dollar from the sale. That’s great motivation for some home improvement projects.You have decided that staying put and improving your home is a better option than moving.Your family has grown and you need more space.Improving to Move? or Improving to Stay?Evaluate your plans carefully if you’re improving your home to list it for sale. Cutting corners may hurt your prospects rather than helping them. But don’t go overboard either. Potential buyers may prefer not to pay for some of the extras, such as a hot tub or pool. You’re better off keeping the changes simple.And remember that buyers who view your home may not share your tastes and may not appreciate the care you took to find just the right shade of green paint for the walls.You’ll find that improving to sell is easier if you can think about it from the prospective buyer’s point of view: What is important to the home buyer? Here are a few remodelling projects buyers are likely to find valuable:Adding or remodelling a bathImproving the kitchenAdding a new roomLandscapingAdding a bedroomAdding or enclosing a garage.If you’re remodelling because you want to stay in your home, you should still avoid over-improving it. You’ll probably want to sell it someday, and even if your house is the best on the block, it may be difficult to convince potential buyers to pay for the things you considered important. And when you consider making improvements, keep in mind the value of other homes in the area. Your home’s value should not be more than 20% above the average, which means that a $10,000 kitchen improvement project well could be a better investment than a $10,000 hot tub, especially if yours will be the only home in the area with a hot tub.Home Maintenance versus Home ImprovementsIt’s unfortunate that some home improvement projects are undertaken because something has broken. Replacing a leaky bathtub may be the first step to a major bath remodeling: since the tub has to be replaced anyway, why not do the whole room?While that might be a legitimate reason to remodel, avoid basing your home improvement projects on immediate needs. You’ll be better off if you minimize problems with proper maintenance. Examine every part of your home at least once a year. Check the roof, the plumbing, electrical wiring, etc. As soon as become aware of a problem, fix it. Making repairs when you’re first aware of them will help you avoid larger expenses later on. Keep in mind that maintenance does not add to the value of your home. Usually repairs are not improvements; they are necessities.Hiring Professionals May Save You Time and MoneyIt should go without saying that home projects can be expensive, so you may be tempted to tackle them yourself as a way to save money. That may be a smart move for small projects. You won’t have to wait for someone to fit your house into their busy schedule, and you can boast about having done the work yourself.But unless you’re very versatile, major home improvements are better left to professionals. If you decide to remodel the kitchen and plan to do the work yourself, will you be able to handle the plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work on your own?. And don’t forget that you’ll need to finish it quickly, because you won’t have a kitchen as long as it’s a “work in process” and eating three meals a day in restaurants could get expensive. Keep in mind, do-it-yourself jobs generally take more time. And you’ll be responsible for getting all the necessary permits and inspections.Hiring people who have the required experience can save you money and time, too. For example, these professionals can help you get a custom look using stock products, and that can be a significant savings. Getting something done right the first time will give you value that lasts for years.To find qualified and dependable home improvement specialists, check with friends, business associates, and neighbours for recommendations. Always get at least three references, and check them out thoroughly. Also check with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. Their numbers can be found in the community services section of your telephone book.Once you’ve located the necessary home improvement specialists, make sure everyone is in agreement about the design, the schedule, and the budget, and get the details down in writing in a signed contract.It’s also wise to check on professional certifications and licenses, where required, and be certain that the contractors you hire are fully insured and bonded. Your town or city Building Department can provide that information. And it’s very important that you make sure contractors carry workers’ compensation insurance: if workers are injured on the job, you won’t be liable if the contractor is covered. Request copies of their insurance certificates. And make sure that either you or your contractor have gotten any necessary permits before the work begins. Contact your local Planning and Zoning Commission for information.Here’s a quick overview of some of the professionals you may need to work with when you remodel your home:Architect: Architects design homes or additions from the foundation to the roof. If your project will require structural changes such as adding or removing walls, or if the design is complex, you will probably need an architect. Since architects may charge an hourly or a flat fee, make sure you get an estimate of the total cost: drawing up the plans for a major remodeling project can take 80 hours or more.Contractor: The contractor oversees the home improvement project, including hiring and supervising workers, getting the necessary permits, making sure inspections are done as needed, and providing insurance for work crews. It’s always a good idea to get proposals from one or more reputable contractors, based on the specific details of your project.Be sure each contractor bids on exactly the same plan so that you can compare their bids more easily. When you’ve chosen a contractor, make sure the contract specifies that you will pay in stages. You’ll usually pay one third when the contract is signed so that the contractor can buy supplies. The number and timing for making the remaining payments will depend on the size of the project. Do not make the final payment until all the work is successfully completed, inspected, and approved.Interior Designers: Interior designers are specialists who will provide advice on furnishings, wall coverings, colors, styles, and more. They help save you time by narrowing your selection, and save money because they usually receive professional discounts from their suppliers. When meeting with an interior designer, be sure to tell them about your personal style and preferences. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour, or you may be able to negotiate a flat fee of approximately 25% of the total project cost.

Online Education Brings Benefits to the Schools & the Students

There is no secret that online education is growing in a sharp trend as more and more students opt for this education option to pursue a degree online. The advantages of online education not only benefits the students, but also the schools that make their courses available for online students. For students, it offers freedom and convenient learning environment. For the schools, it offers more profit opportunities. By setting up online classes, the school is able to enroll more, and teach less. It is a win-win education option for both the schools and the students.Most students don’t like to be watched and pushed at the back by their lecturers. They want the freedom to learn based on their schedule and at where they like. Online education learning setting meets the dreamed study environment of these students. Most education programs offered to online students enables the students to plan their own study schedule. They can choose to logon to the online classes whenever they like to get the learning materials, upload their completed assignments and participate into the online discussion forums.Despite the freedom provided to the students, the online courses are structured so that the students must follow a learning path to get their courses completed and they must interact with other students. Usually, they will be asked to read and give responses to other student’s postings. Indirectly, the students will learn from each other by sharing their opinions in the discussion forum. It is impossible to have every student to interact with each other in a pure classroom setting. This is the advantage of online education that benefits the students to learn from each other.In the traditional classroom setting, the schools have limitation to support as many students as their facilities allowed. If they want to enroll more students, they will need to invest money to install more facilities. A better way for a school to expand their teaching capability is by enabling online education. An online class size may be set as big as 50 students, which will need only one teacher to mange it. So, the schools can enroll more students with similar teaching power in the classroom setting.While the schools able to offer more courses in online education without the limitation of their schools’ physical facilities, the students enjoy the benefits of being online students to pursue their favorite education program without the need to consider the geography limitation. As long as the school that offers online courses accepts International students, the students are able to enroll into the program regardless where they are. Students from all around the globe can reach the online classes with the same number of mouse clicks. Similarly, the schools are able to accept more students from all over the world for more profits.SummaryThe advantages of online education that benefit all parties make it a preferred option for many students to pursue their education online. The demand of online education drives the schools toward offering more courses in virtual world. It is a recipe of success for both the schools and the students.