Howdy, David! Can you share with us how you started in the automotive industry?
I've been friends with Cory, Robert Bassam's son, since preschool. We're talking a quarter-century of friendship. I'd help at Visions Automotive Group during college summers — just moving cars around, nothing fancy. After my stint as a sports management major intern with the Washington Commanders – thanks to James Madison University's partnership with them – I scored a full-time gig. In 2021, Cory's brother, Joel, offered me a comeback, this time in marketing. To me, it's like returning to my second family.
Over two years back now, and we've got this cool thing at Easterns, right? In our email signatures, we count our years of commitment. So, I’ve got my "2 years" proudly displayed. It's a nice touch for everyone, showing how much experience we bring.
Tell us about marketing at a basic level and your secret discovery along the way?
Folks think working at a dealership means you sell cars. And yeah, we do, but indirectly. Marketing at Easterns is about brand visibility and community engagement. We've been at it for 35 years, and it's more than transactions — it's about being a supportive community member. My days involve lots of Excel and acronyms, but the goal is to market our Easterns family brand across the area, not just the cars.
Marketing seems to be an invitation to partner with your brand long-term?
Exactly. It's not about hounding folks. Our catchy jingle from the early 2000s and our partnerships with athletes and celebrities — that's what keeps us familiar. People tag us when they hear it; it's nostalgic for the older folks and just fun for the younger. We aim to be that household name people think of; not only when needing a car but for the good we do, too.
Are there any standout moments where it's been about more than cars?
We've got this Pay It Forward thing with our local Fox station. Robert Bassam, our owner, might gift a car during Christmas, but we've broadened that giving spirit year-round. We partner with local stations, contributing to deserving community members — sometimes with a surprise live on TV! We've also donated laptops to schools, and depending on the month, we tailor our contributions to relevant causes. It's our way of showing we're not just about selling cars; we're ingrained in the community, giving back wherever we can.
It's about more than cars – it's about a 35-year relationship with the community. We're not here just to make a sale; we're here to make a difference and support our neighbors. It's a privilege, really.