Dealer Stories

Talking with Marc Bland

Meeting up with Marc Bland at NAMAD. 🎤
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Talking with Marc Bland

Paul recently chatted with Marc Bland in person and grabbed some audio from the conversation. Marc is the Chief Diversity Officer for S&P Global and had some insightful things to share with dealers from his years in the business.

Marc, thanks for talking with us! Tell us about the Diversity Volume Leadership Awards and your role in them.

The Diversity Volume Leadership Awards, or DVLs, were created by me and my brother in the business, Damon Lester, who proudly serves as the Vice Chair for NAMAD – the National Association of Minority Auto Dealers. We did that approximately ten years ago. And we realized there was a need in the auto industry to focus on diverse consumers, including African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. At one point, we talked about women in leadership. We've also included over the years LGBT. Now we're talking about even their top vehicle choices for EVs, and what we wanted was a shift away from aligning awards with sponsorship levels and getting more to the truth. And so, we created an award show that would only highlight models that sold the most new vehicle units to what we call "the future majority," African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics.

The proof has to be in actual sales. To get those sales, you must work hard to create a strategy, align and invest human capital and money resources, and get ethnic partners, agency partners, minority dealers, et cetera to out-muscle or out-sell all the competition. That's the only way you get on stage.

So, what is the secret to the success? She said a few words about how there are some common denominators in the ones that keep winning. What are they?

The first one is true. Organic focus on leaning into minority consumers. It starts with the C level, whether the CEO or CMO, but at some sea level, I have to say this will be a concerted and consistent effort across our OEM.

Number two comes the investment. Hey, I wanna have a Chief Diversity, not just a Chief Diversity Officer, but a Chief Diversity Marketing Officer, et cetera. Somebody that it's their full-time job to focus on these future majority consumers. Not just window dressing but empowered with budget and influence across the organization.

Second is that you have to go out and get these agency partners. Hey, black advertising agencies, Hispanic advertising agencies, Asian agencies, women's focus, leadership, LGBT, et cetera. And once you get that kind of thing and you get everybody in line, and they start working together like a well-oiled machine. Now you're doing it, and it's part of your company culture.

So what if you gave us a little prescription? But like, do you have a final word to people? Is anyone interested in leaning in a little bit more? What's a practical step they can take? You listed a couple of really big steps, right? What practical steps could people take to move a little closer?

One is your marketing because marketing gets people out of bed and makes them consider and ultimately purchase your vehicles or products. Make sure the marketing is organic and authentic, focusing on the future majority of consumers and what they do where they work, live, and play daily. That's the key. And suppose it comes off that way, and they see you lean in because everybody carries these pocket computers called cell phones. In that case, they can pull back all the layers of your company and see. The second thing is to ensure that your message resonates inside your company and that you have people, males, and females, that look like the audience you're trying to target at a senior level because that also shows your commitment.

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