'People Over Everything' Content and Marketing with Brad Gelber

June 19, 2024
Glenn Pasch sits down with Brad Gelber, Digital Media and Content Marketing Manager at West Herr Automotive.
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In this insightful episode of ASOTU CON Sessions, Glenn Pasch sits down with Brad Gelber, Digital Media and Content Marketing Manager at West Herr Automotive. Brad shares valuable strategies on organizing and optimizing content marketing in the automotive industry. He delves into the challenges faced by small marketing teams, the importance of using tools like Monday.com for workflow management, and the significance of authentic, people-centered content.

Brad also provides practical advice on creating compelling content that resonates with audiences, emphasizing the need for quick, engaging videos over long, detailed ones. He highlights the importance of employee involvement in content sharing and offers tips on leveraging Tiktok for value-driven content. The conversation concludes with Brad’s insights on convincing dealer principals of the value of social media and content marketing, making this episode a must-listen for automotive marketers looking to enhance their strategies.

0:00 Intro

1:11 Challenges in organizing content strategies

2:57 Centralized vs. decentralized marketing approaches at West Herr

4:35 Importance of people-centric content

8:08 Employees sharing company content amplifies reach

9:14 Value of problem-solving content

10:40 Leveraging Tiktok for educational content

11:55 Convincing dealer principals of social media's value

Thanks to Effectv for making this episode of ASOTU CON Sessions possible! Learn more about Effect here: https://www.effectv.com/

Unknown: 0:02

You're listening to the asotu con sessions by Effectv, live from asotu con 2024

Glenn Pasch: 0:08

this is Glenn Pasch. I am here at the sodacon podcast stage in collaboration with Effectv. And sitting across from me is Brad Gelber, Digital Media and Content Marketing Manager at West herr automotive How are you, Brad, doing? Well, thanks for having great Oh, well, I am really happy to sit here across from you, because your group is such a well known, well run, very successful group. So the fact that we get to pick your brain about marketing and content and strategy, I think everybody's going to benefit. So on that note, when you're thinking about marketing from both, you know, digital media, we were talking earlier with effective in the whole concept of OTT and things like that, but if we take a step back when, when you're trying to create strategies around content. What are some of your challenges that you run across in terms of organizing what platform or what type of content to choose? Yeah,

Brad Gelber: 1:11

that's a really good question, actually something I think that a lot of people maybe struggle with that don't have, like, an answer for it organizationally, because for us, for instance, for a long time internally, we had a pretty small marketing team. So you might think of west herr and think we have like 50 people working internally. It's not the case. But so essentially, a long time, when I started with west herr, almost eight years ago, I could do a lot of stuff in my head. It was just me and our small team doing this stuff. So as we grew, we had to scale what we were doing. So now we have two people on my direct team that help with social media, content creation and things, and then we have extensions of that with videography, photography editing, things like that. So we use a product called monday.com for us internally, really with like workflows to stay organized. We have boards that allow us to keep track of the content we're using, that day, that week, that month, scheduling out that sort of things. But really, it's like there isn't an automated workflow in the sense that you can use Monday as much as you want to to make it super extravagant, or you can use it simplistically, just on any level. So we use it more just for our team to be aware of what's going on, and then we can plan out, you know, seven days, 14 days, 28, days. And ideally, you plan out as much as you can, but in the nature of an ever changing market with all this sort of things, sometimes it's, let's, let's pivot that day with the content calendar, but at least we know what we're working with in that regard.

Glenn Pasch: 2:40

Okay, so So on that point, because I think some of the the dealers or people here and some of the marketers who are actually doing this walk me through West Herr. Is it a top down, or do each of the individual stores have their own input? How does that work? So

Brad Gelber: 2:57

we are a essentially run group. We have now, we just opened our 40th location. So we are run centrally, but the stores certainly have input as to what they want to do, if you're talking about from like, a marketing standpoint, right? So we have our internal team, and then obviously we have our leadership team, which is like our CEO, VPS directors that are kind of on the variable side as well as fixed stops. But we have monthly marketing calls with our stores where we'll talk to them kind of about what offers are they want to run, what OEM incentives we have, and then we'll try to do similar things with what sort of contents going on. So kind of like at my point in my my role, I'm kind of more focused on group level, top branding, and then my team is helping a lot with in the store level, social channels, content, so we try to hit on everything. But at our scale, it's not as easy as if we were a little smaller. So we face challenges. Maybe sometimes you think like the bigger you are, it makes everything easier. It's not always the case from a content production standpoint, because then we have we got, we want to get to everyone right, but we also have to maintain the group level branding. So we're a very like group centric brand. We're all very regionally condensed, because we're in Buffalo, Rochester, one single point in Syracuse, so we're lucky regionally, we can talk about things that make sense. Obviously, if you're a group that's spread out, you got a store in California, Texas, New York, it's a little harder to speak regionally from a group level, so we try to do a little bit of both. But I would say we're it starts at the group and then there's trickle down to the store level. Okay,

Glenn Pasch: 4:35

that makes sense. Now, two sides. We talk about variable we talk about fixed UPS marketing, but I also know I'm just looking out, and I know some of the people, some of the conversations been going on. There's people out here who's saying, that sounds great, but when you say content, sure, like, what should I be doing? Give me some ideas. What is good content, what is bad? Because sometimes people might think that. It's not really something that's going to have an effect in reality, that may be great content. So what are some types of content that you would recommend that some of the folks in the audience think about? Yeah,

Brad Gelber: 5:11

so I think we have a tendency, at least in the auto industry. I've heard it here several times, like we don't always make the most interesting content to, like, an outsider, like to us, it might be really good, because, like, if you're a car buff, or whatever, you might want to know the intricacies of this, like, 10 minute walk around, it's really interesting. Like, like, most people don't want to watch that, or they're not going to watch that. So for us at our group, and I can't speak to everyone, because everyone's culture is different, and I think that's kind of the, I guess, number one thing, finding your voice your culture, like being authentic to who you are. For us, it's all about the people. Like our main thing, we always say, is people over everything. So, like, we tell people stories, that's our differentiator, right? So West Herr, culturally, like giving back to the community. Scott Bieler, West herr cares, we have an entire division of the company just for community. So telling the community stories, telling our employees stories, because we put our employees even ahead of the customer, it's a big deal for West herr. So telling the employee stories, we do written video series that are like employee centric content. So telling all those stories, telling customer stories, community stories, and then we also want to talk about cars a little bit too, but doing it in an interesting way. So we have a videographer on our team who mainly his, one of his key roles is creating fast, cut content that's just displaying cars in an interesting way that you can consume in 60 seconds or less. So it's not that old school walk around that takes forever, right? It's just a visually appealing enough piece of content that, hey, if you want to learn more, click here, and we have four or five other pieces of content that you can dive a little further into it. So that's kind of like the overall social strategy nowadays, not just auto but like creating quick content clips, if you will, to draw you to the bigger, top level piece, right? So that's for us. It's, I think sometimes we get so caught up on talking about the product, like, oh, we need to talk about that new, you know, Jeep that just came out, right? But it's like, what about the guy that or the woman that's selling the jeep? Like, maybe their story's a little more interesting, so let's talk about them, and then we'll get to the product after that. So that's our strategy. We do a lot of that. Obviously, we tie in, again, back to the community, but we tie and we have we work with several of the Buffalo Bills players, so Josh Allen, for instance. So we do a lot with that which we're fortunate to work with someone who's as notifiable as Josh's. But that opens up a whole other door of content for us, because in Buffalo, football is second to none. So if you're able to talk about football in an authentic way to West herr, it's hard to beat that, especially when we're in the season. So there's so many different pillars of content, but I think if you're thinking about it from another maybe you're a single point store or you're a smaller group, it's you always can tell stories internally. And I think that if you can make your own employees feel like rock stars because like they get that moment in the sun on Facebook or Instagram or Tiktok, or whatever, they're going to share it. Their families are going to share it. And that's interesting content to your your network there, see,

Glenn Pasch: 8:08

I think you touched on something right there that I don't, I don't think I see enough of which is your team. Most dealerships, even a single point store on the low side, might have 30 or 40 people upwards to 100 and I always ask the question, Is your team actually sharing out your own content? And they go, Oh, well, no, I'm not sure. And I'm thinking, Well, why wouldn't if every employee has 10 people that they're probably close to on social media, you know, you just amplifying your own content. So I love that point, and I think everybody should be doing that, if you're not. And in terms of one thing I didn't hear you about, maybe from a fixed stop standpoint, if you do do that type, are you creating, or do you think content around solving a problem, or tips, you know, where you're not trying to sell them a service, but if you're saying, hey, it's buffalo. Hey, it's spring time to get all the salt off the bottom of the car. Or, hey, we're heading into winter, you need to make sure you get tune ups. Is, do you think that's a valuable piece of content as well? Is

Brad Gelber: 9:14

a total value prop. And I talk in our group, we have seminars for some of our fix. It's more on the variable side. But for people that are interested in learning more about how to take advantage of social or things like that, one of the things gets asked a lot nowadays is using Tiktok, right? And one of the things I caution people on is, is that desire to just go viral? It's like, we see these stories in the news. It's like, oh, Tiktok, so easy. I just go stand in front of the camera tomorrow. I'm gonna be a millionaire. It's like, No, it doesn't work like that, right? So I talked to them, Well, how do we use Tiktok? Then it's just what you said. It's a value prop. So last week, I just spoke at one of these and I said to them, like stuff we take for granted, maybe working in automotive, the average consumer, the average person, if they can go to Tiktok and find a 10 second video about how they can know if their tire pressure is too low, other than. Just the indicator on on your vehicle, or what does that light that won't turn off on my dashboard mean? Because I'm not going to go look it up. I don't have an owner's manual anymore. I don't want to call the store if I can go on Tiktok and find it, just from someone explaining to me at West Herr, you just provided value to them that they you're not selling them anything. You're not saying, come on down today for this 299 like you're just giving them the resources. And as we continue to evolve, we're not going to Google as much anymore to type in what does orange light that has exclamation point mean on my Toyota Corolla? As we're we want that content to come to us. And if we're providing that value prop now, they're like, Oh, I'm going to stick around and consume more of your content. Yeah,

Glenn Pasch: 10:40

and I think that's, again, a great way to sort of tie all of this in, is that, instead of us pushing out content just for our own sake, if we thought, well, what questions do they have? And I've had people say, Well, how do I get these questions? I said, go to your service director and ask. Say, what are the 10 most common questions people ask? Boom, now I have 10 pieces of content salespeople, what cars are they looking at if they come in for here, or what questions are they confused about? There's such a long list of content, but I think to your point, and I want to make sure we highlight it is, you've said this a few times, is understanding the platform you're putting it on right. Long Form is not Tiktok, and too short is not over here and but having that idea of every platform can lead together to create this longer web I think that's really fast, fascinating. Let me one last thing to wrap up. I want your opinion. If somebody is sitting out there and they're saying, Yeah, I'm in a smaller store. Sometimes I'm the marketing manager, BDC, manager this, manager that Mayor and and, and, but if they're sitting there, how do I convince my dealer principal that tick tock or this type of advertising or content is valuable? What would what would be something you would say to them, yeah,

Brad Gelber: 11:55

it that. That is not an easy thing sometimes for us to do. Because I think in automotive, we're always looking at like ROI on everything. And I think sometimes the ROI is like, again, believing in the people. So like, if you want to boost employee morale, if you want to have people believe in the culture or the product you're trying to pitch as a single point or in your group, social media is like, a great way to do that. But I caution it too, because everyone thinks social is free, and obviously we could get into a whole paid and organic conversation aside, but it's really just a tool to amplify. So we talk a lot about having to go to and rent an audience, right? If you want to go run a radio ad, you want to run a TV ad, you need to go rent that audience. When you build up a culture on social that's your audience. You own that. And over time, if you if you grow it the right way, and you maintain it the right way, you can then get the right messages out to the right people, and you own that audience. You don't need to go rent the audiences anymore. So I think you're more so looking at it from a long term perspective of that, but a short term perspective of we can really get our employees believing involved. And I think those are the two fold ways I would perhaps try to pitch it to right? You also might just have to prove it and be like, Hey, give me six months to just go try some stuff, and it's not going to cost you really much of anything in the beginning. Let's just get it rolling, and then if you can show them what you're thinking on in a tangible way, that's how maybe you do it. Well, great.

Glenn Pasch: 13:17

I want to thank you so much, Brad. Let's give Brad a big round of applause. Thank you very much for being here, and we look forward to the next session. Take care. Thanks.

Unknown: 13:27

Thank you for listening to this asotu con session by Effectv. If you want more content like this, you can check out our other podcast. We have a daily show called The automotive troublemaker Monday through Friday here on podcast, also live streamed on YouTube and LinkedIn and Facebook. We also have a long form podcast called Auto collabs. Auto collabs. And if you just want to go a little deeper into this community, you should sign up for our regular email. We put our heart and soul into it. You can get it for free by going to asotu com. We'll see you next time you

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