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How To Drive Car Sales Through Social Media Marketing With Russell Richardson

  • July 5, 2023
20 min read
How To Drive Car Sales Through Social Media Marketing With Russell Richardson

Ilana Shabtay
VP of Marketing, Fullpath

Russell Richardson
Sales Associate, Biondi Lincoln

Russell Richardson is a Sales Associate at Biondi Lincoln, a family-owned car dealership serving the greater Pittsburgh area. Russell leverages social media to provide free, valuable content on Lincoln products, including vehicle purchasing and maintenance tips. His platform, RussFlipsWhips, through which he also shares funny car sales skits, has garnered millions of views across various online channels. Russell lives right outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • How Russell Richardson entered the automotive industry
  • Social media marketing strategies for dealerships
  • How to follow up with customers by leveraging social media
  • The major challenges of social media marketing
  • Russell’s future plans and his thoughts on the direct sales model

In this episode…

Social media marketing has become an effective tool for dealerships to build an audience. When executed effectively, social media can help you build trust with potential customers and drive sales.

To get outstanding results from your social media marketing strategies, it is critical to create relatable and engaging content. Auto sales expert Russell Richardson leverages the power of social media to market cars by creating educational content that helps buyers make good buying decisions. He also uses humor in his videos to entertain his existing followers and build a larger audience. Content creation can help you stay in touch with your customers, gain new prospects, and drive sales.

In this episode of the InsideAuto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay sits down with Russell Richardson, a Sales Associate at Biondi Lincoln, to talk about social media marketing strategies for dealerships. They also discuss the evolution of the car industry, the main challenges with social media marketing, and Russell’s thoughts on the direct sales trend.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Fullpath (formerly AutoLeadStar).

Fullpath is the automotive industry’s leading customer data and experience platform (CDXP).

Fullpath enables dealers to turn their first-party data into lifelong customers by unifying siloed data sources and leveraging that data to create exceptional, hyper-personalized customer experiences.

To learn more, visit

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:03

Welcome to InsideAuto Podcast where we feature everyone and anyone you’d want to talk to you in and out of the automotive industry.

Ilana Shabtay 0:13

Ilana Shabtay here, your host of the InsideAuto Podcast where we interview top dealers, GMs, marketers, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. Before we introduce today’s guest, this episode is sponsored by Fullpath is automotive’s leading customer data and experience platform, CDXP. Fullpath enables dealers to turn their first-party data into lifelong customers by unifying siloed data sources and leveraging that data to create exceptional, hyper-personalized customer experiences. To learn more, visit Today we’re welcoming Russell Richardson. Russ, how are you?

Russell Richardson 0:52

Good. How are you doing today?

Ilana Shabtay 0:54

Good. I’m so excited to have Russ on the on the call today. First of all, I have never met Russ before. So I get to learn all about the amazing things he’s doing. Russ lives right outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and sells Lincoln’s at Biondi Lincoln. He provides free valuable content on all like getting products and makes really funny car sales skits. So we’ll talk about that. And he’s killing it on social media. And we’re here today to talk about this approach. Because I think not enough people are taking advantage not enough people, unfortunately, are as creative as you are. So there’s also that, but we’re excited to have you on before we talked about, you know, the niche that you’re kind of in and what you’ve created for yourself. Tell me a little bit about how you got in automotive?

Russell Richardson 1:37

Yeah, absolutely. So I was originally washing cars at the same dealership I work at now, at around 15 years old, the general manager’s son, good friend of mine, just kind of hooked me up with the job, just started cleaning cars. And then my senior year of high school, we had what was called a work release program. So basically, the principal sat down all the juniors going to be into our senior year, and he said, Hey, I want to try something out this year. If you guys get a legitimate job, you know, it can’t be flipping patties, got to be a real job. Or if you’re going to go to take college classes, I will let you only come to school, first or fourth period, you can skip periods five through eight. So basically coming to school for a half day. And I was never much of a scholar. So I was like I got to figure that out. So I had approached the manager about maybe just me answering phones or just something in the dealership, basically a time I just wanted to leave school. And he was like, “You know what, you should sell cars, you’d be pretty good at it. You talk good. You present yourself, well, why don’t you come?” So I started selling cars in high school, I would leave school for fourth period, go straight to the dealership and sell cars. And I ended up you know, just being pretty good at it. And I just I’ve been doing it at that location that dealership ever since I’m 24. Now I started at 18. So little over six years in the business.

Ilana Shabtay 2:55

That’s incredible. I mean, I think I think that’s what I also just love about the automotive industry so much is that like, you want to find like your own, you know, figure out how to use your passion and use your skills. It’s just the best place for that. So I’m happy to share that with us. And so it’s been six years, you’ve probably seen the industry change a lot in the past six years, including just like the influence of social media. Tell us a little bit about how you started with your social media what’s been working. Also, I’d love to know what what sort of like influences that the tiktoks that you do put out.

Russell Richardson 3:29

So I have definitely seen the car industry change a ton. You know, starting pre pandemic versus post pandemic, you know, with the information of buying cars online, which a lot of viewers have moved to are more flexible to give numbers and payments over the phone via email work. When I first started not so much at my dealership, we’ve always kind of been a little bit more progressive, but I just remember the industry and all like places would even quote your numbers over the phone or you got to come in let me think, yeah, I’d be an anchor had to be sitting in front of me, you want the best deal get down here now where it’s like you’re putting your best price online placing trades over the phone sight unseen, because you got to keep up with the competition, which Carvana definitely change that industry. And the social media thing started when I realized being at a Lincoln dealership, you know, I get to see these cars before 99% of people do and I get a little bit more time with them than even the guys who might get to them before me they might get 20 minutes with the car. 30 minutes. It’s at the Auto Show. So when these cars were coming off the truck, I think my first real big video I made on YouTube, probably at 19 years old was the new Lincoln aviator which was a highly anticipated vehicle. And that video got a couple of 100,000 views and then I did a special edition Continental. That video got hundreds of 1000s of views but being a Lincoln dealer, we only sell four cars right now. So like reviewing the car content kind of dried up pretty quick. Yeah. And I actually went through a point where I just wasn’t even making any content but big in car sales. You know, a lot of people don’t understand. Even if you sold two cars every day, which most guys don’t do that I’m not claiming to do that either. You still have some downtime. If you’re there for eight hours, nine hours a day, in my set, you’d say you did sell two cars a day, that takes more hours. So there was hours upon hours at a car dealership where you could either do follow up, you know, do nothing like a lot of car salesmen guys do. Right? For me, I like making content and that’s kind of where I shifted into the, you know, car sales advice for other car salesmen, car buying advice for people buying cars. And then my more popular and most famous videos that seem to get the most traction are where I make fun of the car industry via the A Karen customer, as I call it, you know, I’m sure one of the Caribbeans by now, or being like a sleazy car sales just kind of poking fun at both sides. To answer your question, 99% of my videos are literally someone was in my dealership very recently acting that way and they leave and whether it was my experience with them or now I’m not vague or like you know, the dealership people not make the deals like well like Russ, I just had this customer listen to what they did. You got to make a video about

Ilana Shabtay 6:17

that. And that is that’s honestly hysterical. And thanks for sharing that with us. Do you do you feel like you you can actually attribute social media to some of your car sales?

Russell Richardson 6:32

Yes, absolutely. Not only with like it’s almost in its own form a way of follow up you know so not only with like my previous customers or maybe I haven’t done the best job of calling like I should, you know, follow up is definitely not a salesman, best habit. You know, we weren’t always limited in the now. But it always keeps me fresh in front of customers. I’ve seen people at the gym that I saw records of four years ago without they even existed they bumped into me your love your videos. Matter of fact, this this and this, I’m looking for a car come down buy a car. So I mean, la would stand in front of the people I already that already know like, and trust me. I’ve definitely made a decent bit of sales. But people have just no clue who I am or I don’t know who they are. They’ve got to message me directly or come into the dealership and ask to see Russ what’s what’s

Ilana Shabtay 7:18

That’s the That’s what I wanted to know. That’s really cool. Now it also maybe does it make follow up easier because you could just like send a contact instead of being like, hey, follow up. Do you want to buy the car? Absolutely. Like he seems to be really proactive to do that.

Russell Richardson 7:33

And as I mentioned, I get the I get the vehicle inventory in first before a lot of people see that and then sometimes we’re not sometimes always the manufacturer will like just for like a day bring by like a presentation model or hey, here’s the new navigator. It’s not ready yet probably about three four months out so they hit your lot. We want to do the sales but to see it so you can tell your customers about it. I’m pretty tight with the guy who brings that car he always lets me take it out back make an hour long video. I chocolate up tick tock YouTube Instagram. So when a customer asks about I’ll send them the link to my tic tock or my Instagram like oh yeah, he wants you to navigate or looks like, here you go.

Ilana Shabtay 8:09

It’s really smart. That’s referring to you are you trying do you think other people in the dealership are are gonna kind of follow your lead here? Or or or even just like mooch off of you like they could take your content and then be like hey this is our dealership send it you know it’s

Russell Richardson 8:25

it’s more than it’s more than merch you know and video what customers asking about it? That’s funny. I’m probably the only social media guy in my dealership. Just not for everyone. I work with some older people not that they’re against it. Just like I’m not getting on camera. You know? You’re on camera, like twice a day.

Ilana Shabtay 8:45

Yeah, yeah, you’re doing an amazing job. Now when it comes to I mean, we’re talking a lot about the good which is great. What’s what’s like the the challenging part of using social media just to like help build your personal brand. What’s been what’s been like a little bit harder, either

Russell Richardson 9:01

500 people you know, I get it. If you if you watch my videos on TikTok, I definitely pushed the line. And I might have crossed it once or twice. You know, it happened.

Ilana Shabtay 9:13

I looked at your videos all day. What is your managers think about? Me?

Russell Richardson 9:18

They love them. They think they’re hilarious. They’re the ones whispered in my ears half the time I’ve made one or two where they might have advised me to take it down, which I may or may not have. I won’t say what videos I’ve actually had you know, it’s funny. One of our competitor dealers, I won’t name names, reached out to the owner of my dealership. He’s old. He’s on social media. Yeah, he presented it to my owner who had never seen any of my videos just heard. He goes you’re this kid is an embarrassment to your dealership. You should see what he’s posting. So my honor like approach needs like the viewer show Hey, dude, like so and so now he’s our competitor so I’m not gonna take his you know like to show me your videos, and I showed him like 20 of them. And he was like peeing himself laughing. He was like, he really thinks this is offensive, or larious so much.

Ilana Shabtay 10:09

And you’re like, Nope, he’s just really jealous because I’m driving a ton of traffic to our dealership. And,

Russell Richardson 10:14

and that’s kind of what we agreed upon. It was, like I said, I’m not gonna name I’m not getting into that game, but a local competitor of ours kind of tried to bring the hammer down on me. And it actually this is probably at this time, I might have only had 20,000 followers on Tiktok. I think now, you know, I might be at 75,000 to kind of spark a little fire on me and I doubled down. You know, I started just to make it even more content or this way, like, five, six months ago, and I tripled my following. And a lot of my views have gone up since so I can’t thank the guy for coming down. I’ll make it a lot better work pissed me off. So I was like, Oh,

Ilana Shabtay 10:48

I’m talking. That’s awesome. And then what? So the chat so you mentioned that the challenging part is obviously that you you might offend some people and just navigating that. What about on like, the practical or technical side? Like a video doesn’t come out the way you want it to? Do you ever just like, Do you have a good or you think you have a great idea? You? You record the video? And then when you actually see it, you’re just like, at nevermind next little thing, which by the way, it’s totally fine. Because, you know, you want to keep valuable content. I’m just wondering what that process is like for you.

Russell Richardson 11:17

I pretty much post everything I record. There. It’s funny, though, the high you mentioned it because probably, I think my most famous video. Second most famous, like maybe like two or three million views. Me and my brother recorded my brother works with me, my dealership, my brother, he reports pretty much every video you see. And we both hated. It really is stupid. And I was like, I’m gonna post anyway, see, whatever. And I posted it. It was like, well, people must not so that video was kind like a learning lesson. Don’t use my sense of humor, because do the videos we make or I’m crying laughing watch it, and I’ll watch it before I post it. I’ll watch it over and I’m just like, This is hilarious. It’ll get no views. And I’m like, okay, so yeah. Then the general populations,

Ilana Shabtay 12:02

And it’s actually really good advice. Like diversify the content. Don’t go by what you might think it’s funny, because who knows what someone else is gonna think it’s funny.

Russell Richardson 12:10

I found the more relatable it is. Yeah. And that’s kind of why, you know, pretending to be like a bad car salesman. Because everyone’s bought a car. Yeah, not everyone’s sold cars, but everyone’s bought a car. So when I try to make videos through the lens of a consumer, that tends to hit home a little harder. Like I said, everyone’s bought cars, not everyone’s been in my shoes of selling the car. So those still get some good news. But when I can do anything that the average, nine out of 10 people probably been in a car dealership bought a car that was someone who was annoying, or in a weird situation. Those are the ones that seem to take off the best.

Ilana Shabtay 12:44

Yeah, that’s always entertaining also, because just the stigma of car dealerships, I think actually, even though you’re, you’re actively putting it out there and making fun of it actually breaks down the stigma, which is really nice. So like, yeah,

Russell Richardson 12:56

Yeah, I was just thinking where that actually, that’s your old point of view, you couldn’t recognize what is wrong with your chips, you will kind of break down that barrier of like, well, this guy gets it. So I’m assuming he’s not gonna treat me like that, because he’s on here recognizing it? And he’s probably not like that, you know?

Ilana Shabtay 13:15

Yeah, exactly. Now, if you, if you think about like yourself in the next 5-10 years, is there something else that you hope to do with content and or social media? Do you want to make it more of like, a job for yourself, a career for yourself? Or do you like that it’s sort of supporting what you’re doing now, which is selling cars, which you also mentioned a few times that you really love doing and that you’re great at? So what what’s your kind of hope for yourself for the next five to 10 years?

Russell Richardson 13:42

Um, you know, I go back and forth on this a lot. And I’m definitely a live in the now person, but I do plan for the future. I would not be surprised if in 5-10 years from now, my, my page was 10, a little bit more focused not only on car sales, maybe in more of an ownership role, but also kind of flip it into real estate, which I do active very actively on the side. I don’t talk about it a whole lot on the page yet. But you know, if you see some of the bigger content creators out there, like the Grand Cardones, and no, just guys like him, a lot of them started in some sales or something. And then it became more personalized about them and what they’re just their daily lives, you know, to show them what they do, how they do it, how to get how to make money. So I think I’ll always be in the car business, though one way or another.

Ilana Shabtay 14:28

Oh, that’s, that’s, that’s great. And then when you said what do you mean by real estate? Like you do that a little bit on the side? You dabble in it? You’re interested in it?

Russell Richardson 14:37

Yeah, so like long-term rentals, acquiring properties, flipping properties, creative ways to buy properties. I bought properties in ways that most people aren’t even aware of that it’s even possible doing just seller financing off-market deals, things like that. But you know, it’s not really my niche to talk about right now. But when that time comes, I have a lot of information to share on it.

Ilana Shabtay 14:57

That’s cool. All right. Well, look out for that. So anything else you want to share with us before we sign off here, this was just eye-opening for me. And I hope that a lot of people listening here will also just understand the impact of content and what you can do with like creativity. And just like having fun and making fun of yourself a little bit like, I feel like, we need to do that a little bit more often, especially in 23. Three. So I appreciate you bringing that energy. But is there anything that you want to tell us before we sign off?

Russell Richardson 15:26

Yeah, I guess my last thing would be, you know, a lot of people go back and forth on if dealerships should even exist. If we should go to a direct sales model. And I say to people, you know, there are good dealerships and bad dealerships, spend your money at the good dealerships, and you’ll be taken care of and the bad dealerships will go out of business. Because the dealerships are greedy way, do you see how greedy big corporations are, they have a have a bad track record of being greedy. So any type of manufacturer that wants to go toward a direct sales model, so they could just profit themselves more, it’s not in the benefit of the consumer. And corporations have very, very bad customer service. So I think in the future here, you’re gonna have big conglomerate dealers, and then you’re gonna have standalone dealers, like the one I work at that specialize in customer service. And that’s gonna be the difference between just being treated like a number and being treated like a friend and family.

Ilana Shabtay 16:16

Yeah, that’s a really good perspective. Thanks for sharing that. And it’s a good way to sign up for a little bit of hope for the industry, which we always like here on the InsideAuto Podcast. So thank you so much, Russ, for joining and for sharing a little bit of what you’ve been up to.

Russell Richardson 16:28

My pleasure. I hope you’re gonna go sleep and get some rest now. Thank you.

Outro 16:37

Thanks for listening to the InsideAuto Podcast. Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

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