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[NADA Series] Product-Market Fit vs Market-Product Fit for Forward-Thinking Dealers

  • March 16, 2023
7 min read
[NADA Series] Product-Market Fit vs Market-Product Fit for Forward-Thinking Dealers

Ilana Shabtay, Fullpath
VP of Marketing

Ben Hadley, Auto Genius
Founder and CEO

Ben Hadley is the Founder and CEO of Auto Genius, a community of high-growth automotive marketing professionals. He has played a critical role in helping thousands of dealerships maximize their sales efforts by optimizing marketing channels and in-store sales processes. Ben’s specialties include sales, digital retail, marketing, product and business development, and organizational leadership.

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

  • Ben Hadley talks about Auto Genius’ new partnership with Fullpath (formerly AutoLeadStar)
  • How Auto Genius leverages its community of dealers for market/product fit
  • Ben’s expectations for the NADA conference
  • The integration of other industries with the automotive space

In this episode…

When innovating or creating a new product, it’s essential to research and understand your target audience’s needs. This helps you develop precise business ideas and prevent losses from your products failing in the market.

The team at Auto Genius leverages its community of progressive dealers to build new products for its market. Through partnerships, the company can also create quality products and reach a wider audience.

In this episode of the InsideAuto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay is joined by Ben Hadley, the Founder and CEO of Auto Genius, to talk about fostering a community to create exceptional products. They also talk about the future of digital retailing, the difference between market-product and product-market fit, and the integration of other industries with the automotive space.

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 0:14

Ilana Shabtay, InsideAuto Podcast with Ben Hadley, or the way that he likes to introduce himself, it’s Hadley. Hadley.

Ben Hadley 0:23

What’s up? Thanks for having me.

Ilana Shabtay 0:25

It’s an exciting time for us because we just released AutoLeadStar and AutoGenius’ partnership. I know congratulations.

Ben Hadley 0:32

Absolutely huge. Thanks for doing it with us.

Ilana Shabtay 0:33

Yeah, let’s talk about it.

Ben Hadley 0:34

So I would say that, traditionally, you think of websites as a piece of software. We think of websites as a visualization of multiple databases. AutoLeadStar has probably the most connected access to those databases at a dealership. And not only that they’re super API friendly. Which,

Ilana Shabtay 1:01

you know, is the basis of, yeah, I can only

Ben Hadley 1:05

really work with people that are API friendly. Yeah. But it also says a lot about sort of auto lead stars willingness to collaborate, which I’m huge on. And I think is hopefully a trend that that catches fire at nada this year.

Ilana Shabtay 1:18

Yeah. And also, you guys have built such an impressive community of the most forward thinking dealers. Yeah, so it’s exciting to be connected to that.

Ben Hadley 1:26

It’s amazing, those, the community is really the heart and soul of auto genius. We have I think, 1400 plus rooftops in there. And the things that they’re thinking of and innovating on and and pointing us in terms of what they want and need is, it’s it’s amazing. It’s a great compass.

Ilana Shabtay 1:46

That’s awesome. Now let’s talk about how they’re pointing you. Right. So there’s product market fit. Yeah. And then there’s, there’s market product fit. Yeah, I know. It’s one of our it’s, it’s a great way to build a product. So so let’s talk about that. Sure. I mean, within the the time constraints

Ben Hadley 2:05

on time. All right. So I would say most companies in software, say make a product, iterate, make a product, iterate, oh, no, it doesn’t work doesn’t work, whatever spend spend spent all this stuff. And then if they’re really lucky, they find a bunch of people that want it and it fits. What we said was maybe that’s backwards, maybe it would be better. If you started with a giant community of really smart forward thinkers. And then you just listened and designed whatever product they were demanding after you listened.

Ilana Shabtay 2:37

Right. And so that is market product fit. Right? Genius. My some might even say auto genius.

Ben Hadley 2:45

We’re thinking about dropping the auto reward Facebook was the face. Yeah, just be genius. We’re just dropping. Yeah, exactly. That’s

Ilana Shabtay 2:53

just genius. Just genius. Yeah, I think that’s really I but I really do think that makes a lot of sense. And I think it’s great to be able to create a product around an extremely forward thinking market.

Ben Hadley 3:04

Yeah, I mean, well, it. It’s also like, it used to be when I started in like 2009, or 10. There’s a giant knowledge gap between the dealer and the vendor partners, that knowledge gap is totally shrunk. And I actually would argue that a lot of the people in the community, most of them know more than most of your vendors. And so now I think it’s better than ever is, it’s a good time to like start listening to them and say, Hey, let’s at least get the engineers that we have connected with them. You know, let’s get the product people connected with them. Because they know exactly what they want.

Ilana Shabtay 3:38

Yeah, that’s, that’s wonderful. Now what it’s day two of nada, what are you? What are you hearing? What do you feel like people are talking about? What are you learning? You know, what

Ben Hadley 3:47

they’re not talking about? Is like digital retailing feels like it fell off a cliff.

Ilana Shabtay 3:52

Well, yeah. Because, well, I won’t, we won’t get into what I think about that. But no, go into what you think about that.

Ben Hadley 3:58

I think it’s, there’s this interesting, like, I would say, reversion to a mean, you know, where COVID made it so interesting. And you had this giant, you know, skyrocket up in interest and adoption. And then we’re just seeing the exact opposite rebound, back to, to sort of the pace that it should have been. But I think that reversion to the mean, is also sort of saying like, a lot of people are trying to just focus on getting back to the basics. Yeah. And getting back to like, hey, the market was pretty wacky. We had to be wacky. Now the markets settling down. Let’s just get back to like, doing what works. Yeah, I

Ilana Shabtay 4:35

might not also think that the dealers that just put dealer digital retail on because they thought it was going to be some sort of bandaid to deal with COVID It was obvious that was going to rebound. But yeah, I think I think that has a lot to do with it, meaning it obviously was not implemented correctly. Follow through process people etc.

Ben Hadley 4:53

Totally. I would say the the other thing I’m interested in and I’ve been seeing a little bit around here is out of interest. From non traditionally automotive companies are coming into the space, then walking around, they don’t have booths. But there are sort of like a lot of that’s really interesting. Yeah, like haven’t seen a salesperson Salesforce Jersey yet.

Ilana Shabtay 5:14

Right. But definitely like it’s a testament to how hot this industry is right now. So I’m excited that you’re saying that.

Ben Hadley 5:20

Yeah, you’re starting to see people go. Hey, why are we an auto? Yeah,

Ilana Shabtay 5:24

yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah. Cool. Yeah. I’m excited to see what Salesforce has this year for automotive. Me too. Yeah, I can’t Yeah, I can’t wait. I can’t wait either. Thanks, Ben, for joining me.

Outro 5:38

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

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