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The Importance of Going Back to Basics in Dealership Marketing with Dustin Schuler

  • February 29, 2024
11 min read
The Importance of Going Back to Basics in Dealership Marketing with Dustin Schuler

Ilana Shabtay
VP of Marketing, Fullpath

Dustin Schuler
Marketing Manager, Bud Clary Auto Group

Dustin Schuler is the Marketing Manager at Bud Clary Auto Group, a company specializing in automotive sales and services. With over 5 years of experience, Dustin is adept at driving automotive marketing campaigns through strategic leadership, industry collaborations, and analytics integration. His leadership in developing integrated automotive marketing strategies has consistently achieved internal targets and surpassed competitors’ performance. Dustin’s goal is to leverage technical and business expertise to enhance market competitiveness and optimize relationships, budget allocation, messaging, and brand strategy.

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

  • Automotive marketing: going back to basics
  • Brand campaigns as a growth strategy in the automotive industry
  • Why is brand loyalty decreasing?
  • How dealers can increase customer lifetime value

In this episode…

As the automotive industry evolves, dealers face a multitude of challenges, from adjusting to changing consumer preferences to staying competitive. As such, the importance of returning to basics in automotive marketing remains a central theme in the field. Despite churning out new content and campaigns monthly, how can dealers ensure that their marketing efforts effectively represent their brand?

Marketing genius, Dustin Schuler, explores the challenges and opportunities dealers face in today’s fast-paced marketing landscape. Dustin believes it’s crucial to return to basics and craft effective brand campaigns to thrive in this evolving automotive market. As a dealer, you must audit your dealership’s marketing efforts to ensure alignment with brand identity and customer preferences. By implementing evergreen content strategies and focusing on delivering exceptional customer experiences, dealerships can forge stronger brand loyalty in today’s competitive automotive space.

In this episode of Inside Auto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay sits down with Dustin Schuler, Marketing Manager at Bud Clary Auto Group, to discuss the intricacies of dealership marketing strategies. Dustin talks about going back to basics in automotive marketing, using brand campaigns as a growth strategy, and how dealers can increase their customer lifetime value.

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  0:02  

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

Ilana Shabtay  0:12  

Here at NADA InsideAuto Podcast, I have Dustin Schuler Director of Marketing at Bud Clary Auto.

Dustin Schuler  0:19  

That’s correct. Yeah, it’s going on. We got a whole lot. There’s a lot of movement here. A lot of different vendors are out here. And this is the Superbowl of you know, all conferences, you know. And so it’s great to be here. Great to be here with you guys. 

Ilana Shabtay  0:30  

Yeah, I’m happy I got to meet for the first time. 

Dustin Schuler  0:32  

I know, everything has been over video chat, things like that. It’s been really COVID. But yeah, it’s been a good moment. Yeah. So one of the things I wanted to come in and talk to you guys about is literally, every year we have the same theme, I hear things, you know, because I’ve a network of hundreds of dealers that I work with and talk to. And I hear the same thing 

Ilana Shabtay  0:50  

I see you’re repping that right here. 

Dustin Schuler  0:51  

Yeah, this is so the Auto Genius community. I’m a proud member of this band, Kyle, and Kevin. But one of the things I hear every year that’s consistent is going back to basics, right? Usually for dealers, that means getting our merchandising dialed, you know, having photos, probably photos on your cars, things like that, but really, as a marketer, and even if you’re a general manager or GSM, it’s really the basics, you should be getting your advertising dialed knowing what you’re even pushing out there. 

So with automotive, what a weird industry that only has these 30-day sales cycles each month, you know, it’s fresh, new, creative, or whatever it is, but most dealers actually don’t even know what kind of ads are out there for their own dealership. So they don’t know the ad copy, they just know that they’re paying a check. And you know, some of these, it’s $10,000 20,000 a month, they add up super quick. 

But you gotta be able to look at the creative, you have to be able to know because you know, your market better than anyone else, you know, your customers that come in every day, does that ad copy actually speak to the customer? Or is it you know, sometimes there are cases where simple is better. 

But there are other times where, you know, it’s not really relevant to your market. And so knowing those pieces for, you know, when you go through your automotive marketing mix, looking at your paid search vendor, what are the ad copies that they’re running? And then looking at your social media? What are the social media ad copies running? What are the traded pieces of like, PMax is a huge campaign that’s come out and you know, people are getting heavier, heavier into it with their ad spends? 

What do creative assets look like? If you’re not the one supplying them? You know, so you have to have a video asset? And it’s 30 seconds long because YouTube is a format that’s on there. And then also photos, too. So what do they look like? Does that represent you good in the market? You know, Is that who you want to be showing your customers? You know what I mean? So I think that’s a big part of what going back to the basics should be. 

Because in any other industry, we look at that, like, every month, like what basically you know, what creative is going out in the market, what’s your ad copy look like, approve, or not approve, let’s make the adjustments, things like that, especially in the e-commerce Industry, you know, Black Friday, stuff like that. So knowing what you’re putting out there in the market is huge. 

And then even further than that, I mean, we spend so much money on these endemic sites, it’s third party. So you know, an auto trader bill could be $5,000, could be $1,200, whatever it is, but when’s the last time you’ve actually gone through and looked at your profile and audited those things? So what do your pictures look like there? Are your hours Correct? Are your URLs Correct? Are you sending traffic to the right spots? 

Yeah. And that’s just one of those. But the opportunity costs of you not doing these things, going back to the real basics, especially marketing is so great, especially, you know, in terms of sales and things like that, I mean, yeah, think about every deal that you lose out on. But

Ilana Shabtay  3:35  

So you said a few things there that I want to talk about one of the things that you said early on, and I agree with you. And I think it’s great that you’re working on educating you and your entire community, right, you guys are working on educating dealers on how to make the most out of their marketing by doing this. 

But early on, you mentioned that it’s content that you change month over month. Do you feel like the industry also needs to have this layer above now where there’s a brand campaign that runs and that doesn’t have to change as necessarily month over month, right? And that’s something new, maybe it’s not new in automotive, but I definitely feel like that’s a new strap. 

It’s a new earth strategy for dealers that are so used to the 30-day cycle that they don’t think about, wait, wait a second, we’re a brand and next community or an ex city and we need to make sure that people know who we are. And then we could talk about changing the monthly incentives and all that other stuff. We’re even layering it below. How do you feel like that’s affecting your automotive group? 

Do you guys have those brand campaigns that stay more consistent? Is that is that you feel like that’s considered or just like that falls under this education that you feel like when you talk about when we talk about going back to the basics because it’s just like, brand fun, right?

Dustin Schuler  4:49  

I mean, that’s basic marketing to Yeah, you have to have what you want to be always present. You know, there’s your time to live every time you get the specials, different OEMs could be faster or slower and so with my group, we have eight different OEMs. And so we could have, instead of coming out on the third of the month, which means that we will be living on the fourth or fifth, right, and we have something on the sixth. 

And then you know if that falls on a weekend, things like that, so you have to have, I think, assets will cover your bases, we call them evergreen, so yeah, so we could run on all times course evergreen content, and it is a significant part of the funnel. So being able to have those assets up and then have a marketing different mix of what your customers are seeing. 

Because if you’re showing them the same ad over and over again, it’s going to make them mad or not like your brand. And so having the different mix of assets to yes doubly beneficial for dealers, that I think the brand is, is becoming more and more of a talk, especially with the dealer community that I’m a part of, but you have to craft your brand and how you want people to perceive your brand too. So yeah,

Ilana Shabtay  5:49  

I do feel like also it’s because brand loyalty has gone down meaning people don’t care so much if it’s a Chevy or Ford, because they want a specific solution. So again, if Bud Clary is top of mind for them, and you have eight OEMs that’s all that matters, right? 

They know that they have an automotive brand that they can go to and you know an automotive brand in the sense like a for the bulk very non-OEM, the oh the manufacturer will come after meaning they don’t care what type of car they’re rolling into, or do you disagree? It seems like you disagree, which is why I’m all for it. Sure, sure.

Dustin Schuler  6:21  

No, I think that brand loyalty has definitely come down 100% especially with new people coming into the market. We have new Evie manufacturers coming in, they’re actually starting new dealerships and things like that too. So we’re gonna have some dilution and more models, more options coming out. And like you said, brand loyalty is coming, it’s getting lower and lower. 

So having especially at my scale, and we do have all these for brands, we’re at an advantage to a single point dealer or maybe even smaller groups because we do have all those options, and if we could deliver a good customer experience and then a good service experience so even post-sale exactly we’re gonna build to retain those guys. 

Yeah, and as CDPs like what you guys do offer become more and more available to groups or stuff like that. You’re gonna be able to measure the lifetime value of these customers and treat them differently to acknowledge the fact at least that hey, oh, we noticed you came into our Subaru dealership and did a service deal, that you can build a treat them limit differently, no learn more about the customer. You know, when they’re at a different dealership, what they originally purchased from so

Ilana Shabtay  7:21  

yeah, and so that will also just increase the lifetime value of customers which is incredibly important for dealers. Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for the discussion. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Yeah, InsideAuto Podcast NADA style.

Dustin Schuler  7:33  

Yep,  NADA 2024.

Ilana Shabtay  7:34  

Let’s go. Thanks, Dustin.

Outro  7:38  

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