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There is a new Google feature out called +1 that is similar to the “like” feature on Facebook. If you have not seen it yet, you should definitely check it out. You can get the info you need at http://bit.ly/qUxNQo You place the code on your website so that someone who likes your content can recommend it on Google search. As Google crawls the pages on your website, the +1 information can be picked up. Then when someone is searching on Google and find your page, they will see how many recommendations you have. This can visually make you stand out and possibly lead to click through to your site. I would definitely recommend placing the +1 feature on the home page of your website as well as the vehicle details pages. Who knows where this will go, but if it will ultimately give your website more relevance in searches, then it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.

Can you top this for a bizarre story? Imagine John Onak’s surprise when it was brought to his attention that there was a dead man riding in his passenger seat! Tuesday morning the driver “unknowingly” struck a pedestrian along Interstate 45 in Houston. Not only was the impact strong enough that the victim’s leg was left at the scene, but the rest of his body smashed through the windshield and landed in the front passengers seat. As astonishing as it seems, Onak was unaware of the gruesome body in the car beside him and continued driving down the road! Two miles from the accident, a county constable spotted the severely damaged front end of the Mazda, pulled the car over, discovered the victim’s body, and questioned Onak about his “unusual” passenger. Unbelievably, it wasn’t until then that the driver even noticed the dead body! title=”Gruesome Ride on the Gulf Freeway!”>http://bit.ly/lOj43B

Technology or marketing, “To be or not to be” can you answer this question as it relates to QR codes™? Let’s take a look at these data matrix bar codes and try to answer this question.

QR code™ stands for Quick Response and is also referred to as a Data Matrix barcode or 2 dimensional code that is readable by camera phones (if equipped with the proper software) and bar code readers. The QR code™ can be encoded with text information, URL or other data and was created by Denso-Wave in 1994 a subsidiary of Toyota for the sole purpose of decoding data at a high speed, typically parts tracking. Denso-Wave owns the patent to the technology and the trademark to QR Code™ but at this time has chosen not to exercise their rights to both.

Here is an example of a 2D code versus a bar code:


Let’s start with some of the technology behind these codes. Now I don’t think getting into the application layer and established de facto standards will add any value to this blog so we will skip to the code capacity and restrictions that pertain to your potential uses.

QR code data capacity
Numeric code only Max. 7,089 characters
Alphanumeric Max. 4,296 characters
Binary (8 bits) Max. 2,953 bytes
Kanji/Kana Max. 1,817 characters

The current applications for QR codes™ is limitless and include coins, grave markers to give more information for the mourners, libraries, printing where entire poetry books are a collection of codes, natural and historic points and believe it or not tattoos! Yes people are actually getting tattoos of their own personal QR code™ and linking it to their social media site such as Facebook.

To each their own but can you imagine if Denso-Wave exercises their patent rights WOW!

OK Terry can we get to automotive related information now! I hear you I just can’t seem to get the tattoo out of my head LOL. The main request we see for today’s car dealer is the desire to put a QR code™ on a vehicle window sticker. While technically this is fairly simple to do my question to those of you reading this blog is, “Where do you want the QR code™ to link or what information do you want it to display?” Do you only want it on your window sticker or on all forms of advertising?

Other industries that have been using these codes can give us answers. The real estate industry has been widely known for using and bringing the QR code™ to the forefront here in the U.S. as it relates to consumer marketing, and if we look at the success or failures they have had, we may learn what we will face in the automotive marketing segment.

I am the first to admit that as a vendor I have at times only looked at things from the vendor or dealer side and ignored the consumer side. With QR codes™ I have not and the reason is because I am in the process of searching for a new house and I see these codes daily. So as a consumer what do I think of QR code™ for real estate? I can tell you at first I thought it was great, we were not with our agent and happened by a house what a great way to get quick information to see if we wanted to add it to our list RIGHT? WRONG, after spending 10 minutes to find the application I wanted to download so my phone that would process the code, I scanned my first one and what most consumers don’t realize and I guess I did not think about it is once you scan that QR code™ you just gave them your cell phone number and here comes the calls and they are relentless! So while the idea of getting more information quickly is great as a consumer I will not be scanning any QR code™ in the future as my cell number is about the only form of communication I don’t get spammed on and I want to keep it that way. I would imagine other consumers will feel the same way.

There are numerous free QR Code™ builders a simple Google search will bring up sites like:
To each their own but can you imagine if Denso-Wave exercises their patent rights WOW!

OK Terry can we get to automotive related information now! I hear you I just can’t seem to get the tattoo out of my head LOL. The main request we see for today’s car dealer is the desire to put a QR code™ on a vehicle window sticker. While technically this is fairly simple to do my question to those of you reading this blog is, “Where do you want the QR code™ to link or what information do you want it to display?” Do you only want it on your window sticker or on all forms of advertising?

Other industries that have been using these codes can give us answers. The real estate industry has been widely known for using and bringing the QR code™ to the forefront here in the U.S. as it relates to consumer marketing, and if we look at the success or failures they have had, we may learn what we will face in the automotive marketing segment.

I am the first to admit that as a vendor I have at times only looked at things from the vendor or dealer side and ignored the consumer side. With QR codes™ I have not and the reason is because I am in the process of searching for a new house and I see these codes daily. So as a consumer what do I think of QR code™ for real estate? I can tell you at first I thought it was great, we were not with our agent and happened by a house what a great way to get quick information to see if we wanted to add it to our list RIGHT? WRONG, after spending 10 minutes to find the application I wanted to download so my phone that would process the code, I scanned my first one and what most consumers don’t realize and I guess I did not think about it is once you scan that QR code™ you just gave them your cell phone number and here comes the calls and they are relentless! So while the idea of getting more information quickly is great as a consumer I will not be scanning any QR code™ in the future as my cell number is about the only form of communication I don’t get spammed on and I want to keep it that way. I would imagine other consumers will feel the same way.

There are numerous free QR Code™ builders a simple Google search will bring up sites like:
www.qrcode.kaywa.com
www.dakno.com/qr
www.dakno.com/qr
www.pressero.com

I used Kaywa to build the code below in about 5 seconds! Does it work? Try it below!

If you have a Google account you can get analytics on your QR Codes™ which will be vital to your programs success.

I have seen numerous tweets and blogs regarding QR Codes™ and advising them as a must have part of your marketing plan but I have not read a blog on how to use these codes to increase sales, conversion or leads. While I am sure they are out there and I can think of a few ways myself I would be curious to hear how you are currently utilizing these codes and what kind of increases you are seeing?

So is it a Fad or Technology? Well it is both, the technology is there and for manufacturing and shipping applications it is great. While marketing has taken this technology and is pushing these codes at all angles it will be up to consumer reaction here in the U.S. to dictate its future in B2C marketing. The fact that vendors, consultants or dealers may think it is beneficial or a must have or not the final decision will be up to the consumer.

Your thoughts and input are truly requested and please share any success or experience you have had with QR codes™.

You may or may not be aware of sites like www.groupon.com or www.livingsocial.com where companies send out a special of the day type promotions and site members race to purchase the limited number of those specially priced deals. The Home Depot has a great promotion and by “Like”ing them on their Facebook page you get an opportunity to purchase a great item as they have them on a wide variety of closeout items at huge savings with free shipping. Well move over Groupon and Living Social here come Facebook Deals. You may have already seen the lading page for this new area on Facebook but the New York Times is reporting today that the Facebook Deals has launched service in a test environment in the following cities: Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. The great thing is these specials will spread via email and the all important News Feed. Facebook will also be adding REAL credits to their program allowing members to build a stock pile of credits for future purchases.

Who is ready to go to New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys! OK seriously so how is this an opportunity? If an oil change is $19.95 on special at your dealership and the true cost of oil, filter, labor is around $7.00 what kind of volume and EXPOSURE would you get if you did a $9.95 oil change? How many people on Facebook would spread the word about your dealership to their friends regarding this great promotion and finally how many of them will “Like” your Facebook page?

All of that to gain “Likes” and positive word of mouth Terry? Heck NO, I ran this exact promotion for all employees of our local school district. Anytime someone came in for the oil change promotion I went out on the service drive to meet them face to face and thank them for taking advantage of the promotion and their dedication to our community and students. WAIT, I also sold no less than 2 cars a month with some months being 10+ just off this promotion. No a huge deal but it made money!

Look for this new opportunity and when it comes to your area take advantage of it. You stand to grow your online and social media efforts exponentially.

Thank you for following all of the Liquid Motors Inc. bloggers and please, I ask you to leave your comments and share this blog with your friends and co-workers.

If you have watched the news or read a paper over the weekend then the chances are you read an article about Nissan inspecting vehicles being shipped out of Japan for radiation. I have to admit I am a little confused by some of the reports and blogs. I see numerous blogs/articles saying that Nissan is inspecting cars imported simply to build/ensure consumer confidence in their product. One thing that seems to be reported differently is if the vehicles are inspected before they leave Japan or after they arrive in the United States. I have watched video of the inspections taking place and it clearly shows they are inspecting cars PRIOR to them being put on the ship and the 10 vehicles tested out of the 5000 per ship are giving a radiation clear sticker. In addition some models like the Nissan Altima, Maxima, Xterra, Frontier, Pathfinder, Titan, and Infinity QX56 are built at Nissan’s factory in America.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhaFQFn9rsw&feature=player_detailpage

So my question is if Nissan was truly just trying to accomplish a consumer confidence campaign why can’t I find anything on their Facebook page, TV ads or radio related to this? Has anyone seen an executive from Nissan discussing this or a press release?

I recall the first flight that landed in Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport from Japan after the tragedy and that flight set off the radiation detectors at the airport. When you combine the continued radiation leaks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant with radiation being detected outside of Japan just after the earthquake it would make sense that Nissan is testing these vehicles for more than just consumer confidence. Frankly it is hard to believe not all of the Japanese manufacturers are not doing the same thing.

So what is the real reason for the testing? I think it is a combination of things including consumer confidence and a ship that returned to Japan after 3.5 microsieverts per hour were detected but to me the primary reason has to do with the increasing restrictions on imports of Japanese products. 29 countries and regions have suspended or tightened controls on agricultural and dairy products and the last thing Nissan wants or needs is restrictions on cars. Currently Nissan has reported a 50 day stock of vehicles which is down from the normal 60 day stock and keeping these vehicles shipping and sold may just put a tiny bit of good in a horrific situation.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association has already declared there are no dangerous levels of radiation on cars being exported and many are calling for Nissan to stop testing as they consider it to be an over reaction but Nissan is committed to the radiation testing until they believe all the potential for radiation contamination has disappeared entirely from their products. Hats off to Nissan for doing what they feel is right and with their engine plant 37 miles and other plants inside 100 miles, I say for good reason! Could you imaging the damage to a manufacturer if a vehicle was found to have radiation on a dealerships lot inside the US? Over reaction, not in my book!

Great companies always show how truly great they are in times like this and going the extra mile to protect your company, customer loyalty and your dealer’s ability to get vehicles and parts is just plain smart business. Keep up the great work Nissan and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your country.

Please share this blog and leave your comments. Thank you for following Liquid Motors Inc.

For all of you skeptical dealers out there that think that Facebook is a passing “fad”, I am here to tell you “You are wrong!”

I am sure that most people saw this commercial http://dai.ly/fP7dro when it aired during the Super Bowl, or if you were like me, you were at NADA attending the eBay party eating yummy food and sipping on drinks and “watching” the game. Regardless, I missed this commercial, so when I saw it last night I about fell out of bed! The new Chevrolet Cruze now has live Facebook status updates! What???? You literally push a button and the car asks you what you want to do and you say “Live Facebook news feeds” and it will read all of your news feeds to you. How crazy is that? Their tag line is “When the good news just can’t wait!”. I am here to tell you, it can! There are already so many driving distractions and now they go and add one more. So not only will people be driving around texting or talking on their phone, now they can do that AND listen to their Facebook updates!

Is it just me or does it feel like Facebook is taking over the world? I was watching World News with Diane Sawyer the other night and at the end she said something along the lines of “…and don’t forget to visit us on our Facebook page”…..Diane Sawyer, an award-winning journalist, said that. Am I the only one that is kind of scared by this phenomenon? It started out as a way for college kids to stay in touch and see their friends pictures and it has now taken on a life of its own. I like Facebook and all and it has served a great purpose in times of need, such as the Tsunami that recently hit Japan, but where will we draw the line? Clearly not before we have our cars giving us our live Facebook updates while driving.

So, as crazy as it seems at times, and regardless of some of the applications for its use, Facebook is here to stay, folks. If this is the case, why not jump on board and ride the wave??

I had the privilege of attending my first NADA this month in sunny San Francisco. Overall it was a great show and I am so happy I went! One of our goals when speaking with dealers on the floor was to find out what the dealer was currently doing and to find out what their top 3 goals were at NADA that they hoped to gain more knowledge on. We filled out quite a few surveys and here were the top 3 things that dealers said:

1) Social media: They wanted to learn more about it and figure out the best way to implement it at their dealership

2) Service efficiency: From the sounds of it dealers have lots of service business but they are struggling on being efficient and getting the cars in and out.

3) Consolidate/Streamline services: Dealers want to streamline and consolidate their processes and if possible cut back on having multiple vendors and find one vendor that can provide all the services they need.

Dealers were at NADA with a purpose and on a mission to find tools, discover solutions and form partnerships. I’ll break these 3 things down over the next few weeks so stay tuned for more!

The other evening I was reading through a few automotive blogs and came across a few post regarding dealership rating sites on the Internet. I could not help but notice the overwhelming fear from a lot of dealers out there about this new trend. With sites like Cars.com getting into the ratings business themselves it seems like everywhere we turn a site is incorporating real time reviews of the car buyer’s experience. We know that human nature tells us that there are always a few bad apples out there that spoil it for the rest of us. You are always going to have at least one customer, that no matter what you do, you simply cannot make them happy. Odds are that this will result in negative feedback on one of the hundreds of sites they can rate your store on.

Do not be afraid to tell people to go out there and rate their experience with your store. Encourage this. It is these real life testimonials that bring a level of comfort to the car buying experience. People want to see that people have done business with your store.

At the end of the day ratings systems serve to help make the marketplace a better place to do business. They help create greater honesty and integrity in companies that truly strive to give their customers the best possible experience. These reviews are worth their weight in gold, and now in the day and age of social media marketing you are going to see just how fast these reviews can spread. For good or bad they will have a major impact on your business so it is important to not take them for granted and always remember that positive reviews are earned.

You have most likely heard of or read an article recently about Google Places. Many industry experts are recommending you secure your business listing on Google Places and make sure you do what you can to enhance your listing. This is solid advice and if you have not already followed it, read on to learn more about why you should.

Google Places is an offering by Google which allows a business to populate a free page with photos, hours, services and other information which can then be found by prospective customers. This page benefits the business owner by allowing them to present the information they want known about themselves and it benefits Google by allowing them to present more complete and accurate information to searchers.

Google uses information gathered from various sources to populate as many businesses and as much information as possible. However, since this information comes from third-party sites, it may be inaccurate. By allowing the actual business owner to submit their information about the business, Google can present that info with confidence.

Again, this page is provided for FREE. All you need to do is have a Google Account, also free, and then verify your business listing via phone or mail. Once you have completed this step, you will be able to access your page and personalize the information found there. In addition to photos, you can upload video, specify the various services provided, and post a description of your business. All of this is great information for a prospective customer to have easily at hand.

Oh, and there is the little matter of search ranking. Google states “All Google search results are based primarily on relevance, and Google Maps listings are no different. Google Maps ranks business listings based on their relevance to the search terms entered, along with geographic distance (where indicated) and other factors.” Google Places puts the power in your hands to make sure your business listing contains that ‘Relevance to search terms entered‘.

Properly populating your Google Places page can have a major impact on your search ranking. It is a Google product so there is no doubt Google will be able to make the most out of it for indexing. Think of this just like Search Engine Optimizing your website, except this page is free and hosted by the search engine itself.

So if you haven’t already done so, get your business verified on Google Places. If you already have, make sure your content is up-to-date and all of your services are listed with good descriptions. All it will cost you is a little time and the benefits could be great.

For more information, Google’s help page is here: http://www.google.com/support/places/

You may have noticed in my previous posts regarding Search Engine Optimization that I was overwhelmingly one-sided as far as the search engine referenced. I admit I am a fan of Google for my Internet searches. I use it at home, I use it at work, and I use it when I talk about SEO. There is a good reason for this – Google accounts for the lion’s-share of the search engine traffic within the United States.

According to an analysis of search engine traffic conducted by comScore, www.comscore.com, Google accounts for about 66% of all searches conducted within the U.S. Yahoo accounts for just under 17% of traffic and Bing (Microsoft) accounts for 11% of the traffic.

search engine traffic

Taking these numbers at face-value, it is apparent why Google is the main player when discussing Search Engine Optimization. The other players’ market share is minor compared to the Google giant. Therefore, you get the most bang for your buck by following the Google guidelines when optimizing your site.

But can you just ignore the other guy? Up until now, the prevalent wisdom has been yes; go Google and go Google hard. But there’s a new kid in town and he is itching for a fight. The new kid, in this case, is not the current #2 (for reasons you will see later) but the #3 player – Microsoft’s Bing. You are probably aware of Bing and may even use it yourself. Microsoft did not spare any money when they released their new search engine and launched a massive marketing campaign to go with it.

So why is it that Bing has caused a shake-up in the world of SEO? There are several factors but three major ones:
• Microsoft has enormous resources, money, and influence. This has allowed them to bring about the next two factors.
• Bing partnered with Yahoo earlier this year to provide the search results for Yahoo sites
• Bing has partnered with Facebook to incorporate the ‘likes’ of Facebook users and their friends

Microsoft and Yahoo announced earlier this year the plans to have Bing power the search results for users on Yahoo sites. Their stated expectation is to have this transition completed by the end of the year or early next year at the latest. As far as SEO considerations, this effectively merges the #2 and #3 players in the search engine market. Google’s 66% share still dominates the now combined share of Bing/Yahoo’s 28% but this makes it awfully hard to justify a Google-only attitude.

Perhaps the change with the biggest potential to cause Google headaches is the Bing / Facebook partnership. This partnership represents the first full marriage between a search engine and a social networking site. The fact that Facebook has become THE social networking site makes this all the more relevant. While there is some debate about how much the initial influence of ‘like’d pages will have on consumers’ searches on the Internet, there is no denying the potential for this partnership to drastically alter the world of SEO.

So with all that being said, what’s my point? Google has real competition and Bing should no longer be ignored. I don’t think there is a need or value in running out and trying to drastically alter the best practices proven to be effective for SEO. Bing and Google appear to use the same key elements for their rankings – good relevant content, pages with concentration on one subject, alt tags, keyword-rich page titles, site maps, etc… So there really isn’t a stark contrast between Bing SEO practices versus Google SEO practices although they obviously apply different values based on differences in their search results. For now, I would recommend the following:
• Be aware Bing is a potential up-and-coming player and watch for any more major announcements from them.
• Check out the Bing Webmaster Tools (similar to the Google Webmaster Tools) at http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmasters/Default.aspx• Submit your site to be indexed by Bing using the Webmaster Tools
• Submit any site that links to your site to be indexed by Bing
• Run some searches to see the differences between the search results using this neat little tool: http://www.bing-vs-google.com/• If you haven’t already, get a Social Media plan in place and begin implementing it (see some of our other great blogs for details on that)
• Don’t Panic

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