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Spotlight Series: Erika Simms

Spotlight Series: Erika Simms

Brett Anaya
  • In this installment of our Spotlight Series, I had the pleasure of speaking with Erika Simms, Vice President of Dealer Authority, an automotive-specific digital marketing company servicing dealerships across the nation!

In the age of digital marketing, content is king. If you are a business owner or marketing director, then you know the impact that a solid internet presence and a strong marketing campaign can possess.

And no one knows this better than the automotive industry.

In this installment of our Spotlight Series, I had the pleasure of speaking with Erika Simms, Vice President of Dealer Authority, an automotive-specific digital marketing company servicing dealerships across the nation!

ADL:  Hey Erika, how’s it going?

ES: Hey!

ADL: Thank you for taking the time for this interview! So, the first question that I have for you would be the classic: how did you get your start in the auto industry?

ES: Well, I actually got my start in the auto industry at about twelve years old. Helping out around the store here and there.

ADL: Oh wow!

ES: Yeah! So my father actually worked at dealerships since before I was born. When I turned eighteen, he ended up buying a dealership of his own. I would help out around the store in between going to college, and learned a bit about everything. I really took interest in marketing while in college.

ADL: Oh okay gotcha! So you were really getting a hands-on experience in addition to actively studying marketing in college.

ES: One of the things that I got to do for an internship back in the day was host an auto show at my father’s dealership. Essentially I set the entire show up for my internship! I printed everything out, got the vendors, get the activities and get the car clubs involved. We ultimately had over 150 cars show up and gave out awards and everything.

ADL: I love that! That is a really great idea!

ES: We ended up having around 200 or so people show up! It was a lot of fun.

ADL: It sounds like it! So, how did you get your start with Dealer Authority? How did that come about?

ES: So at the time I was hired by a company called KPA which was kind of an HR/Compliance company for the industry. I was working with a man named JD Rucker and Tyson Madliger, our current CEO. After about a year of working together, they both left to start Dealer Authority. When KPA got sold, I went to Dealer Authority and have been here ever since.

ADL: Gotcha! It’s funny how things fall into place. So the relationships that you built at an entirely different company led to Dealer Authority.

ES: Exactly!

ADL: So what do you feel is the challenging part about what you do?

ES: The hard part is showing the ROI at times. In other industries, it’s a bit easier to show the direct sales. With automotive, a lot of what you do ends up stopped at either submitting a lead online or walking into the dealership, which is becoming more common. Trying to come up with metrics can be difficult. Plus the constant change that we’re seeing in the industry. It is one of the most affected by the economy. Then with Google and Facebook, there are so many changes. It’s definitely a balancing act.

ADL: I definitely feel like there are a lot of variables that affect the industry, more so than other industries. The economy like you said. Then nowadays with social marketing and internet sales that hinge on various websites and platforms.

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ES: Oh absolutely.

ADL: So, based on increased focus on social selling and marketing, where do you see the industry within the next ten years?

ES: Oh I think it’s gonna be a lot more on the digital side. For instance, Carvana has come out and has made it very easy for a person to buy a vehicle. I really see it going towards fully digital. Website companies are gonna have to catch up with that. As you have the millennial generation coming into the buying process, we have to make the car buying process 1) not take forever, and 2) be less threatening. It’s very uncomfortable for someone who isn’t used to going in and bartering and haggling.

ADL: I tend to agree. I think that especially with millennials, they are going to want a more seamless buying experience.

ES: Yes, think about it. If they want food, they can use Grubhub. If they want to order something, they use Amazon. If they need a ride, they have Uber. Everything is at their fingertips. They are going to go with whatever is easier. When I bought my house, everything was done digitally. Digital is the future of automotive. It makes everything easier.

ADL: Okay so final question! If you were in any other industry, what would it be?

ES: Ooh, that’s really hard because I’ve always been in this industry. I think the cosmetic industry would be fun for sure, but I’ve also always wanted to check out the restaurant industry too! It’s so interesting and unique, but the marketing for many restaurants is poor.

ADL: Awesome! Well I appreciate you again for taking the time to talk today!

ES: Of course!

If you have any digital marketing questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Erika at erika@dealerauthority.com

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