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James Baggott: Sneezing pandas – and a new way for you to get the latest news

James Baggott: Sneezing pandas – and a new way for you to get the latest news

THE internet is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Want to know the difference between a stew and a casserole? It can help. Need directions to the nearest Burger King? No problem. Need to be entertained by sneezing pandas and men being knocked over by exercise balls? Again, the worldwide web’s at your service.

I have to whisper it quietly in the Car Dealer office these days, but I’m just about old enough to remember a time when questions actually went unanswered. A time when if you didn’t know a capital city, you had to ask another human being or, wait for it, consult an actual, real-life book. A time, believe it or not, before we were connected to the oracle of things courtesy of a tiny screen stashed in our pockets.

At my first journalism job – writing about the mighty Dorking and Leatherhead football clubs in Surrey – I remember the lengthy, month-long argument my editor had with IT to get me an email address. I also remember the joy of being able to send and receive my own digital messages – and the relief of cutting and pasting copy onto a page rather than spending hours transcribing it from a fax or, worse still, a letter (remember them?).

I know I’m making it sound like I was born in the dark ages, but this was only 2001. Newspapers never were the fastest to adopt new technology and looking back now it’s little surprise they’re going the way of the dinosaurs.

Trade Plates logoThese days the internet is so ingrained in our daily lives it’s impossible to imagine what life would be like without it. Information is mainlined into our brains from social media, from news outlets and from videos every minute of every day. The pace has been so fast, businesses and traditional media have had to drastically rethink their traditional models.

Take car-buying as an example. Punters these days don’t pick up a Free Ads or local paper and scour for deals in the back pages, they look nationwide on a variety of classified advertising portals, the numbers of which are constantly ballooning. They find a deal, send an email and arrange a visit – normally without even speaking to you or your team.

But before they’ve even got that far, they’ll have spent hours, days, weeks even, researching their potential purchase. Reviews are everywhere online and everyone is an expert. Forums are visited, social media consulted and YouTube videos watched.

In fact, by the time that customer gets to you, they’ve already made their decision – they know the car you have is the car they want, they simply want you to give them a decent price. All this makes me wonder if the art of traditional car ‘selling’ is a dying profession – with customers so well informed surely it’s only a matter of time before sales people become ‘transaction engineers’?

Who knows? What I do know is this isn’t going to change. The importance of a decent web presence has long been known, but the surge in online video is rapidly making the medium just as vital.

In an attempt at writing a proper column, I even did some research – well, a colleague did and I stole it, but it sort of counts.

They found that viewers retain 95 per cent of a message on video compared to text. What’s more, videos are 1,200 per cent more likely to be shared than links and text combined. Online videos now account for an incredible 50 per cent of mobile traffic – and it’s not all ‘that’ sort of video… but most probably is. While 78 per cent of people watch video every week and an astonishing 55 per cent watch online video every day. See what I mean about video being important?

That’s why the Blackball Media team has decided to innovate once again and launch an online video channel for the motor trade.

Called ‘Trade Plates TV’ the channel features a weekly motor trade news show, a fortnightly live panel show and regular features that take you inside some of the coolest dealerships around the UK and inside the most amazing workshops.

Hosted by Rebecca Chaplin, Trade Plates is a hugely exciting new project for the team and I and it’s one I know you’re going to love. We’ve already broadcast two live shows, which featured brilliant debate from dealers just like you and were incredibly popular with viewers. It helps that you can get involved with them while they’re happening too, by tweeting us or commenting in the chat box under the live video stream. And if you want to be on the sofa live with us, just get in touch.

Oh, and if you missed them and want to watch again, head to TradePlates.tv where all our shows can be found neatly arranged in beautiful compartments.

Just as the way your customers research and buy cars is changing, we realise that the way you want to consume your motor trade media is changing too.

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean this magazine is going anywhere, but what it does mean is you’ll be able to get more of us in many more ways in the future.

I just can’t promise you won’t end up watching sneezing pandas five seconds after tuning out of our show…

Who is James Baggott? He’s the founder of Car Dealer Magazine and managing director of parent company @BlackballMedia, an automotive services provider. He now spends most of his time on Twitter @CarDealerEd and annoying the rest of us.

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