Approach your social media presence with the mindset of helping others, and that goodwill will typically return to you.  -  IMAGE: Pexels/Dominika Roseclay

Approach your social media presence with the mindset of helping others, and that goodwill will typically return to you.

IMAGE: Pexels/Dominika Roseclay

Adam Marburger may see some eye-rolling in the audience when he gives his talks on how to use social media to market a finance-and-industry agency.

And he may also understand if some of his listeners think he’s crazy when he relates his playbook for turning posts into business leads – if it works so well, why give away the formula?

If so, neither reaction stops him from spreading the word about his “different business model.” That’s because social platforms have helped him build a successful St. Louis-area F&I services provider, despite the fact that he readily shares his secrets with competitors.

The reason he does so, as he puts it, is that, “There’s enough market share for all of us.”

Marburger, CEO of Ascent Dealer Services who’s been recognized by Automotive News as a 40-under-40 industry leader, didn’t start out in the industry – far from it. Instead, he aspired to be a chef as a young teenager and spent several years in restaurants. But the marathon hours led him to take a longtime detour into the automotive industry, starting in retail at age 18 and later moving into F&I.

His desire to spend more time with his daughters led him to co-found The Income Development Guys agency in 2017 with his mentor partner, Johnny Garlich. As an entrepreneur, he decided to strike out on his own two years later with Ascent Dealer Services, and built it up in just three years, mostly on inbound leads he generated on social media platforms, he told agents at Bobit Dealer Group’s recent Agent Summit in Las Vegas.

Today, he still acquires accounts that way, and so do the agents on his team.

“You can only knock on so many doors a day,” he said.

Door-Knock Multipler

It started with posts he shared with his network on relevant F&I topics, drawing responses, some positive, some negative, including hecklers, he said. Then one day, an auto dealer who followed his posts used the same platform to reach out to him and ask for a meeting, and Marburger decided to do his own thing, hecklers notwithstanding.

“I use social platforms to create engagement to develop relationships to set meetings,” he told his audience. “You’re the brand – people buy from people they like and trust.”

The method, which he laid out for his listeners, not only produces leads. He said it gives him the kind of warm introductions networkers crave.

“When I show up to a dealership, I get hugged by a dealer.”

Disregard Cool Feelings

It all starts with building relevance to a target audience, in this case, auto dealers, then leveraging social media to create those warm opportunities, he said.

Before an agent follows Marburger down that particular business-development road, though, they should get comfortable with the fact that some people who follow them won’t be so warm.

He warned his summit listeners that indeed, there will be hecklers, people skeptical or otherwise critical of their ideas, so that they won’t be discouraged when they inevitably encounter such flack. Agents should instead focus themselves on their mission without letting opposition slow them down or discourage them.

“The more you do online, the more you brand yourself, the more people are going to hate on you,” he said.

Mutual Mindset

So it might seem further counterintuitive that Marburger approaches his social-focused business strategy not just by helping build his own business but also by helping others. He calls that philosophy a “servant-leading approach,” and said that it actually leads to more success.

“When you have a servant heart and want to help people, it’s crazy what happens,” he said. “I want everybody to win.”

Marburger settled on social to grow his business partly out of desperation and partly out of personal skill. He joined the industry on the back side of F&I, and his first year in business, he “was awful.”

“But I was really good at social platforms,” having learned from industry leaders, he remembered.

Once he built his social brand, Marburger saw the need for industry support offline. So he connected with a small group of industry professionals, a dozen “elite” agents across the country, who meet each month for 90 minutes to discuss their successes and struggles.

Dos and Don’ts

His natural facility to engage with others in the social media realm makes him an expert at what works and what doesn’t, and he laid out multiple pointers for his summit audience members who may have been social novices:

  • Hire a professional photographer to take a couple dozen unique photos of you for your social profiles.
  • Record videos about who you are and why you do what you do. Continuously create new video content, limiting each to 90 seconds.
  • Focus on LinkedIn, Facebook and to a lesser degree, TikTok. Marburger believes the first two are the most relevant platforms in the industry, and says LinkedIn has strong weekday activity, whereas Facebook is more active on Sundays.
  • Build social-platform activity into your calendar, scheduling at least 20 minutes every other day to scroll your feeds, post content and comment on posts. “Always be creating.” Then every day, search platforms for new connections with industry contacts.
  • Engage with connections, share relative content designed to help people, and comment on others’ posts.
  • Pair text posts with a photo.
  • Make your value proposition clear in your messaging.
  • Create a consistent theme across your brand, meaning your overall social media presence across platforms.
  • Share personal experiences, not just professional ones, because “people buy from people they related to.”
  • Be vulnerable, sharing about your own setbacks.
  • Marburger’s suggested posting mix: 20% game-changing content, 50% shared attention-grabbing marketing content, 20% personal content, 10% shared content by other thought leaders. “Shift power to others. Praise others.”
  • Don’t tag all connections or auto dealers you’re not already doing business with.
  • Do live posts on Facebook, not worrying about what you look like.
  • Don’t send unsolicited messages to large numbers of connections – otherwise known as spamming.
  • Help connections, with no expectation of return.
  • Avoid any critical or back-stabbing posts. “When you lose a deal, don’t trash talk the competition,” Marburger said. “We need to embrace each other. It takes more energy to be negative than positive.”
  • Take your feelings out of the picture. “You’ll find no one hating you that’s doing more than you. Truly wish everyone well.”
  • Actively participate in F&I groups.
  • Take notes on your activity, and retarget followers. Look for patterns.
  • Find mentors, people are doing more than you are. “Sometimes we think people won’t take time for us. They absolutely will. It humbles them and makes them feel good.”

Marburger left his audience with a simple observation as a reminder to be doers rather than hearers only.

“There are a lot of brilliant ideas in the market, but the problem is there’s a lack of action on those ideas … I hope you all take action.”











About the author
Hannah Mitchell

Hannah Mitchell

Executive Editor

Hannah Mitchell is executive editor of Bobit's Dealer Group. She's a former newspaper journalist. Her first car was a hand-me-down Chevrolet Nova.

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