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Counter intelligence: I’m an optimistic skeptic, but...

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Counter intelligence: I’m an optimistic skeptic, but...

I  think I ended up a marketing guy because I was born a curious kid. I always wanted to understand how and why. Part of why is how, and part of how is why.

In the last two weeks, I’ve read a few good studies, read several great articles, and also listened to a three-hour presentation by an international businessman, economist and statesman. I’m pumped! I’ll attempt to recap for you what I’ve learned.

• First, the result of a recent Google Study on “Tire Buyers Today” which reported eight to nine out of 10 (84%) of tire purchasers made their purchases in stores.

This is good news for independent tire dealers. The beast we call the Internet is not stealing our business; that’s not to say it’s not affecting our business, but the vast majority of tire purchasers buy local.

I hear a lot of dealers complaining about the Internet as if they are competing directly, comments like, “They don’t have to pay taxes online,” or “They don’t have to charge disposal fees.”

The truth is you are competing, as always, with other local tire providers since most tires sold in the U.S. are sold through local tire shops/dealers. Just be thankful you don’t sell books or music.

• Second, nearly half (46%) of tire purchases involve digital engagement. When researching tires, two of the top three resources are digital.

This is good news because by now you have a relevant digital footprint. What I mean by “relevant digital footprint” is that you have a decent website or a Facebook page, or any of a wide variety of digital opportunities that give you digital exposure in our digital world.

 If you don’t, then you are invisible to nearly half (46%) of all tire purchasers and 100% of all who involve digital in their searches.

This is a huge hole (bad news) if you want to grow or even sustain your business. If you aren’t digitally relevant, stop reading this article now and find somebody who can help you.

• Third, more good news; the people you talk with on the phone or in person are decision makers.


Nearly nine out of 10 (87%) of tire purchasers surveyed say they make the final decision. If potential tire purchasers/shoppers are saying to you, or store personnel, that before they make their purchase they have to check with somebody or discuss it with their wife, husband, father, uncle or anybody else, you’ve got a problem (bad news) with the sales presentation. Not only are you speaking directly with the decision maker, the decision maker is about to make a decision.

The Google Study reports that the recent tire purchasers they surveyed made their purchase decision inside of a week. Wow, that’s good news. The customer you are talking with is ready to buy.

As I said last month, the “buy button is on” so it’s critical to have a sense of urgency toward each conversation. I understand that retail can be a real grind; however, being prepared mentally is important.

But wait, there’s more — more good news.

• Fourth, 72%, or most of the potential tire purchasers, are open to multiple tire brands and retailers, or both.

What this means is they are open to suggestions about brands, and a high percentage of the time they will buy from a variety of retailers, including you. This means your location has as good a chance as any to get the customer into the store, close the sale, and take the consumer out of the marketplace. Bam!

• And finally, in the last several weeks, I’ve found good news, good supporting information from respected studies and articles strongly indicating websites with videos are rapidly becoming more important than ever when potential consumers are making judgment calls along the purchase path.

So here’s your challenge ...

• Suppose that today you make a decision to reach more customers digitally.

• Suppose you decide to upgrade your website with more relevant information, videos and information that answers the questions on Google’s survey.

• Suppose in your new video, you tell customers, “We stock a crazy-wide variety of brands and styles,” and you tell them, “We will get whatever you need in 24 hours,” and you tell them why you’re the best place to buy tires, and tell them how you plan to help them, and ...

• You tell them you know they have a choice and why they should choose you!    ■

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at


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