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Information technology infobytes

These colors don't run

A wave of patriotism is sweeping the country in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. It's a trend noticeable on several auto industry-related Internet home pages.

Some examples:

  • Dealership group AutoNation Inc. () is running an American flag icon with the words "God Bless America."

  • Online car-buying service Autobytel Inc. () also is running an American flag icon but with the words "September 11, 2001."

  • Seattle software company Cobalt Group (), whose clients include 12,000 franchised dealers and 14 manufacturers, is running a patriotic ribbon. Click it, and you'll find links to organizations helping with disaster relief.

    What's in a name?

    More than 70 percent of people who use the owner's page feature on have nicknames for their vehicles, e-GM President Mark Hogan says. "And they name it Hubby or Toto or something like that," he says.

    Why nicknames?

    "Because it's a very personal thing," Hogan says. "You're in your vehicle every day. Some people spend more time with their vehicle than their spouse."

    Pontiac customers can use their Web page to receive news, warranty information, keep track of repairs and maintenance, and receive special service campaigns. Pontiac can use the data supplied by users to analyze demographics and determine service needs.

    Hogan says General Motors will expand the customer relationship management tool to other sites in the first quarter of 2002. "That will take the Pontiac experience and explode it to the other brands."

    E-mail to the rescue

    With mail safety concerns such as anthrax, reduced effectiveness of direct mail and increased Internet marketing, Grand Prairie Ford () in Grand Prairie, Texas, has changed its marketing plan.

    It's switching from snail mail to e-mail.

    With help from partner Rise Media Group () of Fort Worth, Texas, the dealership can e-mail customers streaming video presentations such as vehicle brochures and advertisements. The e-mails require no file download.

    Jeff Baker, general manager of Grand Prairie Ford, says the video e-mail has a higher response rate and costs less than direct mail.

    Internet Enthusiast, come on down

    So you go offline after a hard day at the server farm to network with your fellow cube dwellers. You're discussing best-of-breed solutions when suddenly it hits you:

    Where's the payoff to knowing a pixel from a megabyte?

    Well, forget it. Your coworkers don't care. And frankly, they might not even know what you're talking about.

    Blame the jargon.

    Hoover's, which publishes Hoover's Online (), and American Honda Motor Co. Inc. () make light of the proliferation of jargon in an interactive jargon-busting ad campaign on Hoover's Online. You select a character from among several stereotypical fictitious businesspeople who are then rewarded for avoiding the use of jargon in business situations.

    If your character wins, he or she drives away in a virtual Honda Accord. If busted for using jargon, the character is given something else to drive away, perhaps a scooter or a tricycle.

    Try it. Then go back to proactive relationship building.

    Groovy Gruvo

    Yes Virginia and Virgil, a free Web-based animated auction site with all the trimmings is here.

    The new Gruvo Auction () site lets sellers and bidders cruise through a virtually animated community, which some call state-of-art. Virtual animation, featuring a lead character named Lucky, brings items to life with voice descriptions and live assistance on LivePerson Live Chat, a customer relationship management application with online customer assistance.

    There's nothing like the human touch in a virtual world.

    The Gruvo Auction features an automotive category.

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