Brunotte, 42, is director for digital solutions and industry practice at DHG Dealerships, an accounting and consulting firm in Charlotte, N.C. He joined DHG in 2018 after a stint at a smaller consulting firm. Before that, Brunotte spent four years as director of operations at Derrow Automotive, a dealership group in Findlay, Ohio, before leaving in 2016.
Brunotte spoke to Automotive News reporters and editors last month. Here are edited excerpts.
On how he approaches dealer clients:
I'm agnostic. Every dealer to me is individual. They have different markets; they have different sizes, different brands. Everybody should have a different strategy. There's no plug and play.
On paid search:
Why pay to be first when they're already first in organic [search]? That's just waste. So let's look for those opportunities. Let's either make your agency aware of that — stop doing this — or find another agency that is going to do it correctly.
Are they making the best use of being the first organic spot? Is the content correct in that? We look at every little nuance. You're paying or you're getting there somehow, but make sure you're using your time or that space wisely.
For a mobile device, if your mobile ad's on mobile, organic or paid will now take up almost three quarters of your screen. So make that count. We're either coaching our dealers how to make that space count or talking to their agency directly, making those tweaks for them — or referring them to a different agency.
On whether he advises dealers to get rid of vendors:
I prefer to help them manage the vendors they currently have. There's a lot of disruption, right? Changing vendors constantly is expensive. When you start with a new vendor, their strategy needs time to get traction, so you're losing a little bit. So I don't like to clean house with vendors, especially when it comes to search. I prefer to manage the vendors and the process that they have in place. From the get-go, see if that makes any changes to their analytics or their sales or whatever. If that doesn't do it, then we start making changes.
On piloting new vendors:
I love innovation. New products are exciting. I just don't like when they have too many, and it costs too much, and they become inefficient.
Walking into the NADA expo is exciting. To me, it's kind of daunting; it's kind of too much. But all those companies put a lot of work into innovation, and all those concepts are wonderful — but you don't need all of them.
I've got a couple of dealers that are on a brand-new program that was out, and it's video-related, so programmatic videos. Very powerful, very innovative, and I've got two dealers on it now. I love it. As long as it's cost effective, it's efficient, it's helping the outcome that we're all trying to achieve.
On data as a trend in advertising and marketing:
Data is very powerful. And these big companies with all this data, they're going to be able to scale their efforts a lot more and take on the little guys.
It's Home Depot vs. the Ace Hardware guy. I think that's what's going to happen with these smaller agencies.