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Aug 5 2015

An Interview with Connie Keane of Motor Matters

Connie_Keane_HeadshotDataOne Software recently interviewed Connie Keane, president of AutoWriters Associates, Inc. and owner of Motor Matters. Motor Matters and DataOne have been partners for quite some time, with DataOne offering Motor Matters vehicle overviews and weekly automotive articles as part of our digital media & editorial product for dealers. Connie and her team of writers have been serving the automotive industry for a number of years now and are known for creating engaging content for all types of vehicle buyers.

In this interview, Connie shares some insight into the purpose of high-quality content and its value to dealerships, as well as some specific examples of Motor Matters’ products that have been particularly useful.

What is "Content"?

Content is information that is useful and attractive to the audience it is speaking to. I equate content to currency -- it's become part of our global economic system.  Like money, content can be devalued, especially when quantity is prioritized over quality.    When it comes to content, Google and its search engine parameters have the greatest effect on the ability for content to attract visitors.  Google’s advanced algorithm is configured so that content with a perceived value yields high rankings, while poor-quality content can drastically lower your search ranking. Just as you don't want a money manager churning your money, you don't want a content manager churning content.

Tell us about Motor Matters and what you do

Motor Matters was founded by my late father, Tom Keane, who worked in the newspaper industry for 60 years. He started out as a photojournalist for the Philadelphia Northeast Times in 1950, in 1964 was hired as a picture editor for the Wilmington, Delaware News Journal (TNJ), and by 1982 transitioned to writing the new car reports for TNJ’s weekend classifieds. In 1986 he went off on his own, supporting advertorial classified sections for newspapers in several different regions. After making a name for himself, he started his own company in 1992, Motor Matters, where a number of skilled automotive writers across the country contributed with expert vehicle overviews, niche content, and consumer interest articles.

Back in those days, the newspaper classified section was where automotive dealers found their voice, and jockeyed for position to be heard and seen by readers and car buyers. Today, dealers can better control and target their messaging through online digital channels such as websites, social media and e-newsletters. Motor Matters articles are designed to support these efforts, with up to 7 weekly articles covering a variety of topics.

There are a lot of “content” solutions and providers out there. What separates Motor Matters from the crowd?

All eighteen of my writers are highly qualified in automotive industry reporting and have a passion for cars. They are a real creative group that writes unique and engaging content, palatable to a wide audience from beginner to enthusiast. Our team has a substantial amount of experience, also writing for auto industry staples such as Autobytel, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and Ward’s Automotive, as well as established media companies, including The New York Times, MSNBC.com, the BBC, Newsweek, CNN, The Today Show and Fox News, among others.

Can you give us some specific examples of how Motor Matters’ expertise in the industry is leveraged to provide unique and engaging content for dealership’s prospective buyers?

Motor Matters has built many close relationships with auto industry decision-makers over the years, giving us inside access to upcoming product releases and other company initiatives. We’ve leveraged these valuable connections to create personalized content that readers will engage with. 

A recent Q&A with Elizabeth Krear, the chief engineer of the new Ram 1500, demonstrates the amount of access we have in the industry, as well as the level of comfort we provide our subjects. In the interview, my writer Holly Reich relates: "We bonded right away over kids, kitchens, and our mutual love of trucks. Elizabeth oversees all budgets, planning, engineering, development, quality, and launch management of the Ram 1500. With more than 25 years in the automotive industry, she received two Master's degrees while working full-time and raising two kids with her husband, Tad."

Another one of our strengths is our willingness to respond to our client’s needs. For example, the special sections editor at the Houston Chronicle asked me about the frequency of our feature called "Women Auto Know." When he ran this article he got a lot of positive feedback from their readers, internal management, and GMs of local dealerships. As a result, the Chronicle decided to increase their frequency of running "Women Auto Know" to each month, which we were able to support. Motor Matters has committed to addressing this powerful segment of female car buyers with engaging content. Women represent 50 percent of the marketplace and influence 80 percent of the family car buying decisions, according to Frost & Sullivan, a global consulting firm. Those are some numbers that can’t be ignored. And so we make sure to include them as an integral part of the audience we write to.

The above examples are just a couple of the many ways our content engages dealer’s prospective buyers of all demographics, including women, with our eclectic collection of automotive articles.

Which article series have your dealer clients found particularly valuable for bringing in quality leads to their dealership?

One of our most valuable products is the annual New Car Buyers Guide. Motor Matters has been producing new car overviews since 1998.

Thousands of in-market car buyers have read the Motor Matters new car guides in their local newspapers -- and dealers have readily supported their hometown papers with advertising revenue in order to have their logo and message appear alongside these Motor Matters new car overviews. Now this proven content series, along with other unique and engaging article series, can be part of the dealer’s own digital content strategy, available through DataOne Software.

These new car overviews are a brilliant asset to dealers in helping vehicle shoppers on their site gain quick access to "What's New" for the current model year. Motor Matters’ overviews are written in a succinct, clear tone, conveying the auto manufacturer's message of what's new in a crisp, concise manner. Each vehicle overview is accompanied by high-quality OEM photography.

With so many years of consistently delivering a popular product for new cars, we now have a rich resource of used car guides -- an excellent article content addition to a dealer's website for showcasing used car inventory online.

Does Motor Matters have any new article series concepts in the works?

I recently read on a LinkedIn post that some 18,000 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every hour. People love video -- and they can't all be watching cat vines!

Motor Matters has access to some excellent and really well-produced video by the OEM media and public relations departments. I'm not just talking about B-Roll, but interviews with the product personnel -- some real behind the scenes stuff in what goes into automotive. I'm posting some of the quality stand-out videos on my micro site, and we plan to work on future development of this venture.

About Connie Keane

Connie Keane has been test-driving and reporting on new cars since 1994. She has been producing the Motor Matters annual New Car Buyers Guide since 1998. Keane is a trained driver having received racetrack and handling instruction from professional race drivers. Keane is an experienced radio and television broadcaster, working from 1980 through 1986 as a radio disc jockey in southern New Jersey, as well as TV anchorwoman and street reporter for the NBC-affiliate TV40. Keane is president of AutoWriters Associates, Inc., based in Wilmington, Delaware.

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