As we look to tell the stories about people and the products that support auto dealerships, Digital Dealer shining the spotlight on companies that help dealers do their job more effectively.
We recently interviewed Reunion Marketing’s Dave Spannhake to hear about his experiences in the industry, why he is excited about the company’s KeyLift SEO improvements and his forecast for 2024.
DIGITAL DEALER: What was your first job in the industry, and what did it teach you?
Dave Spannhake, Reunion Marketing: I worked for an in-house agency that did all marketing production and investment for the Leith Automotive group, 33 stores in North Carolina. It allowed me the opportunity to learn the ROI goals around marketing for a large group and within four years I was overseeing all of the Digital Marketing needs for the group and within six oversaw the marketing team of 25 people.
DIGITAL DEALER: What is your proudest accomplishments in the industry
Spannhake: Outside of founding Reunion Marketing, the collaborations with so many of the industry’s most influential companies and minds has been the most rewarding accomplishment. Working with Digital Dealer, Driving Sales, NCM, David Kain (and forming the Vendor 20 Group with him and Brent Williams), Jim Ziegler, and many more have allowed me to both learn from and teach so many dealerships and successful people within the industry. I feel so blessed as a result.
DIGITAL DEALER: What are you most excited for in 2024?
Spannhake: Innovation. These past several years have had such volatility for the industry and as that’s happened, inventory levels have been artificially lower and the normal competitive spirit that our industry loves did not seem as aggressive as cars were selling at record gross. As the supply has come back, the innate desire to win that is my favorite part of this industry has largely come back to the collective dealer body and that drives more experiments, new ideas, and greater innovation.
DIGITAL DEALER: What trends do you think will have a significant impact on the automotive industry in the coming years?
Spannhake: Without a doubt, artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping marketing opportunities faster than any new technology since the Internet started really taking off in the late 90s and early 00s. Leveraging automations with proper oversight will allow opportunities to greater focus on new ideas and innovation. It’s incredibly exciting to be part of this era’s revolution.
DIGITAL DEALER: What do you enjoy most about your role, company, and/or the automotive industry?
Spannhake: Learning. With Reunion’s tremendous growth and over the past couple years, we have been able to bring on board some of the industry’s smartest marketing minds and skill sets that have allowed more time to focus on the industry’s greatest challenges. Every year, I am afforded more and more time to think and gain perspective into the industry. That ongoing learning through a network of some of the brightest leaders in automotive is my biggest personal passion in my professional career.
DIGITAL DEALER: Describe your core offerings, any new products or features, and how automotive dealerships are best leveraging those.
Spannhake: Reunion Marketing is a digital marketing technology company that supports dealerships through SEO and Paid Media services. Best known for SEO, Reunion has developed the industry’s first dynamic delivery content and SEO tech stack that algorithmically delivers helpful content to dealerships all based around the areas where the dealership has the lowest visibility. The results have fueled the hundreds of new dealership partnerships we have been excited to support over the past couple of years.
DIGITAL DEALER: Can you highlight any recent innovations or strategies that set your company apart in the market?
Spannhake: KeyLift. I referenced this above, but we have invested millions into the creation of our tool that allows dealerships to overcome some of their biggest historical SEO objections. Dealerships often don’t know what is being done in SEO efforts, why it is being done, and have had difficulty measuring success outside of high-level metrics that don’t always tell the story in volatile times like we have been experiencing the past few years. Our technology showcases exactly how a dealership is showing up and where the opportunity areas are, what the short and long-term plans are to grow in reach and visibility, and then algorithmically executes an SEO plan that creates tremendous results and true alignment with our partners so everyone is always on the same page over what our goals are and how they are being achieved. There’s truly nothing like it in our industry and we are so proud of what we have built here at Reunion.
DIGITAL DEALER: What values and principles drive your organization, and how do you ensure they are reflected in the day-to-day operations and interactions within the company?
Spannhake: More than anything, I am most proud about the culture that we’ve nurtured here at Reunion Marketing. Our Core Values were never aspirationally built, but created early word-clouding all of the great character traits that were regularly on display across our team.
Grit, Elevate Others, Comfortable Being Uncomfortable, and Continuous Improvement are those values and all of our key employment decisions are based around maintaining our strong culture and principles. Hiring and firing, promotion and demotion, and all growth plans include these at the forefront of conversations.
During our State of Reunion all-hands alignment meetings the team regularly shares examples of these to close out those meetings where we have the opportunity to shout each other out with a spread of great examples that have recently happened between meetings. These Core Values are shared and discussed during our Quarterly Conversations and are also regularly brought up from team members across the company on Slack in our “Shout-Outs” channel. Our growth and innovation wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is without leaning into the importance of culture and our values.
DIGITAL DEALER: Looking ahead, what exciting developments or initiatives can dealerships expect from your company in the near future? Are there specific goals or milestones that your team is working towards?
Spannhake: Beyond the more than 100 new features in the pipeline to innovate KeyLift, we look forward to ongoing innovation as part of our company’s Culture of Experimentation. Our annual goals that revolve around our mission and purpose as a company are what drives our team alignment and one of this year’s goals I’m most excited about is our 100 Experiments goal. Across the company, every single person is charged with running an experiment to test the status quo and try something new that can create greater understanding of our processes and strategies. Whether the experiment shows a new way of doing something that creates better results or whether it produces weaker results, we are smarter and more knowledgeable because of the experiments and are able to share that much more wisdom and knowledge with our partners. 2024 has started off great and I’m confident it will be our largest growth year yet, both in terms of growing our partners and also our own strategies and technologies!
DIGITAL DEALER: What advice would you give to someone entering the field?
Spannhake: Take the time to learn and network regularly. It’s a small industry and the people who work the hardest and the smartest are the ones who make the greatest impact. It’s not a “hustle or die” environment, but instead all about learning and capturing the most perspective to be armed with as much information to make great decisions as you can.