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Thoughts from Vegas and Digital Dealer

This week I will be blogging from the Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition for both www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com and www.DealerElite.net.

 

The conference has become the place to be for anyone involved in automotive retail on the digital side – and that includes just about everybody today who interacts with dealerships.

 

I believe the conference is on pace for more than 1,200 dealership personnel, and probably close to 2,500 people total when adding vendors and exhibitors – and hangers on such as myself.

 

There are going to be 93 concurrent sessions over two and a half days. An attendee can hit 14 different sessions. That’s a lot of material you can implement at your dealerships the next several months.

 

Full disclosure here -- I worked at Dealer Communications for 15 months and helped plan three of the conferences so I know a little bit about the thinking that goes into how the sessions are picked. I do know the team there is focused on putting together sessions that are most helpful to dealers. (I have no financial relationship with Dealer Communications now nor will benefit from them in any way from writing this blog.)

 

Once in a while, I’ve heard the complaint that the sessions mostly are sales pitches.

 

I suppose there may be some truth to that once in a while. But honestly, that’s not a bad thing. There are a lot of talented experts working on the vendor side (in fact, many of the vendor presenters have had successful careers in a dealership). Any time a vendor presents, there is going to be some element of “pitching.” A logo on the slides, talking about their experience with the product – that doesn’t mean the presentation won’t have ideas you can take back to the store.

 

Frankly, I believe this will be the best Digital Dealer Conference to date. The agenda is strong and includes a lot of new stuff – an advanced track for those that think they are smarter than the rest of us and a track dedicated to fixed operations.

 

Personally, I’m going to pay close attention this week to the conversation surrounding four trends I believe will dominate our industry the next few years.

 

I’ll write in more detail about these trends over the next three days but for now, here's a short synopsis. 

  1. Mobile technology is where we are going to communicate with our customers. Honestly, if I were a dealer here in Vegas at the conference, finding the right mobile app would be near the top of my list. I know there are some who continue against the value of dealerships offering an app to their customers (I think it’s because their companies don’t have an app to offer their dealer customers).

Just look at your phone and see how many apps you have downloaded. I’d rather click on an app than have to type a URL into a browser while I’m driving. The right app can be valuable to the customer while acting as another tool for the dealer to manage that relationship.

  1. The explosion of data is going to be at a level none of us have experienced in the past. Data about the customer is going to come from so many different channels – social, mobile, web – how are we going to leverage it in a way that’s not obtrusive or scary for the consumer?
  2. Social media is going to increase in importance, although I think the idea of hundreds of followers or fans is an antiquated and useless endeavor. Rather, the value of social media is going to be in the data that’s gathered and how that will allow us to really target the right customer with the right message at the right time. It’s here and the next couple of years will be interesting.
  3. I think the cat is out of the bag. Dealership transparency is here to stay and the ones who find a way to provide customers with the information they are looking for – not just pricing, but financing, inventory, trade, you name it – are the dealers who will dominate their markets.

Finally, on a personal note, kudos to the team at Dealer Communications starting with Michael Roscoe who has set the vision, Greg Noonan and the sales team, and the operational folks, Joe and Liz Birch, Maria Burkel, Maureen Condon and Arnold Tijerina for putting together one of the premier and most important events in our industry.

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Tags: Dealer, Digital Dealer, Digtal, Mobile, dealerships, media, social

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Comment by Shellie Pierce on October 5, 2011 at 8:38pm

Cliff,

Great insights (as always). Please be sure to stop by and see us, it has been forever since we chatted! I will not be at Digital Dealer, but Matt Redden our VP of sales can show you what we've been up to. Hope to catch up with you soon!

Hope all is well!

Shellie Pierce

DealerSocket

spierce@dealersocket.com

Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 5, 2011 at 6:57pm
Nice article, Cliff... I am always fascinated by what former employees of any company have to say about their previous employer's performance.  As far as what's important to the industry, the 4 items you identified will certainly play a major role, but they have been prominent for quite awhile.
Comment by Gregory Lawrence Noonan on October 5, 2011 at 2:29pm

Thanks Cliff,

 

We do have our largest conference here in Vegas and I'd like to thank the many vendors and sponsors who have invested their time and capital to attend.  My team is on the floor and around the hotel to help you any way we can.  I've been involved in all of them and they just keep on getting better.  The Networking Round Table, earlier today, was a big success and more ideas were shared there then will fit on this page.

 

We offer sessions that are sure to help dealers and managers change process in their stores. We also learn from the dealers, through their attendance here as well as their readership of and response to articles in Dealer and Digital Dealer magazines; thank you dealers and managers!!!!

 

Be sure to go to our mobile Digital Dealer Online Community where you can:  

  • See the complete agenda and set up your own personal schedule
  • Learn more about speakers and sessions
  • See an exhibit hall floor map
  • Receive important on-site alerts
  • Rate the sessions
  • Follow the Digital Dealer Twitter & Facebook feeds. 

Just go to www.ddce.info 

 

Thanks and see you all on the floor.

 

Greg Noonan

ADMPC is a Network for Car Dealers, Automotive Marketing, Advertising and Management Pros sharing Digital Strategies and Execution Tactics.

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