I recently attended the Digital Dealer 18 convention in Tampa. Digital Dealer continues to evolve and gain significance with dealers, vendors and representatives from the brands each year. I have attended every convention starting with Digital Dealer #1 (DD1) held in Nashville. DD1 attracted some of the more progressive Internet managers from across the country. The focus at that time for the dealer attendees was networking and gaining insight on new innovation. A small number of vendors were invited to participate. At that time, there were only two companies involved with digital video in the automotive space, so I was invited to speak three different times. It was a perfect match for a company like ours; travel to one location and meet early adopters in search of the next wave of technology. I had spent the previous couple of years cold calling into the largest dealerships in major cities across America. Although cold calling sharpens your selling skills, I quickly embraced DD as a foundation for meeting dealers twice a year (east coast in the spring and west coast in the fall). I was also invited to write for the magazine which opened other dealer doors as I continued to travel evangelizing the virtues of video to the automotive community.
Mike Roscoe is the driving force behind Digital Dealer. Roscoe stays personally dialed into the details of the convention. It is Roscoe’s passion as he continues to focus on continued growth and expansion. Roscoe believes in kaizen (Japanese term for a philosophy that promotes continuous improvement). I wonder if Roscoe in the early days, really envisioned Digital Dealer growing to 100 workshops, 130 vendors, multiple keynote speakers, networking sessions and an attendance in excess of 1,000 people.
The keynote sessions at DD 18 included, Scott Stratten, “UnSelling: The New Customer Experience”, Jim Knight, “Culture that Rocks: How to Amp Up or Revolutionize a Company’s Culture” and a panel discussion with Peter Leto, Mat Koenig and Rick Lopez: “The Myth Busting of Hispanic Auto Buyers.” All three sessions received strong reviews from attendees. My primary focus was working the booth so I only had the opportunity to sit in on Stratten’s session. Stratten had the entire audience engaged with his presentation on topics that included how not to use QR Codes (don’t email QR Codes and don’t have QR codes on a billboard), personal experiences with dealer service visits and how to deal with customers. Stratten was clever with his stories of how auto dealers miss the mark with customers. I attended the session with Wayne Ussery from the Jim Ellis Group. Wayne is a seasoned eCommerce Director from a rock solid team. Wayne was introducing three of his team members to Digital Dealer. The reaction from both the first time visitors as well as the veterans was positive.
Although, I didn’t attend the panel discussion focused on Hispanic buyers, DD had a line-up of experts. I know that the focus to understand selling into the Latino community is key for many GMs in any major metro area, so it was a great addition to the conference. I had the opportunity to co-present with Peter Leto, an Automotive Industry Strategist on the Google Automotive Jumpstart Team. Peter is responsible for providing automotive partners with business solutions tied to their advertising strategies. Our topic was, Building a Killer Video Strategy. Peter shared the latest Google stats tied to the car buying process and the influence of video. I zeroed in on actual examples of how dealers are leveraging video and the metrics. We had standing room only and I had a number of requests for the deck from an impressive group of individuals.
Here is a partial list of some of the other presenters and their focus:
Presenter Title and Description
- Panel: Dean Evans, Subi Ghosh, Bill Simmons and Joe Webb, Millennials, Mobile, Moving the Metal; Evans is the CEO of LotLinx, Ghosh is EVP for Dealer Authority, Simmons is eCommerce for Haley Auto Group, Webb is President of DealerKnows.
- Kevin Frye, eCommerce Director Jeff Wyler Automotive; Finding Your Optimal Digital Marketing Mix with Google Analytics-Advanced Strategies with Digital Attribution
- Peter Leto, Automotive Industry Strategist Google Automotive; Focus On Fixed Ops-Leverage Digital to Retain and Recapture Parts/Service
- AJ Maida and Kate Frost, Maida has been in the auto business for 20 years and Frost is President of Kate Frost Inc. It’s NOT Social Media it’s Social Commerce—It’s not about Likes It’s about Sales
It would be impossible for any dealership to not identify multiple sessions to attend. DD offers key opportunities for and dealership regardless of size to gain insight on digital advertising, fixed operations, marketing, CRMs, websites, metrics, understanding Google, and video. If you have never attended a Digital Dealer event, come to Vegas, October 5th through the 7th. If you have only attended on your own, invite your team. This could be the best investment and opportunity for moving your sales and service team to the next level.