by Kevin Frye
It’s all about efficiency – haven’t we all learned that at prior Digital Dealers? At least that was what I was thinking when I decided to combine Digital Dealer 13 with celebrating my anniversary.
I arrived Monday night and brought my wife Julie to her first Digital Dealer. No, taking her to Digital Dealer was not my anniversary gift (and if it was, that would likely have been my last anniversary…), but taking her to see Le Reve at The Wynn Monday night with some VIP tix was a home run. If you have never caught a show in Vegas, you are making a huge mistake. And if you are staying at The Mirage for Digital Dealer, you should definitely see Beatles Love.
So Many Friends, So Many Places – I ran down to The Bellagio on Tuesday morning to see several friends at the Driving Sales event. Many of the folks that attend Digital Dealer hit other conferences at the same time while in Vegas.
Since the first Digital Dealer in Nashville, there has been a growth of several other conferences and learning opportunities for dealers out there, many of which are excellent – but it all started with Digital Dealer, and I always look forward to what DD has to offer…
SEO is not my responsibility, or is it? – Ali Amirrezvani of DealerOn gave a solid presentation on “Advanced SEO for Dealers – What Still Works for Dealers”. Ali shared that every dealer should have someone in-house for SEO – but does every dealer have the resources to do that?
The truth is that most dealers expect their website provider to handle that area, but I would share that if you want to excel at your website’s performance in the search engine rankings, you must be personally involved in your website’s content. Ali shared several strategies to improve search engine results, while also sharing areas to be careful of so as to not be penalized by Google.
If you can get Google searchers to what they want quickly on your website, you will do well. Other recommendations included having embedded videos on your site (52% of video views are from embedded placement), using Yext for directory listings, and using Scrapebox to help find sites to build back-links from.
How much will you pay for that click? Next up was Mike Groves with his first solo speaking presentation at Digital Dealer with “Digital Marketing: $300,000 Difference Per Year to the Bottom Line”.
Mike took a two-fold approach where he first made sure that attendees were familiar with the key metrics available with search engine marketing analysis, and then he shared his strategies to maximize the performance of his SEM dollars. I liked how Mike put up some example scenarios that dealers might see in their SEM reports, and then asked us how we could improve each situation, and then he showed how he would do it. Take a moment and look at how large your dealership’s expenditure is in the SEM area, and then ask yourself how closely you look at these reports. If you are only looking at cost per click and impressions, you better get more involved.
Most SEM solutions are “set and forget” and your SEM budgeting dollars can get lost in the crowd very quickly. Mike spoke to a packed room and did a great job giving dealers the knowledge they need to score their SEM performance and how to hold their SEM vendors accountable.
It’s true, Canada does have running water and indoor plumbing… At least that is what Kevin Gordon and Nick Williams of the Jim Pattison group told me, and they did appear to have showered before their presentation of “Gen-Y, The Best Employee You’ll Never Hire”.
As first time presenters, Kevin and Nick did not hesitate to address the elephant in the room – why dealerships struggle to attract, and retain, talented young people in our industry. There were so many great take-aways that I struggled to keep up with my note taking.
Some key things that I walked away with is that young graduates don’t live to work, they work to live, and quality of life is very important to them. They see employers as peers and partners, and ruling them with an iron fist does not work.
Wow, in an industry known for 7 day workweeks, working from “ding to dong”, and having managers that are famous for how well they can berate their employees, we can quickly see why we struggle to hire and retain young people, and more important – how we need to make huge culture changes in the upcoming years if we want to attract young talent.
Kevin and Nick also shared that when it comes to promoting people, don’t confuse experience with talent. Were they telling us that just because someone is a great salesman, they are not necessarily a great manager? Travesty! That cannot be!
I would definitely encourage you to download this slide deck and consider using their presentation in-house at your dealership. Congrats to Kevin and Nick who gave one of the best presentations I have seen during the 11 Digital Dealer conferences I have attended. It was engaging, ran very smoothly, had some fun give-aways, and most important it had great content.
I remember when I thought AOL was the Internet… Of course that was during the days of Prodigy and DOS was the operating system of most computers. Little did I know how big Google would one day be.
The first Digital Dealer 13 keynote address was presented by Google’s Dealer Jumpstart Team, “Fine Tuning Your Online Marketing”. Google gave a well balanced presentation on how dealers could look at their shoppers’ online behavior and then create an integrated digital and traditional marketing strategy that can bring more customers to your dealership.
Peter Leto did a solid job showing how print ads still perform, it’s just that most of those ads have now transitioned to online display ads. Several great Google assets were shared where dealers can learn more about the marketing tools at their disposal, including learnwithgoogle.com, and thinkwithgoogle.com (select the auto industry).
My favorite take-away was to use location extensions on your SEM advertising, specifically with mobile SEM, as mobile users are often looking for directions.
Time for some beer and funnel cakes – well that bad mixture is another story from an Indy 500 I went to many years ago, but I did enjoy a cold beer as I enjoyed the opening of the Digital Dealer 13 exhibit hall.
The exhibit hall is a great place to meet old friends and catch up since last being together. The folks I spoke with really valued the Google presentation, and were already asking about the after-hours events. After a quick shower and change of clothes, I was off to my first after-hours event, which was the VinSolutions Blues Brothers Bash at the BB King Restaurant/bar. Julie and I loved getting our pic with the Blues Brothers as we came in, and then enjoyed some drinks and appetizers. While there I saw Jesse Biter and after some conversation, it turns out that Jesse’s brother was a Navy pilot in the same squadron I served with in the Navy, talk about a small world.
I can’t sing, but then most modern day pop stars use auto-tune… Next up was the 5th Annual Joe and Shaun Karaokethon at the Cabo Wabo Cantina. Katie Richter did a great job promoting this fun event where I was able to see my great friend Alex Jefferson and many more. I will humbly admit that my talents are strictly limited to automotive, and I made sure not to torment anyone with any efforts to sing.
Are we farmers or car folks? It was an early keynote at 8 am on Wednesday, where I attended Sean Wolfington’s session “Case Studies: How Dealers Integrate Traditional, Digital, Social and Mobile Marketing to Increase Sales and Service Profitabity”.
Sean shared two take-aways that every dealer should be thinking about. First, if your shopper’s biggest motivator is monthly payments, does your marketing reflect that? And when it comes to your customers, are you using a fish-finder (great analogy)? Digital data can readily show you where your customers are at in today’s modern market. When we can readily see where our shoppers are, are we taking the time to make sure we are “fishing” there?
Make like a banana and split… Fortunately, I had several folks with me from the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family, and we were able to split up our efforts, so we had some folks at Kathi Kruse’s keynote session on “Dealership Facebook Marketing 2013”. Kathi shared how to generate likes on your Facebook page and how to then turn them into customers. It was great to finally meet Kathi in person at this Digital Dealer, she is a great asset to our community and well liked.
Size does matter… At least it does when it comes to data. Big Data is the Big Word currently in our industry and at all of the automotive conferences.
Jason Ezell’s (Co-founder of Dataium) presentation on Targeted Marketing showed how dealers can look at big data and get a solid picture of how customers are getting to their websites, and then with that information in hand, make better marketing decisions . Big data is going to take a bigger role in our industry in the upcoming years.
I could go a hundred different directions with this, but I would humbly share this as the holder of an engineering degree – you can have all of the data in the world, but it is useless unless you know how to interpret it and more important, you have a simple solution where you can quickly act on what it is telling you, otherwise big data can be a big waste of time.
I am very excited about what big data is doing for our industry at this time. It is like having a microscope for the first time and being able to truly see all of the little things taking place in the background that give us our final result – the car customer. I’m sure I will have much more on this in upcoming reviews. Perhaps I should tackle this subject in my next speaking session…
Why didn’t I think of that? – That’s what I thought while attending AJ Maida’s presentation of “It’s All About People, People”.
AJ shared his strategy of responding to all dealership reviews with replies that included the keywords he is trying to target for his website, eg. “We are thrilled to have a Jeep shopper from Dallas like yourself choose ABC dealership for brake repair”.
He then showed how this performed in the search engine results – what a great idea, simple yet brilliant! When it comes to selling cars, it is still all about people, and AJ showed how interacting personally with his customer’s dealership reviews can have multiple benefits – great job AJ!
Let’s have a meeting about all of these meetings… Back to the session hall where I sat down at a table, opened up my folder, and I started going through all of the emails I had printed out and saved for new vendors I wanted to meet, demos I wanted to see, and current vendors I had issues with. Digital Dealer is definitely a working conference for me, and I do work hard to use this time to also meet with vendors. While I cannot say that there was any particular solution that was really mind-blowing at DD13, I did look at several opportunities that I am looking to test in the upcoming months.
I hear that this Kevin guy is way over-rated… I figured I better attend “The Digital Crisis that is Slowly Killing Your Dealership” since I was the presenter.
I shared how important it is that dealers must understand what their shoppers are looking for today if they are going to be the dealership the shopper ultimately chooses to buy from. With that in mind, I spent a lot of time putting together a short video that takes a simple tool, Google Auto-Complete, and shows what people are looking for when it comes to cars and car dealers. Teaser – this video will be featured in an upcoming post and you will be able to see what Google AutoComplete prompts as the most common searches taking place – it can be very eye-opening. Of course I brought 5 Hour Energy Drinks and I offered a challenge that I would give anyone a 5-hour energy drink if they were willing to drink it on the spot before I began my session.
Wow – I did not expect 40 people to accept that challenge! Auto folks love their caffeine – and as a result I had the most attentive audience at Digital Dealer 13!
Did you get a buzz while at DD13? Aside from the folks that drank the 5-Hour Extra Strength Energy Drinks in my session, I don’t have a “buzz” to share from the conference this fall. You know that I am constantly asking folks at the show if there are specific products or sessions, or just issues in the industry that are the “buzz” right now, but I didn’t hear any specific answers outside of the fact that “big data” was being talked about a lot. And this is where –
I need your help! I am just one guy with a strong back and weak mind trying to write this review. There are so many great sessions to choose from, and so many great people to talk to, that there is no way I can attend or meet with all. Please take a moment to comment below and share what your favorite sessions were and why, and what you feel the current “buzz” is, I would love to hear it.
There were also 2 new features at Digital Dealer 13 that I was not involved with. One was the Digital Dealer Learning Labs, and the feedback I got from this from presenters and attendees was very positive. There was also a new Peer Network Roundtables Dinner on Wednesday evening that I was unable to attend. If you attended – please share how you liked that experience.
I thinks I need some drinks… Julie and I joined the Jeff Wyler team to have drinks at The Mandarin Bar which has a beautiful view of the Las Vegas strip from the 23rd floor. From there I joined Sean Stapleton, Kendall Billman and the VinSolutions team for an awesome dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s Steakhouse. Great food, great wine, and I even got to see my wife and Joe Webb eat their first raw oysters as well as beef tartar. I’m not sure that Joe was too fond of that oyster… The only bummer was that by the time we left the restaurant, I had missed the DealerOn and Haystak events at the Cosmopolitan that I hear were a LOT of fun. I am sorry I missed going there as I know there were lots of fun folks enjoying those after-hour events.
Money Money Money – when it comes to Vegas, you see a lot of big spenders in Vegas, which reminds me of a joke. Men are like bank accounts, without a lot of money, you don’t get much interest…
Grab your Swag Bag – and let me tell you the best time to collect Swag is the final day of the conference, as most vendors don’t want to haul everything back. I like to get a bag of give-aways to bring back and then share with the salespeople at our stores. Check out all of the swag we were able to get – and vendors watch out – take a look at your Facebook fan pages where we posted pics of our salespeople with your give-aways…
What is Facebook? I thought MySpace is the hip thing… Well, since I still have my AOL email address (it’s true), many of you might think that I still have MySpace and my only friend is Tom.
Patrick Workman with Facebook gave an excellent presentation on “Turning Your Customers into Evangelists”. Did you know that 84% of new car shoppers are on Facebook, and that 19% are auto intenders in the next 6 months?
If you are looking to fish where the fish are, you better figure out how to effectively market on Facebook, and Patrick was working to share how to do that. Keep your text light and your pictures big was a great take-away from Patrick if you are looking to have great engagement with your Facebook customers.
It’s just tearing me apart… It’s so hard to choose – I had Jerry Thibeau presenting in one room, and on the other side of the hallway was Bill Playford – which should I attend?
Jerry and Bill worked hard to persuade me to attend their session, and ultimately I decided to see Jerry for the first half of his, and then run over to see Bill and Kate Donovan complete theirs. It pays to sit up front with Jerry who threw out casino chips as a reward and gave a polished presentation on how to “Turbo Charge Your Internet Leads”.
I loved his suggestion on making a short custom video that is linked in the email with the customer’s name (eg. “VIP Video for Susan Smith”). Now what customer is not curious enough to click that link?
Jerry also encouraged dealers to quickly research their leads via Google, Facebook, etc. before responding to them to get a leg up on competitors.
I thought I was done making babies… Meanwhile Bill and Kate were sharing how to “Make a Data Baby” while using a pregnancy analogy with the 3 trimesters – talk about some interesting Powerpoint pics, lol. Bill and Kate shared several savvy techniques in analyzing your own customer data and using it to get your own business. Take a close look at the zip codes where you are, and are not doing business, and then adjust your marketing decisions based on that…
Too much wine while in Vegas? The speaker for my final session did not show up, which made it difficult to attend. Being a speaker is a big responsibility and I have to say that it is incredibly difficult for someone to be a successful speaker today. Dealers are incredibly busy, and between having a smart phone, iPad, Twitter and Facebook, and much more, it is very hard to keep session attendees engaged. A speaker must not only have great, relevant information to share, but also be able to keep dealers attentive.
Fo-shizzle! Always great to see everyone, and always great to return to work energized and with pages of useful strategies to implement. Best of luck to everyone and I look forward to seeing you in the spring!
Don’t forget – Please take a moment to comment below and share what your favorite sessions were and why, and what you feel the current “buzz” is, I would love to hear it.