Industry Events

Napa & NADA reviews by Alex #NADA2011 #DMSC

Wow – what an incredible 8 days in California!  I don’t know if it is the jet-lag or the fact that I hit the ski slopes hard after getting back, but I am exhausted today.  This exhaustion is so worth it!  I may be physically tired, but I am pumped.


Brian Pasch’s Napa Valley Digital Marketing Strategies Conference was one of the best, if not the best, automotive marketing conferences I have ever been to.  This was the first conference where I saw so many vendors, consultants, and advanced dealers drop their titles and their brands to simply help.  It was parity for the sake of the greater good.

The theme of the conference was leadership and with so many dealership decision makers present I believe that theme sunk-in.  Many of the dealer principles were there to learn and we were all there to translate from geek to real world dialogue.

It was interesting to note that all the digital people at this conference were mostly saying the same thing:  don’t get hung-up on shiny widgets and social media fairy dust.  Profit is made through intelligent process and management.

However, one company’s representatives did not get the memo that we were all there to help.  I guess egos have a tendency to get in the way sometimes.  I had a few dealers mention to me that it was hard to learn with one particular individual in the classes.  All I know is that it was hilarious to watch him smack his yellow Corvette rental car (do I really need to say anymore) into the curb – it sounded like a missile exploded.  It made my day.  Since I’m sure he’s reading this I have to ask how the 50th interview with Dealer Digest went?  Sorry they had to interrupt all those demos you did at NADA.

Brian – you and the PCG team did an incredible job.  There really isn’t anything you can do about the previous paragraph, so don’t worry about it.  I walked away with a lot of new friends and look forward to making more at the Bootcamp in Orlando this coming April.  This conference format is really strong.


It is vastly different being a vendor at a NADA.  It is hard work on either side of the aisle, but dealers get to make their own days.  For a vendor it is like taking 100 floor ups in a day, selling a few, but collecting the prospects for future follow-up.  It is non-stop.

As a dealer I didn’t think about what a vendor is after at NADA other than some new accounts.  Vendors look for partnerships with other vendors just like dealers look for new vendors to partner with.  It was very interesting to be involved in these kinds of innovative conversations.

I didn’t get too many opportunities to make it out of the booth for long.  I missed every workshop, but I did get an opportunity to catch-up with some old friends at their booths:  Dominion, Dealer Socket, vAuto, eLead, and Phone-Up Ninjas plus visits from iMagicLab, TK Carsites, and ActivEngage.  Always good to see you all.  There were some very impressive new products launched at NADA this year, and I have to say that I am most interested in watching Dominion.  They’re based in my hometown so I have a lot of history with them and I am glad to see them finally doing stuff with all those product lines they have.  We need more players who can challenge the ADP’s and Rey Reys out there.

This is going to be entirely biased, but I have to give a shout-out to  The Saturday night party with Third Eye Blind at MOMA was the best NADA party I’ve ever attended.  The attention to detail was amazing and both Amy Parker and Dennis Lemoine at deserve massive applause for putting it all together.  Johnny Utah (John Jones – DDC Trainer), our DJ, tore it up at the party and in the booth.  You know you’re doing a good job when people are hanging around for hours and the conference staff are constantly asking you to turn the volume down – if the cops don’t show up it ain’t a party.

As it is with every event there are always people I miss.  I apologize and hope we can connect by email or phone before the next event.

The next event is the Automotive Marketing Bootcamp before the Digital Dealer Conference in April.

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
Thanks for the great review Alex, wish I could have been there, as well as at Brian's conference. Any chance I could get you to share the top 3 new product/service announcements that you found most exciting???

Thank you for attending and being an great educator at the event. We appreciate your comments and we are working hard to build on the success of DMSC for the upcoming Automotive Marketing Boot Camp in Orlando.

Based on feedback from DMSC, we will have both beginner and advanced workshops as well as extended workshops (2.5 hrs) so we can tackle meatier topics like CRM best practices, phone scripting, and microsite optimization which can't be done in 60-90 minutes.

Overall, we are striving to provide a unique learning experience that compliments existing conferences and programs run by other companies. Any member from DealerRefresh that signs up for the Boot Camp by Friday the 11th can save $100.

Details can be found at <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>
Thanks for the Dominion shout-out, Alex. I was glad to see you stopping by the booth. Sorry I didn&#039;t get to talk with you, but hope you were able to reconnect with some of our team members. As much as I hate to say this (for obvious competitive reasons), I&#039;m glad your event was a success. That type of relationship-building helps the entire industry become more flexible and engaged. Like Kevin above, I&#039;d love to hear which products and services captured your attention. And, of course, I hope that one of Dominion&#039;s products was among them!
Nice write up alex...any video of the Corvette vs Curb?? ;)
No, I don&#039;t have any video of the Vette vs. Curb .....I wish.

Kevin &amp; Jennifer - one of the big things this year was a lot of companies supporting iPad compatibility. For us 100% Mac users it was good to see that, but it was also good to see that in terms of better mobility. I was not a fan of the ones that aren&#039;t truly supported on Safari because the technology is so old or it is written on a Microsoft framework. I saw a lot of workarounds for getting stuff to work on iPads and I must admit that wasn&#039;t too cool.

With that said I liked FirstLook&#039;s new iPad tool. I find it to be a little unrealistic for everyday average dealership usage. Most dealers are not going to invest in iPads in an environment where things routinely grow legs. It is also difficult to get sales staffs to accept new process changes for long. It is a neat tool they built though.

I&#039;m not going to name any other products (one of them I&#039;m quite biased toward ;) ) publicly. I&#039;ll just say that I didn&#039;t get to see everything I wanted to see, but what I did see was a step in the right direction.
Alex - Welcome to Vendor World! And also thanks for stopping by the booth. I didn&#039;t have time to walk around much either - I didn&#039;t even step foot into the North Hall until things were starting to wind down some on Monday. The booth looked awesome!

We did have a few of your co-workers swing by on Monday for for a quick demo of some of our newest solutions for dealers. Of course I collected business cards from them (the metal business cards of must be the coolest in the industry). I filed them away in my card case.

Everything was great till I tried to go through security at SFO the next morning. I had cleared my pockets of coins and my Zippo and stepped through the detector - alarms went off! I took off my belt - alarms went off! They asked me to empty my pockets and then it hit me; the cards I&#039;d collected from Patrick, Jai and Darren were about to put me on the Do-Not-Fly list! Make sure you thank them for me ;)

Ed Brooks
I&#039;ve done that twice Ed - both times with my own damn cards. When you&#039;ve got a few hundred in your carry-on they have a tendency to catch some attention too.

I think we get those cards so we can laugh at all the people who get caught in security (including ourselves).....we&#039;re evil like that lol .....just kidding.
I have business card metal envy....I have to see how I can create wine bottle business cards....equally as difficult to get through security!
Alex, was a pleasure to meet you in person. This was the best, marketing conferences I have ever been to. I am very happy I made it. Thank you Brian.
Thanks Alex;

Superstar champion...

Among the comments from dealers you spoke with at NADA, there must have been concerns about the margins in the business, now. As I look out onto the horizon of our industry, I can&#039;t help but see the enormous rift affecting contemporary dealer/manufacturer relations. A dealer at NADA talked about it, a local dealer here in Atlanta is talking about it. Why aren&#039;t we? Please, share your perspectives on where you all see this going, and how it might be resolved.

All for us...

Your able professional,

D. Rawls
Auto Buyer Consultants, LLC
Atlanta, GA
404.661.7767 Direct
&quot;We Help People Buy Cars&quot; <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>
  • P
  • February 14, 2011
Alex- What a blast from the past! Great catching up with both you and Jeff at NADA and, I must say that Dominion looks pretty darn good on your &quot;one to watch&quot; list. Thanks for including some of the standout products of the show as well- always interesting to see what got noticed at NADA and why. Hope you had a great show. Looking forward to your comments as Dominion &quot;keeps doing stuff with all those product lines&quot; :).