Monday, May 12, 2008, I departed for New Orleans to get my fix of DGI, I canceled the Google alert after Jeff Kershner filled me in, thanks Alex for hours of endless search trying to figure that one out!
This would be my first trip to New Orleans and my first attendance to an event of this magnitude. My endless e-mails to Jeff and Sean V. Bradley begging to go finally paid off in a big way! The W Hotel was a great location for the event, and I really dug the contemporary décor of my room. I had Jeff convinced that Sean reserved me a Penthouse Suite on the top floor. All joking aside, Sean, AutoSuccess Magazine, DealerRefresh and Dealer Synergy went above and beyond putting this together for me. Sean, I will be reporting back to you as I build my library of videos with my new Flip Video Camera and utilize some of the tips you presented on Video Search Engine Optimization (No worries — I will keep the end result in mind).
There was so much info presented at this event — I took close to 20 pages of notes — I will have a hard time recapping everything that I found useful in this post, but as Deverl from Franklin Covey put it, I’ll try to give you a drink of water from a fire hose.
One of the speakers from the first day that I thought brought their “A” game would include the people from Dealer.com, I thought that Dean Evans and Mike DeCecco put together a classy presentation that touched on many thought-provoking topics such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) defined within the guidelines of Google Webmaster, content organization, used-car brochures and robust sitemaps.
Sean Bradley and his presentation on Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) rocked! I’ll touch on one of the most impressive stats he brought to our attention: Online video reached an astronomical number in March, to the tune of 11.5 billion videos viewed in the U.S.! It’s not the next big thing — it’s already a very big thing!
The tricky part is coming up with content that will have the viral effect, such as those Badger commercials we have all come to love. I have some video ideas I have been kicking around and I’m very excited to get them into production — thanks for the tips, Sean!
Ken Potter from CarsDirect had a unique style to his presentation — laid back but very informative. One of the points he made, and I am guilty of it myself, is that we are in an industry of copycats (I sometimes refer to myself as the “The King of Copy and Paste”). I liked his suggestion to include a search bar on your homepage to track what is relevant to your customers. I also liked his suggestion to become a servant to your customers and employees, and finding out why your customers did not buy from you via e-mail was a point well-taken by me — I plan on getting that e-mail together very soon.
I will let Kershner comment on the VIP party at the House of Blues, as someone spiked my tonic water with Grey Goose. I will tell you that the party was off the hook and no expense was spared! The Hummer Limo at our beck and call was a nice touch.
The second day at Synergy Sessions was even more impressive then the first day, with high-energy speakers clearing the fog in my head rather quickly (was it the jet lag or the spiked drinks?).
Howard Polirer from Autotrader.com spoke on bridging the gap with Internet customers and brought up so many relevant topics that I found so useful I could write five pages on his presentation. I will just recommend catching this presentation at the next Synergy Session.
DeVerl Austin from Franklin Covey presented “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and did a great job breaking down the process using the formula in the book. I have found this very helpful as I read through the book; needless to say DeVerl is a true professional and a great presenter.
Sean Bradley spun his version of the process, implementing a plan for building a rock-solid Internet Department using the core fundamentals found in the Covey book. I am currently building my action plan for my dealership based on the info that Sean presented.
The last presenter that I really got to interact with the second day because of work commitments was Mark Dubis from Carfolks. Mark had a very compelling presentation, spun off some of the recent hiccups we have seen lately with dealers managing their online reputations. I have spent many hours myself on Google trying to make sure we address those stealth posts that can silently damage sales. We as auto industry professionals must realize that customer concerns must be addressed at quantum speeds – not in days or hours. The old adage about disgruntled customers telling 10 people has been magnified to the beat of about 1 million views on the last PR disaster that I followed involving a dealership and one upset customer. Looks like we will all need to step it up on the customer satisfaction side of things and make sure we are in tune with what is being posted about our dealerships.
In closing, I would just like to thank everyone for the knowledge I gained from the two days in New Orleans, and I apologize in advance for not naming everyone that contributed to my successful trip.
Guest Posting by: Brian Tucker
Internet Sales Director for Swope Toyota