Just as quickly as cash flows out of the average Vegas tourist’s pockets, another Digital Dealer Conference is in the books. I’ve had the luxury of attending these conferences from both the dealer and vendor perspective. Both are fun. Both have abundant learning opportunities. For Reunion Marketing, Digital Dealer 21 will always be the one.
The one that was our first booth. The one that our founders first went on together.
The weeks — then days — leading up to the conference dragged along as we developed plans and strategies. After a few practice runs of the booth and the speech to come, we were all excited to board our flight.
Preparation and Planning Pay Off
Our time in Las Vegas started early: we decided the team should fly in on Saturday and take full advantage of an extra day and night for a little fun together. It was the first time in Vegas for two of our team members, so it was great to walk around various casinos and just take a moment to enjoy the growth and success we’ve achieved together over the last year and a half.
Sunday morning started earlier than many of us had wished for, but we had work to do. Because it was our first conference with our own booth and a headlining presentation from our fearless CEO, we struck a balance between preparation and enjoying time with our dealership partners in town.
After a long day of setup and preparation, we concluded the night by checking out the MGM Grand’s Cirque du Soleil show, KÀ. We were all blown away by the acrobatics, music, and visuals of the show. If you find yourself with the opportunity to see it, definitely take advantage!
We started with a humble 10×10 booth, thinking we would be in store for a quick setup and then head to the pool for some relaxation. Unfortunately, things just didn’t quite work out for us like that. Once we had our booth set up, we decided to change the majority of our plans and add an extra table, chairs, and computer screen for demos at our booth.
Struggling our way around the Las Vegas strip in search of the right technology in the 110 degree heat was definitely not the highlight of our trip. After struggling to track down Uber drivers and waiting in lines with other companies whose original booth plans were abandoned, we came up with a layout that ended up working for the best. Having the ability to run two digital analyses for different sets of dealerships would prove to be one of our better ideas of the conference.
If you missed us at the show, take a look at your digital marketing analysis quiz and see how you do.
Despite having been in the digital marketing field for several years, I would never consider myself technologically advanced — so I’d like to issue a huge thanks to Ryan Szwejbka and Matt Triana for helping with the tech and booth setup!
While we were not speaking with dealers, we created a scrolling PowerPoint to display the variety of success stories that Reunion Marketing has created for our automotive clients. After standing in the same 10×10 square for hours in a day, our success stories not only provided speaking points with other dealerships, but they served as motivation and a subtle reminder to us as to why we decided together to start this adventure!
Spannhake Speaks: The Power of Unified SEO and SEM
In addition to having our first booth, Reunion Marketing also had its first solo presenter, Founder and CEO Dave Spannhake.
Although Dave has been the voice and speaker multiple times for Reunion already, this was his first opportunity to start a major conference on a subject he knows better than anyone in the automotive industry: how SEO and SEM can work together to provide results.
Despite it being an 8am session on the first day of the conference, there was a full house of very engaged dealers. Dave gave examples on how, with the right strategies and the right partners, a dealer can dominate the Google search results for their brand. By controlling the paid search position and top organic results, it leaves little chance for the competition to sneak in there.
He also touched on a subject that was talked about significantly throughout the conference: the importance of transparency with your vendor partners. Over the last several years in our industry, it has been an unacceptable, but common, practice for vendors to not reveal the truth behind their strategies and spends to their dealer partners.
As Dave started speaking on this particular piece, you could see the dealers around the room checking their Google Analytics account to verify their AdWords was synced correctly or scratching their head, wondering if this currently affected them. After the session concluded, the audience flooded Dave with some great questions about how to check their current partners and strategies.
Digital Dealer: A Chance to Catch Up and Collaborate
Another awesome part of this conference was being able to spend time with our current dealership partners who were also attending Digital Dealer.
Over the last several months, many members of our team have had the opportunity to work with Brad Paschal and the Street Automotive team. One of the craziest things to me about being in the digital marketing business is how you can develop a strong relationship with people while being so far away. Matt and Brad speak multiple times a week, strategizing on digital marketing, planning and scheming on the next big thing, and conversing about Pokémon and UFC. While I expected fireworks and slow music to begin when the two saw each other again, instead I’m pretty sure we all had some pizza in the MGM food court and got back to work.
Being able to hang out with the Street team during the conference was one of the best parts of the entire week for us. These guys are true innovators in the business, and to see them unselfishly share their ideas throughout the conference with our dealerships showed what Digital Dealer is all about.
We concluded our conference by watching Brad, Chris, and their team speak about the power of social media and digital marketing. These guys have done some really awesome and unique strategies to bring customers in and humanize their store. If you’re looking for examples on how to do this for your store, definitely look these guys up! Not only are they at the top of the industry in Internet lead closing and processes, they are having a hell of a time doing it together.
The topic of social media definitely seemed to be a theme from this conference. Several of the classes our team attended were about the about the impressive new capabilities of Facebook and their data integration. Social media is one strategy we have put a huge emphasis on this year, and it seems that much of the industry is agreeing with us in our efforts.
With each conference comes new lessons, developments, and trends. However, it is always great to see familiar faces and friends that we have gained throughout the automotive industry. This industry is unique in the amount of close connections and friendships that are developed through various conferences and shows. I hope these conferences continue to show how we don’t have to be divided between dealerships and vendors, but can come together as true partners to create success for everyone.
We look forward to seeing you all again at DrivingSales and NADA next year!