DrivingSales 2016: Key Takeaways and Actionable Steps

If you follow our blog, the last few posts have been stellar. Quite frankly, I’m not sure that I can stay on that level. I do, however, get to talk about Vegas, so we’ll see how it goes.

In any walk of life, staying sharp is essential for growth, which is why Reunion has a commitment to send every employee to a conference at least once per year. Yes, I said every employee. If you’ve ever watched in jealousy as others have gone to multiple conferences while you stayed at home, you know exactly why the words “every employee” are so important. The best part is that we get to come back and share our knowledge — which brings us here.

DrivingSales Executive Summit

A few weeks ago, the DrivingSales Executive Summit took place in Las Vegas, and four of us Reunionites were fortunate enough to go. Since two of us had never been to Vegas, it was quite the experience that included a few late nights, winning numbers of steps in any FitBit competition, and, most importantly, great takeaways to implement for our company and clients.

DrivingSales is small as far as automotive marketing conferences go, but it has a reputation of being one of the most advanced. Held at the beautiful Bellagio Hotel, DrivingSales hosted about 3,000 auto industry professionals with a focus on digital strategies, effective leadership, and improving company culture.

One of the best parts about the kickoff of DrivingSales was the unveiling of a scrolling Twitter board, complete with a competition. Who doesn’t like to see themselves on the big screen? Reading all the tweets was half the fun of the whole conference.

To kick off the event was social media scientist Dan Zarella, formerly of HubSpot. Zarella proved to be an engaging speaker with data-driven insights. Key takeaways included:

  • Don’t be afraid of posting during the “off” times
  • Insert visual media anywhere possible
  • Find what is most relevant to your audience
  • Content is (still) king

The conversation started by this digital marketer continued into several breakout sessions, diving deeper into the world of digital marketing.

Next, we cheered on one of our favorite clients, Brad Paschal of Street Automotive, in his Best Ideas presentation. Brad started a Community Impact Calendar that lets employees choose a non-profit for the dealership to sponsor each month. His leadership is taking his dealership to a new level and influencing the people around him, both in his workplace and in his local community. Best of all, Brad won the Best Ideas competition. Way to go, Brad!

Brad Paschal on stage to present his ideas

Keynote Speakers

Solid keynote addresses were given by USC professor Dr. John Boudreau, former Southwest Airlines CEO Jim Parker, and, my personal favorite, former Harley Davidson Director of Communications Ken Schmidt. Recurring themes of treating employees well, motivating staff, and developing leaders echoed throughout the speeches, prompting a pensive cloud to settle over the room. Each speaker offered thoughtful insights, leading up to these key takeaway questions:

  • Where would an investment in my people make the biggest impact to the culture?
  • Where can dealers create the largest value in the next five years?
  • What are people saying about us…and what do we want them to say?

Driving Sales Keynote

Putting Knowledge Into Action

Now that we are home, how does that translate to digital marketing?

First, we must look at each client and analyze what will make the biggest impact for them individually. Everyone has different needs, so spending the same amount of time on every task for every client doesn’t make sense. What can I do to have the biggest impact for my client? It’s a much different question than the typical “what needs to get done today?” We have to adapt our culture to focus on impact rather than tasks.

Next, where can we create the largest value for our dealers? For some, this may mean building a solid website foundation. Others may need a focused blog strategy. Whatever the case may be, each marketing solution must be centered on creating value.

Finally, how are we controlling the narrative spoken about our clients? At Reunion, our clients’ success is our success.

  • What messages are we sending out about them?
  • And more importantly, how are people reacting?

Again, this is different for every client. One may need to overcome past challenges while another may only need reinforcement of a current positive message. Either way, recognizing the influence we have on the conversation surrounding our clients is key.

Needless to say, our team left DrivingSales with tools in hand for improving not only our own company but our clients’ as well. In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote from Ken Schmidt that parallels what we strive for in the marketing world:

“Never do what’s expected. Make yourself as noticeably different as possible, and have a lot more fun than you’re supposed to.”

If you’re curious about how we can implement these strategies for you, start by getting a free digital analysis. We can put our experts to work for you!

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