Automotive Marketing BootCamp – A Healthy Brain Overload

by Zach Billings on April 18, 2011

Automotive Marketing BootCampI came on board with Marlboro Nissan in early summer of 2009. Now, coming up on summer 2011, I’ve learned quite a bit about Automotive Digital Marketing under Tim Martell. For at least the last year, my job has almost exclusively been in blogging, PR, article writing, and SEO. It’s been interesting and informative, but I end up learning just one small skill at a time as the job requires. Now I sit in a conference room at the Hilton Orlando at Automotive Marketing BootCamp listening to a class on WordPress (the site I use for this blog). My brain aches a little from the information, but I’ve learned more in these short two days than I’ve learned in the last 365.

The event kicked off with a ‘Round Tables’ event, where the 150+ attendees were given 15 minutes at an 10-person table with one expert in some portion of the industry. At the end of the 15 minutes we would get up and move to a new table like speed dating. During that initial 2-hour kickoff, I was exposed to countless ideas that I immediately planned I could implement when I get home. Chief among those ideas was the importance of a high quality mobile website and the concept of mobile apps, focused at our website, inventory, or social media.

The rest of the event is organized into a 2.5 hour and 1.5 hour class each day, as well as a 2-hour technology showcase, featuring the four website hosting brands that are primarily sponsoring BootCamp. During the classes, 5-6 classes run at the same time and everyone has the option of which they’d like to attend.

The second day, I sat through Brian Pasch’s class on Google Places, where he focused on the importance on Google Places and the reviews that it links to. While we at Marlboro Nissan are far ahead of most dealerships with over 350 reviews and 4.6/5 stars, I decided to set a new goal of 1000 reviews without a decline in star-rating. It was an interesting class where there was definitely a good amount of information that was new to me, and maybe in light contradiction to what Tim has taught me.

The morning of the second day, before Brian’s class, we had an unbelievable speaker after breakfast. His name is Bob Burg, co-author of the book The Go Giver. He spoke on a topic that I very much believe in, which is to give value to people, rather than trying to sell cars or products to people. He spoke about truly caring about the people you serve and wanting honestly to bring value to their lives by giving them more value than your take in payment. For some, this can be a hard concept because we live in a society where value is synchronized with cost. His view and teaching very much related to my article on To Spend or To Waste. I felt quite inspired by what he had to say and plan to read the book sometime this year. It wasn’t anything I didn’t know, but he put it in excellent words that I felt made much more sense of my belief.

After lunch the second day, I sat in on my favorite part of the conference so far. I sat through a class on marketing to Generation Y (the current 19-30 age group). As a new wave of educated consumers with billions of pieces of information at their fingertips, new marketing, selling, and communication techniques are needed to keep up with Generation Y’s educated purchasing style and new buying attitude. One of the first things covered in the class was that as of 2012, 40% of all purchases will be made by Generation Y’ers and 56% in 2013. The class experience that ensued was one of the most organic collaboration experiences I’ve had since we had some debates in high school. After the presenter went over some key points, the class attendees – especially another Gen Y’er and myself – began really firing questions, comments, and advice across the class. As a class about Generation Y, I was able to contribute a great deal to the older dealers in the room that needed help with how to work with the Gen Y audience. It was a really exhilarating 90 minutes which actually ran long because we all wanted to continue talking.

The Gen Y class was the point in the conference when I started feeling more comfortable talking to other dealers, dealer principals, and industry professionals that were in attendance. Six people came up to me after the class and asked me for business cards (which I haven’t had made up yet) and complimented me on my relevant comments.

Now I’m in the middle of day three of the conference and, while I do know a lot of the information I’m hearing, there’s still a ton of new information. My brain may hurt a bit, but I feel like I’ve learned a bunch of good information that I can take home and implement. The one hurdle left is if anyone at the dealership will adopt what I’ve been learning…

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