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Digging the Digital Dealer Expo and Convention

Back in the day there was the mail sale, the print ad, the “My Dog Spot” late night TV ad, the holiday sale, and of course the evergreen staple of big city dealership advertising...the radio.

My how things have changed! The vendors on the convention floor at the Digital Dealer Expo and Convention certainly proved that we’ve come a very long way in a very short time. It was on the convention floor that all of the latest and greatest marketing trends and tricks, data crunching, social media, and millennial based platforms were highlighted. One thing became clear, the “jack of all trades” digital marketing company is out of fashion and the niche agency with a nuance is in fashion.

The floor was well laid out and attendance was healthy. Although we missed the seminars, discussion panels, and “after parties”, we more than absorbed our fair share of ideas, concepts, spins and elevator pitches.

Most conversations revolved around how to find a buyer. Imagine that. There were sales gimmicks, gurus, data crunchers, technologists, reputation builders, makers, and marketers all trying to show dealers how they can optimize their marketing and increase their ROI if they do this, that, or the other thing. Car sales professionals turned booth barkers espoused the virtues of their current employ, while the more daring car sales veterans did seminars and panel discussions to improve their lot...literally and figuratively.

Although the human interaction was fascinating and intellectually stimulating, it was the technology that held court with greater authority.

Larry Tabloff of Digital Dealership System taught us the ABC’s (and benefits) of digitally branding a dealership via in-store advertising with strategically placed monitors and messaging that keeps the customer engaged, informed, and inspired both in the sales and service departments.

Steve Leh of Autoflyte clued us into his repurposing of “big data” that shows who bought what, where and why in “near real-time” and how a dealership can capitalize in a big way on that intel.

Jason Knight shined a light on what sets LOTLINX apart from other lead gen companies by being able to detect and match the most motivated, active car shoppers with a dealer’s slower moving inventory. He also explained why CS AMP isn’t just a play on words, rather it’s a play to increase a dealer’s profit.

Scott Pechstein of Autobytel , a leading automotive listing platform made no bones about the fact that their customer is the automobile dealer and that the Autobytel classified listing site gives the consumer as many buying options as is possible with a site design optimized for a positive user experience. At 43 million leads generated per year, Scott knows what he’s talking about.

Jeff Tognetti and Mustafa Matari of DealerX got deep into the data debate and crunched Google’s credibility as an honest platform while demonstrating the depths of DealerX’s expertise in tracking a consumer’s online activity in ways that would make Big Brother blush and car dealers rush to adopt the technology.

Louis Ziskin of Dropinauto repurposed technology similar to Facetime whereby a salesman-shy car shopper (most of us) can take a tour of the lot without ever leaving home or downloading an app! They simply click a button on the VDP from their mobile device or desktop! The inquiry appears on a salesman’s phone, and the tour is initiated. A car is picked and a credit app is sent in short order thus eliminating a lot of precious time. Calls are the best incoming leads possible and the transparency that this provides makes Louis’s platform a no-brain needed winner.

Michael Reth and Becca Tegeler Axiomadmin came up with a novel approach to maintaining touch with current customers by repurposing the "Tile" which is a simple tracking device given as a “gift with purchase” that allows a customer to locate their keys via their cell phones or cell phones via their keys! Once a year the battery needs to be replaced via the F&I office allowing upsells and other opportunities.

These are just some of the opportunities in digital technology that we were able to identify as we made our rounds across the convention floor. I’m sure we missed a few other highly inventive efforts as the day grew shorter and shorter but I’m sure we’ll be hearing about the more successful ones as the days go by.

Only time will tell how these companies pan out. Some have been around for quite some time and are the proverbial “industry leaders” while others are new ventures with bright futures.

How will they adapt to the ever-changing technological landscape only time will tell.