Through two decades in the automotive industry (I think it might be three, technically, but I’m in denial), I can count on one hand the number of conferences I’ve truly supported. I speak at many events and attend a dozen a year, but I don’t truly support them. Some, like NADA (where I am right now writing this post) and SXSW (where I’ll be next month) are big enough that they simply don’t need my endorsement. Most could use any support they can get to expose them, but I often hold back.
Simply stated, I don’t throw my name at an event unless I truly believe in it. Such is the case with the Internet Sales 20 Group, a new entry in the automotive marketing field that is both innovative as well as profound. I spoke at the first one last year in Chicago and I learned very quickly that this event was… different.
The primary differentiator that absolutely blew my mind during the first event was the extreme level of participation from the audience itself. To even call the dealer principles and general managers in attendance as an “audience” isn’t doing the event justice. They were participants. In many cases, they were the ones leading the discussions, exposing each other to ideas that you don’t normally get from a generic conference and at times taking the conversations into new directions that tore down the standard conference speaker talk tracks and converted them into “shovel ready” actions that the dealers could implement immediately.
There are events that pop up every year. Some are good. Some are pitch fests. I can say with confidence that the Internet Sales 20 Group is not a place for vendors to pitch to dealers. It’s technically not even the appropriate venue through which educators can teach dealers. It’s a conference that achieves the goal of so many conferences to turn a topic into a dialogue between the people who are recommending the strategies and the dealers who have to implement them.
The NADA Convention is the launching point for the spring conferences. Now that it’s behind us, the time for real action has begun. If you haven’t signed up for the Internet Sales 20 Group, you’re missing a real opportunity to succeed in 2013 and beyond.
Here’s my response when I attended the first one last year: