9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


Conference Success: How to Win Digital Dealer 19

Next week, hundreds of auto dealers and managers will gather in Las Vegas for one of the largest automotive industry conferences of the year: Digital Dealer 19.

We’ve told you before that Digital Dealer is the place for automotive innovators, so if you're one of those lucky attendees, you need to approach this conference with an open mind and an empty notebook.

After you’ve packed your suitcase, take a moment and read through these tips for industry conference success. It’ll help you make the most of the auto conference without feeling overwhelmed.

Prepare for the Unexpected

We’re going to give a H/T to the Boy Scouts for this first tip. Be prepared, folks, and that means for more than just a coffee spill on your nice pants.Screen-Shot-2015-09-29-at-1.55.17-PM-300x208

This weekend, spend some time learning the Digital Dealer Agenda. You can even build your own custom agenda through the conference’s event app. It lets you add the speakers and sessions you’re most interested in to a digital calendar, and it even keeps track of the session's location for you.

When you’re building out your agenda, focus on expanding your skill set and attending the sessions most valuable to your dealership.

Is it important that you reach millennial shoppers? Then you've got to plan for Eric Brown and Fred Bucher's presentation at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Maybe improving SEO is a bigger priority. You could start with our free eBook on the topic and then plan for the “Six Degrees of Automotive SEO” session on Monday afternoon. The agenda can be broken down by category, speaker and time, making it easily customizable to your interests.

And finally, you should prepare for the possibility of your schedule completely falling apart.

You never know what sessions will unexpectedly catch your interest. The customized agenda is a best-case scenario plan B, but the unforeseen opportunities at conferences are some of the most rewarding.

Focus on the Content

When you do attend a session, it’s important to actively engage with the presentation.

We know it’s probably been a while since your college days, but it’s time to channel your inner student again (you were really studious in college, right?).

Show up on time for every session you attend, and make sure you take notes. Bring your laptop charger if you’re going to type them up, and throw a notebook and a pen in your bag just in case. It never hurts to have a backup in the event that technology fails.

After each session, take a minute to write down three takeaways and any points you felt your dealership could take action on immediately. To ensure you don't lose connection to those most important lessons, get the Twitter handle of the speaker. You can follow up with them once you get back home to clarify their points.

At Digital Dealer 19, most presenters will share their presentation in full online (if you ask nicely), so it's important to keep track of which speakers covered the topics most valuable to you.

Network in Person

The next tip is one that’s going to make you uncomfortable.

Between sessions, when you’re standing in line for a coffee, resist the urge to hide behind your smartphone. And when you go to the Digital Dealer lunch or cocktail hour meet and greet, put your phone in your pocket.

A chat about the beautiful weather in Vegas while you're in the coffee line could turn into an excellent networking opportunity.

The more relaxed events, like dinner and drinks, give you a chance to meet fellow automotive experts without the stress and formality of a conference session. Often, these social gatherings are where you can get the inside scoop on innovations in your industry and exchange ideas with your fellow marketing managers.

If the idea of an IRL conversation with strangers is overwhelming, try reaching out to some industry leaders before the event. You can build a connection through Twitter now so that you’re not meeting up with total strangers when you actually get to Las Vegas.

Educate Your Coworkers

You can’t win Digital Dealer 19 without taking the knowledge home to your dealership.

When someone on our team goes to a conference, we like to schedule a lunch (or even better, happy hour) learning session so that they can relay all the valuable knowledge they gained to the rest of us. You should do the same.

Because you diligently took notes at each session, you will have some awesome takeaways to present to the team at your dealership. It’s easy to overwhelm your coworkers with all of those ideas, so plan for some things as immediate action items, and save others as short- and long-term goals.

Win Your Dealership's Marketing

There’s so much value in automotive conferences like Digital Dealer 19. If you’re attending, do yourself a favor and plan ahead. You want to get the full experience.

If you can’t make Digital Dealer 19, check out our blog post on the best industry conferences for auto dealers, and plan for one of the other great events in the U.S. and Canada.

And if you want help putting the progressive digital lessons you’ll learn in Vegas next week to work, get in touch with us. We’re here to help.