The Great Industry conference and webinar contests are on — overloaded and needed?

Situation:  At least four consulting and training companies in the dealer market have each decided to stage their own conferences in September and October 2012 not to mention at least three print magazine publishers.

“So” — Number ONE: It seems like we are all getting  emails and social media postings from more than one prominent and respected “Digital Marketing Expert” several times a week, pushing a new conference for dealers called “AutoCon.”

Next if and when you page through Dealer magazine in every issue is a huge pitch on the publisher’s page about why every dealer in the country needs to attend the next Digital Dealer in October. Plus there are 12 pages of print ads in the July issue of the magazine.

“So” Number TWO:  The WOM about these two conferences is that the latest conference is being staged and organized by a team of respected consultants and trainers who sometimes openly acknowledge that they are to do more than simply counter whatever success that the Digital Dealer conference has had but to somehow replace or discredit its impact.

And at the same time there seems to be many reasons why these dueling conferences are going on and going at it.  Some personal, some irrational, some with grudges and some for good reason.  By the way  conference marketing is very profitable and great for cross-selling anything.

Two conferences quietly in the wings: It is worthy to mention that we have yet to see what has generally been a professional and well positioned registration and attendance campaign for the J D Power and Associates and Driving Sales Conference also coming in up in October. These two conference management companies have elected to work together by staging the dates and venue in a back-to-back connectivity.  Again, we hear the organizers of  Digital Dealer seem to keep scheduling an “event” at or near the annual date of the fall and spring conferences of  the Internet Roundtable.

What makes all of this tiresome, unproductive and maybe even foolish?  If this is the case, then maybe the organizers,  sponsors and industry consulting-training teams need to examine what is going on — and chill it with the constant promos and cheerleading for another conference, webinar, seminar or awards ceremonies. Could you give dealers and all of us a break?

 What could make this situation what it could/should be?:

  1. Give the dealers and all of us a break on hitting us with promos for  boot camps, problem curing webinars and another industry conference that we just can’t miss.
  2. Give us a hiatus on social media messaging and print ad claims with ready-made solutions to every dealer problem under the sun.
  3. Cut the dealers a break on the how-to stuff  stop trying to tell them with e-blasts and unending Facebook postings that so and so has the solutions to their every problem, and all they have to do is make a call or register today  for the next camp, conference or dealer group
  4. Give up killing trees to insert multiple, gaudy, over-crowded, and over contented print ads in industry print mags (yeah, I know this may be self-serving because web sites and enewsletters are targeted, linked and trackable and offer inexpensive banner advertising and MarComm plus can be sent to a “digital land fill” by hitting the delete key.)
  5. LASTLY—Who do we think we are?  Sometimes you wonder what makes all of us including the industry providers and us press folks such experts on any aspect of automotive marketing, dealership management, customer relationship management, search,   fixed ops, aftermarket sales, dealer profitability, and now social media. Dealers are doing great and some days they might do even better if we just left them alone — and least ‘till the next NADA. 
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4 Responses to The Great Industry conference and webinar contests are on — overloaded and needed?

  1. Eric Miltsch says:


    What a refreshing take on this entire conference segment.

    Thanks for mentioning the join efforts between DSES and JDP; we believe the joint effort is one of the steps needed to help make things easier for everyone involved.

    We’re doing our best to empathize with all your sentiments – believe me, we hear the same things.

  2. Cliff Banks says:

    Hey Chuck, I didn’t hear anyone complaining when you started AutomotiveDigest….. even though, there was Automotive News, Ward’s, Dealer, AutoDealerMonthly, Auto Remarketing and AutoSuccess.

    One could have argued there were too many magazines or online sites. In fact, your entry into the market certainly made Ward’s a better product because of the competition you offered.

    As long as the market will support these conferences — as in, sponsors and attendees — we’re going to continue to see them. The competition is helping each of the conferences get better. AutoCon is trying to address weaknesses in the Digital Dealer Conferences. Meanwhile, we’re seeing a refreshed and invigorated DD this year — and I bet the competition has something to do with that.

    The market is going to tell us when there are too many conferences.

    Another thought — these conferences are just another vendor. Nobody says there are too many CRM companies or DMS companies — why should we say that about conferences? Let the market decide how many we need and which ones survive…

  3. Cliff Banks says:

    One other note — the organizers of Digital Dealer do not keep scheduling events near JD Power’s conference. When I was at Dealer and helping plan the DD conference, Mike Roscoe asked me specifically to research when the other conferences were taking place so there would not be a conflict. I know one year there was — and that was a scheduling issue with the hotel.

    The Digital Dealer dates are picked well in advance now — in fact, one could argue JD Power is scheduling its conference near DD’s conference.

    And, there isn’t a spring Internet Roundtable…. so there’s no conflict there.

  4. Ryan Gerardi says:

    Hi Chuck. Love the post. The promotion is overbearing, yes, but I don’t see any other way. That’s what it takes to get people interested in your brand or product these days. It’s been this way for a while now and unless your message goes viral nobody will see it unless you push-push-push. It’s not just the auto industry. It’s the culture of the digital age.

    Personally I just tune it all out. I scour the Internet almost every day and what I really look for on the web is originality, stuff that is out of the box, unexpected, and either useful or tastefully entertaining. Like your post here. This is the type of stuff that grabs my attention. It is thought-provoking, not throat-shoving.

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