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My NADA Experience on the Other Side

Force Marketing Booth at NADA 2019

29 Jan My NADA Experience on the Other Side

By Allison Centore

Allison Centore Force Marketing

Allison Centore is Force Marketing’s Vice President of Client Success. Prior to Force, she served as Senior Marketing Manager at Lithia Motors, Inc., and before that, worked as the Director of Marketing for Sheehy Auto Stores.

As I relaxed in the airport lounge before my flight back east, I reflected on the last few days at NADA. Although I have been to many conferences during my tenure in the automotive industry, this year felt completely different. My experience was a 180-degree paradigm shift from previous years: I was now on the other side of the business.

In prior years, as a dealer at NADA (or any other of the many conferences I attended), I remember walking through the exhibit halls with a sense of both pride and self-consciousness. I could feel the eyeballs squinting to see my badge and shifts in posture from the vendors as they gradually made out the word “DEALER.” Bright eyes and big smiles quickly followed and, as I felt honored, I also dreaded being approached to start a conversation that was awkward and twice as long as needed. I was always the one everyone wanted to talk to. If I was to compare it to a social situation, it would be like being the popular girl at a party.

My expectations for this year were unknown. I wasn’t sure how I would feel having a conversation with a “former me.” However, I was pleasantly surprised by the many positive reactions to our partnership philosophy.

When I think about why I often dreaded being trapped in booth conversations as a dealer, it was mostly because these conversations were never about my business goals. I was never asked “What are you looking to accomplish this year?” or “What are your top 2-3 goals?” However, I did hear a lot of “I can get your cost per click down by 20%” and “Is your impression share over 75%? It should be!” Sure, I understand why these statements sound impressive, but how do these things have anything to do with increasing market share, selling more used cars, or even generating a higher monthly RO count? Do dealers really need to get into the digital weeds instead of focusing on growth and profitability? How does a higher clickthrough rate sell cars? Isn’t it our job as marketing professionals to worry about these metrics for our clients? These are the questions I asked myself as I walked through the exhibit hall, eavesdropping on conversation after conversation. It became more and more apparent that time spent on the minutia was wasteful.

NADA this year started with some uncertainty, but concluded with a sound sense of knowing we are focused on what’s really important to dealers-– growing their business and being 100% invested in their success. I do sometimes miss being the popular girl, but I’m happy to truly understand what’s important to her.

Missed us at NADA 2019? Contact Allison and the team today to schedule a quick demo to find out how we can help your dealership succeed in 2019 and beyond.



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