SEMA News - November 2009

 By Annie Kang

Day-Long Event Shows SEMA-Member Companies How to Utilize Free Tools for Website Optimization

Attendees at the recent SEMA Internet Symposium, presented by the Street Performance Council (SPC), left the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California, equipped with tools for creating and implementing an online marketing strategy that will keep their businesses moving forward in today’s technologically advancing climate.

The SPC Internet Symposium was established in 2007 to emphasize the importance of Internet marketing to SEMA-member companies.

“If the Internet can push the U.S. Postal Service to insolvency, what can it do to your business if you are not properly prepared?” asked SPC Chairman Eric Breslow.

The day-long event included four sessions presented by industry experts. In keeping with today’s lean times, the sessions focused on gaining high-tech results without the requisite high-cost bill.

Search-Engine Optimization: Tech Speak for Helping Your Customers Find You Online
Speaker: Brian Offenberger, CEO, Aftermarketer Club

 Brian Offenberger, CEO, Aftermarketer Club. 
In his presentation, Offenberger revealed that search-engine optimization (SEO) is the best way to help your customers find you using online search tools such as Google and Yahoo. Attendees walked away with valuable website tips, the first of which was to index their content.

“Its a little tough for us to achieve maximum results and our objectives if not all of our material is available,” said Offenberger. “Kind of hard if only one-third of my store is online. So make sure your stuff is indexed. There’s an easy way to do it. Go to Google, key in the word ‘site,’ colon and put in your website address. You can do that on Microsoft and AOL and Yahoo. They will show you every page of your website that they are seeing.”

Additional tips included searching friendly web practices, performing frequent content updates, using a blog and social media and ensuring fast site load times.

Offenberger also stressed the importance of tagging content. Tags are short key phrases used to describe content. All audio, video and social media you create should be tagged, since they help search engines display relevant content to searchers.

The value of links to search engines was also highlighted. Links are more likely to boost your rankings if they are one-way (not reciprocal), from a relevant source (website/blog with similar subject matter) and from a quality source (website/blog that is optimized, offers quality content and has inbound links).


Your Intellectual Property Rights
Speakers: Sean Chaffin, eBay VERO program manager, eBay Motors; Jeff Van Hoosear, Partner, Knobbe Martens

 Sean Chaffin, eBay VERO Program Manager, eBay Motors. 
In this session, Hoosear guided attendees through the process of enforcing their trademarks on popular eCommerce sites, starting with step number one: conducting an internal IP audit. This involves identifying what trademarks, trade names, copyrights, patentable or copyrightable subject matter you possess.

“You have to understand what you have in order to know what you can protect,” said Hoosear.

An internal IP audit includes:

  • Domain Name Audit—More than one person is allowed to register domain names or URLs, which can often lead to problems if it isn’t controlled. “I’ve seen estimates as high as one-third where domain names registered go back into the registration pool because they haven’t been properly maintained or registered as they should be, so you need to know what domain names you have,” said Hoosear. 
  • Search-Engine Audits—Go to search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN. Look primarily at your product names and trademark names and see what comes back. “See who is using your marks, names, URLs or something very similar to that on the Internet to find out what problems you have because you have to understand your problems to treat them appropriately,” said Hoosear. 
  • Marketplace Audit—Many companies are already doing this all the time. You’ve got your sales representatives or customers contacting you or inquiring about you or your packaging or your product or company because they are using a similar name, packaging or URL. A marketplace audit gives you guidance to what is out there.
  • Trademark Search Audit (U.S. and International)—Periodically do a trademark search audit to see what other marks are out there that are similar that may be taking advantage of you and your goodwill. Don’t forget to do an international search as well.


U.S. Intellectual Property Overview—Myth Busting the ACES and PIES Data Standards
Speaker: Gigi Ho, cofounder, Digital Performance

Ho stressed that updating your catalog is an essential part of keeping up with the times.

 Gigi Ho, Co-founder, Digital Performance. 
“The data that we are talking about is electronic now,” said Ho. “We’re not talking about the guy at the counter with the catalog rack behind him anymore. This is where the person is going to be looking up information on a computer screen, and there are certain formats that are going to be needed for that computer to be able to make that product data presentable to the person in front of the computer screen.”

Ho revealed the following 12 steps to synchronicity in creating your electronic catalog:

  1. Admit that your data files stink.
  2. Realize that industry standards can help create order and profit for your company.
  3. Make a decision to do something about it. 
  4. Make a searching and fearless inventory of all your data silos.
  5. Admit to your business partners, customers and company members the nature of your data’s wrongs.
  6. Be company-wide-ready to remove these defects of data.
  7. Humbly ask your business partners and customers to remove your data’s shortcomings.
  8. Make a list of all persons in your company who will be responsible for data.
  9. Make sure those persons know and understand the industry standards and requirements of your customers, and appoint them as Data Lords and Ladies.
  10. Continue to take inventory of your data silos.
  11. Seek the current and future trends of data requirements and key contacts through seminars, webinars, conferences and trade shows.
  12. Having had an awakening as the result of these steps; carry this message forward to others; and continue to practice these principles for even greater profit.


Video Killed the Radio Star: It’s Still True Today
Moderator: John Naderi, executive editor,
Speakers: Famous Rhodes, director of eBay Motors, eBay Motors; Chris Duke, Motorz TV; James Lawrence, PowerTV; Josh
, Stillen

 From left: Josh Biggers, STILLEN; James Lawrence, PowerTV; Chris Duke, MOTORZ TV; Famous Rhodes, Director of eBay Motors, eBay Motors; John Naderi, Executive Editor, 
This packed presentation demonstrated how you can create your own killer video to bring your products to life in an entertaining yet affordable way.

Duke revealed strategies on keeping video production costs down. He stated that most of the audience would not need a professional camcorder and that a consumer device would be sufficient.

“Don’t worry about spending $6,000 on a huge camera,” Duke said. “You don’t really need it.”

He advised selecting a camera based on what kind of video you intend to produce.

“Think about where your video is going to go,” Duke said. “It’s probably going to end up on YouTube, or any other video-sharing sites. Do you need the high quality of broadcast television? If you don’t, don’t worry about it. You can use a flip camera or anything really as long as it’s HD. If you are doing product information, you definitely want to go HD.”

Today’s Essential Biz Tools: Sell More, Do More With Less You
Speaker: Luanne Brown, president and CEO, eTool Developers LLC

Brown introduced attendees to the concept and importance of the Web 2.0 revolution.

 Luanne Brown, President & CEO, eTool Developers LLC. 
Brown stated that Web 2.0 resulted in the creation of social networking sites, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, Twitter and tagging, all of  which ultimately help you run and market your business on the web. Google, eBay and Amazon are prime examples of Web 2.0 companies.

“The web is like the big equalizer,” said Brown. “You can be as big as anybody on the Internet if you do it right. It’s very easy to use. That’s kind of what changed with Web 2.0. Someone who is not a developer can use these tools without having to have special knowledge.”

Brown also highlighted Google as an essential business tool.

“Google and all the tools that Google has to offer are extremely cost effective,” Brown said. “If you go to, you’ll find all these different search tips and different ways that you can use their search engine. If you click on iGoogle and set up a Gmail e-mail account, you can use most of these tools for free.”

Brown also emphasized the importance of selecting Internet marketing tools based on the nature of your business needs.

“The tool that you need to use is based on who you are and what the function is that you are trying to perform,” she said. She pointed out that you need to ask yourself which of the three categories you fall into: business owner, marketing director or auto technician. If you were a business owner, your research would focus on your customers and competition. If you were an auto technician, your research would focus on new products and installation information.

How to Measure Online Buyer Acquisitions & Sales
Speaker: Allen Horwitz, vice president of sales and marketing, Submit Express

 Allen Horwitz, VP Sales & Marketing, Submit Express. 
Horwitz stated that your website needs to have four key elements in order to successfully measure your online buyer acquisitions and sales: 
  • Relevant Content—“Whatever you are selling, promoting or whatever the purpose of your website, it has to have content that is relevant to the audience you are trying to address,” said Horwitz.
  • Targeted Traffic—“The number of people viewing your site is irrelevant if the people coming to the site arrived looking for something else,” he said. “The traffic that is generated has to be people looking for something that you want to sell or something that you want to promote.”
  • Traffic Conversion—“A conversion is defined as having a visitor to your site taking an action that is part of a process that you define. So it doesn’t mean a sale necessarily, but that you bring a user to yoursite through a process that you want them to do. It could be filling out a lead form; it could be purchasing something; it could be referring to another page; it could be filling out a contact form; or it could be picking up a telephone and dialing a number. All of those things could be defined as a conversion, and a conversion is something different for everyone in this room.”
  • Customer Retention—“If you can make your website compelling enough that visitors come back again in the future, that they remember you, that they like you and that they potentially even become your fan, that is the difference between being successful and being virally successful and, ultimately, very wealthy.”

Ask the Experts: What Should You Do With a $10,000 Internet Marketing Budget
Moderator: Eric Breslow, Breslow Foundation
Panel: Oliver Rathlein, director sales and marketing, Eibach Springs Inc.; Tyler Tanaka, marketing manager, Turbonetics; Mike Morita, vice president of marketing, Pro-Motion Distributing; Brian Hafer, vice president, US Auto Parts; Justin Choi, president, CIE Studios

 Eric Breslow, Breslow Foundation; Brian Hafer, Vice President, US Auto Parts; Mike Morita, Vice President Marketing, Pro-Motion Distributing; Tyler Tanaka, Marketing Manager, Turbonetics; Oliver Rathlein, Director Sales & Marketing, Eibach Springs Inc.; Justin Choi, President, CIE Studios.
A panel of experts was on hand to share personal business knowledge and to answer questions from the audience.

Tanaka recommended the, and websites to filter and manage Twitter accounts. He also answered an audience question on how his business responds to negative online postings.

“If I find out about it, we try and address it,” he said. “We look at it ,and we evaluate what’s going on. The activity that we get on forums is generally firefighting. People are a thousand times more likely to complain than they are to give praise. We get in and say ‘Hey, this is Tyler from Turbonetics. What can we do? Was it our fault?’ We try and get in right away. We don’t let it sit.”

“This was an amazing final session for the 2009 Internet Symposium,” said Breslow. “A panel of marketing directors from iconic SEMA-member companies sharing their secrets to success on the Internet—it’s this kind of camaraderie, even with potential competitors in the audience, that makes this industry special. The audience was so riveted by the panel that we went almost an hour over.”  

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