SEMA News—September 2014

By Jon Wyly

Are you Skating to Where the Puck Is Going to Be?

Jon WylyArguably one of the greatest hockey players ever to pick up a stick, Wayne Gretzky is also credited with one of the most insightful quotes ever about focus and achievement: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” This simple thought captures the essence of staying ahead of the game: Think ahead, pay attention to where things are going, and go for it! Whether you are anticipating future trends in automotive accessories and performance or you’re staying on point with business technology, it’s critical to always be looking forward.

The same certainly applies when acting on the rapidly growing demands for quality, standards-compliant product data. I have said many times that those who are taking a wait-and-see attitude about their data will soon find themselves on the outside looking in as more-progressive competitors suddenly command front-stage visibility. How? With ready availability of quality product data, well maintained and expertly distributed, that creates a saturation of consumer awareness and brand recognition. Remember, more than 50% of consumers in the automotive specialty parts space use the Internet to research what products they are going to buy. If you are “data challenged,” you are as good as invisible on search engines such as Google and Bing.

And don’t assume for a second that customers will expend extra energy to find you because you have been around for 50 years or your stuff is way better than the other guy’s. Visibility is becoming more and more relevant every day, and the attention span of consumers is getting shorter and shorter. It’s often been said by Internet marketers that if you aren’t on the first page of Google results for search terms around your product or service, you aren’t being seen. Test it out for yourself. You might very well find that a search for your product category produces little or nothing for your brand, or maybe you are being saved by a few customers who are savvy about search-engine optimization. Is that going to drive the sales growth you are looking for in the next three, five or 10 years?

In this case, the “puck” is going to be in electronic form rather than where it has been in years past—i.e., paper catalogs, telephone calls and that event trailer you spend so much money on every year. We are hearing more and more from progressive manufacturers and retailers who have already stopped printing paper catalogs or are thinking hard about it. And what are they investing this saved money in? Websites, electronic catalogs, mobile capabilities, all powered by…you guessed it, product data.

And by the way, did you know that you can load, validate to the standards, securely store and distribute your product data with the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC)to an unlimited number of customers for as little as $1,000 a year? Even the biggest companies in our marketplace simply can’t spend more than $600 a month to use the SDC’s powerful data-management system, and there are no upfront costs to get started! Oh, and there’s that free Help Desk support and some of the industry’s leading experts available to provide all the help you need.

So go check that budget and remind yourself how much you spend each year on customer dinners, sales calls and events. You might find that it’s pretty easy to see the value of an industry-owned and -operated solution that can and will help you get your data up to world-class standards and provide an easy way to manage it going forward—all at a pretty darn good price.

Check out the SDC. We’ll be happy to help you get up to speed in a hurry. We’ll give you the stick, help you navigate the ice and point you to exactly where the puck is going.

To learn more about how you can take control of your product data and manage it at the lowest possible cost, contact SDC Director of Membership Jim Graven via e-mail at or by phone at 888-958-6698 x4.



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