SEMA Member News—November/December 2011
2011 SEMA Business Technology Symposium Yields Insights
The daylong Business Technology Symposium, held in conjunction with SEMA’s Leadership Days, presented participants with solid education, proven strategies and best practices from experts in the fields of online marketing, multimedia sales and eCommerce.
To help kick off its annual Leadership Days, held July 27–29, SEMA introduced automotive businesses to the latest technological trends and opportunities with the Business Technology Symposium (BTS). Held at the Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach, California, the day-long gathering presented participants with solid education, proven strategies and best practices from experts in the fields of online marketing, multimedia sales and eCommerce.
Developed by SEMA’s Street Performance Council (SPC), the yearly event has become a premier business development forum that arms attendees with unique tools to gain a competitive advantage through effective, technology-based strategies.
The SPC has always pushed the boundaries of council initiatives, said Tyler Tanaka, vice president of business development at PostRelease. Tanaka, along with the council, was instrumental in organizing the symposium. Four years ago, he said, the specialty-equipment industry was generally viewed as woefully behind the curve in plugging into the exploding digital revolution. The need for further education and technological understanding was especially apparent in the areas of online advertising and marketing. The SPC launched the BTS in 2007 to address this growing industry concern.
“Programs didn’t really exist four or five years ago that broke things down in a simple, easy-to-understand way or that delivered relevant topics,” Tanaka explained. “The SPC virtually invented this event from thin air to provide this value addition not only to the SPC, but also to the entire SEMA membership.”
Over the course of four years, online, digital and mobile technologies have advanced at an even more rapid pace within mainstream American businesses, proving that the BTS is the right educational prescription at exactly the right time.
“Given today’s competitive marketplace, companies are relying more and more on emerging technologies for brand building, lead generation and, in some cases, as a primary source of commerce,” Tanaka said. “Technology is continuing to revolutionize the way business is conducted in the automotive aftermarket, and our members’ businesses are ever-changing as a result. We wanted to give them the necessary tools to be prepared, understand and take advantage of the potential opportunities that exist while doing business in today’s digital world.”
Steve Yankovich, eBay vice president of Mobile, delivered this year’s keynote address, which focused on how the mobile medium has become increasingly influential in automotive purchases. A series of business technology supersessions also covered a diverse range of topics under five main conference titles: Manufacturer and Distributor Online Marketing Essentials; Mobile’s Role in the Automotive Aftermarket; Connecting With Customers: Effective Content Marketing; Capture, Manage and Nurture Leads to Win More Customers; and Product Design and Manufacturing Technology That Could Change the Aftermarket.
“SEMA members are really engaged in furthering their marketing education,” said Kirsten Knipp, director of product evangelism with HubSpot and a speaker for the Capture, Manage and Nurture Leads session. “Because specialty products and services benefit disproportionately from getting found online via inbound marketing, it was gratifying to be able to share new data about search, social media and even modern middle-of-the-funnel marketing optimization with this group.”
Many BTS attendees agreed with the need for the sort of ongoing technological education the symposium offers each year.
“I first attended the Business Technical Symposium two years ago, when social media was a new territory that the industry began exploring as a marketing tool,” said Cheralyn Smith of Advanced Clutch Technology Inc. (ACT). “I was able to bring some valuable practices to the office, and we still use them every day at ACT. This year, I had the opportunity to be on the Manufacturer and Distributor Online Marketing Essentials panel. That really gave me a chance to share our experiences, hear what is working for other companies and get an inside perspective on how social media continues to grow and transform marketing in the industry.”
“During challenging economic times, the automotive aftermarket requires an extra gear to compete, sustain and grow, and the BTS very much complied with the business savvy necessary to rise in the aftermarket business environment,” added attendee Dick Dixon, director of the International Motorsports Alliance at California State University San Bernardino.
Tanaka and SPC were pleased not only with this year’s attendance, but also with the enthusiastic response received from participants such as Smith and Dixon.
“Overall, the feedback was great,” Tanaka said. “People got tips, tricks and concepts they could immediately put into place Monday morning when they went back to their businesses.”