View from the Conference – Day 1 Afternoon

ACC Annual Conference Blog – Day 1 Afternoon Session
Patrick Cronin, Marketing Communications Specialist, NTN Bearing Corporation Of America

The first day of the 2019 ACC Annual Conference featured a variety of marketing professionals representing the automotive industry, and was packed with energetic, insightful presentations and discussions on impactful issues that affect us in the automotive industry.

The afternoon sessions kicked-off with a presentation on the Top Communication Trends of 2019. Stacey Miller, director of communications for the Auto Care Association, presented three communication trends that are relevant to the automotive industry. One trend that resonated with our group and sparked an animated discussion was the impact of influencer marketing, and the shift toward micro-influencers. In the post-Fyre Festival world, the term influencer is viewed with increasing skepticism, which is helping to drive a transition to micro-influencers. While, micro-influencers have fewer followers than the big name, macro-influencers, they have very high engagement rates and represent a more authentic, cost-effective method of reaching a niche audience.

Next up was Donna Wagner representing Northwood University. The University of the Aftermarket’s Automotive Aftermarket Management program [at Northwood University] is a pipeline of incoming talent for the automotive industry. The biggest takeaway from Donna’s presentation was that [there] are more jobs than students. As the automotive industry continues to grow and thrive, Northwood will continue to be a great source of fantastic talent. The University of the Aftermarket also was represented at the ACC conference by Brooke Regalado.

Brooke, a current student at Northwood, is the winner of the ACC’s 2019 Annual Conference Sponsorship, and is an excellent representative of the bright future of the automotive industry.

The final presentation of the afternoon featured Tania Katan, author, activist and creative force. Tania is well-known for being the co-creator of the #ItWasNeverADress campaign as well as being an award-winning author and amazing speaker. Tania spoke of her journey from theater major to creative marketing professional to inspirational speaker. Her fun, animated disposition captivated the room, and provided an inspirational, cathartic experience for those in attendance.

A couple of the many key takeaways that resonated with me were that you don’t have to work in a creative field to be creative, and to leave a creative legacy at every opportunity. Many of the concepts that Tania spoke about were “outside the box” in nature, but she also emphasized that we should not forget to use what we might be missing “inside the box.” Tania concluded her presentation with a simple exercise in which she encouraged our group to close our eyes and let go of the thoughts that hold us back from being our best selves. Every conference attendee was given a copy of Tania’s book “Creative Trespassing,” which she was glad to sign for us.

After a full day of discussing marketing and communications in the automotive industry, we adjourned to the San Antonio Riverwalk for a boat tour of the downtown Riverwalk area, followed by an amazing group dinner at the landmark Mi Tierra restaurant. As the songs of the mariachis echoed through the Texas night, our dialogue shifted from marketing to more amicable topics, and from the animated conversations and laughter, it was clear to me that I was in the presence of a great group of people who represent a great industry.