The SEMA Show – November 3-6, 2015
Written By: Tabitha Lohr
The Specialty Equipment Market Association comes to Las Vegas every November, for the annual SEMA Show, an industry event that brings together more than 2,400 exhibiting businesses of all things automotive, 3,000 media members, and more than 60,000 buyers walk the aisles. The SEMA Show, (Nov. 3-6 this year) is where people in the automotive aftermarket industry go to find out what the hottest trends and parts are in the business. Hundreds of celebrities make their appearance, and spokes-models fill the exhibitor booths, posing for pictures and drawing a crowd.
I was able to attend this incredible show for the third time, this past week. Having been to this event twice before, I knew what to expect and what to plan for, spending a month beforehand doing just that; preparation. I would be flying solo to this event, from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas, USA, approximately 2,200 miles each direction. Of course besides the usual new business cards & company logo’d shirts, I worked very hard to finish client projects so I would be able to double the size of my work portfolio in time for this business venture. This time around, I would be representing my own company, my own goals, my skills & my own clientele, to as many people as I could shake hands with. This trip to Vegas was so much more to me than just a automotive conference, this was my chance to continue to grow my business, soak in hours of seminars, and be able to help my clients with the knowledge I gained.
My flight landed in Las Vegas on Sunday, Nov 1st. Wanting to get out there early to meet up with a couple current clients & explore the Las Vegas Convention Center while all of the booths were being setup and zero crowds to push through. I used this time to my advantage, hunting down the locations of the companies I wanted to contact, finding the seminar halls, and scoping out the vehicle line up outside. For 2 days, I did essentially a reconnaissance mission of the entire show to make sure I made the most of my time while attending.
I was alone walking the 27 miles of aisles full of multi-million dollar companies and insanely successful people, but I was not intimidated or afraid, I was inspired. I spoke with fluid companies about sponsoring my racing clients. Parts dealers about their distribution boundaries, their current suppliers and what they were wanting in the future. I shook hands with small time entrepreneurs that needed a quick consultation to get them pointed in the right direction.
On Wednesday, I attended two seminars. The first was hosted by “EricTheCarGuy,” a YouTube automotive mastermind with 700,000 Subscribers and a heck of a great life story to share. I learned so much about the technical side of creating and promoting a YouTube channel; such as timing, setup, keyword optimization, ad campaigns & more. The second seminar that day was “Women Driven: Women in Business, shattering the glass ceiling!” Which as you can probably tell, was a very motivating couple hours for me! There were four speakers, all of whom were incredibly successful and had persevered through the male dominated industry, setting milestones and proving that women belong in the automotive world. These four women had such a long list of accomplishments, professional female drivers with numerous degrees, to the first female automotive column writer to be featured in the New York Times.
Thursday I went to a seminar hosted by Formula Drift, discussing their rapidly growing global racing organization. I wanted to attend this discussion because I have been actively following the growth of the drifting sport and have been trying to get more involved with it from a marketing standpoint. It was great to see such a massive sport continue to expand in size and interaction, 2016 will be a great season for them, not a doubt in my mind.
The networking contacts I made that week were priceless. To able to walk up and shake hands with the marketing director of dozens of different large scale companies, was excellent exposure for both myself and my company. When they would ask who I was here with or which company I was representing, and I could reply with, “I’m here with my own company, Lohr Marketing. I specialize in the automotive industry, building websites and managing marketing campaigns for a variety of clients. Race teams, automotive shops, new product launches, I enjoy helping how I can.” (30 second ‘elevator speech’)
This venture was a huge risk, considering the time away from my desk, away from my daughter, and the amount of money it takes to spend a week in Las Vegas. But I took a chance, kissed my daughter goodbye at 3AM to catch a plane, and I am so glad that I did. The automotive industry is my passion, its ever-evolving trends and advances always have us on our toes.
Though it is too soon to announce the handful of new clients I will soon be representing, I can definitely say you will want to stay tuned. . .