Can dealers and automakers learn from each other?

Sure, says Jon Munzel. That’s why he gets them together in a big room to exchange ideas at back-to-back conferences in Los Angeles.

“The feedback indicates the two groups appreciate learning about each other’s challenges, and that was our intent from the start,” says Munzel founder and president of Thought Leadership Summits.

The 10th annual Automotive Customer Centricity Summit is June 24 and the Automotive Social Media Summit takes place June 25. Both events are at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, CA.

“They are related but separate events,” Munzel says. “About 65% to 70% of attendees go to both.”

Highlights at the first will include insights on how technology leadership will determine the industry’s future, Paragon Honda’s experience of effectively utilizing mobile marketing and Volkswagen’s transition from traditional to digital marketing.

How Hyundai turned a partnership with “The Walking Dead” zombie TV-show franchise into something that far surpassed sponsorship and product-integration expectations will be the subject of a keynote presentation by Steve Shannon, vice president-marketing for Hyundai Motor America.

Other topics will include how today’s digitally oriented buyers want their vehicle and automotive experience to enhance all aspects of their driving, ownership and mobile Internet activities. Thilo Koslowski, lead auto analyst for research firm Gartner will discuss that.

Marti Eulberg, Sonic’s director-brand management, will outline how the megadealer established a separate used-car division.

She will explain how Sonic is trying to redefine the used-car business model and transform customer expectations. It’s a strategy Sonic has been preparing over the past several years.

The 5th annual Automotive Social Media Summit is billed as the industry’s only conference focused exclusively on social media. The theme this year is “The Increasing Sophistication of Social Media.”

The event will focus on utilizing social-media data to better understand consumers and develop more sophisticated methods of social-media interactions, with examples of how automakers and dealers are increasing their interactions with consumers across sales, marketing and customer service.
Topic highlights include:

  • Bozard Ford’s success in taking control of their reputation.
  • Facebook’s insights on effective automaker and dealer advertising.
  • Nissan’s successes and lessons learned in social media.
  • Zender Ford’s social-media strategies and tactics.

Speakers include Melody Blumenschein of General Motors. She will describe how the automaker uses social media to improve customer experiences.

For more conference information, go to