How about joining me in sunny Tampa March 9-11th? Spring training, beaches, a little golf… and, yeah, there will be some work involved.

We're hosting the inaugural “Ward's Automotive Spring Training Conference: A Gameplan for 21st Century Marketing, presented by Autobytel.”

Ward's is bringing together some of the leading players in automotive marketing to help put together a road map for dealers on what effective marketing initiatives will look like for the next several years.

Pundits, vendors and even other magazines are telling you it's time to get serious about the Internet — but you don't need to be convinced of that. Come on, that's old news.

Frankly, you need to know how and where to spend your advertising money online. But that doesn't mean you should abandon traditional media — I don't care what so-called experts tell you.

The big trend the next couple of years will be the merging of traditional with online media and you should be learning now how to leverage that trend to position your business as a big player in a regional — instead of local — market.

Enough of the work part. Here's the fun stuff.

We're holding the conference at the first-class Intercontinental Tampa, just minutes from the beaches, golf courses and nightlife. We've negotiated a great rate so be sure to register early.

If you want, you can come in early Saturday or Sunday for a round of golf or a day at the beach, followed by a lively reception Sunday night.

The highlight will be Monday night. We're taking everyone to the Yankees spring training game Monday night, March 10. There will be a reception prior to the game alongside the Yankees workout fields. We'll even have a former Yankees player on hand for autographs and pictures.

Following the reception, we'll watch the Yankees play the Cincinnati Reds from the brand new deck in right field. You might want to bring your glove — rumor is there are a lot of balls hit into that area.

To register and for more information, visit us at:

The conference is just one of several initiatives Ward's has planned for this year.

We're hosting along with Dixon-Hughes our second annual Dealer-Management System Panel on Friday (the day before the NADA convention), February 8, from 1 pm to 5 pm at the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco. If you're in the market for a DMS this year, you won't want to miss this opportunity to question the executives from the leading vendors in the space.

Also, you'll want to keep an eye out for the soon-to-be launched monthly Ward's Profit Center enewsletters - you'll be hearing more on those later.

One last thing… be sure to visit to download the annual Ward's e-Dealer 100; the Ward's Megadealer 100 and Ward's Dealer 500 submission forms.

If I don't see you in San Francisco for NADA, I'll see you in Tampa in March.
Cliff Banks
Editorial Director