MARS Marketing Conference Recap

“I will tell you, historically, the thought of spending money on marketing makes me cringe because I felt like it was a huge waste of money. This event has shown me that I was wasting it in the wrong places... I no longer feel like that and I’m very excited to go back and reinvest in our company in places that I never knew existed until this event… You’re only going to find it an event like this. This was hands down the best marketing conference I’ve been to in at least fifteen years of business…The whole team was excited for us to come here and do this and it was exactly what I wanted.”

– Parker Davis, Broad Stroke Automotive


The MARS Marketing Conference was held on July 30th and 31st at The Institute headquarters in Ogden, Utah. After having time to reflect on the event, we’ve put together a recap that not only details how great the conference was but answers the question: is the MARS Marketing Conference worth it?



We may seem biased in saying yes, but keep reading to learn more about the event and hear why the shop owners (like Parker above!) found it just as worthwhile.


Why Marketing is Important


First, we need to dive into why the MARS Marketing Conference is so important. In an industry where some businesses are still reluctant to join the digital world it’s no wonder that our marketing has fallen behind. Digital marketing continues to grow and change, and while traditional marketing does still have value, it can’t compare to the tracking and return on investment (ROI) of digital marketing. As the marketing landscape continues to progress, more and more opportunity is being presented to the shops that are willing to be forward thinkers and try new strategies.


That doesn’t mean that these new strategies are shots in the dark – no, these are strategies that other industries and marketing professionals have already seen amazing success with. And how are you supposed to learn about these new strategies and techniques if you aren’t actively searching for it? But what shop owner has time to constantly be monitoring new marketing trends? That’s where the MARS Marketing Conference comes in. It offered a chance for shop owners to not only learn from professionals about new techniques, but to strategize and learn from their peers across the country as well. Here’s what attendees learned about at MARS Marketing:


Presenters and Topics at the MARS Marketing Conference


We’re not going to do a deep dive into what each presenter talked about (you needed to come to MARS for that!) but give a quick look at what our attendees learned so you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth attending future MARS Marketing Conferences.


The MARS Marketing presenters covered it all, from strategy and how Google is changing local search to storytelling with video and finding your customer wherever they are.


It started off with Phil Norvold and Jamie from Legends Marketing explaining how social media is critical in not only telling the stories your clients want to hear, but in branding your business. Then we went straight to Jimmy Lea from Kukui who broke down what shops need to have a successful website that gets more appointment conversions. Lex (me!) from The Institute followed it up with a presentation on integrated marketing and how integrated campaigns are the recipe for better ROI when you know your customer and are marketing with intent.



Sierra Walker from Midwest Communications Advertising was next and likely a crowd favorite as she explained how geo-fencing and retargeting work. Her presentation focused on how to find your customers (and potential new hires) wherever they are, even explaining how you can geo-fence your competitors or other popular spots. Steve Reich from R Marketing Dept finished the first day with a heroic presentation (cape and superhero mask included!) on guerrilla marketing tactics that can help your marketing reach more people without breaking the bank.


For day 2 of the conference, Brian Walker from Shop Marketing Pros explained how to create video content that told a story and didn’t require a ton of equipment – just your smart phone and the willingness to film. Dan Vance from Advanced Local brought it all together with a deep look at what Google has changed for local search and what shops need to do with their Google My Business platform to be found by more people.


It was amazing to not only hear each presenter speak but connect how each of their techniques and strategies worked together. It created a “big picture” for marketing and gave every attendee things they could start working on right away to improve their marketing.


Networking and Entertainment at MARS Marketing


The MARS Marketing Conference wasn’t just about our presenters, though. The marketing event provided ample time for attendees to network with other shop owners, the sponsors, and presenters. Our in-person attendees got to take advantage of the networking time, delicious, happy hours, strategy sessions, and a dinner event with award-winning comedian, Brad Upton.



You can always count on good food and fun when you attend an event held by The Institute, and MARS Marketing is no different.


Why the MARS Marketing Conference is Worth It


We think that the information presented to improve your shop’s marketing alone makes MARS Marketing worth it, and that the networking and entertainment only adds to that value. But don’t just take our word for it, hear from some of our 2021 attendees on why they think the MARS Marketing Conference is worth it:

“I came to this conference so that I could learn how to do my job better and learn to market our shops better… It gives you a lot of ideas, gives you step-by-steps on how you can use those ideas. You can talk to other shop owners and see what they’re doing for their marketing, what they’ve tried, and what works for them. So, I’m excited from all the information that I’ve learned to be able to use it, and to improve the marketing that I do for my shops.”

– Julia Matt, Victory Auto Service

“There’s so much value of being able to talk to other shop owners that are going through the same thing you are going through. And a lot of people, they may be an established business for 20 years, they’ve seen what you’re going through and they want to help you. I just want to thank Cecil, Kent, and The Institute. You guys have changed my life. Not only in a monetary way, but I feel a lot more relaxed. I don’t feel an overload of stress. If there’s something I need to get addressed in my shop, I have somebody to speak with. And you don’t know what you don’t know, like Cecil always says. This (MARS Marketing) is a fountain of information, an abundance of information, and there will be an answer to the question you have.”

– Fernando Osario, Milestone Motors LLC

We are so grateful to everyone who attended the MARS Marketing Conference, as well as to our sponsors, who are detailed below if you’re looking for someone to help with your automotive business. The Institute is busy planning out our 2022 calendar and will be sharing more updates on the next MARS Conference soon.


Thank you to the sponsors who helped us provide such a great event for the industry. Find out more about them:


Shop-Ware – Shop Management Software


Broadly - Review & Reputation Management


Advanced Local – SEO & Digital Marketing


Shop Marketing Pros - Auto Shop Marketing


Kukui – All-in-One Success Platform


WorldPac – Automotive Parts & Training


If you’d like more information on any of the presenters or sponsors, please reach out to me (Lex – lex@wearetheinstitute.com) or click on their links to find out more. Thanks again and we'll see you next year!

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