In this AMN Q&A, we hear from Jacki Lutz, head of global marketing and communications, Aftermarket Business, for Sensata, who is currently serving as president of the Automotive Communications Council (ACC). In this Q&A, she provides details on ACC’s upcoming annual conference in April, as well as her goals for the historic association in the coming year.
ACC has its annual conference coming up this April. Tell us a little about what makes this event so special? What can newcomers to the event expect?
In general, the Annual ACC Conference is “must do” for anyone in the automotive aftermarket who is in the marketing and/or communications fields (a group we are now referring to as “aftermarketers”), because it is the only conference that is centered around what matters to us most. It is 100 percent educational content and keeps our members at the forefront of the constant change that happens around marketing and in this industry. There is no other conference that you can go to and get two days of completely relevant information to be a better marketer for your aftermarket company. This year specifically has an incredible lineup with some of the most influential and well-known speakers we have ever had. I would say attending this year is more important than ever!
Newcomers can expect to fit right in! We have people who have been in the industry for 10, 20, 30 years who are filled with experience who are ready to share their stories of success and more importantly, failure. We also have very new people that know nothing or very little about marketing or the industry. Newbies contribute equally by giving a fresh, outside perspective. Not only will they be met with loads of new contacts and relationships, but new ideas and perspectives from others with similar struggles and successes.
(Click here for more information or to register for the conference.)
The Council also just announced a special scholarship for a Northwood Aftermarket student to attend the conference. What do you hope the recipient will get out of attending the event?
I hope they receive everything I did at my first ACC Conference. They will meet extremely relevant contacts who will guide them their entire career, as well as valuable insights into how this industry is run behind the scenes. The people in the audience of an ACC conference are responsible for what we see when we look around the aftermarket. Logos, messages, press releases, social media, publications … they are all there in the room! It will be an incredible experience for a student and hopefully energizes them for their future in the industry, just like it did for me.
ACC has a pretty unique history as far as industry organizations go. Can you share with AMN readers a little bit of that story?
Absolutely. ACC is actually the oldest standing association in the aftermarket. It has been around since 1941 and, just like the profession it supports, it has gone through a lot of change and improvement since then. It started out as the Automotive Advertisers Association in 1941 and became the Automotive Communications Council later as advertising became a part of the large umbrella that is now considered “communications.” We were also once a part of the Auto Care Association, but in 2014 became a 100 percent member-run association. In my short time as a member, I have noticed that ACC members really value the association and it shows with how much we have been able to accomplish over the past few years on our own.
You are president of the council currently. What are some of your goals for the group in 2019?
As of July, I will move out of my role as president and move into acting past president. I plan to stay heavily involved and help the incoming president see some of these 2019 goals through to fruition. One of our two biggest 2019 goals is developing our “ACC Gives Back” initiatives. I am really hoping the student sponsorship is just one of the many ways ACC gives back to the industry in 2019 and beyond. Our second goal is just becoming more known in the industry. We are advertising more, reaching out more and it is starting to grow legs. We also started doing branded apparel for the first time and developed a new slogan that helps us become more recognized in the industry. If we do our jobs right, you should start seeing “Connecting Aftermarketers since 1941” all over the place!
Do you have a goal for your membership demographic?
Anyone and everyone who has knowledge or wants knowledge around marketing in the automotive aftermarket are those we are here to help. In my experience, most people who come once, not only keep coming but want to get involved. “Like attracts like” and these are our people! We might be in different stages of our careers but we have the same goals and struggles. We welcome all, the more ideas and perspectives the better.
What else does ACC have planned for 2019?
So much! And unfortunately, it is too early to talk about but I think ACC will take 2019 by storm. By 2020, I hope every company with a marketing presence is pushing someone to become a member and attend our annual conference. It will become very clear the impact we are making for our members and attending this conference and being a part of this group will become a MUST for all aftermarketers.