The DieselSellerz online marketplace is full of attention-grabbing images and text: photos of giant pickups in the desert, text promoting the chance to win a vehicle and skull-adorned apparel up for sale.
CEO Dave Sparks, or “Heavy D” as he is known on Discovery Channel’s “Diesel Brothers,” said an online presence is one of the biggest drivers for a successful business. This weekend, entrepreneurs from around the country are gathered in Las Vegas to learn about Sparks’ business practices.
“A lot of people haven’t been caught up to speed yet,” Sparks said. “It will be as if you went through a semester or two of college, and we’re cramming it into two days.”
Sink or swim
Sparks launched the first Heavy Academy on Friday at The Industrial event space near downtown Las Vegas. The conference ran through Saturday and offered business owners and entrepreneurs a look into Sparks’ online business practices, from ways to make online ads effective to how to establish e-commerce.
“If your business doesn’t have an online presence, your competitor does,” Sparks said. “Traditional marketing methods don’t work anymore. It’s sink or swim.”
Pew Research shows that 89 percent of American adults use the internet, yet a survey from business website The Manifest found only two-thirds of businesses invest in online advertising.
Sparks said he wanted to show entrepreneurs and business owners how much of a difference an online presence can make.
They “learn what a good ad looks like, how to contact the right influencer to promote their brand,” he said, tactics that apply “to every business.”
An opportunity to help
The idea for the conference sprouted from social media.
Sparks said his social media accounts would receive direct messages from other business owners asking for marketing advice, and he decided to step in and help.
“When we see an opportunity arise, we jump into action,” he said. “We know there’s a legitimate need, and we have a legitimate solution to help.”
Sparks said he wanted an intimate setting for the conference, and he capped the number of participants at 200 people. Attendees were able to learn about e-commerce, social media, website building, online advertising and more through panels and sessions. Speakers included Instagram influencers, entrepreneurs, e-commerce experts and more.
“We’ve got a little bit of everything,” said Van Oakes, the head of product development and marketing for DieselSellerz. It’s something “you could leave with that day and implement (immediately) and start making money.”
Sparks said participants were from several industries, with a range of experience in presenting their companies online.
“Some of these people are social media experts, and a majority of them are very new,” he said.
At Heavy Academy, they “learn what a good ad looks like, how to contact the right influencer to promote their product.”
Oakes said Las Vegas was the perfect place to host the team’s conference.
“In the last 10 years, (Las Vegas has been) getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “It’s a more trendy spot for marketers to go.”