Converting non-riders into riders may be a waste of time

Publish Date: 
Jun 27, 2012
By Rod Stuckey


I’m not saying mass media directed at an entire market population is a bad choice for all businesses. If you sold cars, food, clothing, or some other product that everyone watching TV and listening to radio needs, then these advertising channels are likely a viable option. And, for the record, I do think that under certain unique circumstances, mass media can generate a positive ROI for motorcycle dealers. But it’s proven time and time again to be the exception and not the rule.

Trying to market to and sell motorcycles, parts and accessories to the 90 percent of the population that isn’t interested is simply not the most effective method for a dealer’s investments. Doesn’t it make more sense for you to spend your limited time and dollars marketing to people who are most likely to respond to your advertising, and buy from you? This group of enthusiasts is called your dealership buying base.

There are two calculated strategies to build your buying base. The first way is to focus on marketing to your existing customers to increase their frequency of visits and average transaction size. These customers already know, like and trust you, and expect to hear from you. In fact, if they don’t hear from you, they begin to get a feeling of apathy — as if you don’t care about their business. As part of this same data strategy, look at your past customers who haven’t done business with you for six months or more, and contact them with intent to re-activate their business. It’s amazing how receptive “lost customers” can be when they are reached out to in a we-care-about-your-business way.

The second strategy is to determine conquest and orphan customers. These are people who ride what you sell, and buy what you sell, but they’re currently doing business outside of your local market area or with your competitors. These two groups of customers should truly represent where the majority of all your future sales will come from, wouldn’t you agree?

I’m not saying we can’t grow the industry with some new blood, but let’s be realistic. This is a passion-based industry, and it’s the influence of friends and family that has historically led us to increase the numbers of new riders. The better job you do of maximizing your dealership’s buying base, the greater ROI you’ll earn for your marketing, the happier your customers will be, and the bigger impact you’ll have on influencing new riders to get involved.

This story originally appeared in the July 2012 issue.