Dealer Expo 2010: Marketing Roundtable Focuses on Digital

Publish Date: 
Feb 15, 2010

Dealers attending a Dealernews Live! Round Table on marketing were mostly interested in learning new ways to use the Internet and increase floor traffic.

Participants ranged from the owner of new scooter store with almost no marketing budget to a general manager of a multiline owned by the RideNow Powersports network, whose budget is $2,700 per month. The Saturday Round Table was hosted by Eric Anderson.

If a product costs more than $50, most people are going to Google it before buying it, noted Anderson. That makes the Internet everyone’s competitor, he said.

Anderson recommended that all dealers personalize their home pages, and have Twitter and Facebook accounts. “In a few years, you will see the benefits of [search engine optimization] because your name will be all over the place,” he explained.

Dealers can learn more about social media by searching for how-to YouTube videos and reading easy-to-follow books like Facebook for Dummies. Another way to train employees is to pair them with tech-savvy employees in “shadowing programs” in which they work together and learn from each other. Dealers should regionalize their SEO efforts, and use Google Analytics to get information for free on their site’s visitors. Some tips shared during the marketing session:

One dealer said he marketed used vehicles with 50-second videos during which an employee points out accessories and blemishes, and then starts up the unit.

Finally, Anderson noted the Motorcycle Industry Council’s Revive Your Ride! marketing campaign aimed at inspiring riders to update their vehicles or gear. Dealers can download materials from

  • That same dealer said his sales staff will attempt to follow up on inquiries 20 times before considering them a dead sale.
  • Responses to digital inquiries should be substantial, even if they’re produced using a personalized template. Don’t respond to a one-line inquiry with one line. A Polaris rep at the workshop said that dealers contact only 35 percent of customers who click on “Have a dealer contact me” button on the corporate site.
  • Have employees include photos of themselves in their e-mail signature lines. One dealer recommended Constant Contact software for e-mail blasts.
  • Obtaining e-mail addresses remains a constant battle. Dealers should also start asking customers for their Facebook and Twitter IDs.
  • Dealers should partake in cooperative marketing by displaying a unit at a movie theater, mall, etc. A Polaris rep attending the session cited his company’s success doing a joint campaign with the Menards hardware chain. People received a chance to win a barbeque grill after looking at a unit. One dealer said she attended Chamber of Commerce meetings to network with potential partners. Dealers could donate vehicles to charities as well.
  • Anderson recommended that dealers become their own press agents. Dealers should approach newspapers, radio DJs and TV news stations. Once they get media exposure, they should be prepared for a big response within a short time span.
  • Before trying to become more involved in their community, dealers must become aware of all the events in their area, especially races and sporting events. A scooter dealer said she sponsored the participants of a fun run, who then wore the store’s T-shirts. Dealers can also support local MSF courses, or contact high-school tech classes. Anderson warned that exposure in the community is valuable only if it entices people to visit.
  • If you offer coupons, make sure they have an expiration date.