Jingle Power Fuels Bob Weaver Motorsports

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Bob Weaver Motorsports knows that location is paramount — and that jingles sell

Consider the power of the advertising jingle. There's a good chance a few of them wormed their way inside your head decades ago, ready to pop back up in an instant — and stay there until you go nuts.

Does the Mr. Whipple of your mind still plead that you not "squeeze the Charmin" when you reach for that roll of toilet paper?

After you finish reading this sentence about Oscar Mayer's famed jingle, will you still wish you were one of its wieners and loved by all, or wish that you hadn't been prompted to remember that tune to begin with? Are you still silently humming it?

How about the Meow Mix song?

The best jingles or slogans get stuck (much like a Band-Aid gets stuck on you) inside a person's head and are carried around like a perpetual advertising loop.

Bob Weaver knows the value of a catchy phrase: He hears customers singing or mentioning his dealership's jingle all the time. "It's been better than I'd ever expected. When you get people who come into the store and they start singing your jingle to you. Or you get a husband and wife come in and the wife will say something like 'Oh, he's got Weaver Fever. I couldn't deal with it anymore; I had to bring him down here and let him buy something,'" says Weaver, owner of Bob Weaver Motorsports and Marine.

"Even when we talk to the people at Yamaha, we go to the dealer meetings and you sign in and they see your name tag and they go 'Bob Weaver? Weaver fever?' and they start singing the jingle," he adds.

BRAND IMPRINT

The jingle and a matching logo have become the main identity of the Top 100 dealership near Buffalo, N.Y. The logo appears on everything from clothing to stickers that go out on every bike the shop sells. Callers hear the song while on hold, and radio and TV commercials feature the catchy ditty.

"Nothing runs without the jingle on the end of it," says Weaver, who's been in the powersports business since 1971. "I think it's been a very important part of [business].

"They always say that copying is the best form of flattery. I've had other local dealers come up with their own jingles. However, they're not as good. They're not as clever.

"I think ours works really good because it brings a smile to people's faces. It's catchy. It just seems to do the job," he says.

Not only does the jingle give Weaver's North Tonawanda dealership a brand identity, it highlights his name, one that people recognize from when Weaver was selling Hodaka, Montessa, Maico, DKW and Husqvarna dirtbikes.

While the 57-year-old had been selling bikes, snowmobiles and watercraft since college — with a short foray into boat sales — he'd never owned a store that carried his name. After he sold a marina and opened his current location in 2002, he was prodded into using his name for the enterprise. He needed to let people know he was back in the business.

"That was probably a good thing to do because for the first two years almost every single day the customers would say, 'I bought my first bike from you.' I heard that so many times, I still hear it," Weaver notes. "I bet I've heard it two or three times this week."

PRIME REAL ESTATE

Weaver's history as a dealer also helped him avoid some of the mistakes he'd made in the past, the main one being ignoring the rule about location, location, location. After having three different shops in three lousy locations, he had to choose wisely.

Weaver began by locating the two major thoroughfares in the Buffalo metropolitan area that had high traffic counts and room for growth. His first thought was to locate in a heavily congested area, but a search for real estate sent him out about three miles beyond the major business areas.

It turned out to be the right move because not only does he still get drive-by traffic, but development along Niagara Falls Boulevard is heading in his direction.

"Now I'm a five-lane highway that is close to two major throughways. When you survey your customers and ask them 'How did you hear about us' because you're trying to figure out if you've spent your money wisely," he says, "the No. 1 answer is by far 'I was driving by.' It's like 'Why am I spending all this money on advertising?'"

Having rounded and landed on the safe side of the learning curve, Weaver also drew on his retailing experience for advertising. Three out-of-the-way shops taught him that displays outside the showroom help attract customers he might not normally get.

THINK DIFFERENT

It started back with the marina he owned on the end of a dead-end street. He would take boats, put his shop's name on the side along with the amount of a monthly payment and park them in the parking lot of a local bank.

"And not just watercraft, but anything: motorcycles, scooters, ATVs. We go to the local bank and ask them if they would like a display. It helps them sell loans, so they'll let us put a vehicle in their bank," Weaver says. "There aren't too many places I haven't been."

He means it. Malls. Grocery stores. Home shows. They're all fair game.

"We get into quite a few grocery stores," he says. "We hook up with Pepsi or Coca-Cola, particularly for their displays selling bottled water. We put a watercraft in the middle of a display and they pile cases of water all around it. That works very well."

When Dealernews talked to Weaver in June, he was getting ready to set up an ATV display for an open house a local fire equipment company was having. The business was going to equip the quad with its products and show it to all the fire companies within driving distance planning to attend the open house.

At one on-site home show, he worked with a developer to put boats and ATVs in the garages and driveways of the model homes to sell the whole thing as a package.

He figures his off-site promotions are the best way to attract new customers to his stores. Motorcyclists in town already know about the shop or can find out through other riders, he adds.

He doesn't even advertise in the Yellow Pages anymore, for few people use the phone book these days. Instead he focuses on off-site promotions, radio, billboards, some cable TV ads, and direct mailings to about 11,000 customers.

"We're not looking for motorcyclists. We're looking for people who would never have bought a motorcycle, never bought an ATV and see it and say, 'Hey, this could be fun,'" Weaver says. "If you get a chance to talk to them maybe you can get them to buy one."

Perhaps he can get them to Catch Weaver Fever.