Rick Fairless: Sell Yourself for Fun and Profit

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Marketing the Fairless way or: You're never too ugly for radio

Marketing advertising selling strokers dallas

MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS are two of the most important things a company needs to be successful. You can have the best shop in the country, but if no one knows about it, you might as well lock the doors and go fishing.

Marketing is more than advertising in trade magazines and buying radio spots; it is selling yourself to the customer. I preach to my employees that people don't do business with companies; people do business with people. I believe that people like to do business with the owner of the company, and at Strokers people do business with Rick Fairless.

I work every single day of the week. I talk to literally thousands of people each week, but I can't do it all by myself. Since I can't personally help out each guy in parts, sell every new bike, write up all oil changes or serve every beer, I have to make sure that the people I hire work and act like me. They have to become Rick Fairless (ugly, but true).

I want people to know that when they come to Strokers, they are dealing with me, Rick Fairless, the lucky chump from Texas. We are a family operation, and I want my customers to feel like they're part of the family, too. I have pictures all over the place of my brother and me growing up, and of my children when they were little. I think it helps people feel at home.

HIPPIE FOR SALE

There is very little that I sell here that you can't buy somewhere else. But ya know what? You can't buy Rick Fairless somewhere else. The only place where you can get Rick Fairless is in Dallas, Texas, or on my website.

I have lots of different ways of doing marketing and PR. I have a marketing/PR gal, Meghan DeFreeuw, who does a swell job for me. She stays on top of the many different ways of spreading the good Strokers word. We use Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, HubGarage, BikerOrNot, Meetup and other networking websites as tools to further our cause. Lots of people are into electronic communication — probably more than you'd believe. I am shocked at how many people e-mail me on a daily basis just off of MySpace and Facebook.

What you might not know is that when you see my long hair, beard, tie-dye shirts, Chuck Taylor shoes and crazy paint jobs — that's marketing 101, man! Yes, that's who I am, but I also use all those as marketing tools. People think of me as an old hippie and I'm OK with that. I do everything I can to exploit those ideas. My image is different from anyone else's in our industry. You have to be unique to stand out in our crowded business, and I do everything I can. Now people get mad if I show up in anything other than tie-dye.

One of my best marketing tools is my website (www.strokersdallas.com). We work hard to pack as much information as we can on the website. Just like my store, I have tons of pictures in albums all over the place because I want people to spend some time looking around. (My IT guy and brother-in-law, Steve, tells me there are more than 6,500 pictures on the site.) Customers can see pictures of our events, pictures of the store opening, pictures of my brother and me on our first motorcycles, and even a picture of my wife and me when we were young. Everything is there for a reason: to make people feel like they know me and my family so they want to do business with me.

Also on our website we have an events page listing every event we have within the next year. All of my sales bikes are also listed and pictured to help promote local and long-distance selling. I even have a blog called "Rick Sez" where I talk about whatever the hell I'm thinking. I post almost every day. The "Babes" section includes lots of hot gals in not-much clothing (that's always a crowd-pleaser) and our Strokers Bikini Team (another marketing tool). You can never give too much information to your customer about you and the way you do business. The more information I include on my website, the more time people spend looking around and familiarizing themselves with my company.

A FACE MADE FOR RADIO

I also do a weekly online radio show called "The Texas Hardtails Scooter Show" with my pal Joe T. We talk a lot about motorcycles and what's going on in the industry. I try to give my listeners (I probably only have a few) industry insight through my eyes. But we also talk about the Cowboys, Pam Anderson, Jessica Simpson (my neighbor) and anything else I can think of. It's available for free on iTunes and on my website, and we do both an audio and a video version (yeah, I know, insert your own joke here about how ugly I am.)

In the store, we stuff all of our parts and apparel shopping bags with Strokers fliers and information. The main item that goes in each bag is our 30-page Pocket Guide. It's a brochure that lets people know who we are and what we have going on in all three of my companies. It includes a map to our location, the Ice House menu, event calendars for the next two years, and tons of pictures. I print 10,000 of these, and we have good success with them in the store and at events. For more serious inquiries on the company, I have a formal press kit prepared with company information and images of our custom builds.

Another tool we utilize is e-mail. We use this as an easy way to communicate regularly with our customers. Our mass e-mails include information similar to what is on my website, including details about upcoming events, new arrivals in the store (bikes, parts and apparel), sales and specials on bikes, and much more.