Five Back to School Lessons for High Performing Dealers

Rod Stuckey | 08/19/2019

It’s hard to believe Summer is winding down and school is cranking back up. Every year around this time I remind myself of the importance of sticking with the fundamentals in business and marketing.  The basics of “blocking and tackling” are not as fun and attractive as the trick plays, but in the long run they always pay off.

Often, we have dealers tell us things like: “Social media is where it’s at,” “We only do digital marketing,” “Direct mail doesn’t work,” and “YouTube is the place to be,” etc. The fundamental truth is that the media chosen is just one part of the equation. Just because it’s new or bright and shiny doesn’t necessarily make it the best way to invest your limited marketing budget. 

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at back-to-school lesson one: Determine what the goal of your marketing is (this particular marketing campaign or month, quarter, year). 

The only four ways your Dealership can grow is:

1. Increase the number of new prospects generated.

2. Improve the frequency of visits from regular customers and reactivate lost customers.

3. Boost the conversion rate of prospects to customers.

4. Raise the average value of each customer.

With quality marketing, plus quality training, all four ways can be accomplished simultaneously. By focusing on these four objectives when making your plan you can begin to gain clarity and focus in an otherwise overwhelming and cluttered plethora of options.

Back-to-school lesson two: Don’t make the mistake of focusing all your efforts and budget just trying to accomplish #1, getting new customers. This is so common. Dealers assume that their existing customers are already loyal and no additional marketing to them is required. Wrong, wrong, wrong. A significant portion of your budget should be allocated to #2. Your customers want to feel like they belong to something, that their business is appreciated, and if left untouched can feel apathy and easily be lured away by your competitors.


Back-to-school lesson three: Your online reputation matters. Consider this. Nearly everyone of your customers is researching your products and services online prior to purchasing. Even if they are an existing customer and stumble upon multiple negative reviews it could impact your business. The consumer’s ability to post online reviews on their smart phones while still standing in your showroom floor creates a very transparent customer satisfaction environment. All other advertising, whether intentional or not, usually directs your customers and prospects to the web. Therefore, if your online reviews are negative, then all other marketing dollars are wasted. If you don’t have a pro-active reputation management service like we offer you need to get one. 

Back-to-school lesson four: All marketing must focus on the right message, to the right target audience, via the right media, at the right time. We call these four critical components of your marketing the Four-Legged Stool. If one leg of your marketing falters it can easily collapse your entire effort. First is a compelling message. It’s what you say about your dealership, yourself, and your products and how you say it. The features, the benefits, the offer, the call to action, and the deadline are all critical pieces of your message. Why should your customer buy from you versus any and every other available option? 

The next leg in the stool is your target audience. Who specifically are you trying to reach? With less than 6% of households owning a powersports product it’s very easy waste a lot of money marketing to those not interested. How can you most effectively ensure that the money you’re spending on marketing is reaching those most likely to respond?

The third leg in the stool is the method of delivery. The media choices are overwhelming from radio, TV, movie theater commercials, direct mail, social media, Google Ads, etc. What media will you choose to send your message in an efficient and affordable manner without wasting money marketing through in-effective and wasteful media to those disinterested? 

And the final leg is timing. By hitching your wagon to relevant information in the customer’s day-to-day life and current ownership cycle you can significantly boost your response by making the message much more compelling. Holidays, birthdays, service reminders, new product launches, etc. are all timing related messages that can significantly strengthen response. 

Back-to-school lesson five: Your marketing should be designed to not only capitalize on those in the market to buy now, but to also establish the desire for purchase for those NOT currently in the market. In today’s market many of your prospects are not just undecided about whether or not to buy from you, but undecided about whether or not to buy at all. And this is one reason that most dealer (and OEM) advertising has a serious flaw. The ad is built under the assumption that the person is already committed to, or is currently shopping for a new vehicle. Thus, the advertising assumes the decision to buy and focuses on product, place, and price. Few back up one very important step to first establish the desire, and therefore ad spend is underutilized. It is the equivalent of trying to sell burgers to an audience with no appetite. 

This is one of the BIG differences in our new Bullseye multi-channel marketing system. It not only accomplishes the critical objective of backing up one step to establish the desire for new and used units, but does it for P &A, MotorClothes® and Service too. All in one integrated campaign. 

Here at Powersports Marketing we’re committed to these basics in everything we do. If we can’t incorporate these fundamentals, we don’t do it. Period. For more information contact us at 877-242-4472.

PSM Marketing

825 Highway 74 South
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Tel: (877) 242-4472
Int: (770) 692-1750
Text: (770) 692-1750