The amount of money spent on marketing products and services often depends on the size of the dealership. The majority of outdoor power equipment dealers (88 percent) spend up to 3 percent of their total dealership sales on marketing. Smaller dealerships, naturally, are more likely to spend less than 2 percent of their annual sales on marketing.
According to the survey results, the majority of dealership marketing dollars are spent on advertising in the form of newspaper ads and inserts, Yellow Page listings and dealership websites. One dealer who participated in the survey swore by using the Yellow Pages and their website in a dual effort to reach consumers, saying, "I always use the Yellow Pages and web because practically everyone has a phone or computer."
Using both techniques helps reach the traditional customer who will page through the Yellow Pages or newspaper ads, along with the consumer of today who is more likely to search the Internet for what they view as their best choice in a dealer. Nearly 50 percent of dealers surveyed primarily advertise in one of these three forms.
While the three marketing techniques mentioned above are the most common and have proved effective for many
dealers, there are other ways to get results. For instance, direct mailing puts the customer in direct contact with the ad or flyer itself.
"Direct mail flyers are our most effective form of marketing by far," one dealer shares. "The consumer is forced to manually process the mail in his mailbox, therefore giving the flyer more face time." Another dealer agreed that direct mail is great way to reach out to consumers, saying, "Direct mail is a great way to reach out to the customers that already support us."
The success of a marketing effort often relies on the dealership's surrounding area or the area to which they are marketing. What might work well in a highly populated area could return fewer results in a neighborhood with little traffic. "My business is located on a busy interstate highway," one dealer illustrates. "Parking our equipment outside on the parking lot near the access road is our most effective form of
This particular dealer has his employees spend roughly 45 minutes a day hauling equipment in and out. In an area with less traffic, these efforts may not be worth the sales they would bring in. Dealers should consider their target audience and think about surveying their current customers to see what catches their attention best.
One tool for marketing that works in all regions is word of mouth. The praise of satisfied customers promoting quality service received at a dealership is both cost effective and successful. "The most effective advertising for us is our customers themselves," one dealer shares. "Referrals make up a large part of our new customers. If you make a customer happy, and they tell others, it is much better than just placing an ad." Dealers can enjoy the gratification of referrals by simply continuing to provide high levels of customer satisfaction and encouraging referrals with small discounts on service, parts or equipment.
There are the tried and true marketing techniques like word of mouth, and then there are the new and more creative approaches dealers are beginning to try. Using unconventional forms of marketing can surprise a customer, alerting them of the equipment and services available in a form they are not used to.
A trend in marketing that would be smart to follow is ensuring that the marketing itself is focused. Concentrating on areas where desired consumers are located and targeting the right audience can result in better sales leads. "Print ads placed in regional or customer-specific publications can provide a great return on the advertising dollar," one dealer advises. To examine where the target audience may be, ask current customers for their zip codes and see where the more concentrated areas lie.
An increasingly more common strategy for marketing is dealer-hosted open houses. Dealers are often inviting current or prospective customers to visit their dealerships and try out the equipment offered.
To approach the open house idea more aggressively, dealers should consider the tow and show. Dealers or salesmen, along with their equipment, visit the customer's property where they are able to demo the equipment. Seeing how the product handles their needs and noticing the trouble the dealer went through are great selling points.
Once the initial sale is made, there is also an opportunity for clever marketing. Dealers can offer small discounts on a return for service or the purchase of more equipment. Placing a courteous phone call asking how the customer enjoyed their experience is another way to follow up with marketing. "We do a lot of phone calls," one dealer shares. "The phone calls are a great way to stay connected to your customer. A friendly phone call once or twice a year means a lot to most people."
Some manufacturers today are putting a stronger emphasis on supplying dealers with new advertising materials and tools as well as creating national advertising campaigns. While the assistance from manufacturers can help tremendously, dealers likely know their market area best and have greater control over the marketing efforts. Dealers should carefully research their markets and develop marketing plans that compliment the manufacturers' services while demonstrating cost effectiveness as well as sales success.