What dealers want to know about marketing

Top 5 questions OPE dealers have about marketing

By Chris Damico

At ARI, dealers reach out to us with their marketing questions every day. Now that the world of marketing has seemingly split into “traditional marketing” and “digital marketing,” dealers have some new questions that we’re going to shine a spotlight on.

Here are 5 critical questions (and their answers) that we thought you’d like to know.

Q: How important is it to have a written marketing plan? I feel like it helps to keep structure and accountability for the team but have experienced some resistance. Any advice?
— Heather

A: You’re right to advocate for a written marketing plan. It will help you to be specific about what your business is trying to accomplish and create a universal set of goals for your team.

Your plan can take several forms. You can use resources online; build it in a spreadsheet, Word document or PowerPoint; or simply jot it down with an old-fashioned pen and paper. At the end of the day, you’re not going to be able to measure results if you don’t figure out what you’re trying to accomplish and whether you’re getting something out of your time and money!

Q: Is there a realistic balance between digital and traditional marketing?
— John

A: Yes, but that balance can be different for each business. The most important step to successful marketing is to establish the goals you have for your business. Once you’ve done that, take a look at what you’ve been doing recently regarding traditional marketing: billboards, Yellow Pages, radio, direct mail and all other options. Finally, consider whether you’re getting a fair return from these channels.

For example, maybe you spent $3,000-$4,000 on a postcard campaign and made two sales. You might have some return on investment, but what could you be doing in terms of digital marketing methods that could generate the same result, but for less of an upfront cost? Don’t necessarily think of it as digital here and traditional over there. What can you do to reach your goals?

One of the interesting things about incorporating digital media into your marketing mix is that most of the traditional channels focus on customer acquisition: getting the word out about your business. Digital, on the other hand, adds a few more tools to the tool kit in that it drives engagement and conversion (which takes some weight off your sales staff). You can use traditional methods to get people in the top of the funnel, and then use digital methods to pull them through to a conversion.

As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, digital marketing gives you the ability to clearly track the results of your efforts, allowing you to invest in initiatives that drive results and move away from those that don’t deliver. Just think about ways that you can use your different marketing tools, both digital and traditional, to help get the message out in the appropriate fashion.

Reminder: Make sure to keep your tone and message consistent throughout channels. Don’t say one thing on a billboard and something completely different on a pay-per-click ad. You’ll confuse people who may see your ad online telling them one thing, but then the next morning, they’ll see your billboard telling them something completely different.

Q: Traditional marketing is more difficult to track than digital. Can you share a method where we can tie a traditional marketing campaign down to a sale?
— Jeff

A: There are a couple of things you can do in terms of creating offers in your traditional advertising or marketing. Try using a different coupon, discount code, or “mention this keyword” on different pieces of material, which will allow you to directly tie back a traditional campaign to a sale. Another method for tracking traditional campaigns is to invest in a service that allows you to place a different call-in number on each piece of traditional marketing material. This will allow you to measure how customers are responding to each campaign. Choosing your method all depends on where you’re looking to drive the customers.

If you’re unable to use keywords, phone numbers or specific landing pages, look at your sales the first week after your campaign is launched. One week allows enough time for mail to be delivered or an audience to register a change of billboard. When you get customers in through your doors, ask them how they heard about the sale or your business in general.

Reminder: Do not attempt to drive traffic with Quick Response (QR) codes. Make it easy for the customer; a simple URL will suffice. Don’t add extra barriers or try to use “cool” technology just for the sake of it.

Q: How do you figure out how much traditional advertising is driving people to you from digital marketing sources? For example, they saw a billboard, so they Google the business name.
— Kyle

A: In general, this type of customer acquisition can be a little tricky to track. It’s not an organic lead because something, somewhere drove that person to your business. It’s what’s known as attribution, and it falls into your budget for brand awareness. If you’re putting your business out there via radio, posters, billboards, etc., and you see your sales rise, you’re doing your job. Those things are creating awareness about your business, and in response, you’re gaining leads and customers.

One way to potentially measure this type of customer acquisition is to visit your Google Analytics page and view your new versus return visitors. You can see if someone new has found your business by typing in your dealership name, searched a general business category (i.e. Outdoor Power Equipment dealer near me), or see if they’ve come back to your page from a previous time.

Q: What key performance indicators (KPIs) are good to use when presenting results from digital marketing tactics to those that may not understand the field, but still want the information? Hypothetically, CEOs, CFOs, etc. Are there perhaps traditional marketing methods that accept KPIs that can be used for comparison to make the data easier to understand?
— Kimberly

A: The exciting thing about digital marketing is that it’s better than any traditional marketing medium in terms of being able to do things like calculate the return you’re getting from the money you’re spending. You can use all the regular business metrics you’re looking to report on (return on spend, return on investment, return on marketing, etc). The most challenging part is determining what you want to call a transaction or conversion, because that’s what your reports are based on.

Whether it’s pay-per-click or social media or email marketing, as long as you have a clear definition of what a conversion is, you can map out where each conversion is coming from. I encourage evaluating and tracking what your spend is by channel, defining the earliest possible metric that can be used to represent an engagement or actual return for your business (even if it’s at the very top of the funnel), and then increasingly pushing that further down the pipeline to where you can connect the dots.

Hopefully, this dealer Q&A offered you some insights and will help you create a strong, well-rounded marketing strategy that will deliver maximum conversions on all channels (both old and new).

Chris Damico is the marketing manager at ARI Network Services. He’s helped hundreds of dealers across the country with their digital marketing, including the content and search engine optimization (SEO) of their websites, social media presence and advertising and email marketing campaigns. He’s dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”