By Chloe Banholzer
In the new age of digital media, it seems like advertisers and marketers are pushing you to choose a side. Digital marketing specialists are encouraging you to use e-mail marketing, digital advertising (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads), and devote time to improve your Local SEO. Meanwhile, traditional marketing specialists are recommending you invest in TV, print ads and direct mail. It can be tough to know which side your outdoor power equipment dealership should utilize – especially if you’re considering switching from one side to another. But before you commit to one or the other, I would like to share a secret: you can have the best of both worlds.
Finding the perfect balance between digital and traditional marketing depends on many factors. Your dealership’s physical location, target market, staff resources, and budget all play into which channels are going to work for you.
Think of marketing as a spectrum, with traditional marketing falling on one end, and digital marketing falling on the other. Chances are that your business will fall somewhere in between. In other words, you can “mix and match” your marketing strategies to find the perfect balance between these two sides.
Evaluate your current condition
Assess what you’re doing now, and decide what’s working and what isn’t. If you can’t remember the last time you had a proper evaluation of your marketing strategies, now is the perfect time. If you do yearly marketing reevaluations, fantastic! Your marketing methods should absolutely be assessed each year, as marketing – and your customers’ path to purchase – continues to evolve at the speed of light.
Action item: Review which marketing efforts you’re investing in.
Examine your efforts
Make a list of all the marketing campaigns on which you’ve spent money, and whether or not you’ve been tracking your return on investment (ROI). For example, if you sent out a direct mail campaign in the spring, did you notice a big upswing in sales immediately following? Direct mail can pay off big time. However, it’s also more costly than its digital alternative (e-mail marketing), and therefore should be monitored closely.
Action item: Examine the ROI of every marketing campaign you’ve run in the past year.
After evaluating your list, pinpoint any marketing sore spots. Perhaps your monthly newspaper ads aren’t as effective as you once remember, or maybe the amount of time you’ve spent on improving your SEO hasn’t improved your website leads. It may be time to rethink whether these methods deserve your time and money, or if there’s a better opportunity to capitalize on your resources. Try swapping out your newspaper ads for digital ads that target the demographic you see come through your doors. Consider spending the time you normally devote to SEO on giving direct mail a shot.
Action item: Identify which marketing efforts aren’t worth it, and consider which alternatives are available to replace them.
Keep the good stuff going
It’s important to remember that although investing in certain marketing methods may not have had a direct impact on your sales, there are still certain practices you should never abandon. For example, even if you’ve deemed Local SEO “not worth the time,” there are two necessary, low-maintenance aspects of Local SEO that should always be a part of your marketing checklist: monitoring your online directory info, and replying to your reviews. Your business hours, phone number, and address should always be kept up to date on the major online directories, and responding to online reviews is critical for successful reputation management. Just like keeping your business clean, these things may not directly increase sales, but they do affect the opinion your customers and prospects have of your business.
Action item: Before eliminating a marketing channel from your marketing strategy, consider whether there are any aspects of that channel that may indirectly benefit your business.
Same side, different strategy
It isn’t always necessary to swap out a digital method for a traditional method (or vice versa). Sometimes, allocating budget from one successful method to another means keeping it on the same side. For example, if TV ads seem to pay off big time, but billboards don’t really make a noticeable difference in sales, move the billboard budget over to increase your TV ad frequency. Similarly, you may find e-mail marketing drives more sales than Google AdWords. Invest that time into better targeting and tracking your e-mails, and save some money.
Action Item: If you don’t have the time or resources to experiment with launching a new marketing strategy, try moving the budget from outdated tactics to those that are paying off for your business.
Different sides, same goal
Regardless of which side your current marketing strategy leans toward on the spectrum, all your marketing efforts should work toward the same goal: making your outdoor power equipment business successful. In most cases, a combination of digital and traditional methods that are tracked, monitored and improved upon will help increase sales and deliver the results every business owner desires.
Action item: Keep an eye on your marketing, and check in regularly to ensure everything is going according to plan. Set realistic deadlines for measuring success, and adjust accordingly.
Again, it’s critical that you consider your dealership’s physical location, target market, staff resources, and budget when deciding which marketing channels are worth your time and money. If your dealership is located in small town outside of a large city, putting up a billboard down the block from your dealership probably won’t draw in the city crowd. If your target market is people over the age of 40, direct mail might work better than e-mail. If you only have one staff member dedicated to marketing your dealership, don’t encourage him or her to spend all day writing blogs in the hope of improving your Local SEO. And, finally, if your total marketing budget is less than $500, don’t invest in Google AdWords (try Facebook instead). Considering these factors – along with your experience and limitations – will help you form a customized marketing strategy that is not only balanced, but also successful.
Chloe Banholzer serves as marketing coordinator at ARI Network Services. She’s helped thousands of dealers across the country with their digital marketing through her HelpForce webinars which cover a broad range of topics including search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising, e-mail marketing, and online presence optimization. She’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 26,000 dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”