By Chloe Banholzer
The following are the top five marketing tactics for outdoor power equipment dealers:
- Adding inventory to your website
As an outdoor power equipment dealer, keeping your website inventory updated is the number-one marketing tactic you can use to improve your equipment and parts sales. Beyond traditional billboards, direct mail, or even TV ads, dealers must have a website that is easy to navigate and provides customers with the information they need to make a buying decision. Why? Because roughly 80 percent of consumers search for your business online before deciding whether they will visit your dealership or make a purchase. Dishing out big bucks for things like print ads or Every Door Direct Mail without having an online resource for customers to search for could mean you’re flushing money down the drain.
Your website functions like a job interview for your business, where your customers are the “interviewer,” and the “job” is your business having what the customers need. When searching for, or researching your business, the number-one thing customers want to know is what brands, products and services your dealership offers. It is critical that you keep your inventory up to date, so customers know that you do (or don’t) offer what they’re looking for. It shows customers that you take their needs seriously, and that you are a professional business that has its shi…stuff together. Remember: your website is your online dealership, and should mimic an in-store experience as much as possible.
- Including detailed information on your “Services” page and voicemail
Not only does keeping your customers informed upfront help answer their questions quickly, but it also saves you and your team a lot of time. If customers are consistently calling to ask what brands you service, whether you offer pickup/drop off services, or what hours your service center is open, it’s time to form a “FAQ” snippet for your website and voicemail.
Unsure of how to get started, or what questions your customers most frequently call about? Ask your team to make a list of the common questions they answer on a regular basis, and then include answers to those questions on your website or department voicemail. This can greatly reduce the number of customers who call with the same question, and, in turn, eliminate the need for your staff to waste time calling customers back with the same answer. You’ll most likely still get a few people who call to ask these questions anyway, but you’ll be troubleshooting for a majority.
The reason we promote this as a marketing tactic to our dealers is because it “markets” your business’s services and offerings to your customers. It’s often said that the best marketing is education, and educating your customers about what you offer will help you make more sales and increase your dealership’s profits.
- Adding custom content to your website
This tactic boils down to making sure your dealership stands out. As we’ve learned, most small business customers are ROBO (research online, buy offline) customers. That means they’re not just researching your business, they’re researching other businesses, too.
Remember the job interview comparison I made earlier? Well, your competition is also being interviewed. If they’ve added custom content telling their customer “interviewer” important details about their business – such as the products and services they offer, their involvement in the community, and detailed customer testimonials – and your website lacks in one of more of these areas, it’s likely that they could come out as a top candidate. Don’t forget to include your USP (unique selling point) on your website – this is what helps your stand out from your competitors, and is important to small-business shoppers. Are you family owned? Do you sponsor events or teams? Do you have certified repair technicians? Offer amazing guarantees? Let your customers know!
- Using e-mail marketing
Free, fast and effective are three words that best describe e-mail marketing for most outdoor power equipment dealers. E-mail marketing is something you can do either in-house (if you have the time or knowledge) or with a partner company that understands your industry. Sending your customers fresh content (new inventory and used inventory) two to four times per month can deliver big results for dealers like you. Strategies like segmentation (dividing your e-mail audience based on what they’re interested in or what they’ve bought in the past) have helped ARI dealers sell over 80 percent of their advertised stock with just one campaign.
If you’re just getting started, research e-mail marketing providers, like MailChimp or Constant Contact, that offer free e-mail sends up to a certain amount of contacts. Then start collecting e-mails from your website’s lead forms and in-store customers. Asking customers for e-mail addresses doesn’t have to be hard. The best time to ask is at the point of sale, and be sure to let the customer know you’d like to send them coupons and special discounts. Getting something in return for their e-mail makes it easy for you to ask, and easy for them to share.
- Investing in digital advertising
Digital advertising, specifically Google AdWords, is your “fast pass” to showing up first on the Google search results page. In fact, 2018 showed record AdWords clicks – more than half of clicks go to ads, beating out organic local results. This is great news for those of you who simply cannot afford the time and effort it takes to maintain perfect SEO techniques.
While digital advertising has many great perks, such as only charging you when a customer actually clicks your ad, it’s worth noting the importance of the word “investing” in the title. AdWords is an investment – we recommend dealers start with a minimum budget of $500 per month. Not to mention, AdWords is a complicated beast, and we highly encourage that dealers work with a trained specialist who knows the proper strategies and keywords to implement to get your dealership the results you want.
If $500 is out of your budget range, try experimenting with Facebook. We’ve seen mixed results for dealers – some report excellent results, and some say they’ve never made a sale despite multiple attempts on this platform. The good news here: Facebook ads are relatively cheap and easy to set up, so experimenting with a few $20 ads and seeing how they work for your business will not break the bank.
Chloe Banholzer serves as marketing coordinator at ARI Network Services. 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 23,500 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”