By Heather Wilson
Customers’ purchase behavior may change over time, but relationships don’t change – if you tend to them. When your customers feel connected to your staff and the dealership brand, they are more likely to purchase from you again and again.
One effective way to develop relationships with customers and to increase awareness of your dealership is to schedule an event. Organize an event designed to encourage people to visit the dealership for an activity that is not just a sale.
Dealership event marketing is not a new concept. But too many dealers do this poorly; events are seldom well-executed by the masses. The key to an event is to ensure it is beneficial for you and your customers. That starts with a strategy. Identify your goal of the event. Please, do not host an event “just because” there is a holiday or because it’s spring. If the event is not well planned around goals, it will be a waste of your time, money and effort.
Your goal might be:
- Educational – show homeowners you’re a helpful resource.
- Community Focused – prove to your neighbors that you support the community.
- Professional – Let pro customers know your connections and expertise.
- Partner Promoting – Team up with another business in town to support local businesses.
- Brand Building – Partner with a manufacturer to improve a relationship.
- Staff Centered – Hold an event to celebrate the work of your people, have them bring friends and family.
Be sure to give yourself enough time to plan, promote and execute the event. I recommend starting three months in advance. You’ll need to reorganize work schedules. You might need to rent tables, chairs, a tent or other party gear. Marketing takes time, especially if you’re printing signage.
To start, think about if your event will take place at the dealership. Is the goal to entice people into the brick-and-mortar store to purchase items? Is it simply to provide value or education for customers about a specific product or service you offer to grow that relationship?
If the event will take place away from the dealership, like at a county fair, is the goal to build awareness of dealership or share resources with potential customers?
After you’ve identified the goals, determine the type of event.
At the Dealership:
- Open house/customer appreciation
- Holiday sale
- Celebration of dealership anniversary
- Season start to promote new products/season end to discount inventory
- Educational workshop/seminar
- Support a charity/cause
Outside of Dealership:
- Vendor event at local business
- Town festival
- Virtual workshop or training
Who is Coming?
Next, you’ll want to think about who or what you can incorporate into the event. Could you invite a professional chainsaw carver to demo his or her skills? Can you work with an industry professional, whether in-house or consultant, to provide a workshop for arborist best practices? Can your dealership staff share residential lawn tips? Be sure to invite your manufacturer sales rep to attend and see if he or she would be willing talk about a certain topic or provide swag for attendees.
Charity events will show the community you care and will drive awareness for your dealership. Perhaps you can partner with a photographer to take pictures at the event, kids on vehicles. Attendees can purchase photos with a percentage of the proceeds going to a charitable cause. That charity will also be likely to share the event information, driving new leads into your dealership.
As you think about planning your own event, attend other business events and make a list of the resources an event will require. I recommend listing out all the “pieces of the puzzle”, then figuring out how they will fit together.
To download a free toolkit that can assist with this process, visit HighGearSuccess.com, or contact Heather Wilson at Heather@HighGearSuccess.com.