Let’s start with the commonly-accepted definition of CRM – Customer Relationship Management – and take a fresh look at it. The definition implies that the relationship begins after a consumer actually buys something and becomes a customer. For dealers, that is fairly accurate in terms of sales and service. But for OEMs, who make most of their marketing investment prior to purchase in an effort to drive consumers to dealers (who hopefully convert them into customers), CRM is virtually non-existent.
In the OEM/Dealer/Consumer love triangle, the OEM-Dealer relationship is well established. Equally well established is the Dealer-Consumer relationship. What should be noted is that the OEM-Consumer relationship is usually the weakest.
Consequently, it is the Dealer who “owns” the relationship with the consumer. The OEM relies heavily on the Dealer to interact directly with the consumer, usher them through the purchase funnel from lead conversion to repeat buyer, and manage the experience.
There is nothing wrong with the current arrangement. However, OEMs need to take a more active role in cultivating brand-to-consumer relationships. Why?
- Consumers Expect It — With the advent of social media and online communications, consumers now expect companies to know more about them than they know about the company.
- You Promised It — Brand promises, whether explicit or implied (“most comfortable”, “revs your heart”, “so worth it”), are taken seriously by consumers and therefore they expect you – not the dealer – to honor your commitment.
- You Asked For It — Consumers are constantly being asked to like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or visit an OEM’s website. Then what?
- It Pays — A skeptic may say CRM stands for Can’t Really Measure, and admittedly trying to determine a collective ROI for CRM can be elusive. So ask yourself the following:
- Do you know who your best customers are at the Personally Identifiable Information level (PII)? In other words, at the household/name/address level.
- Do you know who is most likely to buy your product for the first time? Second time? Every time?
- Do you know who is a multi-unit buyer? A one-time buyer? A used-only buyer?
- Do you know what else they own? Competitive brands? Other recreational power sport products? The type of automobile? A waterfront home?
- Do you know at the Individual/Household Level your product owner’s demographics? Past purchase behavior? Attitudinal characteristics? Media habits? Channel/message preference?
- Do you know the lifetime value of an individual owner? Currently? Potentially?
- Do you know how many look-alike prospects there are? Where they are located?
- Do you know the quality of the consumers your advertising/marketing is attracting?
Answering these questions may seem daunting and potentially expensive. The fact is, you can start answering some questions immediately, while incrementally improving your lead generation and conversion to sales. Here is a proven approach:
Crawl — First, take a look at whom you’ve attracted so far. You can start with your owner database (see note below) and match it to Info-Link, a company that maintains a database of watercraft owners, to help further identify owners at the individual level, and enhance it with a wealth of demographic, lifestyle and attitudinal information. This will make it possible to:
- Validate brand research/personas
- Quantify the prospect universe in your trade area
- Plan media based on channel/offer/message preferences
- Reach individuals directly and begin building brand preference/commitment
Walk — Next, determine whom your best customers and prospects are by using statistical profiling, segmentation and predictive modeling. This will make it possible to:
- Identify who is most-likely to respond/purchase your product
- Target consumers based on “win-ability” and ROI
- Drive high quality leads to dealers, then track, measure and analyze results
- Eliminate barriers to purchase in targeting (affordability, lifestyle, proximity to water, category experience, etc.) and filter out consumers unlikely convert
Run — Finally, determine who will have the greatest impact on your business. This will make it possible to:
- Determine Lifetime Value (LTV) potential
- Invest differentially (not all consumers/customers are created equal)
- Communicate with one voice across multiple media channels/points of contact
- Respond quickly to event triggers (competitive activity, dealer interactions, social media & word-of-mouth activity, online behavior—even weather)
- Turn brand enthusiasts into brand evangelists
By building and cultivating relationships with consumers at every stage of the purchase funnel, the OEM is also building and cultivating better relationships with the dealers by providing them with better quality leads on a more consistent basis. This not only helps dealers generate incremental revenue through re-sell/upsell/cross-sell, but they can also better manage consumer expectations. It truly is a “win-win-win,” because the consumer is also recognized for their value and is treated accordingly.
Now is the time to start down this path, since each action helps deliver better results and should more than pay for itself. The data, tools and proven methods are readily available. More importantly, consumers are expecting it—perhaps even demanding it.
Dan Roglin is a partner at Incite Marketing, where he specializes in helping companies improve their CRM. For more than eight years, he worked with BRP’s Sea-Doo brand while at their lead agency.