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Event Attendance leads to big April sales in Alaska

For Delta Powersports of Delta Junction, Alaska, the month of April is the best month out of the entire year for unit sales. 

But owner Josh Lawhorne doesn’t just sit around and wait for door swings during the dealership’s best sale month. Rather, in order to generate brand exposure and get deposits on new snowmobiles, he and several of his employees set up shop at a trio of April events throughout the state: Tailgate Alaska, Arctic Man and the Fairbanks Outdoor Show. 

The snowmobile-riding season in Alaska typically extends into April and May; on the other hand, it’s highly unlikely that a snowmobile dealership in Michigan or Minnesota will have its best month in April. Even so, Lawhorne made the conscious decision to attend and host more events in 2013, and it has paid huge dividends since. 

“We’ve tripled our snow checks in the last four or five years since we started attending these events and having more of an active selling presence at these events — it’s really made a difference,” Lawhorne told Powersports Business

What’s more, the dealership has a strong social media presence surrounding the events, posting plenty of multimedia content when in attendance, much of which is done by the Delta riding team. This serves to reach those who weren’t at the event, in addition to those who were. 

Delta Powersports ended up with about 14 snow checks from attending the Tailgate Alaska and Arctic Man snowmobile events. Photo courtesy of Delta Powersports

“It’s all about exposure, and getting your name out — we’re big on the social media side of things. We really believe in that and in our riding team, having them share our stuff,” Lawhorne said.

At both Tailgate Alaska and Arctic Man, demo rides helped drive sales and follow-ups for Delta Powersports. At Tailgate Alaska, which took place March 30-April 8, the dealership and its riding team helped Ski-Doo run demo rides for its 2019 models. After the rides, the dealership collected contact information and was able to follow up with the potential customers. 

While the 2019 Ski-Doo demo truck wasn’t at Arctic Man, Delta Powersports brought its own demo snowmobiles for the 10,000-plus attendees who made it out to Paxson, Alaska, from April 9-15. Between both events, Lawhorne said he got about 14 deposits on new units. 

At Arctic Man, the dealership also hosted a snow side-by-side race for the first time, which was sponsored by Can-Am. While many of the entrants were current customers of Delta Powersports, the race generated new customers as well.

While there were no demo rides or races at the Fairbanks Outdoor Show, Lawhorne said the indoor expo is one of his most important events of the year. Delta Powersports partners with the host venue, the Carlson Center, to raffle an accessorized side-by-side. The raffle helps generate leads for the dealership, while it also leads to the venue giving them a prominent location on the arena floor. 

As other powersports dealers attend the Fairbanks Outdoor Show, Lawhorne seeks to help Delta stand out with the raffle giveaway. 

On average, Delta Powersports chalks up about 60 snowmobile sales each spring for next year’s models. Lawhorne estimates that about 30-35 of them come from the events the dealership attends around the state. Although he admits that it’s difficult to quantify with precision, as they’re still fielding calls from Fairbanks Outdoor Show.

In the future, Delta Powersports will continue to have a heavy presence at these, and a number of other events throughout the year. But according to Lawhorne, Delta wants to grow its presence on the racing side. As previously mentioned, the dealership already has a riding team that competes throughout the state, in addition to helping out with events and social media. They garner exposure for the brand with their own racing, but Lawhorne is more interested in holding more races — in addition to the mud-bog and mud-cross races it already hosts — and establishing relationships with riders new to the sport.

  “We’re very convinced that you have to be out there doing that and providing a place for people to come and race competitively but also race for fun — to get them into the field. Once they get in there they’re customers for life,” Lawhorne said.

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