The sales cycle extends beyond the season

By Ryan Brown

Seasonal advertising is one of the biggest mistakes powersports dealers are making. Most dealers have been trained or have trained themselves to cancel advertising when the seasons change and sales slow.  I am not talking about shifting your advertising dollars to other mediums or to other products that better fit a season. I am talking about killing your advertising budget when business slows. I see this far too often in our industry.  This is the downfall of the dealership and slow sales when the season picks back up.  Dealerships who win advertise year-round.

Chances are, if you’re in the motorcycle industry it is because you are an enthusiast.  You love motorcycles, ATVs, side-by-sides, Jet Skis, etc.  So even when the weather gets crappy, don’t you still think about riding? Personally, I think at least one time per day about riding my motorcycle, EVEN when it is snowing out. And I would be willing to bet you do too. It is who we are and it is in our DNA, we are enthusiasts. Does it not make sense to advertise year-round? Your customers are still thinking about the things you sell daily. Why not remind them daily that we are in their market and ready to earn their business?

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe a customer is not ready to buy, but he or she is constantly thinking about that tax return check coming in the spring? That customer is constantly thinking of the new motorcycle he or she is going to be riding all next summer.  So be the first store that comes to mind when he or she is ready to buy.  So that they don’t miss these customers, dealers should spread their ad budget over the year and stay in the game, instead of putting all ad budget into just the peak months.  This allows them to be consistently in front of their customers and ultimately earn their business.

The danger in turning on and off your advertising is that one month a customer may see several of your ads.  However, when you turn off your advertising and they don’t see your ads they may search for someone else to shop with. They might even think you went out of business. Worse, turning off your advertising creates an opportunity for your competition to capitalize on your weakness.

The other challenge I have seen is that dealers do not plan their annual advertising far enough in advance. Dealers will typically wait until it slows down later this fall to plan for their 2018 advertising budget -- some might even wait until January 2018.  I suggest start planning NOW.  This will allow you to budget your funds for the entire year and execute a better plan to stay consistent in your advertising. 

No worries if you are one of these dealers and don’t feel bad.  But now is a great time to make that change. We know we must invest in our business and advertise to let people know where to buy.  If we don’t, the competition will beat us. 

So here are my 5 tips to a successful ad campaign:

  • Adjust your current budget to finish off the second half of 2017 with a consistent ad campaign.
  • Begin planning your 2018 Budget NOW.
  • In your plan, budget for the full 12 months. Not the 6-7 months that are strong for your business.  Spend more in the heavy months but still leave enough budget allocated for even the slowest of months.
  • Study the buying habits of your consumer and know that often a buying process starts months before they even walk into your store. The buying process for many consumers begins even in the winter months.
  • Consult pros to better understand best practices. If you need assistance in setting up an advertising plan for the entire year, consider hiring an agency to manage this for you.  Ultimately you will WIN.

Imagine your dealership thriving, selling more, making money, employing more and ultimately strengthening the industry.  Advertising MUST be a YEAR-ROUND strategy in your store if you want to grow and WIN. 

Ryan Brown is vice president of powersports at Big Time Advertising, a digital advertising agency focused solely on the powersports industry. Ryan has over 15 years of experience in the powersports industry as a rep and GM of a national top 10 multi-line dealership. He uses his knowledge of the powersports industry and digital advertising to put together winning advertising plans that deliver more leads to dealerships across the country.

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