Nov. 2, 2009 – Getting on the right marketing track

By Karin Gelschus
Associate Editor
Rather than spend millions trying to attract consumers currently not in the industry, KTM is focusing its marketing efforts on its enthusiasts.
That plan calls for additional track days as well as more frequent online touches, including the manufacturer’s growing Facebook crowd.
Overseeing those efforts will be KTM’s new vice president of marketing, Eva Mitsche, who also will be involved in the company’s dealer development. Mitsche has worked in numerous areas with KTM, including dealer development in Spain, marketing in Portugal and launching a subsidiary in Central East Europe, which includes Solvakia, the Czeck Republic, Romania, Hungaria and Poland. Last December, Mitsche was asked to take on KTM North America’s marketing.
“It’s such a big market, including Canada and Mexico,” she said. “I’m only now, after a half a year, getting to know how the market works here.”

Track days
KTM believes the most effective way to keep its customers is through track days, so it launched the Skip Barber Superbike School in May at Mazda Raceway in Laguna Seca, Calif. It’s a two-day school designed to help riders improve their overall riding skills as well as their ability to handle a variety of bikes.
It alternates on- and off-track classroom sessions as well as on-track riding sessions. The sessions teach a systematic way to ride any motorcycle safely, accurately and predictably. The school also offers video lap reviews and critiques with on-bike cameras to provide concrete feedback and help visualize a rider’s progress “We would like to make it bigger,” Mitsche said of the attendance. To draw attention to the school, Mitsche says they’re introducing KTM’s moto street bikes this month at Laguna Seca.
“Our street dealers will be able to ride our whole street model range for the first time, which includes the 990 SMT, 990 SMR and RC8R – three completely new models for the street lineup.
“The street market is going to be a new task in the future in terms of marketing and dealer development,” Mitsche said. “In the beginning, I’ll calculate we’ll have 50 street dealers.”

Dealer involvement
About a third of Mitsche’s job consists of dealer development, and through that role, she has discovered the importance of on-site research.
“The most important thing is to be out there on the dealer floor and understand their marketing needs,” Mitsche said. “For me, internal research is important, but you have to be out in the field to understand.
“For example, we were producing posters, but then I went to some dealers and they said they weren’t using them because they don’t have the space. (The posters) cost us a ton of money and they’re not using them, so why would we produce them?”
Communication between the dealers and manufacturer will help KTM become more successful in its marketing, says Mitsche.
“Communication was a little bit separated over the departments, and I think the most important thing is to work together with all the departments: motor sports, marketing, dealer development,” she said. “It’s important to get those departments together to get it right. If one area is saying, ‘Hey I’m not selling this bike or I need a promotion on this bike,’ we need to know those things.”
Mitsche says KTM North America is on the right track, and now it’s about getting the headquarters to see exactly what the subsidiary needs. After all, there are considerable differences between the North American and European markets. “Marketing in terms of motor sports and also the dealer structure is completely different,” she said. “We need a different system. It starts with racing. For example, they have their own world motocross champions in Europe. If I look at the North American market, it’s not the same at all. The heroes in Europe aren’t even known in the North American market.”

With the goal of keeping KTM enthusiasts constantly excited and involved, Mitsche says they’re developing a larger online presence. KTM has jumped on the social networking bandwagon, and in less than a month, KTM USA had more than 1,000 fans on Facebook.
“We’re trying to get closer to customers through direct mailings and online questionnaires,” she said. “It’s been quite successful.”
With the online push, Mitsche says they’ve cut back on traditional advertising and have done more Web advertising through resources like Facebook, YouTube and banner ads. Mitsche adds that it’s all in an effort to get closer to the KTM enthusiast.

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