Bold Idea No. 2 – Immersed in the social [networking] scene

Brands: Ducati, Genuine Scooter
Staff: Sales 3, parts 2-3, service 5.5, admin 2
Sales volume: 250 new and used units in 2009
It’s the old standby marketing approach, but with a completely different twist.
The old approach: Getting exposure for a brand and a dealership amongst an audience who might otherwise never think twice about the two-wheel market. The new twist: Doing so in a way that does not rely or touch upon traditional media.
That effort has been successfully test driven by Ducati Seattle, which has used a partnership with a popular social networking site to launch a marketing promotion at area clubs.
The program works like this: A Facebook site, called Seattle Nightlife, promotes special events going on at popular Seattle area clubs and bars. The site, built and maintained by an area college student, has thousands of fans who frequently check the site to stay in touch with area nightlife. As Ducati Seattle owner David Roosevelt says, if you’re in Seattle and want to find out what’s going on, you log on to Seattle Nightlife.
Through this social networking site, Ducati Seattle has been able to place its bikes at popular city clubs and then promote these special events through the Seattle Nightlife Facebook site and its own social networking sites.
“Ten years ago, we worked so hard on Ducati Seattle, Ducati Seattle and getting that word out there,” Roosevelt said of the store’s marketing efforts. “We’re doing it all over because we’re talking to a whole new generation of people.
“(Ducati North America CEO) Michael Lock pointed out at our last meeting that we’re seeing a new buyer. We’re seeing the guy coming in here buying a 796 Hypermotard who doesn’t want to put a pipe on it, wants it quiet, uses it in the city, dresses differently when he rides the bike. That’s so different.”
To touch this new buyer, Ducati Seattle has made it possible for this consumer to actually touch a Ducati. Roosevelt and his staff will bring one or more of their Ducati models and set it up at the club.
“And I make sure it’s product that I feel comfortable letting people climb onboard,” he said of the bike models, which are secured so they can’t tip when a club-goer climbs aboard. “I’ll let people climb up there, get their pictures taken.
“Within 10 minutes of the club opening, somebody has already uploaded a picture of a Ducati with them sitting on it (to their Facebook page). It’s just amazing.”
The club events can attract hundreds of people so the marketing potential, in Roosevelt’s mind, more than makes up for the possibility of a new model getting scratched at a club.
“If I get a scratch — one of my demos has a scratch on the tank — for the exposure I got from that for zero cost, it’s worth it,” he said.
Roosevelt has worked out an arrangement where he does some motorcycle maintenance work for the college student who maintains the popular Seattle Nightlife site, but otherwise only faces minimal marketing costs as part of the program. He usually develops Ducati Seattle postcards that are given away at the clubs where the bikes are on display.
“Something they can put in their purse or put in their pocket easily,” Roosevelt says of the postcards, which also shows off the Ducati apparel to attract the female consumer. “Something that says, ‘Yes, we’re aware you’re out here. You’re having fun and these bikes represent the hottest thing going in motorcycling right now and it’s cool to be seen on one and come see us.’”
While it’s difficult to track whether this approach is leading to new unit sales yet, the effort has definitely yielded additional interest in the store. Seattle Ducati’s Facebook followers have swelled to more than 2,000 and some of the brick-and-mortar store’s traffic reflect that. Roosevelt noted one recent customer who “sat at one of our bikes at a club and fell in love and brought her friend here (to the dealership) to show him her favorite brand of motorcycles. She had never been in the store before. That’s working. That’s making the connection right there.
“We certainly don’t ignore the obvious consumer who is buying the Ducati brand right now. But let’s keep growing who we want to buy these bikes five years from now. Let’s make sure we’re exposed to them.”

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