BY KENSEY EDWARDS
Let’s call a spade a spade — motorcycle buyers can be tough. They think they know exactly what they want before they even step through the doors of your dealership, and they definitely know what they want to pay for their next ride. While you may be able to change their mind once you have them on your floor, across the board, cycle consumers are some of the most brand loyal buyers we’ve ever seen.
One thing to keep in mind before we dive in — these buyers are brand loyal when it comes to the manufacturers they ride, not necessarily the dealerships they purchase from. In fact, 79 percent of buyers said they don’t feel the need to buy their next bike from the same dealership where they bought their previous bike. But, because these riders show such a propensity to be loyal, you can use their loyalty to your advantage and create a brand experience for your dealership that resonates with your customers and brings them back purchase after purchase.
Thankfully, motorcycling for the most part is passion-based, so you don’t have to convince buyers to be excited about what you’re offering. They’re going to be passionate whether you’re involved or not — now the trick is just keeping their attention focused on you. And there are two ways to approach building up your brand — from a data perspective and from a branding perspective.
From a data standpoint, buyers told us that they’re looking for the best price, but we knew that already. They’re always on the hunt for a deal. What we thought was interesting about the data was that the other categories, ranging from a service department’s reputation to financing options to community reputation, all ranked closely together. Price will always play a factor, but buyers are looking beyond it. They want a dealership that can be with them through their riding life, letting them spend more time out on the road. These are all things you should highlight about yourself early and often for potential buyers. Tell them on your website, on your social channels, and in person. Help them see what it makes you stand out from the competition, and phrase it in a way that makes it easy for them to understand, because all this info can be a lot — especially if they're new to riding.
As for keeping them coming back, the main reason riders said they were loyal was because of sales (35 percent) and service (28 percent). Again, not a huge surprise. These are things that weigh heavy on their mind, and they want a dealership that can be there for them. We were impressed to see the number of riders who look for a dealership to engage them after the purchase (12 percent) and provide them with resources (9 percent). These are both actionable things that you can do aside from lowering your price and providing the best service — and it goes back to consumers looking for that community. You can’t undersell your competition every time, so how do you keep a rider’s attention anyway? That’s where branding comes in.
Branding is certainly not only forbig, national brands. Some of themost successful brands are small, local organizations that are rallying a geo-targeted audience for support. So all the same things you see these brands trying you should consider too. Remember, buyers are looking for something to follow along with, so push yourself to use imagery beyond the literal, showing your buyers more than just what’s for sale. Include images of units being used, pictures without units at all focusing more on the lifestyle — or giving consumers an inside peek at your dealership and all the goofiness and work that happens there. Give them something to connect with. Something that resonates with them and makes them want to follow along. Mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery, so check out other companies: in your area and nationwide, in your industry and outside, to see what’s working for other businesses and then adapt that strategy for yourself.
The ultimate goal is to connect with consumers in an emotional way, subconsciously instilling value and trust for your brand because that’s what drives loyalty, growth and advocacy. Brands have staying power. It’s why they are so important. There is always the possibility of someone else coming along that can do what you do, maybe even for less. But it’s the brand and the emotional connection you’re working to develop with your followers, that is designed to withstand the competition. The stronger you make your dealership’s brand — the stronger you are.
The ultimate goal is to combine these two things: branding and data. Buyers will know you’re working to address their needs, but also be inspired by the fun and interesting brand you’ve built.
Kensey Edwards is the content manager for Cycle Trader, an online marketplace connecting powersports buyers to sellers. In her role, Edwards focuses on consumer research and trends in the ever-changing digital landscape — and translates those insights into content and education to help dealers compete in the broader powersports industry.