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All hands on deck for bike promotion

Marketing outside the box can go a long way toward building a dealership’s customer base.

Take Motorcycle Mall of Belleville, N.J., for example. For the past two years, the dealership has capitalized on the passenger ferry traffic generated by the International Motorcycle Show at the Javits Center in New York City. The New Jersey.-based ferry transports passengers directly to the IMS on the West Side of NYC. And with a majority of show attendees coming from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and parts of New York — the dealership’s target market — it proved to be a prime opportunity to introduce the retailer to thousands of pre-qualified motorcycle and powersports enthusiasts before they even entered the convention center.

So in January, the dealership displayed nearly a dozen 2013 Suzuki motorcycles at the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal in Weehawken, N.J. This year, the dealership added a twist to the promotion by giving away a brand new 2009 Suzuki C50 LE, listed at $7,499. With 15,000-20,000 potential customers all to themselves over three days, Motorcycle Mall and Suzuki had elevated their status among respective competitors.

“We gained sales leads and customers last year, but with the giveaway it was an even more effective way to gain more contact information from tri-state area powersports enthusiasts,” said Rich Gonnello, Motorcycle Mall’s director of marketing and communications.

The dealership promoted the event via its Enewsletter, which has 5,000 subscribers. The New York Waterway’s Enewsletter touted the promotion to another 45,000 subscribers of its own. Throw in an effective social media campaign, and the result was a resounding success again in Year 2 for the multi-line dealership, which also carries Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda, Aprilia, Vespa, Piaggio, Moto Guzzi, Polaris, Victory, Can-Am, Sea-Doo, Ski-Doo and KYMCO.

Motorcycle Mall showcased its Suzuki bike giveaway at the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal. Passengers take the ferry to the IMS in New York City.

“I thought of the ferry terminal idea because as a consumer, I always would go to the Ferry Terminal to get to IMS,” Gonnello said. “I put my consumer hat on and said, ‘What else can we do that really moves the needle?’ Where can we be that we could capture pre-qualified consumers? With only 2-3 percent of the population being a motorcycle or powersports owner, that’s very minimal.

“What’s big? The IMS show in New York City. A lot of people use the ferry to get over there. It’s an eight-minute ride to the Javits Center and then you walk a block. People don’t want to pay the tolls and deal with the aggravation of parking and all that stuff. So I approached the Waterway to see if they were interested in doing it. It wasn’t like they had never done anything like this before, but from the conversations I’ve had, this idea was new for them. They were super happy with it last year, so when I called them again and told them Suzuki was interested in doing it again, it was a no-brainer. I heard DSMs from other manufacturers saying what a great idea it was. [Suzuki] helped us out in terms of the co-op, and we went up a notch in terms of giving away a bike.”

The main focus at the event itself is to gather consumer information and as many contacts as possible.

“They’re waiting around for 20 minutes for the ferry, so it’s a perfect setup,” Gonnello said. “We’re grabbing their attention prior to all the confusion when they get to the show. This way, our name doesn’t get lost.”


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