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How Smart Dealers Can Market Themselves in an Inventory Crisis

This article originally appeared in the July edition of OPE Business

Do you remember last year when the pandemic hit, how much fear swept across small retail businesses? Nobody knew how the pandemic would affect sales and ultimately their livelihoods, causing many of our dealers to pause their marketing and advertising efforts. And while COVID was certainly unkind to many small businesses, many of the dealerships we work with reported better than expected sales volumes. The smart dealers who continued to advertise in the early stages of the pandemic, reaped the benefits of being proactive in their messaging.

Fast forward to 2021 and the lasting effects of the pandemic are starting to manifest in inventory scarcity, resulting in a different type of crisis. Again faced with uncertainty, we’ve heard from many dealers who are pausing advertising programs, which is understandable if there is no inventory to sell, but the most proactive dealers can still position themselves to be top of mind when supply finally catches up with demand.

Here are three ways you can keep your dealership visible to potential customers.

Utilize Google My Business
If you’ve sat in any marketing webinar in the past two years, every dealership marketing consultant has likely driven home the importance of utilizing your Google My Business (GMB) profile and I am certainly no different. Why? Because it’s free and it’s extremely powerful. Here’s are two new features that will hep you make the most of your GMB profile:

  • Turn on GMB Messaging: Google recently turned on the ability for customers to message you directly from your GMB profile. Make sure you go into your GMB settings and turn on this functionality. Eliminating any friction between you and your potential customer is important, especially in this competitive space.
  • Add products to your profile: In 2020, Google gave businesses the ability to manually add products directly to their profiles, complete with photos and pricing information. So if a potential customer is searching for “Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42” and you’ve added that product to your local profile, you’ll boost your chances of being discovered for that product.

Engage Your Existing Customer List
In the OPE industry we find that dealers will spend tens of thousands of dollars per year to acquire new customers and ignore (or just take for granted) their existing customer base. According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of converting an existing customer is between 60 – 70%, but the probability of converting a new prospect is only between 5 – 20%.

The way our industry is structured, especially with how co-op ad dollars from OEMs work, the majority of our focus tends to be on new customer acquisition. And while acquisition is extremely important, think about where your business really makes its money and its margins. Most would say it’s in service and repeat purchases.

Every dealership has a customer list, but do you have contact information for your customers? An email address? A cell phone number? Maybe buried in your DMS somewhere? Smart dealers can take control of their data but utilizing a CRM (Customer Relationship Management). If you don’t have a CRM or a DMS capable of exporting your customer list, making this a priority for the second half of 2021 is a good move. When coupled with an email marketing and text automation tool, creating and maintaining a robust CRM pays dividends multiple times over by allowing you to communicate with existing customers in real time, informing them of service promotions or other incentives. And if you DO happen to have good inventory on a particular model, you may be in a unique position to sell quickly to a captive audience.

Once you have a system in place to capture and nurture those contacts, consider driving more people to sign up to join your list. Be creative by creating a “wait list” for customers to sign up to be informed when new inventory arrives you can have them sold by the time they hit the floor.

Don’t Stop Spending
If you decide to completely stop your advertising programs during slow times, remember that there is always a competitor out there who is maintaining some level of spend to make sure that their name is the first one found when customers are searching. You should definitely cut down your ad programs from your usual peak spending highs, but make sure you maintain a presence to keep your dealership in the spotlight. You can stop video ads, banner ads and even social ads during this time, but consider keeping some budget in the Google network, either utilizing Search ads or Local ads. These ad types appear when someone is specifically searching for you or products you provide so this tactic allows you to be present when a potential customer is showing some intent to find you. Best of all, if they don’t click, you don’t pay.

It is important to spend any “down time” preparing for when inventory starts to arrive because this forced shift in seasons won’t last forever. If you are proactive now, you won’t be scrambling to move late-arriving inventory before selling season is completely over.

digital-ads-audienceBlog

How to Reach Your Audience With Digital Advertising.

Digital advertising comes in many different varieties, including display advertising (those web banners next to your favorite Youtube videos), sponsored ads (such as those on Google and Facebook), and of course, search ads —just to name a few! There are a ton of ways to reach your audience, and a lot of ‘Best Practices’ to remember. 

So where do you start?

While there are a ton of online options to choose from, reaching your intended audience will still require a little bit of finesse. Luckily, using digital advertising to get your message across is easier than you think.

 

PICK THE RIGHT PLATFORM

In 2008, only 24 percent of the United States had a social media account. Today that number has skyrocketed to 81%. While traditional mediums such as television and newspapers still have their place, most companies are turning towards digital advertising for the majority of their needs—and who could blame them?

As of 2019, tech titans Google and Facebook together control over  77% of total internet revenue growth. Furthermore, in the third quarter of the same year, Google and Facebook together controlled 99% of advertising growth, with this number projected to be on the rise). 

Why would you settle for anything but the best? Pick the right digital platforms and go where your ads will be seen.

reach your audience by picking the right platform

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Knowing your target demographic is undoubtedly one of the most beneficial tools in your advertising toolbox. Why? First off, not only does it give you a leg up for reaching the most likely people to buy your product or service, but it also helps to pick the appropriate platform and technology to deliver your message. 

Audience facts you’ll want to know are things like where they live and shop, what their needs are, what your product specifically can do to solve one of their problems, and why they would find your brand appealing. 

It also helps with ad targeting if you know ‘People who like -this thing- also tend to like my brand’ – so you can expand your reach to target people who like that other thing, knowing that there’s a good chance they’ll like you as well. 

But be warned. Once you have their attention, there’s still plenty of work to do!

 

BE ORIGINAL

Did you know? The average clickthrough rate of display ads across all formats is a measly 0.06%

From the moment that first browser opens in the morning until that last cat video before bed, internet users are bombarded with dozens of digital advertisements. By the time they get to work they’ve seen so many digital ads that they’ll likely only remember one or two, if that.That’s why it is vital to have the most creative content on the web to achieve that long sought after CLICK.

While you don’t have to break out into 90’s jingles and fake mustaches, you can win over big crowds by being entertaining, and authentically you. A brand that is unique and recognizable is one that is easily remembered – and you want to be top-of-mind when someone is thinking about buying your equipment. 

So go against the grain and dare to be different!

GET INTERACTIVE

As the internet continues to advance, media is consumed differently.

More and more people are getting their entertainment and news from streaming options such as Netflix, Roku, Hulu and YouTube, and social sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It’s incredibly integrated into our lives.

So what does this mean for digital advertising? 

Interaction! 

Interactive ads get a higher clickthrough rate of around 6 percent, whereas most digital ads remain at a fraction of one percent.

Good advertisements tell a story that engages the audience. If you’re a mower dealer, enticing future customers with starbursts of color showing your sale prices for pages and pages just isn’t interesting. 

 But when you intrigue potential buyers with an eye catching video, a hilarious one-liner or a captivating call to action, you give them autonomy. If you provide them with education, they’ll be more likely to share your brand with their friends and use you as a resource, coming back again later. You can reach a wider audience by providing more reasons for them to share and return! 

Don’t tell customers what to think, but instead show them why buying your product is the best decision.

videos can be used to get a higher search ranking

KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET

Don’t say too much! Short messages that pack a wallop and avoid cliches go a long way in the digital advertising world. Hook readers in with a memorable joke, a one liner, or a quick play on words. If you have a lot to say, break it into smaller pieces. 

Did you know novels with shorter chapters tend to have people read more of the book? Since each chapter break allows the person to pause and digest what they’ve read, it’s easier for them to understand what they’ve read and stay intrigued to learn more.

A series of fairly short, related articles that link to each other will generally do better than one massive article. Those same articles can help your SEO, put you in a position to seem like a leader and educator, and really showcase your brand’s helpfulness to the local community. 

 

TUG AT THEIR HEARTSTRINGS

reach your audience with heartfelt content

While traditional word of mouth will always impact local business, the trick is to give them something positive to talk about. The most important thing about your digital advertising campaign should be about connecting with your audience. A little passion goes a long way.

Whether it’s a push to remember to use pesticides in an environmentally friendly fashion, to support a local business – giving people meaningful content to talk about scratches beyond the surface of a product and relates to people at a meaningful level. 

Whether your message is sensitive or funny, at its core it should come across as authentic.

Make your digital ad memorable and appealing, and your brand will have those qualities as well.

 

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The Basics of Online Advertising

How does online advertising help a local outdoor power business grow?

Digital advertising consists of a range of services, all of which work together to promote a business online. From social media ads, to search engine ads, video ads, and more. 

Simply put, digital advertising increases awareness, and lets you track exactly how much awareness you’ve got. 

More and more businesses are increasing the amount that they spend on digital advertising, and experts like Jamie Turner suggest digital advertising on social platforms is well worth the spend, especially for small businesses. 

If I were to provide one tip to people who are using social media, it would be this — don’t be afraid of paying for social media reach and clicks.” – Jamie Turner, 60secondmarketer.com

The best part about digital advertising is that results can be easily monitored and ROI can be easily tracked. You probably don’t want to be spending lots of money without some proof of performance right?

With traditional media channels, there is sometimes no way of tracking the effectiveness of an advertisement in terms of advanced data analytics. You might put a TV ad out for your dealership, or a print ad in a newspaper – you can get an estimate of how many people saw that ad, but you don’t really know for sure how many of those called your shop because they saw your ad, and you don’t know EXACTLY how many people actually veiwed it. You can get estimates, but you don’t KNOW. 

With digital advertising, companies like Google and Facebook allow users to access advanced analytics. This way local businesses know that their money is being well spent and that the digital advertisements are positively impacting their storefront.

When determining the success of an ad, the important factors will differ case by case. For the most part, the success of an ad lies in the indicators listed below.

ROI indicators/measures of a successful campaign:

  • Impressions: the actual # of views on an advertisement
  • Clicks: the actual # of direct clicks on the advertisement
  • Engagements: Social & landing page clicks
  • Results: In most cases, results come in the form of a phone call or a store visit.
showing online advertising discussion

The Best Places for Online Advertising

Through our team’s extensive work in the digital advertising space, we have come to the same conclusion as pretty much every digital advertising company. The best places to spend money on digital advertising are Google & Facebook.

With digital advertising, not only is a local business visible online, but they are visible to the right people online. Platforms like Facebook and Google allow for advanced targeting, which puts a local business in front of consumers who are more likely to convert into a sale.

Plus, Google and Facebook accounted for roughly 60 percent of ad spend in 2017!

 

Why advertise on Google?

Reach: Google is the largest search network in the world, and consumers are using Google every single day to search for local businesses. Utilizing Google’s massive network capabilities, digital advertisers are able to find ideal prospects and get in front of users looking for their products/services.

In the age of digital, people are not looking at TV commercials or listening to radio ads to find a local business, they are searching for a service and then locating your business online.

With 3.5 Billion Google searches conducted every single day, customers are looking for local businesses and businesses should want to be on Google.

Flexibility: Google allows the local advertiser to spend whatever they want, whenever they want. With flexible options for ad spend, advertisers are able to test what works and what doesn’t work for a business. Spend a bit, wait to see how the campaign performs, and then reinvest in larger budgets for greater prospect reach.

Why advertise on Facebook?

AudienceThe audience on Facebook includes 1.32 billion daily active users (DAUs) on average, at an increase of 17% year-over-year. As a local business, you simply cannot ignore the fact that Facebook is likely an intersection in which you can find prospective customers. If the daily average users stat doesn’t have you convinced then let’s talk about how often social media is being used. The average person spends nearly 35 minutes everyday JUST on Facebook, according to a recent study by Mediakix.

If there is one thing to take away it is that the audience on Facebook is MASSIVE, and they are on Facebook a LOT.

Targeting: Facebook Ad targeting is a local marketer’s dream. Facebook allows the ability to focus on users so microscopically that you can basically become a bit of a digital stalker (in a good way?). Target users by their interests, behaviors, age, gender, location, and really anything that their Facebook profile may reveal about them including job title.

The Facebook algorithm has brought about changes to the local advertising landscape, but it remains one of the best environments for local businesses to get the word out about themselves!

Conclusion

By leveraging these two platforms, every local business can easily take their online advertising game to the next level, and begin to rake in new revenue—with the data to back their investment.

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